“President Trump is escalating tensions, is provoking yet another war in the Middle East where we find ourselves already engaged in war in so many countries – in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen, not too far from there in Libya, and in Afghanistan,” the former Texas congressman told Margaret Brennan on CBS’ Face the Nation in an interview that will air Sunday.
Trump on Friday told reporters at the White House the US would be sending an additional 1,500 troops to the Middle East in a “mostly protective” effort to deter Iranian threats. The President gave his approval to acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to deploy additional military resources to the Middle East to protect against what the Pentagon believes could be a rising threat from Iran against US troops already deployed to the region.
“We want to have protection,” Trump said on Friday. “The Middle East, we’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops – mostly protective. Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now and we’ll see what happens.”
CNN reported earlier this month that officials in Washington are debating recent intelligence regarding whether Iran or the militias it supports are planning to attack US assets or whether it is acting defensively in an attempt to deter US action.
Despite the additional deployments, O’Rourke told Brennan the US still “must do everything within our power” to pursue “a peaceful alternative.”
“If there is a peaceful alternative to this – and I know that there is – then we must do everything within our power to pursue it. That’s what I would do in my administration,” O’Rourke said. “I’d stick up for our values, make sure that we defend our allies, protect the lives of our fellow Americans. But do that peacefully where we can.”
CNN’s Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne contributed to this report.