Chris Van Hollen on War & Peace
Democratic Representative (MD-8)
Van Hollen: Because you have to look at what the consequences are. We don't go around killing all the very bad people in the world. We have President Trump embracing Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea who's got a lot of blood on his hands and is responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier, an American citizen, and yet he's getting love letters from the president of the United States. The question is, do we further our interests by killing Soleimani?
Van Hollen: Countering the threat of ISIS is a national security priority for the U.S., but we should not bear the burden alone. I support the use of American surveillance, intelligence assets, and airpower to support the ground operations of the Iraqi army and Kurdish fighters in Iraq, and strike ISIS military equipment and command and control elsewhere. I have spoken out forcefully against the idea of American troops on the ground in Syria, remembering the lessons of the Iraq War, which I opposed from the start. The removal of Saddam Hussein unleashed clashing sectarian forces that spawned al Qaeda in Iraq--the parent of ISIS. We should end the 2002 Iraq War Resolution authority and the current version of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, which provides a blank check for the Executive to put U.S. ground combat forces into Iraq, Syria and other areas.
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.
Calling for urgent international intervention on behalf of Iraqi civilians facing a dire humanitarian crisis in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq.
Argument in opposition: (by The Christian Post)
ISIS has asked minorities to flee, convert to Islam, or be killed. H.Con. Res. 110 makes it a priority to protect Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and create safe havens for them. Yazidis are viewed by the ISIS as "devil worshipers."
Argument in opposition: (by Baltimore Nonviolence Center, July 26, 2014)
[We're seeking] action to keep us from sliding back to war in Iraq. On July 25, the House passed H. Con. Res. 105, the proposal to keep U.S. troops out of Iraq, by an overwhelming vote of 370-40. By passing the Iraq War Powers Resolution, Congress made clear that they stand with the American public, who do not want to go back to war in Iraq.
RESOLUTION Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the current situation in Iraq and the urgent need to protect religious minorities from persecution from the Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) as it expands its control over areas in northwestern Iraq.
Reporting pro & con by Politico.com, Sept. 17, 2014:
Secretary of State John Kerry said arming the moderate opposition in Syria was the "best counterweight" against ISIL and emphasized to lawmakers: "ISIL must be defeated. Period." However, "US ground troops will not be sent into combat in this conflict," Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Instead, they will support Iraq forces on the ground as they fight for their country."
Protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink stood up, held signs and chanted "No more war!" Kerry turned his attention to the protesters, and told them that while he was sympathetic to their opposition to war, if they believed in the broader mission of Code Pink, "then you ought to care about fighting ISIL." Stressing that the Islamic State was "killing and raping and mutilating women" and "making a mockery of a peaceful religion," Kerry told the protesters: "There is no negotiation with ISIL."
Congressional Summary: H Amdt 1141 authorizes training and equipping appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition; requires detailed reports (including progress reports) on the plan, vetting process, and procedures for monitoring unauthorized end-use of provided training and equipment; and permits the Secretary of Defense to accept foreign contributions.
Statement in support by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA-25): I offer an amendment to HJ.124 to provide authority to train and equip elements of the Syrian opposition in order to defend the Syrian people from attacks by ISIL and to protect the US and our friends and allies. ISIL is a clear and present threat to our allies across the Middle East and to the US. The President has requested the authority to train and equip nongovernmental entities fighting in the non-U.S.-led operation in Syria. There is no doubt that any strategy to defeat ISIL must contain a Syrian component. I believe that there are options to defeat ISIL in Syria short of a major U.S.-led combat operation. But the window of opportunity is closing.
Statement in opposition by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY-13): I don't see where the President needs authority to do what we are about to allow him to do because of a threat to the US. I haven't come close, in convincing [myself or my constituents] that training people overseas, that we don't know, to fight ISIS is in their best national interest. Already we have lost trillions of dollars and over 6,000 lives in this area, and I don't think we have yet to declare war. This honorable body [should] determine whether or not any enemy is a threat to the US and that we are going to go to war with them, that we should force every American to evaluate whether or not they believe that they are prepared to make sacrifices.
Legislative outcome: Amendment passed House 273-156-9 on 17-Sep-2014.
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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