Mike Lee and the Need for Discretion in Foreign Policy

 

Senator Mike Lee of Utah recently got hot over a Trump administration briefing that he saw as disrespectful. According to Lee, when pressed about what exactly the Trump administration needed congressional approval for, the administration responded by saying there were almost no limits. As to legal justification, the administration officials responded, “I’m sure we could think of something.” Well, Senator Lee was mad, as he should be. The power that Congress has ceded to the executive in matters of foreign policy has exceeded the time horizon envisioned in its initial approval of the war on terror. It’s well past time to reign the executive back in.

I’m afraid, however, that Senator Lee in his anger has made an unforced blunder with his bluster. When to speak is as important as what is said, particularly in matters of foreign policy. Right now, Trump is in the middle of a standoff which requires that any threat he makes, either real or implied, be credible. If the Senate or, even worse, a handful of senators even give a hint that they won’t follow through with retaliatory action, mixed messages are sent to Iran. Mixed messages lead to miscalculation, and miscalculation in foreign policy leads to bloodshed.

The Trump administration attempted to deescalate the rising problem of Iranian aggression with deterrent action. Mike Lee out of personal pique is threatening to throw this clear strategy into disarray. It’s past time for the Congress to take back the control afforded to it by the Constitution, but prudence dictates patience.

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  1. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Well said.

    • #1
  2. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention.  A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule.  Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down.  Pribus went on to be fired by Trump.  Manafort is in federal prison.

    • #2
  3. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention. A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule. Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down. Pribus went on to be fired by Trump. Manafort is in federal prison.

    I fail to see the relevance of this statement to the argument at issue.

    • #3
  4. MichaelKennedy Member
    MichaelKennedy
    @MichaelKennedy

    Lee realized that he was becoming a hero to the Soleimani worshiping left (and Gary) and made for a TV camera to try to resurrect his career.  Bad, bad move.  I can think of people in Utah thinking “When is the primary ?”

    • #4
  5. MichaelKennedy Member
    MichaelKennedy
    @MichaelKennedy

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention. A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule. Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down. Pribus went on to be fired by Trump. Manafort is in federal prison.

    I fail to see the relevance of this statement to the argument at issue.

    Not necessary. There are people like this on Facebook  who will tell you at the drop of a hat that they hate Trump.  How do you know someone is a vegan?  Wait 30 seconds and they will tell you.

    • #5
  6. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention. A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule. Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down. Pribus went on to be fired by Trump. Manafort is in federal prison.

    In other words, your last chance to overule the desires of the people was at the convention. 

    You are so too faced, Gary. On the one hand, you want the people to vote in primaries, and compare states changing the rules to the USSR, on the other, you wanted the powers that be to override the voters of primaries. 

    Basically, to you, voters are only to be listened too when they vote the way you want them too.

    Your side lost. It will not primary Trump. That will be yet another loss. 90% of Republicans like Trump, while you are in the 10%. Another loss.

    Your point of view lost. Is the the point of view of people who lose. It is so sad that you root for Trump to fail when a true American would root for his President to succeed in foreign policy. 

     

    • #6
  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    For Lee, so comments above. 

    Lee is a a person who lost,  who is unhappy he lost. 

    • #7
  8. danok1 Member
    danok1
    @danok1

    Vice-Potentate: It’s past time for the Congress to take back the control afforded to it by the Constitution, but prudence dictates patience.

    I agree.

    I’ll add that other republican senators in the meeting say that they must have attended a different briefing than Lee (and Paul). So as always, take what politicians say with a grain of salt. More like a salt mine, come to think of it.

    • #8
  9. OldPhil Coolidge
    OldPhil
    @OldPhil

    danok1 (View Comment):

    Vice-Potentate: It’s past time for the Congress to take back the control afforded to it by the Constitution, but prudence dictates patience.

    I agree.

    I’ll add that other republican senators in the meeting say that they must have attended a different briefing than Lee (and Paul). So as always, take what politicians say with a grain of salt. More like a salt mine, come to think of it.

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention. A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule. Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down. Pribus went on to be fired by Trump. Manafort is in federal prison.

    See the source image

    • #9
  10. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention. A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule. Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down. Pribus went on to be fired by Trump. Manafort is in federal prison.

    And?

    • #10
  11. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    OldPhil (View Comment):

    See the source image

    This interview with Britain’s foremost historian David Starkey might be helpful.

    >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUxV6SvQHc0 <<

    Or otherwise ask the Conservatives which tried to bring down the British government and overthrow the Brexit election results such as Speaker John Bercow and Dominic Grieve who Starkey called “a lying, deceiving s—.”

