June 20, 2019

Kaine: “Another War In The Middle East Would Be A Disaster”

You can find video of the full floor speech here.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, delivered a floor speech warning President Trump against starting a war with Iran. In his speech, he called on his colleagues in the Senate to pass his bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in order to prohibit funds from being used for military action against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.

Below is an excerpt of the floor speech:

“I think another war in the Middle East now would be a disaster. I think it would be catastrophic for the U.S. to tear up a diplomatic deal, and then look at our troops in the face and say, because we tore up a diplomatic deal, you have to now go fight another war when we’ve been in the Middle East for 18 years. I think it would represent just about as catastrophic a failure of American foreign policy as you could imagine.

“I think it would also have the disadvantage of taking our eye off the ball. I have always been taught to keep the main thing, the main thing. I think the main thing right now in national security for the United States is to keep our eye on our principal competitor, which is China. When we take our eye off of our principal competitor and we engage in wars we needn’t be in, China will be the victor in that. That is a very dangerous thing for us. And so I think it would be catastrophic for the United States to be engaged in another war in the Middle East, particularly a war against Iran right now.

“But if the President feels differently about that, if some of his advisers think we ought to be about regime change in Iran, as they’ve said. If some of them think it would be easy to beat Iran in a war, as they’ve said. If some colleagues here on the floor think we should be in a war with Iran, as some have publicly urged, let them come to the floor of the United States Senate in full view of the American people and make that argument. Let's have that argument right here in the greatest deliberative body in the world with the American public watching. And I’ll make my argument about why a new war in the Middle East would be catastrophic and see who wants to stand up and make the argument that a new war in the Middle East is something that this great nation should do. And if we then have that argument, and cast a vote, and I lose, I’m going to be disappointed - but we will have done what the Constitution suggests that we must do.

“Our failure to have that debate is so unfair to our troops. It's unfair to our troops to put them in harm's way with Congress hiding under their desk not being willing to state yea or nay about whether we should be engaged in hostilities. Let’s honor the troops and the sacrifice we would ask them to make, follow the Constitution, and have this debate before the American public. And that's what the amendment would essentially guarantee this body would do, and that's why I so strongly support it.”

In July of 2018, Kaine wrote a piece in the Atlantic warning that President Trump was blundering toward war with Iran. Earlier this week, Kaine sent a letter to President Trump calling on him to explain his recent decisions to deploy additional troops to the Middle East. For years, Kaine has been the leading voice in Congress raising concerns over Presidents’ efforts to expand the use of military force without congressional authorization. Kaine has introduced legislation to repeal the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, reassert Congress’ role in authorizing military action, and take away the blank check that multiple presidents have used to fight wars across the globe.

 

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