Behold Trump's new chairman of his national security committee. The former Iraq invasion cheerleader, Sen. Jeff Sessions made an appearance on ABC's This Week and actually said this with a straight face when asked by host Martha Raddatz if Herr Drumpf has the "temperament to be commander-in-chief of our armed forces" and the criticism of his anti-Muslim rhetoric by Former CIA Director David Petraeus and the ground commander in Iraq's response to that op-ed.
RADDATZ: Your reaction to that, senator.
SESSIONS: We need to respect people's faith. We need to -- when working in the Middle East we need to be very respectful of how these good people conduct their lives and the faith that they have. It means tremendously important to them.
But I've got to tell you we do have problems with violent extremism. We need to talk about that, we need to admit it. We need to know the nature of the threat that the United States faces. So, I don't think Trump has gone too far. He said we should have a temporary ban on entry of people into the country from the Muslim world, but that's because we have an ineffective screening process that the Defense Department and security forces tell us we don't have needs we have.
So, I think that we're moving in the right direction. It's an important issue. I believe Donald Trump is speaking openly about it, but he has also made clear that he hopes to see that end, and end soon. Any temporary ban would be, in fact, temporary.
RADDATZ: OK, Donald Trump has also declared ISIS will be gone if I'm elected president, they will be gone very, very quickly. But no one I've talked to on the ground says the threat will be stamped out quickly here. So, how does Trump make that happen?
SESSIONS: Well, we've got to unite all of our friends and allies in the region and Europe, NATO. And this can be done. We're going to have to defeat ISIS, because it's a direct threat to us.↓ Story continues below ↓
But there are other problems around the world that don't represent a direct threat to us that we should not be overly engaged in, just supporting in a way that's effective.
So, I think the Trump policy will be -- work. It is a great, great tragedy that we totally pulled our troops out of Iraq in 2011. Senator McCain warned, pleaded with President Obama not to do that. We would have to send troops back in to this area. He and Hillary Clinton did it anyway. Now whole parts of Iraq are in danger. ISIS is holding parts of Iraq, building bases to attack from. This was a classic, colossal disaster. And it was one of the greatest error of the 21st Century politically in my view.
Raddatz, of course, proved herself to be once again about as useful as a potted plant, and allowed the comment to go unchallenged.
RADDATZ: Well, Senator, let's look forward and let's talk about some specifics. What would Trump do differently than Hillary Clinton has proposed?
SESSIONS: We're going to have to step it up. We're going to have to use whatever forces we have in every way we can to defeat this ISIS threat and try to put back together this disaster that has occurred since we had a reasonably stable government in 2011. It was -- you've got to be smart about the utilization of force. You just have to be smart about it. You have to get the best advice. And I'm not going to advise today how to do it. If I think Donald Trump would say to the military what do you need? What can we do to increase the pressure on them? I'll back you up. We're going to destroy ISIS. And I think that's the kind of leadership we need.
RADDATZ: Is there anything you would like Donald Trump do differently?
SESSIONS: Well, I think he's going to need to learn. He's going to need to understand really completely -- as you know, Martha, how complex this world is, even within Baghdad and the region around Baghdad -- Kurds, al Anbar, Sunni, Shia, Iranians, so forth. It's just a very, very complex world and you have to be careful when you commit a military force.
RADDTAZ: OK, thanks so much, Senator Sessions.
Never mind that President Obama was honoring Bush's status of forces agreement when he withdrew our troops from Iraq, it's President Obama and Hillary Clinton that made "the greatest error of the 21st Century politically." Never mind the lying us into war in the first place, or the mismanagement of our invasion by the Bush administration. It's all the Kenyan usurper and Clinton's fault.
Nothing like a heaping helping of revisionist history from these clowns with no push back whatsoever from our useless corporate media. This is the same genius who said this on the floor of the Senate back in 2002:
Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Chair, and I thank the leadership for the work they have put into this bill. I thank Senator McCain. It is great to see Senator John Warner here. He helped write the 1991 gulf war resolution and led its successful vote in this body, which served the body exceedingly well. That was a courageous act that he led at that time.
Mr. President, any contemplation of the use of military force is a very serious matter and calls for the Congress, the peoples' representatives, to be engaged and to discuss and debate the issue. I do not believe the Lord is pleased when his children fight--and according to my faith, all people are creatures of one Lord and precious in his sight.
In my view the resort to war can never be considered something to glory in but must be viewed as an act that is taken as a result of human failure, and where after serious consideration, it is concluded that alternatives are worse.
When the status quo presents more dangers than the war the most just, the most logical, the most moral thing is to fight. I wish it were not so but my experience and my best judgement tells me this is the way we live in this transitory world. I truly respect the pacifist--it is a position with a long and honored tradition in my faith--but whether it is by judgement or lack of faith, I do not go there.
