Bob Casey on War & Peace
Democratic Sr Senator (PA)
Lou Barletta (R): Yes. Applauds Trump's decision.
Bob Casey (D): No. Strongly opposes Trump's decision.
CASEY: I don’t think we can. I’m not ready to abandon this mission; I think a lot of Americans are not, either. What has to happen in Iraq is what you’ve not seen. We need new leadership. We don’t need a deadline or a timeline; we need new leadership. That means replacing Donald Rumsfeld and finding out how and whether we were lied to with regard to intelligence.
CASEY: If a lot of Americans knew then what they know now, they would have thought that this war shouldn’t have been fought based upon the misleading of this administration.
Q: But in ‘05 you said you’d vote for it. Would you today in ‘06 vote for it?
CASEY: Based upon the evidence that was presented then, which I think was misleading, and I think it was faulty. The intelligence was faulty. Today, I think there wouldn’t have been a vote and I think people would have changed.
Q: Is your stance evolving? In April ‘05, you said, “The key thing now is to finish the job.” In October ‘05, you said, “Some people think that pulling out is a good idea and a timeline is a good idea - I don’t agree with that. We’ve got more work to do to make sure that we get it right.” Then in June ‘06, you said, “U.S. troops should be removed from Iraq. by the end of the year.” Should we finish the job? Or should we remove the troops by the end of the year?
CASEY: I’ve never favored a deadline in this whole campaign. Because we have to do everything we can to hold the administration accountable. This thing is headed toward civil war. When you have it heading in the wrong direction, you’ve got to have a new course.
Q: So for legislation which says, “All troops out by July of 2007,” Bob Casey votes no.
CASEY: What we need in Iraq is a plan. One of the things that we could be doing with the global war on terror, is to have more Special Forces out there. Doubling the number of Special Forces, having counterproliferation units run by the Special Forces that intercept nuclear, biological, chemical, potential weapons around the world.
Q: Do we need more troops?
CASEY: What we need in Iraq right now is some accountability. [US troops] can still be there, but the Iraqis can take the lead and get the Americans out of the front line.
Q: And what if you left behind a haven for terrorists?
CASEY: The objective here is to make sure we’re doing everything possible to give the American people the information they need and to protect our troops. And I think it’s an abomination that Rick Santorum did not call for or insist upon the best body armor when those troops needed it.
SANTORUM: No, we have an opportunity to go after them by using pro-democracy forces outside and within Iran, and to crack down with additional sanctions. That’s the one-two punch [outlined in my proposed bill]. The administration so far has opposed me on that.
Q: No military option?
SANTORUM: That’s part of the 2% that President Bush doesn’t agree with me on.
CASEY: There’s no question that the policy of our government has to be to do everything possible to make sure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. And we’ve got to use sanctions in a very skilled way. We agree that sanctions have got to be very tough.
SANTORUM: You would have voted for my bill?
CASEY: Absolutely. I have to ask about the most prominent critic of Iran’s sanctions, Dick Cheney. Are you going to denounce him for continually opposing sanctions?
SANTORUM: I disagree with him on sanctions, but I don’t denounce people because I disagree with them.
Bob Casey understands that Washington must do more to train the Iraqi security forces so we can bring our troops home as soon as possible.
Casey said, ‘Once it was under way, like a lot of Americans, I was supportive of what our troops were trying to do there, based on what we were told by our government. We found out later the intelligence was, at best, faulty and, at worst, misleading. We can learn a lot of lessons from that, but the key thing now is to finish the job.’
Casey said, ‘Some people think that pulling out is a good idea and a timeline is a good idea -- I don’t agree with that.’
A: A lot of Americans feel we were deceived and there is evidence to back up that feeling. I don’t think we were intentionally mislead, but there’s no question that at best, we experienced a colossal intelligence failure. We didn’t have a plan to win the peace. We listened too much to Pentagon and not enough to the State Department about the kind of challenges were likely to face. But what’s important now is to focus on where we are currently, and clearly there are problems with the way the administration is conducting the war: the lack of enough troops, the lack of sufficient armor, the failure to train enough Iraqi troops so we can bring our own troops, who have fought heroically, home. Unfortunately, Sen. Santorum has not been asking any tough questions. Leading Republicans, like Senators Hagel and McCain, have raised legitimate questions about the conduct of this war.
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.
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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