    Dominic Grieve was not elected in a personal capacity. He was elected as a Tory on a Tory manifesto which promised Brexit. That man did not dissent at the time. His claims to dignity, to acting honourably are totally false. He is a s— – a lying deceiving s— from start to finish. And an oiled s— – look at that awful, greasy hairdo. We really have to start calling things by their proper names.

    Or as he also states…

    The old word is treason. We are engaged in a highly contentious negotiation with a strong, united and determined opponent. A large part of the political elite has deliberately gone and negotiated with them (the European Union) against their own country. It’s another aspect of the elite I find disgusting – most of the elite hate their own country and they regard the people with absolute contempt.

    • #11
  12. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention. A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule. Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down. Pribus went on to be fired by Trump. Manafort is in federal prison.

    In other words, your last chance to overule the desires of the people was at the convention.

    You are so too faced, Gary. On the one hand, you want the people to vote in primaries, and compare states changing the rules to the USSR, on the other, you wanted the powers that be to override the voters of primaries.

    Basically, to you, voters are only to be listened too when they vote the way you want them too.

    Your side lost. It will not primary Trump. That will be yet another loss. 90% of Republicans like Trump, while you are in the 10%. Another loss.

    Your point of view lost. Is the the point of view of people who lose. It is so sad that you root for Trump to fail when a true American would root for his President to succeed in foreign policy.

     

    I don’t think Gary is “too faced” [sic], though I don’t necessarily agree with his view.*

    Bryan, if you want to stay here, you are going to need to learn not to insult other members. 

    It’s not allowed, according to the CoC.  And even if the CoC is not being enforced at the present moment for whatever reason, it is still not right.  It’s not how adults engage in civil conversation.

    *The number is spelled “two“.  “Too” is a different word.

     

    • #12
  13. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge
    DonG (skeptic)
    @DonG

    Come 2024, when Mike Lee is running for president, he’ll get an appreciation for Article II powers.

    • #13
  14. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention. A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule. Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down. Pribus went on to be fired by Trump. Manafort is in federal prison.

    And?

    I didn’t understand that comment either. Both did the correct thing and then screwed up later, one in Trump’s eyes, the other in the law’s eyes. That makes them unique in what way? 

    • #14
  15. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention. A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule. Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down. Pribus went on to be fired by Trump. Manafort is in federal prison.

    Your last chance to stop Trump was when the Republican Establishment didn’t get behind Ted Cruz.  

    • #15
  16. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention. A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule. Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down. Pribus went on to be fired by Trump. Manafort is in federal prison.

    Your last chance to stop Trump was when the Republican Establishment didn’t get behind Ted Cruz.

    Yes. I was in the same Utah Caucus meeting with Mike Lee when we voted Ted Cruz as Utah’s preference. 

    • #16
  17. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention. A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule. Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down. Pribus went on to be fired by Trump. Manafort is in federal prison.

    Your last chance to stop Trump was when the Republican Establishment didn’t get behind Ted Cruz.

    Yes. I was in the same Utah Caucus meeting with Mike Lee when we voted Ted Cruz as Utah’s preference.

    The Republican establishment largely supported flooding the country with more immigration, so supporting Cruz was not possible.  National Review waited until two weeks or so before Ted Cruz withdrew to endorse him as it drew little hearts around Marco Rubio all spring.  If National Review had kept its mouth shut about Trump and endorsed Cruz (who was actually most favorable among the candidates towards legal immigration) earlier things might have been different, but not that many people read National Review anyway.

    • #17
  18. rgbact Member
    rgbact
    @romanblichar

    So…you think that if the “imminent threat” of Solomani was completely fabricated to allow Trump to act without advising Congress…then Congress should “show discretion” and just lap it up, for the cause? Thats weird, coming from Trumpers, who largely bought into all the Left’s arguments about “getting lied into” the Iraq War. Sounds like a “neocon” argument.

    Anyway, if Trump got us into a war, we’d be buried in his lies. It would dwarf Iraq. So, I’d rather Congress be “vigilant” from the get go and be less discrete. “Discretion” doesn’t have a great track record.

    • #18
  19. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    rgbact (View Comment):

    Thats weird, coming from Trumpers, who largely bought into all the Left’s arguments about “getting lied into” the Iraq War. Sounds like a “neocon” argument.

     

    Not sure what you are trying to say here. Trump’s action and supporting arguments in this situation do resemble those of neocons and many Trump supporters do believe we were lied into the Iraq War.. But this post is about Mike Lee. Lee has been working hard for quite some time in an effort to get Congress to re-assert itself and maybe let that get to him. Can you take a guess why Solumani and a top Iraqi Shia Militant were together in Bagdad unannounced? I doubt the Iran equivalent of the Nazi Germany SS leader was on a political mission.