To have a just war one must reasonably believe the ultimate goal of the violence will be to produce a good result--a better condition than existed before. And while as leaders of the people of the United States we must focus primarily on the just national security interests of our country, we, as enlightened, moral and decent people, ought to ask ourselves, whether our actions will ultimately benefit the world and even our adversary. Will the future for all be better or not?
Further, we should consider our national heritage of promoting peace, freedom and prosperity. War obviously destroys peace, but if the result can be to create a safer and more peaceful world, war can be an instrument of peace.
Afghanistan has had two decades of war. Our strong military action to totally defeat the Taliban government has given that brutalized country its best chance for peace, freedom and prosperity in generations. We cannot guarantee it, but great optimism exists for a positive future that could never have been possible under the oppressive, hateful, bigoted Taliban.
The practitioners of the art of "realpolitic" may sneer at the concept of free countries in the Arab world, but I am proud of the results of our military action in Afghanistan, not only because it represented just retribution for their support of attacks on the United States but also because we have left that oppressed country better than we found it. We liberated the people of Afghanistan from the most brutal circumstances.
Can anyone forget the scenes of men beating women on the streets for the most insignificant or imagined acts? No, I am proud of our wise and brilliant use of force.
I also remember such actions played a positive role in our nation's founding. Indeed, one can go down to Yorktown, as I did recently, and visit the site of the final American victory over the British. As one considers that climactic victory, after years of war and many defeats inflicted by the skilled British military, one learns that our victory would not have been possible but for the intervention of the large French fleet at Yorktown, and that fleet's victory over the British in a major battle.
With no ability to retreat or resupply, the cornered General Cornwallis had no choice but to surrender. This French action aided our liberation immensely and have served as a bond of loyalty between our nations even to this day. If the French were justified in the use of military force to help liberate us, may not our use of force in years to come be seen by the world and the people of Iraq in the same positive way. Can such a positive result be guaranteed? Of course not, but I and many others believe the chances for any improved Iraq's government are greater than some think.
Still, we must clearly remember that we cannot guarantee any nation, so liberated, future success. There are limits on our power, our reach and our resources. I am very pleased that under the leadership of President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, we have only a few more soldiers in Afghanistan than we have in Kosovo. The fate of Afghanistan will be up to their people ultimately. We can help, and we have, but their final fate will be in their hands--as it should be.
It is also important to consider that the threats to the United States do not come from free and prosperous states but failing ones. They fail because of flawed governments.
Thus, I say the President is right to reject a half century of valueless, cynical, diplomatic wordplay, words that sound good but are totally disconnected from reality, and to establish a new foreign policy based on our venerable heritage of honest and direct discussion of issues and values.
I am somewhat puzzled that those who have long advocated our taking steps to aid poor countries in the world do not recognize the possibilities for good that can come from a change in government. It seems there is still a strong strain of "blame America first" about. Many had rather complain about our imperfections, real or imagined, than to see the possibilities for a better world.
I strongly believe that America is a force for good in the world. The London based "Economist" magazine has recently produced a special insert for that magazine called "Present at the Creation: A Survey of America's World Role". It concludes that a strong America is good for the world and notes that America's national interest, "offers the clearest match there is to a world interest. The desire for unimpeded trade, the rule of law, safety and security, the protection of property and the free movement of property and capital match world needs, not just American ones."
We are a good, decent and, yes, powerful world leader. I am proud of our history of being, time after time, on the right side of world issues and am very pleased we have a President that understands the new world we are in and who has the courage worthy of the great people he leads.
It is important to point out that if force cannot be avoided, our action will not be against the people of Iraq or the nation of Iraq, but it will be against the brutal, illegal, Saddam Hussein regime. It is a regime that has caused more destruction than any existing in the world today. The people of Iraq will be the greatest beneficiaries of our victory. At this moment, pursuant to U.N. resolutions, our forces are attempting to enforce an embargo against Iraq. It has been only partially successful and it is leaking more and more. The Arab world complains, with much truth, that the embargo only hurts the people, the children of Iraq. Saddam Hussein continues to build places and weapons of mass destruction while his people suffer.
It has been eleven years. How long must the United States continue to carry this burden to enforce a policy that is not significantly hurting the regime but hurts innocent civilians? How can we justify this morally?
There are certainly dangers in military action. While we can hope and believe that if war commences it will go well and that our people will be viewed as liberators and that many Iraqi forces will not fight but defect to our side. We cannot know that. While I am certain we will prevail, I cannot know for certain how tough this war will be. We must recognize there are dangers. The American people understand there are risks and so do all of us. One thing is sure, our magnificent military will work tirelessly to prevail in this conflict with the lowest possible number of personnel killed or injured. But, we know the risks are great and losses could be great. While our forces will work to minimize civilian casualties and to solicit Iraqi military units to defect, such is not certain. There could be civilian losses.
