Tim Kaine on War & Peace
Democratic Senate Challenger; previously Governor
Tim Kaine (D): Opposes withdrawal. Damages diplomatic credibility, weakens alliances. Reopens the door for Iran to start enriching uranium.
Corey Stewart (R): Supports withdrawal. "Iran continues to be a state-sponsor of terrorism across the planet."
KAINE: When President Obama came to Congress on exactly the same instance in 2014, saying, "Syria has used chemical weapons against civilians, Congress should give authority for us to take military action," I voted for that as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. But the president was doing it the right way. He came forward with a plan and a strategy. And we voted yes.
Q: Obama wasn't going to get the full support of Congress on that one.
KAINE: We got a Senate resolution, and then Syria said, "we will give up our weapons stockpile."
Q: They did not, clearly.
KAINE: In 2014, citizen Donald Trump said the president can't constitutionally do this without coming to Congress. I'm troubled that this is a president who seemed to understand what the Constitution required when Obama was in office, but now he thinks he's a king and he can do whatever he wants without Congress.
KAINE: Governor Pence doesn't think the world's going so well.
PENCE: Do you?
KAINE: Let me tell you this. When Hillary Clinton became secretary of state did you know that Osama bin Laden was alive? Do you know that Iran was racing toward a nuclear weapon and Russia was expanding its stockpile? Under Secretary Clinton's leadership, she was part of the national team, public safety team that went after and revived the dormant hunt against bin Laden and wiped him off the face of the Earth. She worked to deal with the Russians to reduce their chemical weapons stockpile. She worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot. And instead of 175,000 American troops deployed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, we now have 15,000. These are very, very good things.
PENCE: We need to rebuild our military, including modernizing our nuclear forces. We need an effective American diplomacy that will marshal the resources of nations in the Asian Pacific Rim to put pressure on North Korea, on Kim Jong-un, to abandon his nuclear ambitions. When Donald Trump is president, we're not going to have the world flouting American power. We're going back to the days of peace through strength.
KAINE: You asked the question about how deal with a North Korea. I'm on the Foreign Relations Committee. We just did an extensive sanctions package against North Korea. The U.N. followed and did this -- virtually the same package. Often China will use their veto in the Security Council to veto a package like that. They're starting to get worried about North Korea, too. So they actually supported the sanctions package, even though many of the sanctions are against Chinese firms.
Kaine: Stopping a nuclear weapons program without firing a shot?
Pence: You didn't stop the nuclear weapons program.
Kaine: Yes, we did. Even the Israeli military says it stopped.
Pence: You essentially guaranteed that Iran will someday become a nuclear power, because there's no limitations once the period of time of the treaty comes off.
"You have been a strong champion of ensuring Ukraine's future as a democratic and sovereign nation, bolstering NATO preparedness in response to Russian aggression, and maintaining transatlantic unity regarding sanctions against Russia," the Senators wrote. "Yet amid the brazen failure of Russia to abide by the Minsk Agreement and internal political turmoil within the European Union, it is critical for NATO to reaffirm its support for Ukraine's success and the fundamental democratic values at stake.
The US has to undertake a more proactive approach to North Korea to address the nuclear and ballistic missile programs. This legislation not only puts Congress even more firmly on the record in opposition to North Korea's activity, but also provides the executive branch a more robust set of policy tools to confront the threat that is posed by Pyongyang.
Kaine said that in previous trips to Israel, he often came away frustrated with the prospect of Israelis and their Arab neighbors living in peace. "When you talk with senior leadership, you tend to hear the same thing over & over again.
Many of the Arab leaders he spoke with pointed to Iran as a real threat to them, not Israel, he said. Should a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians be reached--and Kaine doesn't see that happening in the near future--he believes Arab countries will support it "and even put resources into security."
"But Congress doesn't want to touch it. Congress wants to criticize the president but neither authorize nor stop what the president is doing. And it's just a huge abdication of responsibility, and it sets a horrible precedent. We all think ISIL is bad, but what we're basically doing is setting a precedent where a president can start a war and take it, you know, for more than a year without Congress getting involved at all, and that's just not what should happen," concluded Kaine. [He did introduce this Senate bill on 9/17/2014].
