Tim Kaine on War & Peace

Democratic Senate Challenger; previously Governor


Withdrawing from Iran nuke treaty weakens alliances

Q: Support Trump withdrawal from treaty limiting Iran's nuclear capability in return for lifting economic sanctions?

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."

Source: 2018 CampusElect.org Issue Guide on Virginia Senate race , Oct 9, 2018

Respond to Syrian chemical attack, but only via Congress

Q: You do not think the US should have taken action against Syria in the wake of a chemical attack?

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.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2018 interviews of 2020 hopefuls , Apr 15, 2018

We now have fewer troops abroad &reduced Iranian threat

PENCE: For the last seven-and-a-half years, we've seen America's place in the world weakened, and the American people know that we need to make a change.

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.

Source: 2016 Vice-Presidential Debate at Longwood University , Oct 4, 2016

Senate and UN agreed on sanctions against North Korea

Q: How would you prevent North Korea from developing a nuclear-armed missile?

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.

Source: 2016 Vice-Presidential Debate at Longwood University , Oct 4, 2016

Iran deal stopped nuclear program without firing a shot

Pence: And a reference to the Iranian deal, the Iranian deal that Hillary Clinton initiated, $150 billion to the radical mullahs in Iran.

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.

Source: 2016 Vice-Presidential Debate at Longwood University , Oct 4, 2016

Success in Ukraine means resistance to Russian aggression

Kaine, along with Senators Durbin, Murphy, Shaheen, and Boxer sent a letter to Obama, urging him to carry a message to world leaders at the upcoming NATO summit in Poland: success in Ukraine and resistance to Russian aggression, including through the rotational deployment of NATO troops to Eastern Europe, are in the best interest of all member counties. A democratic and economically stable Ukraine is ultimately the strongest rebuke to Russia's provocations.

"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.

Source: Kaine's Senate office press release, "Ukraine & NATO Summit" , Jul 7, 2016

Proactively address North Korean nuclear & missile programs

We have witnessed recently many provocations by the North Koreans [on both] ballistic missile tests and missile nuclear weapons program proliferation.

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.

Source: Senate Floor Speech on North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act , Feb 10, 2016

Iran is the real threat; Israel can make peace with Arabs

After spending six days in the Middle East, Kaine said he believes that Israel's emerging cooperation with some of its neighbors is cause for optimism. Kaine spoke with officials in Israel, the West Bank and Turkey, as well as with nongovernmental organizations.

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.

Source: Washington Jewish Week on 2016 Veepstakes , Jan 20, 2016

Iran is the real threat; Israel can make peace with Arabs

[On a 6-day trip around the Mideast], 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 and over again. There is kind of a staleness to the conversation frankly," he said. During his trip, he was encouraged to realize that "some countries really view Israel as a partner," he said. "There is growing cooperation between Israel and many Arab nations in the region, the Gulf state- nations," specifically Saudi Arabia, as well as Jordan and Egypt.

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."

Source: Washington Jewish Week, "Middle East's future" , Jan 20, 2016

Wanted a War on ISIL vote in Congress and would support it

Kaine said, "Article 1 of the Constitution says, you shouldn't be at war unless Congress declares it. Now a president has power under Article 2 to defend the US. And when the bombing campaign first began in August 2014, the president was defending a US consulate in Erbil. But within a few weeks, the US was under no imminent threat. Once Obama said, 'it's time to go on offense against ISIL,' at that point, congressional authorization was required.

"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].

Source: National Public Radio, "Kaine criticizes Syria strategy" , Oct 31, 2015

The public deserves robust debate before we go to war

This is the most important decision we make as a government. How does the public get educated about whether it's worth using military force in Libya or to stop Assad from using chemical weapons? By watching somebody propose military action and then somebody oppose it. And then have that debate back and forth. We shouldn't ask men and women to risk their lives on the battlefield if there's not a political consensus that says this mission is worth it. If there's any ambiguity between the executive and the legislature, then you're asking those who serve to risk their lives when the political branches of government haven't bothered to do the work to determine whether the mission is worthwhile. We should never ask anybody to sacrifice in that way.
Source: Coursera Lecture #54, "Problems of War Powers" , Jan 29, 2015

Authorize military force against ISIL, phasing out Iraq AUMF

Kaine will introduce a narrow and specific authorization for use of military force against ISIL. As the Foreign Relations Committee prepares to draft a tailored authorization to provide President Obama with authority in the mission to degrade and destroy ISIL, Kaine's proposal is meant to reinforce the President's strategy, as well as set key limitations he hopes will be included in final authorizing language for broader Congressional consideration.

