Elizabeth Warren on War & Peace
Massachusetts Senator; former head of CFPB; Dem. Presidential Challenger
WARREN: Look, I think that what we've got to do is we have to provide humanitarian relief. We need to work with our allies on this. But this is not a moment for military intervention. We have got to use our military only when we see a military problem that can be solved militarily. We cannot send our military in unless we have a plan to get them out. So, for me, this is about working with our allies. It is about standing with the people who are under enormous pressure right now. This is recognizing what Donald Trump has put us in, in a terrible box around the world. But the solution is not to use our military. The solution is to use the other tools here.
And we need to be nicer to our friends than to dictators.
We need not to cut and run on our allies. We need an approach that keeps us safe by using all of the tools in a measured way.
V.P. Joe BIDEN: There's a difference between combat troops and leaving special forces in a position. I was part of the coalition to put together 68 countries to deal with stateless terror as well as failed states. That's how we were able to end the caliphate for ISIS. They'll come back if we do not deal with them and we do not have someone who can bring together the rest of the world to go with us, with small numbers of special forces.
Senator Warren: I think that we ought to get out of the Middle East. I don't think we should have troops in the Middle East. But we have to do it the right way, the smart way. What this President has done is that he has sucked up to dictators, he has made impulsive decisions that often his own team doesn't understand, he has cut and run on our allies, and he has enriched himself at the expense of the United States of America. In Syria, he has created a bigger than ever humanitarian crisis, he has helped ISIS get another foothold, a new lease on life. I sit on the Armed Services Committee, I talk with our military leaders about this. I was in Iraq and went through the neighborhoods that ISIS destroyed. We need to get out, but we need to do this through a negotiated solution. There is no military solution in this region.
WARREN: We're not going to bomb our way to a solution in Afghanistan. We need to treat the problem of terrorism as a worldwide problem, and that means we need to be working with all of our allies, our European allies, our Canadian allies, our Asian allies, our allies in Africa and in South America. We need to work together to root out terrorism.
Q: U.S. military leaders on the ground in Afghanistan say you can't do it without a deal with the Taliban. You said you would bring them home [without that].
WARREN: I was in Afghanistan with John McCain two years ago this past summer. We asked, "Show me what winning looks like." And what you hear is a lot of, "Uh," because no one can describe it. And the reason no one can describe it is because the problems in Afghanistan are not problems that can be solved by a military. The military will do anything we ask them to do. But we cannot ask them to solve problems that they alone cannot solve.
WARREN: Look, we don't expand trust around the world by saying, "You know, we might be the first ones to use a nuclear weapon." That puts the entire world at risk and puts us at risk, right in the middle of this. At a time when Donald Trump is pulling out of our nuclear negotiations, expanding the opportunities for nuclear proliferation around the world, has pulled us out of the deal in Iran, and Iran is now working on its nuclear weapon, the world gets closer and closer to nuclear warfare. We have to have an announced policy that is one the entire world can live with. We need to make that clear. We will respond if someone else does, but not first.
Brown, however, said he wouldn't want to second guess the president. "I would rely on the guidance from the president and his generals," he said.
Warren said she also supports Israel and is opposed to allowing Iran to gain nuclear arms. She also praised Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Obama, saying he's "done a first-rate job. He's taking nothing off the table."
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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Joe Kennedy III
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AK: Incumbent Lisa Murkowski(R)
vs.Challenger Kelly Tshibaka(R)
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AL: Incumbent Richard Shelby(R)
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AR: Incumbent John Boozman(R)
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CT: Incumbent Richard Blumenthal(D)
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WI: Incumbent Ron Johnson(R)
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Senate Votes (analysis)