Rep. Barbara Lee speaks

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) speaks during a November 18, 2023 campaign event.

(Photo: Barbara Lee/X)

As Hawks Urge Biden to Bomb Iran, Barbara Lee Says Reject Push for Wider War

"The path to peace and security is not through war," the California congresswoman and U.S. Senate candidate asserted.

As U.S. hawks clamor for a war on Iran following this week's deadly drone strike on American troops in Jordan, Democratic California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who is running for Senate, on Tuesday urged President Joe Biden to "reject the calls from some in Washington to increase the fighting."

Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are demanding a U.S. attack on Iran in retaliation for Sunday's drone strike on the Tower 22 outpost in northeastern Jordan that killed three soldiers serving in the Army Reserve's 718th Engineer Company and wounded dozens more, Common Dreamsreported Monday.

As Biden announced Tuesday that he's decided how the U.S. will respond to the attack, Lee urged restraint.

"I am heartbroken by the loss of the three American service members killed in Jordan... These attacks make clear that Iran is taking advantage of the chaos triggered by the October 7 attacks," she said in a statement, referring to the Hamas-led assault on Israel.

"The war in Gaza has created a firestorm in the Middle East," Lee added.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq (IRI)—a coalition of Shia Islamist militant groups—claimed responsibility for Sunday's drone strike, explaining that "if the U.S. keeps supporting Israel, there will be escalations."

Although Iran backs the IRI but denies involvement in the attack. The Biden administration admitted Monday that is has no proof that Tehran ordered the drone strike.

Still, the calls for war on Iran are growing, with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) demanding "devastating military retaliation against Iran's terrorist forces, both in Iran and across the Middle East," and pinning the slain soldiers' deaths on "Biden's appeasement."

Lee, however, asserted that "the path to peace and security is not through war—we must change course."

"And should President Biden seek expansive military retaliation to the attacks, he must come to Congress," she added.

Lee was famously the only member of Congress—the vote was 518-1—to reject giving then-President George W. Bush virtually unlimited war powers after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The ensuing invasion of Afghanistan and ongoing global War on Terror cost millions of lives and trillions of dollars.

"The path forward to peace and security throughout the region is dependent on a cessation of hostilities in Gaza."

Asserting that "the path forward to peace and security throughout the region is dependent on a cessation of hostilities in Gaza, the release of all hostages, and a return to diplomacy," Lee urged "a redoubling of efforts to achieve rapid de-escalation through a permanent cease-fire and robust, regional engagement that includes international humanitarian organizations."

De-escalation was nowhere to be seen in Gaza, where Israeli forces on Tuesday continued their relentless 116-day air and ground assault on the embattled Palestinian enclave. According to Palestinian health officials, at least 26,750 people—mostly women and children—have been killed by Israeli bombs and bullets, with more than 65,600 others wounded and 7,000 missing and presumed dead and buried beneath the rubble of the approximately 144,000-175,000 buildings that have been destroyed or damaged.

Peace groups also urged Biden to eschew militarism.

"The recent attack on U.S. forces in Jordan, which killed three U.S. service members and injured dozens more, is a tragedy. It's a painful reminder that President Biden's current policy in the Middle East is simply not working," Win Without War president Stephen Miles said Monday. "The way to protect U.S. troops and save lives is to change course."

"Already, voices in Washington are calling for more war," he continued. "The same voices who advocated for never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguing victory was forever just around the corner, now want the American public to believe that the path to peace lies with yet another war in the Middle East—this time with Iran. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now."

"The only genuine path to significantly reducing the current spasm of violence in the Middle East is securing an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, pouring cold water on the fire at the heart of this regional inferno," Miles added. "Such an effort would create the conditions for finally negotiating the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza and open space for regional diplomacy aimed at a desperately needed broader regional de-escalation."

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