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:

Source: Kaine's Senate office press release, "AUMF against ISIL" , Nov 17, 2014

We ended war in Iraq and are ending Afghan war now

President Obama said he'd end the war in Iraq, and he has. He said he'd draw down troops in Afghanistan, and today every Virginia National Guard unit is home for the first time in a decade. He said he'd go after bin Laden and take out al-Qaida. He did, and a SEAL team earned our nation's gratitude.
Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 4, 2012

Redefine War Powers to reflect realities of 21st century

As a member of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, Tim has helped shape federal policy on issues impacting our nation's military and foreign policy. Since June 2014, Tim has been the leading voice calling on Congress to debate and authorize the war against ISIL to show our troops, allies, and enemies that we're united in this fight. While others claimed a bipartisan authorization wasn't within reach, Tim joined Republican Senator Jeff Flake to introduce a compromise proposal that has received support from both sides of the aisle. Tim's long-term goal is for Congress to pass a rewrite of the 1973 War Powers Resolution to better reflect the realities of war in the 21st century.
Source: Virginia 2012 Senate campaign website KaineForVA.com , Feb 29, 2012

Nuke deal with Iran is dramatic improvement over status quo

Tim co-authored the bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act to set up a constructive process for Congressional review of the final nuclear agreement with Iran, a deal which Tim believes is a "dramatic improvement over the status quo" that will greatly improve global security.
Source: Virginia 2012 Senate campaign website KaineForVA.com , Feb 29, 2012

Supported Obama's stopping the Iraq War

Allen. "Were you or were you not advocating for their agenda? And their agenda surely wasn't consistent with what's in the best interests of the people of Virginia."

"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.

Source: Eric Kleefeld reporting on 2012 Virginia Senate debate , Dec 7, 2011

Obama had a "good rationale" for going in Libya in 2011

Kaine said that the Obama administration should consult Congress further over American involvement in Libya's civil war. "Err on the side of caution and go to Congress," Kaine said. When asked whether the War Powers Act legally requires the White House to get congressional approval for Libya, Kaine was noncommittal, adding that the president had a "good rationale" for going in, given that sanctions had failed and the United Nations and the Arab League signed off on intervention.
Source: The Daily Progress, "Kaine talks Libya," by Graham Moomaw , Jun 19, 2011

Afghanistan war was not a war of Obama's choosing

MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: Keep in mind, for our federal candidates, this is a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.

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.

Source: RealClearPolitics.com on 2016 Veepstakes , Jul 6, 2010

Iraq was a wrong choice; Afghanistan was no choice

Q: What do you think of the Afghanistan policy?

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

Source: RealClearPolitics.com on 2016 Veepstakes , Jul 6, 2010

Visited VA National Guard members in Green Zone in Baghdad

Tonight, thousands of Virginians are serving to keep us safe. Since 9/11, over 7,200 members of the Virginia National Guard have been activated at home and abroad to support the war against terror.

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.

Source: 2007 State of the State address to Virginia Assembly , Jan 10, 2007

Americans were given inaccurate information regarding Iraq

The president called again tonight for our commitment to win the war on terror and to support our troops. Every American embraces those goals. We can--we must--defeat those who attack and kill innocent people.

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.

Source: Democratic Response to 2006 State of the Union address , Jan 31, 2006

Iran must accept long-term intrusive nuke inspection.

Kaine signed demanding that Iran accept intrusive nuclear inspection

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:

Iran must clearly understand the consequences of failing to reach an acceptable final agreement. We must signal unequivocally to Iran that rejecting negotiations and continuing its nuclear weapon program will lead to much more dramatic sanctions, including further limitations on Iran's oil exports.

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.

Source: Iran Nukes Letter 14LTR-NUKE on Mar 18, 2014

Hold Assad accountable for slaughter of civilians.

Kaine signed holding Assad accountable for slaughter of civilians

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.

Source: Syria Letter 17LTR-SYR on Feb 22, 2017

No military force against Iran without Congress approval.

Kaine voted YEA the Iran War Powers Resolution

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.

Source: Supreme Court case 20-SCR33 argued on Jan 9, 2020

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