John Thune on War & Peace
Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (SD-AL)
A: It means getting to where we have a democracy set up in Iraq, where we have free elections, where we have an Iraqi army that is trained and prepared to defend itself. General Petras is working on that on a daily basis and the Iraqis are stepping up, they are providing for more of their security, but thereís more that needs to be done. The Americans over there right now need to be the reinforcers, not the enforcers.
A: We have to rely on our military leadership. General Abizaid, General Casey, the people who are going to be making those recommendations to the president, if they call for more troops, the president will step forward and we have to support that. Itís important right now for us as a nation to show resolve, to be decisive and to finish the job and win the war on terror.
A: I donít agree with that. Iraq is a part of the broader war on terror. It is a war that we have to win. Obviously the question before the House is: What will we do differently? I donít think thereís an answer to that question thatís been offered. Itís to create an interim government, move to free elections, ratify a constitution, train an Iraqi army. Those steps are being taken. This is going to be a tough job and nobody said otherwise. We knew going in that this was going to be a tough part of the world that we were going to have to fight, weíre going to have to make sure that we create a democratic system there, that people in Iraq have freedom and we have to finish the job. This is not a time to cut and run, but to show resolve and the international community is responding.
A: The policy thatís been laid out by Bush is one of, you know, creating an interim government and Prime Minister Allawi is going to be here. Heís going to be meeting with the White House at the UN, and the message heís going to deliver is that we are making progress. But this is tough work. This is not going to be easy. These are terrorists. These are people who think nothing of butchering and slaughtering their own people. The US, as the leader of the Free World, has to stay strong. We have to stay resolute. We need to finish the job. If we donít, the terrorists are going to prevail and that spells disaster for the people of the US and for our national security as we move forward from here.
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.
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.
A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the Commander of Multinational Forces-Iraq and all United States personnel under his command should receive from Congress the full support necessary to carry out the United States mission in Iraq. Expresses the sense of the Senate that:
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