Ted Cruz on War & Peace
Republican Texas Senator
Ted Cruz (R): Yes. Applauded withdrawal, saying agreement didn't sufficiently rein in Iran's nuclear program.
Beto O'Rourke (D): No. Agreement, while imperfect, was "best path to keep Iran from having nuclear weapons."
The senators said such action will drain the Iranian regime's resources and signal America's commitment to maintaining ongoing sanctions. The lawmakers wrote in an Aug. 22 letter to the Treasury Secretary, "We understand that Iran's leaders are working with American adversaries, and reportedly even with some allies, to circumvent these sanctions."
Fifteen senators joined in signing the letter, which was led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Specifically, the lawmakers requested any necessary steps to guarantee the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), an international banking messaging system that connects financial institutions around the world, disconnects the Central Bank of Iran and all other designated Iranian financial institutions.
[When the speech was over,] even Senator Ted Cruz, who rarely agreed with anything I had to say, agreed with me about providing support to beleaguered Ukrainian fighters. As did Republican senator Lindsey Graham.
TRUMP: I don't because it not working and the countries aren't agreeing to it and the rebels aren't agreeing and Syria is not agreeing. It's a meaningless ceasefire. I would love it, but all parties have to be part of it.
CRUZ: We're hopeful that the violence will cease, but there's reason to be highly skeptical. Russia has enhanced its position because of Obama's weakness in the Middle East, weakness in Syria.
CRUZ: We need to learn from history. Obama, Clinton, and far too many Republicans--want to topple Assad. Assad is a bad man. But if we topple Assad, the result will be that ISIS will take over Syria, and it will worsen U.S. national security interests. And I'll tell you whose view on Assad is the same as mine. It's Prime Minister Netanyahu. Prime Minister Netanyahu has said Israel doesn't have a dog in that fight because Assad is a puppet of Iran, a Shia radical Islamic terrorist, but at the same time, Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn't want to see Syria governed by ISIS. And we need to focus on American interests, not on global aspirations...
HUCKABEE: If their intent is to kill us, [then] our intent to use every means possible to get to them before they get to us. The rules of engagement have got to be loosened, because we have to make sure that we are not just going over and setting off some fireworks. We have to kill every one of them, to make it very clear that [if you] threaten action against the United States, and you've just signed your death warrant. We're coming to get you. And you won't be coming to our shores. You're going to be going to your funeral.
CRUZ: ISIS is gaining strength because the perception is that they're winning. And President Obama fuels that perception. That will change when militants across the globe see that when you join ISIS that you are giving up your life, you are signing your death warrant, and we need a president who is focused on defeating every single ISIS terrorist and protecting the homeland, which should be the first priority.
CRUZ: When I asked that to General Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs, he said there is no military solution. We need to change the conditions on the ground so that young men are not in poverty and susceptible to radicalization. That, with all due respect, is nonsense. It's the same answer the State Department gave that we need to give them jobs. What we need is a commander in chief that makes clear, if you join ISIS, if you wage jihad on America, then you are signing your death warrant. I introduced the Expatriate Terrorist Act that said if any American travels to the Middle East and joins ISIS, that he or she forfeits their citizenship so they don't use a passport to come back and wage jihad on Americans.
I believe we have no greater friend in the Middle East. Like us, Israel is a nation of immigrants, a country based on ideas, on our shared Judeo-Christian, democratic values. I also believe that from a purely American point of view, supporting Israel is tremendously beneficial to our national security interests. It is also in our economic interests. Since being elected, I have visited Israel three times and have worked hard to repair the damage the administration has done to this vital relationship.
His approach is summed up in a bill the Texas Senator unveiled last week, the "Sanction Iran, Safeguard America Act."
CRUZ: She said she did not believe there was any prospect for Ukraine to be successful in defending itself against Russian aggression. I think that's mistaken. What [Obama and Merkel are] doing with regard to Ukraine and with regard to Russia makes no sense, and it isn't working. It is long past time for us to step forward and provide defensive weapons, so that the men and women of Ukraine can defend their nation. They are our allies. We committed ourselves to standing with Ukraine to defend their territorial integrity.
Q: Should the US arm the Ukraine over the objections of the Germans?
CRUZ: What we're seeing is, when America doesn't lead, Europe can't be expected to step into the breach. What is missing from this is the president of the US. I'm part of a large bipartisan congressional delegation that is united on the need for us to provide defensive arms to Ukraine.
CRUZ: We met today with the president of Kurdistan. The Kurds on the ground are fantastic fighters. The Peshmerga have been our allies. And they're actually fighting every day to stop ISIS. Now, what makes no sense whatsoever is, the Obama administration is refusing to directly arm the Kurds. We need to arm the Kurds now because they are our boots on the ground. I don't believe it is necessary to put American boots on the ground if we are arming the Peshmerga. The Peshmerga on the ground, combined with overwhelming American airpower, can take out ISIS.
Q: So some in the Pentagon who apparently are considering about 10,000 U.S. troops on the ground, that would be a bad move?
CRUZ: In my view, American boots on the ground should always be the last step, and we need to exercise other steps before that. We have the availability of overwhelming airpower, and we have boots on the ground that are ready and eager to fight.
CRUZ: We have boots on the ground already with the Kurds. But our government is not providing military weapons effectively to the Kurds. Instead, they're shuttling it all to Baghdad, and Baghdad is very slow in getting it to the Kurds.
Q: But if that's not enough, would you be willing to send American ground troops into that battle?
