As Iran Tensions Rise, Rep. Ro Khanna Says War Is 'Not in Our Strategic Interest'

July 18, 2019

By Justin Chermol & Megan Pratz

After Iran's Revolutionary Guard seized a foreign tanker accused of smuggling oil through the Strait of Hormuz Thursday morning, President Trump announced a Navy ship has shot down an Iranian drone.

"The [USS] Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone," Trump said in a flag presentation ceremony at the White House with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands.

"The drone was immediately destroyed," Trump added.

Those escalations have made officials, including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) nervous about potential U.S. military action in the Middle East, as Tehran and Washington continue to spar over the strait, one of the most important passageways for oil shipping in the world.

"Iran has about .55 percent of global GDP, we're at 24 percent, China is at 15 percent, the entire Middle East is at 3.5 percent, it's just not in our strategic interest to spend trillions of dollars on another war that could be better spent on broadband here, on education, on infrastructure," Khanna told Cheddar Thursday.

Last week, Khanna and Rep. Matt Gaetz's (R-Fla.) bipartisan amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act in order to prohibit funds from being used with a war against Iran passed 251-170. Khanna called the amendment's sweeping victory in the House "historic", adding: "It will really show that our nation has learned its lesson."

It will now move on to the Senate, where he hopes it will be added to the defense funding bill.

"This amendment affirms what President Trump knows and believes: unfocused, unconstitutional, unending wars in the Middle East make America weaker, not stronger," Gaetz said in a statement.

In May of last year, President Trump announced the U.S. exit from the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal. Trump has called the deal, brokered by President Obama, the "worst deal ever."

Khanna says, were it up to him, he would immediately get back into the agreement: "That's what helped prevent Iran from going nuclear," he said, adding: "Even Secretary Mattis and General Dunford all said that Iran was complying with that."