    • #19
  20. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention. A majority of delegates wanted to NOT be forced to vote for Trump and Senator Mike Lee was a floor leader for a floor fight for a freedom of conscience rule. Reince Pribus and Paul Manafort shot that down. Pribus went on to be fired by Trump. Manafort is in federal prison.

    Your last chance to stop Trump was when the Republican Establishment didn’t get behind Ted Cruz.

    The establishment hated Cruz, too, because he in their eyes cut in line in 2012 and took what should have been the Senate nomination away from David Dewhurst in Texas. He was the choice of the Bush wing of the state’s GOP, and that rift still hasn’t fully healed, and Cruz also lost points in 2016 for running for president against Jeb! in their eyes, even though it was Trump who eventually killed that campaign (aside from Beto in 2018 avoiding many of the pet bi-coastal progressive issues that sunk Wendy Davis in her run fro governor in 2014, one of the main reasons O’Rourke came so close to Cruz was the Bush wing of the party didn’t want to get behind his re-election, and the hardcore Trump backers in the state also were still miffed at Cruz for not giving up his campaign earlier and for his speech at the 2016 RNC convention).

    • #20
  21. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    rgbact (View Comment):
     

    So…you think that if the “imminent threat” of Solomani was completely fabricated to allow Trump to act without advising Congress

    Do you think Solumani was in Bagdad with a senior Iraqi Shia Militant leader for something other than killing Americans? 

    • #21
  22. Maguffin Member
    Maguffin
    @Maguffin

    Hey everyone!  I finally found a discussion where I might have something to add that wasn’t already said.  Go me!

    I’m not going to get into the whole Trump discussion.  I want to talk about Soleimana and how I hope there is something we can all agree on.  And this is also not a legal point.  IANAL.  I’m sure those who are can find any number of legal holes in my point.

    There are some people on the other side of a violent conflict, whether it has actually blown up into a full fledged war, or simmers at a lower level with both sides trying to maintain some deniability for attempting to kill each other, where we can say that those people should be alive, but they have done something that makes it so we must kill them.  We weren’t looking to kill them, but it became apparent we needed to.

    Then there are people like Soleimana.  Guys like that are way past proving they need to be killed.  There may be reasons why we don’t.  We can’t find him.  There’s too much collateral damage possible at the time we have a chance.  We can’t find enough proof for a legal justification.  His death may cause enough other issues, diplomatic or economic or other, that it isn’t worth it. 

    But.  This isn’t someone we should be looking at and thinking he didn’t deserve his fate and hasn’t deserved his fate for a long time.  It might have been wiser to not have done it, though that’s very difficult to tell this close to the event for anyone on either side of the disagreement, but he did deserve it.  Can we all agree on that?  Then we can get back to beating each other up over whether we should or should not have at this particular point in time.

    • #22
  23. Vice-Potentate Member
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    rgbact (View Comment):

    So…you think that if the “imminent threat” of Solomani was completely fabricated to allow Trump to act without advising Congress…then Congress should “show discretion” and just lap it up, for the cause? Thats weird, coming from Trumpers, who largely bought into all the Left’s arguments about “getting lied into” the Iraq War. Sounds like a “neocon” argument.

    Anyway, if Trump got us into a war, we’d be buried in his lies. It would dwarf Iraq. So, I’d rather Congress be “vigilant” from the get go and be less discrete. “Discretion” doesn’t have a great track record.

    They should’ve taken back control beforehand. We should have a comprehensive bipartisan strategy to deal with Iran. Lee should use discretion when speaking on foreign policy. These things can all be true at once. If you don’t want another war deterrence has to have teeth and Senator Lee and company adding ambiguity into the mix files those teeth down.

    • #23
  24. Vice-Potentate Member
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention…

    Your last chance to stop Trump was when the Republican Establishment didn’t get behind Ted Cruz.

    …Cruz also lost points in 2016 for running for president against Jeb!…

    Can we finally retire this canard. Jeb never polled above 10 percent when the race was being run in earnest. He was more of a foil than an actual candidate. I didn’t see much evidence that the “establishment” besides a very few wealthy donors were lining up to back him. Yet still when the 2016 primary is rehashed his name surfaces constantly. I think it’s mostly because people think that exclamation point is hilarious. (which it is)

     

    • #24
  25. Vice-Potentate Member
    Vice-Potentate
    @VicePotentate

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    rgbact (View Comment):

    So…you think that if the “imminent threat” of Solomani was completely fabricated to allow Trump to act without advising Congress

    Do you think Solumani was in Bagdad with a senior Iraqi Shia Militant leader for something other than killing Americans?

