The United States assassinated Qassem Soleimani, a famed Iranian military commander and leader of Iran’s Quds force, via drone strike in Baghdad Friday morning local time. The act immediately stoked chaos and confusion among Americans: World War III was trending on Twitter, a calamity made deeper by Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer offering their expert insight on Fox News like 2003 redux. But strangely enough, in the wake of this geopolitical nightmare, Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard, two military veterans running for president who have long touted their experience in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively, have not released official statements about the incident in Iran—even as each of their main opponents condemned/commented upon the assassination.
As of 11:00 a.m. on Friday, neither candidate has tweeted or released official statements about Soleimani’s assassination.
Tulsi Gabbard made an appearance on Fox News and condemned the Soleimani assassination, calling it an “act of war.” But she has yet to release a statement for her 763,000 Twitter followers and Democratic voters who aren’t watching Fox and Friends.
On Twitter, Bernie Sanders said that “Trump’s dangerous escalation brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East that could cost countless lives and trillions more dollars.” Elizabeth Warren characterized Soleimani as a “murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands” but said the assassination was “reckless” and “increases the likelihood of more deaths and new Middle East conflict.”
Joe Biden tweeted that Soleimani “deserved to be brought to justice” but characterized his assassination as tossing “a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox.” He’s demanding President Trump offer an explanation to the American people (Trump’s tweet of a low-quality JPEG American flag wasn’t explanation enough).
Amy Klobuchar also criticized Soleimani’s role in the region before addressing concerns with the consequences of his assassination. Andrew Yang simply promised to end so-called “Forever Wars.”
Foreign policy hasn’t been the hot topic of the Democratic campaign cycle, with Ukraine and old Iraq War votes taking an understandable backseat to domestic issues like health care and student loan debt. But now that Iran is at the forefront, it’s incumbent upon our current and future leaders to make their positions known. It’s disappointing that the veterans, the ones who have first-hand experience with the United States’ campaign of endless war, have so far met this news with radio silence.
This post will be updated if and when Buttigieg and Gabbard’s official statements are released.
Update, 12:05 p.m.: Pete Buttigieg released a statement about Soleimani.