Brett Velicovich: Dems want to weaken our ability to counter Iranian aggression

America’s ability to deter Iranian aggression is threatened by the recent vote of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

The AUMF allowed the U.S. to invade Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The same AUMF could be used by the U.S. military to respond to Iranian aggression in the Middle East if that becomes necessary.

Importantly, the goal of the AUMF when it comes to Iran is not to launch a war, but to deter one. As long as Iran knows the president of the United States is authorized to take military action, Iran is less likely to provoke such action.


Repealing the AUMF ties the hands of the U.S. president, emboldening Iran and raising the chances the Islamic Republic will take hostile action to support terrorism against its neighbors, interfere will shipping in the Persian Gulf, move ahead to develop nuclear weapons, or engage in other dangerous actions


The House vote to repeal the AUMF came as part of its vote to pass the National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate has approved a different version of the bill without the AUMF repeal, and now the two chambers must agree on one version of the must-pass legislation.


In addition, while the House bill authorized $733 billion in annual Defense Department spending, while the Senate bill authorized $750 billion. The smaller amount in the House bill would hinder an effective U.S. response to dangerous actions by Iran, should that become necessary.

Iran has already proven it is willing to disrupt global commerce and freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf, and to make world less safe at a time where U.S. international leadership and strength is needed the most.

House Democrats seem to be patting themselves on the back out of a belief that revoking the AUMF sends a direct message to President Trump about checking his power. However, what it really does is send a message to Iran about how divided we are in our stance against the Iranian regime.

The House vote is unquestionably a win for Iran. It emboldens Iran because as the regime watches our internal debates, hardliners calculate that we don’t have the strength or will to do what is necessary to win a conflict.

Because we are not united as a country, we look weak in the eyes of Iran's leadership. That’s a dangerous game to play, given how the Iranian regime thinks. There is no doubt that we will see more Iranian aggression as a result.

The truth is that President Trump’s foreign policy, no matter how unconventional it may seem, has worked in our favor. It keeps countries like Iran and North Korea off-guard. It has been a deterrent.

The president’s moves against Iran have been backed by his belief that any military action against the terrorist regime fell under the authority of AUMF, basically giving him the power to strike without congressional approval in times of need.

Ending the AUMF prevents the president from acting swiftly in the future, which means America may not be able to defend itself quickly enough.

In addition to reducing the president’s power to act to defend our country and cutting military budgets by nearly $17 billion, the House bill would end U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, where the Saudis oppose forces backed by Iran.

This is a clear sign that Democrats have no understanding of the threat Iran poses, or how Iran uses its proxy elements to covertly wage war against the West.

The Saudi campaign in Yemen is directed against the Houthi rebels, who are being trained and equipped by the same Iranian officials who were responsible for the deaths of 603 members of the U.S. military during the Iraq war.

If the Saudis lose that fight, Iran will be able to fully turn Houthi attention on U.S. personnel and property in the region, just as it has with other proxy groups in the past. It’s as if congressional Democrats want to reduce America's defensive capabilities.

Let me be clear. This is not about going to war with Iran. Stopping portions of this bill from taking effect is about deterrence, messaging, and providing all options available if necessary to defend ourselves against the rogue regime’s continued hostile activity.


The inaction from the international community in stopping Iran’s attacks endangers the world, and Iran’s continued aggression will only increase because the regime will know it can keep getting away with it.

The Iranian regime has already been responsible for many American deaths. If we can’t stand up to Iran with all the tools necessary, we will see many more Americans lose their lives.