As to the risk of an attack on Israel, cited by many, we should ask what Israel has to say about it. They are clear. It is a decision that is left to the United States. If you must act, do so. Israel is prepared to take the risk.
Well, that's the big picture as I see it. Our motive is good, our goals positive and realistic, and our leaders honest, careful, principled and have the courage to act on those beliefs. Some jaded politicos sneer and say that this is just politics, but I know it is not. I know the vision that President Bush has to protect his people and improve the world. His courage has already placed him at personal risk. These people, after all, have tried to assassinate one former President of the United States. In addition, in acting on his beliefs, he is laying it all on the line. He has told us repeatedly he would not look to polls to decide what actions he should take as our leader.
President Bush is acting honorably and with integrity. He is informing the American people, consulting with Congress, conferring with world leaders and trying to work with the U.N. apparatus. He has altered his tactics to win support from others, but his goal has not changed. Ultimately, if his views are proven false, and all the predicted disasters come true then he will surely pay the price at the ballot box. But, I don't think so. Neither do most of those in this body. I think he is correct and though the road may be difficult and dangerous, I am confident his Iraq policies will succeed as have his policies in Afghanistan. I truly believe that peace, freedom, security and prosperity will be enhanced not reduced as a result of our actions.
It is important to recognize that while this resolution could lead to war, it also offers the best chance we have to avoid war and to achieve security. The distinguished Democratic Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee has objected to the President's statement that he has not decided to go to war while he asks for a resolution to allow war. But, this is not contradictory. This Congress knows the score. We know Saddam Hussein's deceitful manipulations, his lies, his violence against the Iraqi people and their neighbors, and the constant attacks against our aircraft, even firing on them with missiles this last week. We know he only allowed inspectors into Iraq in 1991 to save his regime. He did it out of fear.
I agree with former President Clinton's National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, who said at an Armed Services hearing, that he thinks it is unlikely that Saddam will ever accept "unfettered" inspections. A strong resolution is essential so that Saddam Hussein knows there will not be another Congressional session to meet and discuss these same issues again. He must know without the slightest doubt, that the man he is dealing with, President George W. Bush, has full and complete authority, as commander-in-chief, to use our armed forces to protect our security and to remove him from power, if need be, if he does not comply and disarm.
Who knows, in that case maybe he will relent. Nothing clears the mind so well as the absence of alternatives.
Maybe he would choose to abdicate and allow a new government to be formed. Maybe parts of his army would defect, or parts of his country would revolt. Indeed, the "Washington Times", running an article from the "London Daily Telegraph" reports yesterday that Members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle are defecting to the opposition or making discreet offers for peace in the hope of being spared retribution if the Bagdad dictator is toppled, according to Iraqi exiles.
One defector came from the Iraqi security services, which form the regime's nerve center. Kurdish groups say:
They have received secret approaches from military commanders offering to turn their weapons on Saddam when the war begins.
Columnist Morton Kondracke wrote today that there are many possibilities for a regime change without a war. He notes Idi Amin took exile. As the pressure mounts, as the circle tightens, these are among possibilities for achieving our goals short of a full scale conflict.
Yes, it is quite true that the President has requested our authorization to use force, but he still hopes he will not have to use it. For us to not grant him that authority would be only to allow the President to continue negotiations but require him to come back to Congress another time (while we are in recess perhaps) for an authorization to use force. To state that position is to expose its fatal flaw. Such an action would eliminate any chance for a real agreement.
Saddam Hussein will know what we have done. He will know that the President cannot until Congress meets again. He will know that the fateful moment has not come, and that he can continue to delay and maneuver. Clearly, we must authorize the use of force if the President finds it necessary. Otherwise this whole process is a charade. I am confident a majority in this body understand this fundamental concept, or else, the strong vote that is coming would not occur.
Some say, we are acting unilaterally, "upsetting" the little nations. But, it was not the United States that invaded Iran resulting in a prolonged and brutal war costing over one million lives. It was not the United States that invaded Kuwait, precipitating an international effort, overwhelmingly led by America, to roll back Saddam's conquest. It was not the United States that has systematically violated 16 U.N. resolutions--resolutions Saddam Hussein agreed to in order to save his regime.
The unilateralist is Saddam Hussein. The United States, on the other hand, has worked assiduously with our allies, Arab nations, other nations and the United Nations to develop a policy that will end the menace presented by Saddam Hussein.
Only the "blame America first crowd" would make such an argument. Indeed, we have been patient many times over these eleven years. So patient, so docile, that it has encouraged Saddam Hussein to miscalculation.
