Jack Reed on War & Peace
Democratic Sr Senator (RI)
REED: It will help because one of the first things that we have to do is verify, although there is increasing evidence that the Assad regime conducted a horrific attack on its own people, but we have to verify that it was directed by the Assad regime. Because that will allow us to build an international coalition, which is absolutely necessary to take any further steps in Syria.
Q: What do you think the president ought to do?
REED: He has to be careful about defining what is our objective. I believe our objective is to make it prohibitive for any country to use chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction. So a military option that would be limited to that point is something that he should be thinking about very carefully. But I think we can't let ourselves get into a situation where this becomes a springboard for a general military operation in Syria.
REED: We don't have a good sense of who is on the ground. A no-fly zone could be feasible from an operational standpoint.
Q: What would it accomplish?
REED: It might not accomplish a great deal, but it would give us a step further to our engagement in a very complicated civil war. I think the best approach is a diplomatic approach at this point.
RADDATZ: What about the "red line" and evidence that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons?
REED: I think we have to take it very seriously. We do have to be careful, though, because we've had situations in the past where we've acted on information that was incomplete, and frankly, to the detriment of our country.
Q: Should Obama have drawn that red line?
REED: I think he should have made it clear, as he did, that the systemic use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people is something the international community cannot tolerate.
REED: It's going to take increased pressure, economically, and that's why the issue of multilateral sanctions is so critical. Up until we enlisted under President Obama, the entire world or significant parts of it in putting pressure on the Iranians, they were not at all responsive. We have to continue that pressure. Also, they have elections scheduled for June. We hope we it will shape it in a positive way, that they will back down from their aspirations for nuclear technology and nuclear weapons. But the first issue is keep the pressure on. We need every option on the table. We have to assess all those options.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. LEVIN: "The amendment requires redeployment be completed within 9 months. At that point, funding for the war would be ended, with four narrow exceptions:"
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. McCAIN: "This year, after nearly 4 years of mismanaged war, our military has made significant gains under the so-called surge. Overall violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since . Improvised explosive device blasts now occur at a rate lower than at any point since September 2004.
"Al-Qaida's leadership knows which side is winning in Iraq. It may not be known in some parts of America and in this body, but al-Qaida knows. We are succeeding under the new strategy.
"Given these realities, some proponents of precipitous withdrawal from Iraq have shifted their focus. While conceding, finally, that there have been dramatic security gains, they have begun seizing on the lackluster performance of the Iraqi Government to insist that we should abandon the successful strategy and withdraw U.S. forces. This would be a terrible mistake."
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. LIEBERMAN: Some of our colleagues thought the Sense of the Senate may have opened the door to some kind of military action against Iran [so we removed some text]. That is not our intention. In fact, our intention is to increase the economic pressure on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps so that we will never have to consider the use of the military to stop them from what they are doing to kill our soldiers.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BIDEN. I will oppose the Kyl-Lieberman amendment for one simple reason: this administration cannot be trusted. I am very concerned about the evidence that suggests that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities inside Iraq. Arguably, if we had a different President who abided by the meaning and intent of laws we pass, I might support this amendment. I fear, however, that this President might use the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity as a pretext to use force against Iran as he sees fit. [The same was done with the Senate resolution on Iraq in 2002]. Given this President's actions and misuse of authority, I cannot support the amendment.
Proponents recommend voting YES because:
Our troops are caught in the midst of a civil war. The administration has begun to escalate this war with 21,000 more troops. This idea is not a new one. During this war, four previous surges have all failed. It is time for a different direction. It is time for a drawdown of our troops.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
This resolution calls for imposing an artificial timeline to withdraw our troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions on the ground or the consequences of defeat; a defeat that will surely be added to what is unfortunately a growing list of American humiliations. This legislation would hobble American commanders in the field and substantially endanger America's strategic objective of a unified federal democratic Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself and be an ally in the war against Islamic fascism. The unintended consequence of this resolution is to bring to reality Osama bin Laden's vision for Iraq; that after 4 years of fighting in Iraq the US Congress loses its will to fight. If we leave Iraq before the job is done, as surely as night follows day, the terrorists will follow us home. Osama bin Laden has openly said: America does not have the stomach to stay in the fight. He is a fanatic. He is an Islamic fascist. He is determined to destroy us and our way of life.
