Mazie Hirono on War & Peace
Democratic challenger; Representative (HI-2)
A: Had I been in Congress at the time, I would have voted with the rest of the Hawai‘i delegation against the war. Preemptive strike should not be the basis of our foreign policy--such an act should require a very high threshold of accurate information, which we did not have. The Bush administration misled the country when it entered this war, and has shown no credible plan for winning the peace or for a safe exit strategy. We should get out of the quagmire that is Iraq with a phased redeployment of U.S. forces that begins before the end of 2006 and significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty should also occur. The U.S. should play a leading role in promoting peace in the region. As long as we are at war, we are severely compromised in our ability to do so.
A: Our most pressing foreign policy problem is our reputation in the world as a result of our basically unilateral action in preemptively attacking Iraq. Preemptive strike is not a policy which builds allies and strengthens our position at the global table. The President’s conduct in the war in Iraq influences our country’s ability to lead on a number of other important matters.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Kucinich, D-OH]:The American people oppose this war by a margin of two to one. Nearly 2/3 of Americans say the war isn't worth fighting. We are spending $100 billion per year on this war. There are those who are saying the war could last at least another 10 years. Are we willing to spend another $1 trillion on a war that doesn't have any exit plan, for which there is no timeframe to get out, no endgame, where we haven't defined our mission? The question is not whether we can afford to leave. The question is, can we afford to stay? And I submit we cannot afford to stay. The counterintelligence strategy of General Petraeus is an abysmal failure, and it needs to be called as such.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL]: This resolution would undermine the efforts of our military and our international partners in Afghanistan and would gravely harm our Nation's security. 3,000 people died on Sep. 11 because we walked away once from Afghanistan, thinking that it didn't matter who controlled that country. We were wrong then. Let us not make the same mistake twice. Completing our mission in Afghanistan is essential to keeping our homeland safe. This is about our vital national security interests. It is about doing what is necessary to ensure that al Qaeda and other extremists cannot reestablish safe havens such as the ones they had in Afghanistan when the 9/11 attacks were planned against our Nation and our people. The enemy, indeed, is on the run. It is demoralized and divided. Let us not give up now.
Congressional Summary: Resolved, That President George W. Bush be impeached for committing the following abuses of power:
Rep. Wasserman-Schultz: Impeachment is a lengthy process which would divide Congress and this nation even more deeply than we are divided right now. Referring this resolution to the House Judiciary Committee is the constitutionally appropriate process that should be pursued.
Rep. Ron Paul: I rise, reluctantly, in favor of referring that resolution to the House Judiciary Committee for full consideration, which essentially directs the committee to examine the issue more closely than it has done to this point.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This war is a terrible tragedy, and it is time to bring it to an end. This is a straightforward bill to redeploy our military forces from Iraq and to end the war in Iraq. This bill does not walk away from the Iraqi people. It specifically continues diplomatic, social, economic, and reconstruction aid. Finally, this bill leaves all the decisions on the locations outside of Iraq to which our troops will be redeployed wholly in the hands of our military commanders.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This legislation embraces surrender and defeat. This legislation undermines our troops and the authority of the President as commander in chief. Opponents express concern about the effects of an ill-conceived military withdrawal, and about any legislation that places military decisions in the hands of politicians rather than the military commanders in the field. The enemy we face in Iraq view this bill as a sign of weakness. Now is not the time to signal retreat and surrender. It is absolutely essential that America, the last remaining superpower on earth, continue to be a voice for peace and a beacon for freedom in our shrinking world.
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.
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