The authorization is specific to ISIL and supports President Obama's key pillars: a multinational effort to degrade and destroy ISIL; the use of air strikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria; and the provision of military equipment to appropriately vetted forces in Iraq and Syria; including the Kurdish fighters. It also includes four key limitations:
"Wiping out al-Qaeda?" Kaine responded "Stopping the Iraq War? Saving the auto industry? Is that not being consistent with Virginia's interests? I just see it a different way than you do, George." The candidates were asked about conservative proposals to declare that life begins at conception. Kaine opposed this, explaining that it would not only outlaw abortion, but would outlaw contraception such as the birth control pill and intra-uterine devices.
Allen said that defining life as beginning at conception would not outlaw contraception, as "contraception" means stopping conception--that is, preventing fertilization from taking place.
TIM KAINE, DNC CHAIRMAN: Those comments were outrageous to say that the Afghanistan war was a war of Obama's choosing, ignores 9/11, ignores President Bush going to a bipartisan Congress and getting their support for going after the terrorists who did us harm, ignores the international coalition that joins with us. But in another way, as outrageous the statements are, they are also, I think, a logical extensions of what the Republican Party's game plan is which was blame the president for anything and oppose him on everything.
KAINE: You look at Afghanistan much like you look at what the president has done in Iraq. The wars were for very different motives. I think the president was right that Iraq was a wrong choice and I applaud the way he has brought the troop strength down. He has laid out a plan going forward that calls for a reduction of battle troop strength in Afghanistan beginning in 2011. He has accomplished what he said would do in Iraq and I think the American people are going to see that he will accomplish what he said he would do in Afghanistan. [To say] that the Afghanistan war was a war of Obama's choosing ignores 9/11
I was thrilled to welcome the 654th Military Police Company--Virginia Guard troops from all over the Commonwealth--back from Iraq. I visited the 654th in the Green Zone in Baghdad in March and, as Commander in Chief of the Virginia Guard, expressed the gratitude of all Virginians for their service.
Our commitment to winning the war on terror compels us to ask this question: Are the president’s policies the best way to win this war?
We now know that the American people were given inaccurate information about reasons for invading Iraq. We now know that our troops in Iraq were not given the best body armor or the best intelligence. We now know the administration wants to cut tens of thousands of troops at the very time that we’re facing new and dangerous threats. And we now know that the administration wants to further reduce military and veterans’ benefits. There’s a better way. Working together, we have to give our troops the tools they need to win the war on terror. And we can do it without sacrificing the liberty that we’ve sent our troops abroad to defend.
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.
Excerpts from Letter from 14 Senators to Secretary of State Tillerson: A February 7 Amnesty International report asserts that up to 13,000 people have been methodically executed at the Saydnaya Prison as part of a calculated campaign of extrajudicial execution authorized at the highest levels of the Syrian government.
Assad's actions--including the confirmed use of chemical weapons—provide sufficient documentation exists to charge Bashar al-Assad with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Russia, [despite its support of the Assad regime], must join the international community in seeking to hold Assad accountable, stop enabling the slaughter of the Syrian people, and undertake efforts to remove Iran-affiliated fighters from Syria.
Opposing argument: (ACLU blog, "Protect Syrian Civilians," 4/4/2017): Following the April 4 chemical attack, the president launched cruise missiles. There is no doubt that that the use of chemical weapons against civilians in northern Syria was illegal and immoral. However, the ACLU objected to President Trump unilaterally launching strikes without advance congressional authorization. The Constitution is clear that only Congress can declare war and authorize the use of our armed forces, absent an emergency need to stop a sudden attack.
Opposing argument: (Heritage Foundation, "Terrorism Report"): [The US should] support measures to hold Bashar al-Assad accountable to the Syrian people. Assad must answer for his crimes, and the Syrian people should be given discretion as to how this process is conducted. Their options could include trial in a domestic court, inviting the International Criminal Court into Syria, or establishing a truth and reconciliation commission. Such a measure might also help to reduce the flow of foreign fighters into Syria.
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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AK: Sullivan(R,incumbent) vs.Gross(I)
AL: Jones(D,incumbent) vs.Sessions(R) vs.Moore(R) vs.Mooney(R) vs.
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