    Officially it was to lay the framework for a peace deal with Saudi Arabia, which I find implausible. Not really a strong enough word, but what word means more than implausible but just slightly slightly slightly shy of impossible? Implaupossible?

    • #25
  26. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Vice-Potentate (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention…

    Your last chance to stop Trump was when the Republican Establishment didn’t get behind Ted Cruz.

    …Cruz also lost points in 2016 for running for president against Jeb!…

    Can we finally retire this canard. Jeb never polled above 10 percent when the race was being run in earnest. He was more of a foil than an actual candidate. I didn’t see much evidence that the “establishment” besides a very few wealthy donors were lining up to back him. Yet still when the 2016 primary is rehashed his name surfaces constantly. I think it’s mostly because people think that exclamation point is hilarious. (which it is)

    No! Your numbers are right but that is not the story. The primary candidates, several establishment types, were an impressive group and Trump came out of nowhere. But the establishment was definitely cool to Cruz. It wasn’t because he was running against Jeb.

    • #26
  27. rgbact Member
    rgbact
    @romanblichar

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    rgbact (View Comment):

    So…you think that if the “imminent threat” of Solomani was completely fabricated to allow Trump to act without advising Congress

    Do you think Solumani was in Bagdad with a senior Iraqi Shia Militant leader for something other than killing Americans?

    IDK. What major killing of Americans have they done recently? If it doesn’t involve Iraq, then I’d suspect Iraq’s government doesn’t much care. And if so, and they get upset and throw us out of the country, thats not worth it and will be more dangerous long term. So, Congress needs to be advised of this move that could have major impact…..all to prevent a meeting about “stuff”. Seems overboard.

    • #27
  28. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Vice-Potentate (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    rgbact (View Comment):

    So…you think that if the “imminent threat” of Solomani was completely fabricated to allow Trump to act without advising Congress

    Do you think Solumani was in Bagdad with a senior Iraqi Shia Militant leader for something other than killing Americans?

    Officially it was to lay the framework for a peace deal with Saudi Arabia, which I find implausible. Not really a strong enough word, but what word means more than implausible but just slightly slightly slightly shy of impossible? Implaupossible?

    And nothing about this is what bothered Senator Lee. He was interested in an intelligence assessment of what’s next and it may be that the Administration is not even giving this to the ‘gang of eight’ given the record of intelligence leaks having come from those sources. 

    • #28
  29. Jon1979 Lincoln
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Vice-Potentate (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Our last chance to stop Trump from being the nominee was at the convention…

    Your last chance to stop Trump was when the Republican Establishment didn’t get behind Ted Cruz.

    …Cruz also lost points in 2016 for running for president against Jeb!…

    Can we finally retire this canard. Jeb never polled above 10 percent when the race was being run in earnest. He was more of a foil than an actual candidate. I didn’t see much evidence that the “establishment” besides a very few wealthy donors were lining up to back him. Yet still when the 2016 primary is rehashed his name surfaces constantly. I think it’s mostly because people think that exclamation point is hilarious. (which it is)

    But five years ago at this point in time, the Bush people were celebrating Mitt’s decision not to enter the 2016 race, and believed they could, over time, money-bomb the other candidates out of the race through the course of 2015-16. Cruz in Texas was already on double-secret probation for his win over Dewhurst and what they saw as his grandstanding in Washington, and the Bush folks also were irked at both him and Marco Rubio for running in what they thought would be their natural strongholds of Florida and Texas. Trump’s arrival in the race in June (after several months of hinting that he’d do it), then just blew up everyone’s game plan.

    • #29
  30. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    rgbact (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    rgbact (View Comment):

    So…you think that if the “imminent threat” of Solomani was completely fabricated to allow Trump to act without advising Congress

    Do you think Solumani was in Bagdad with a senior Iraqi Shia Militant leader for something other than killing Americans?

    IDK. What major killing of Americans have they done recently? If it doesn’t involve Iraq, then I’d suspect Iraq’s government doesn’t much care. And if they do, and we get thrown out of the country, thats not worth it. So, Congress needs to be advised of this move that could have major impact…..all to prevent a meeting about “stuff”. Seems overboard.

    The President didn’t require major killing of Americans, just one, and they did that one. It’s not as if he didn’t tell them. I think he was even specific like, this is not a warning , it’s a threat, which I thought was odd wording, but most at the time took it that we would retaliate.

    • #30

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