Wisconsin lawmakers, activists respond to Iranian general’s assassination, U.S. troop escalation

There will be protests Saturday & many Wisconsin politicos are weighing in

Hand on trigger of military weapon
Photo by Specna Arms on Unsplash

Wisconsin has a history of strong protests, from the anti-war rallies during Vietnam to more recent protests over Act-10 gutting of workers’ rights, women’s marches and climate strikes. 

So it isn’t surprising that after President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. military assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, followed by an order to deploy an additional 3,500 troops to the Middle East, protests are planned for Saturday in Madison and Milwaukee. 

According to the Madison branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s Facebook page, the event is Jan. 4 from noon to 2 p.m. outside the State Street entrance to the Wisconsin State Capitol.

The Milwaukee chapter announced a rally at the same date and time at the intersection of 27th and Oklahoma in Milwaukee.

The Facebook page also notes that this is a part of a “national coordinated day of action” that was already in the works in response to U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria that drew protests at the Baghdad U.S. embassy.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers weighed in on the situation.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (R-Wis.) tweeted: “Qassem Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans. It’s good that he’s gone, but this unilateral action further escalates conflict in the Middle East and we need the Trump administration to explain to Congress and the American people their plan to de-escalate tensions with Iran and protect our troops and diplomats in harm’s way. We must prevent another endless war in the Middle East.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) posted a statement on his website Friday, that didn’t directly refer to the U.S. action but condemned Iran. “Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, has been escalating its malign actions for years,” Johnson said. “It is time for Iran to de-escalate and end its terrorist acts and use of proxies. Americans will continue to support the brave men and women who have volunteered to keep us safe.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Black Earth) released a statement condemning Trump for acting without Congressional approve for the attack, stating “America must avoid another endless war.”

It reads: “Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to escalate tensions in the region by assassinating Iranian General Qasem Soleimani without any notification to or approval from Congress is wrong, it will destabilize the region and further endanger the lives of innocent Americans, Iranians, and Iraqis. 

“The President has repeatedly shirked diplomatic priorities in pursuit of military action across the Middle East, and he is on the brink of starting a wholly avoidable and unnecessary war with Iran.

“Our nation must avoid another endless war in 2020 and the potential senseless loss of millions of lives. This administration must take necessary and decisive steps to de-escalate military action and instead prioritize diplomacy to secure peace in the region.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay) tweeted his support for the administration’s action:

“Soleimani was a mass murderer and one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists. It’s good the President has taken him off the battlefield.

He followed that up with: “It’s important to remember that it’s Iran that has been carrying out provocative escalations over the last year and the U.S. response has so far been measured. 

“Now we have established a clear red line: don’t kill Americans. This is the right call by President Trump.”

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Janesville) tweeted his support for the attack as well: “Iran actively works to destabilize countries in the Middle East. Soleimani was instrumental in Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism. Our thoughts are with our service members and U.S. personnel who are threatened by Iran.”

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) responded to the attack with a 3-tweet thread:

“There is no doubt that Soleimani was an enemy of the United States and has been responsible for the death of thousands—including many of our own men and women in uniform. However, this Administration’s decision escalated an already tense situation with Iran, bringing us closer to another Middle Eastern conflict—something no one wants – with no clear long-term strategy.

“Once again, the President is taking military action, without consulting Congress as constitutionally required, or without knowing how Iran will retaliate.

“If President Trump wants to escalate our military involvement in countries overseas, he must come before Congress, present a clear, thought-out strategy, and make the case to the American people and seek approval.”

State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), who is running for the 5th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and a strong supporter of Trump, expressed his support for the president’s actions on Twitter: 

This strike was a prudent response and another important victory delivered by @POTUS in the fight against terror. Soleimani was one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists: a murderer responsible for ending too many American lives and plotting against countless more.”

In a separate tweet he added: “President @realDonaldTrump has demonstrated once again with this strike that decisive action will be taken against those who target American lives.”

State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R- Hazelhurst), running for former Rep. Sean Duffy’s seat in the 7th Congressional District, also tweeted his support: “.@realDonaldTrump is taking the necessary steps to keep Americans safe by fighting terrorism abroad. Ordering the strike on Soleimani was the right move.”

According to an Associated Press report, the Defense Department said it killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

Erik Gunn
Senior Reporter Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, along with related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.
Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.