CRUZ: Look, we need to accomplish the mission and the mission should be defeating ISIS before they succeed in carrying out more horrific acts of terror. If need be, we should go that step. The problem is, right now, the Obama-Clinton-Kerry foreign policy has been consistently wrong on ISIS. Our photo-op foreign policy, where we drop a bomb here or a missile there. We need a focused, direct military objective of taking out and destroying ISIS.
CRUZ: Well, unfortunately, the approach of the Obama administration to ISIS has been fundamentally unserious. We have dropped a bomb here, a missile there, but it has really been a photo op foreign policy. What we need is a concentrated, directive military objective to take ISIS out. Now, what does that entail? A far more vigorous air campaign than we're seeing. We're dropping a fraction of the ordnance that we have in other campaigns such as Afghanistan.
Q: Do you think it will involve US troops?
CRUZ: Well, there are over 1,500 on the ground right now. But we have a tremendous asset on the ground right now, which is the Kurds, [whom we should arm].
CRUZ: Well, there are over 1,500 on the ground right now. But we have a tremendous asset on the ground right now, which is the Kurds. The Peshmerga have been strong allies of the US. They are effective fighters. And they desperately need weaponry and assistance. And, for whatever reason, the Obama administration has been delaying aiding the Peshmerga, has been running it all through Baghdad, instead of aiding them directly, and has been blocking them from selling oil, which doesn't make sense. And the Obama administration keeps focusing on Syrian rebels, many of whom have far too close ties to radical Islamic terrorists for it to make any sense for us to be supporting them. The Kurds are allies and they are boots on the ground. And when we work with them in concert, they're ready to fight on the front line, along with serious airpower. If it were a military objective to take ISIS out, I think that's what we would be doing.
"Intervention is a mistake. Intervention when both sides are evil is a mistake. And yet, here we are again, wading into a civil war," Paul said. His doubts ran contrary to the thinking of Rubio, who advocated an aggressive response.
The debate over arming the rebels to fight the spread of Islamic State has exposed long-brewing schisms for Republicans: A divide between proponents of a muscular American foreign policy, like Rubio and Cruz, vs. advocates of a scaled-back international presence, like Paul.
CRUZ (ON TAPE): What we ought to have is a direct concerted overwhelming air campaign to take them out.
Q (END TAPE): In Iraq and Syria?
CRUZ: The focus should be Iraq, but the real focus should be taking out ISIS. Within Syria, it should not be our objective to try to resolve the civil war in Syria.
Q: You said that the U.S. should bomb ISIS back into the Stone Age. Should that take Congressional approval?
CRUZ: It should absolutely take Congressional approval, I think.
Q (voice-over): But not all Republicans agree. On Friday, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida sent a letter to the White House saying the president doesn't need Congress, he should act swiftly on his own. What advice would you give the president?
CRUZ: I think it is an urgent concern to strike while ISIS is vulnerable.
CRUZ: There's a whole range of activity. President Obama set two straw men: One, invade or two, do nothing. And there's a whole range of intermediate steps. Pres. Obama should have spoken out clearly in support of freedom, in support of the protesters when the protesters began in the Maidan Square. I had the privilege of traveling through the Maidan Square, being led by 16-year-old high school girl who saw her compatriots shot by army snipers And they continue to protest for freedom. America should speak out for freedom. But then after that, we should stand with our allies and not give into Russia. We should, right now, install the anti-ballistic missile batteries in Eastern Europe, in Poland, the Czech Republic, that were scheduled to go in 2009, that Pres. Obama canceled in an effort to appease Putin. That hadn't worked. And we should be using energy as a tool to help liberate the Ukrainian people and to impose costs on Putin.
Congressional Summary:Prohibits US-based correspondent accounts or a payable-through accounts by a foreign financial institution that knowingly:
Arguments for and against bill: (New York Times, May 8, 2013): Seeking to escalate pressure on Iran, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would deny the Iranian government access to its foreign exchange reserves, estimated to be worth as much as $100 billion. The legislation would be the first major new sanction confronting Iran since its inconclusive round of negotiations last month on its disputed nuclear program.
Sponsors of the legislation contend that Iran is not bargaining in good faith while it continues to enrich uranium. Part of the reason, they say, is that Iran has been able to work around the worst effects of the sanctions by tapping its foreign currency reserves overseas, which are largely beyond the reach of current restrictions. "Closing the foreign currency loophole in our sanctions policy is critical in our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability," the sponsors said.
Critics said the new legislation risked further alienating Iranians who suspect that the sanctions' true purpose is not to pressure Iran in the nuclear negotiations, but to cause an economic implosion that would lead to regime change. "When we've cemented a sanctions escalation path, we're creating a trajectory toward actual confrontation," said the founder of the National Iranian American Council, a Washington group that opposes sanctions. Some Iranian leaders, he said, see the sanctions "as a train that can only go in one direction and has no brakes."
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.
Ballotpedia.org summary:Dozens of Republican senators wrote an open letter to the leadership of Iran, warning them that any nuclear deal signed between Iran and U.S. President Barack Obama might not last beyond his presidency, without Congress signing off on it as well. No Democrats signed it. [The letter caused intense backlash. V.P. Joe Biden said of the letter, "In 36 years in the US Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which senators wrote directly to advise another country--much less a longtime foreign adversary--that the president does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them." On Twitter, the hashtag "47Traitors" became the top trending topic in the world, and a debate raged as to whether the 47 who signed the letter were traitors or patriots. Here is the text of the letter.
An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
Under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a 2/3 vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.
We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.
We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations progress.
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.
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