Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) spoke at a rally against a potential war with Iran in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 2020.

(Photo: Zach D. Roberts/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

'We Cannot Let the Warmongers Win': US Progressives Reject Calls for Attack on Iran

"We must resist the U.S. becoming embroiled in another costly conflict abroad," said U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee.

Progressives in the U.S. Congress on Sunday urged the Biden administration to resist calls for an attack on Iran following the country's retaliation against Israel for the deadly bombing of Tehran's consulate in Syria earlier this month.

The hawkish rhetoric came from both sides of the political aisle in the U.S.—Israel's main ally and weapons supplier.

U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), one of Congress' most fervent supporters of Israel's war on Gaza, claimed Iran is "the single most destabilizing force in the Middle East" and "must be held accountable for the aggression it has long shown toward Israel not only directly but also indirectly through proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis."

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), directing her message at President Joe Biden, was more explicit in demanding an immediate military response from the U.S.

"We must move quickly and launch aggressive retaliatory strikes on Iran," Blackburn wrote on social media.

The number two Republican in the U.S. House, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), said Saturday that the chamber would "move from its previously announced legislative schedule next week to instead consider legislation that supports our ally Israel and holds Iran and its terrorist proxies accountable."

"The House of Representatives stands strongly with Israel, and there must be consequences for this unprovoked attack," Scalise added. "More details on the legislative items to be considered will be forthcoming."

"As leaders in Washington jump to call for war with Iran and rush additional offensive weapons to the Israeli military, we need to exercise restraint and use every diplomatic tool to de-escalate tensions."

Iran's launch of hundreds of drones and missiles on Saturday marked its first direct assault on Israel, which has repeatedly engaged in covert attacks inside Iranian territory. On April 1, Israel bombed Iran's consulate in the Syrian capital, killing diplomats and a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander.

Iran said its retaliatory firing of missiles and drones—most of which were intercepted—was in line with international law. One person, a seven-year-old girl, was seriously injured in the attack.

Israeli officials immediately vowed revenge, a pledge that intensified global calls for restraint to prevent the regional war in the Middle East from spiraling further out of control.

As The Intercept's Ken Klippenstein and Daniel Boguslaw noted Sunday, the conflict "now involves at least 16 different countries," including the U.S., which "flew aircraft and launched air defense missiles from at least eight countries, while Iran and its proxies fired weapons from Iraq, Syria, and Yemen."

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), a vocal supporter of a cease-fire in Gaza, issued a statement Sunday condemning both Israel's attack on Iran's consulate and Tehran's response, which she said "threaten civilian lives and regional war."

"I also condemn the calls by members of Congress and others to initiate war with Iran; to do so without congressional authorization is blatantly unconstitutional," Bush said. "We cannot let the warmongers win; our country and our world are calling for restraint, de-escalation, a lasting cease-fire, and diplomacy. Our government must listen. That is how we save lives."

Bush urged the Biden administration to "take immediate steps, including at the U.N. Security Council and G7, to de-escalate and facilitate an immediate, lasting cease-fire in the region."

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the lone congressional no vote against the war in Afghanistan, similarly called on the Biden administration to "lead efforts toward de-escalation, diplomacy, and securing a permanent cease-fire in Gaza."

"We must resist the U.S. becoming embroiled in another costly conflict abroad, but rather lead toward peace and security in the region," Lee added.

Axiosreported Sunday that Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directly that the U.S. would not "support any Israeli counterattack against Iran." An unnamed official told the outlet that "when Biden told Netanyahu that the U.S. will not participate in any offensive operations against Iran and will not support such operations, Netanyahu said he understood."

Echoing her progressive colleagues, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said Sunday that "as leaders in Washington jump to call for war with Iran and rush additional offensive weapons to the Israeli military, we need to exercise restraint and use every diplomatic tool to de-escalate tensions."

"Civilians in not only Gaza, Israel, the West Bank, and Iran but also Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen are bearing the brunt of this escalation, and there must be a cease-fire on all sides," said Omar. "I will continue to call for de-escalation, restraint, and lasting peace."

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