Sponsor's introductory remarks: Sen. BIDEN: This bipartisan resolution opposes the President's plan to escalate the war in Iraq. This resolution says what we and many of our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, are against: deepening America's military involvement in Iraq by escalating our troop presence. Just as important, it says what we and many of our colleagues are for: a strategy that can produce a political settlement in Iraq. That's the only way to stop Shiites and Sunnis from killing each other and allow our troops to leave Iraq without leaving chaos behind.
Excerpts from Letter from 85 Senators to President Obama We all hope that nuclear negotiations succeed in preventing Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapons capability. For diplomacy to succeed, however, we must couple our willingness to negotiate with a united and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime. We urge you to insist on the realization of these core principles with Iran:
Opposing argument: (Cato Institute, "Enforcing Iran Nuke Deal," Jan. 25, 2017): More than anything else, the Iran nuclear deal must be kept because the alternative is a return to ever-heightening tensions and clamoring by hawks in both countries. From 2003 to 2014, years of unrelenting U.S. sanctions and confrontation, Iran went from 164 centrifuges to 19,000. The hostile approach generates a more expansive, less transparent Iranian nuclear program and increases the chances for another disastrous U.S. war in the Middle East. Let's hope the Trump administration chooses not to go that route.
Axios.com summary: The House passed a symbolic war powers resolution directing President Trump to halt the use of military force against Iran unless he obtains approval from Congress.
The big picture: A classified briefing on the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani [by the US military] left Democrats and even some Republicans deeply skeptical, with many claiming that officials did not provide evidence that there was an "imminent" threat from Iran. Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) said they will vote in favor of a similar resolution in the Senate [S J Res 68].
What opponents are saying: Former national security adviser and notorious Iran hawk John Bolton tweeted: "The 1973 War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional. It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Constitution allocated foreign affairs authority between the President and Congress. The Resolution should be repealed." Pres. Trump quote tweeted Bolton and added: "Smart analysis, I fully agree!"
What supporters are saying: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was one of the few Republicans to vote in favor of the resolution, stating on the House floor: "Killing Soleimani was the right decision, but engaging in another forever war in the Middle East would be the wrong decision." Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced legislation that would block funding for offensive military force against Iran without congressional authorization. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is also seeking to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has been used repeatedly to justify war in the Middle East in the wake of 9/11. Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against the AUMF in 2001, criticizing it as a "blank check."
Legislative outcome: H Con Res 83 Passed House 224-194-13 on 1/9/20; S J Res 68 passed Senate 55-45-0 on 2/13/20. Vetoed 5/6; Senate veto override failed 5/7/20.
Congressional summary: A resolution affirming the United States commitment to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and noting that Israeli annexation of territory in the West Bank would undermine peace,, harm Israel's relationship with its Arab neighbors, threaten Israel's Jewish and democratic identity, and undermine Israel's security.
Aljazeera summary, 4/22/20: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that it was Israel's decision whether to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, and the US will offer its views on this to the new Israeli government in private. "As for the annexation of the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions," Pompeo told reporters. Israel's intention--in accordance with President Trump's Middle East plan--to annex the Jordan Valley and illegal Jewish settlements would defy international law. Last year, the Trump administration said it would no longer abide by a 1978 State Department legal opinion that the settlements were "inconsistent with international law".
Letter to Secretary Pompeo from 13 members of Congress on 6/30/20: We express our deep concern over the planned annexation of occupied Palestinian territory by the government of Israel. Annexing parts of the West Bank will perpetuate and entrench human rights violations against the Palestinian people, including limitations on freedom of movement and mass expropriation of privately-owned Palestinian land. Furthermore, Israel has stated it will not grant citizenship to Palestinians living in annexed territory or to the many more Palestinians living in the isolated enclaves that Israel will opt not to annex, paving the path toward an apartheid system. Already existing Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, amount to a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Legislative outcome: Never reached a vote.
The Christian Coalition inferred whether candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'The US Should Continue to Support and Stand with the Nation of Israel Against Her Enemies?' Self-description by Christian Coalition of America: "These guides help give voters a clear understanding of where candidates stand on important pro-family issues" for all Senate and Presidential candidates.
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