Amazingly, several Senators have objected to the resolution because they believe we must have the full support of the United Nations. This is suggested in several ways.
They argue, "Why now?" Why not let the United Nations vote first. Why not have the Congress "come in behind a U. N. resolution?"
This argument is dangerous and counter-productive to our goals. Unless, of course, one's real goal is simply to wish the whole matter to go away and to not bring it to a head.
First, a U.N. Resolution is very hard to obtain. The primary problem is that any resolution can be vetoed by any one of the permanent security council members, which includes China, Russia and France. These countries may demand concessions in exchange for their votes. They may just refuse. No reason is required.
Secondly, this is our military. Funded, built and staffed by Americans. The American people did not sacrifice to create the greatest military in history to allow China, Russia or even France to have a veto over its use. It is no wonder that these nations would like, through the mechanism of the United Nations, to seize control over our military and to use it as they will. The wonder is why we are even discussing it seriously. Of course, we want to solicit the United Nation's support and aid. After all, Saddam Hussein is in violation of sixteen U.N. Resolutions. Why is the U.N. not anxious to act to bring him into compliance? Former Secretary of Defense James Schlessinger said recently in an Armed Services hearing that,
This is a test of whether the United Nations--in the face of perennial defiance by Saddam Hussein of its resolutions, and indeed by his own promises--will, like the League of Nations a century ago, turn out to be an institution given only to talk.
The President has frankly and courageously framed the question to the U.N. He has stated plainly that Saddam Hussein is in violation of sixteen U.N. Resolutions and is a danger to the region and the world. He has made it clear that it is his duty to protect the American people from this threat and that he intends to do so. But, he expressed support for the U.N. programs and urged the U.N. to take action, to be a relevant player in this crisis. He urged the U.N. not to sit on the sidelines. He made it clear that no change was unacceptable. Since then he has worked steadfastly to win the necessary support in the U.N. and the Security Council. He has humored, maneuvered, pleaded and, I am sure "promised" to gain support. Maybe the U.N. will arouse itself and take action. Nothing could do more for its credibility.
But there are limits. This Congress must not crawfish or we will thereby tell Russia or France that they have a veto over our actions. It will encourage their resistance. If Russia knows Congress has allowed them to decide the issue, their power is even greater--it is absolute.
Now, if members of this body oppose bringing the Iraq matter to a head and oppose any use of military force then let them come out and say so. It is wrong, however, and harmful to America to take an indirect approach that gives the appearance of support but which would undermine the execution of our policy.
Yes, it would be very desirable to have U.N. support to deal with the Iraq problem. But, the best way to get it is to let them know we will act even if they don't.
I agree with former Secretary of Defense James Schlessinger that while the doctrine of prevention is sound and historical and has been applied in tougher cases than this, it is not necessary here. Schlessinger rightly says that,
In an ongoing conflict, the issue of pre-emption is close to meaningless.
The truth is, we have been at war with Iraq since 1991. In essence, Saddam Hussein sued for peace to save his regime. The world in effect said we will end hostilities, but you must give up your weapons of mass destruction and agree to full inspections to prove that you have.
Since then, we fly missions every day to enforce the northern and southern no-fly zones. Iraq fires surface-to-air missiles at our planes almost daily and we bomb in response regularly. Iraq has shot down three of our predator, unmanned aircraft, in recent months. We defend the Kurds. We keep forces in Kuwait and in the region to deter another attack by Iraq. The war has never ended. In 1988, the Congress voted for the "Iraq Liberation Act". We declared it U.S. policy to effect a regime change in Iraq and authorized the President to carry out that policy. In fact, it gave five million dollars to Iraqi resistance forces and called for trying Iraqi leaders for war crimes.
Those who are reluctant to use force have focused on concerns about the idea of using pre-emptive force to protect our security. They have forgotten the war has never ended, that our aircraft pilots are being fired at daily.
It is undisputed that our actions are taken as part of a U.N. program to protect the world from Saddam Hussein's aggression.
Thus, we have every basis to use force to enforce the agreements Saddam Hussein made and to react to the hostile fire he brings to bear against us.
My fear is that the President is being forced to deal with the tendency to move to the lowest common denominator that always results from U.N. negotiations, and will not be able to obtain the clarity we need from any resolution approved by the Security Council. So far, he has been courageous and effective. Let us stand with him so we can enhance the chances of a good resolution, not undermine his efforts with a lack of support.
Regardless, it must continue to be clear that no one nation or group of nations will be allowed to block our duty to defend our people. Especially when we are dealing with a regime that violates U.N. resolutions and continually directs hostile fire at U.S. forces.
This is an important time for America. We have a duty to protect our nation and our deployed forces from attack. We have the ability to do so. Our superb military personnel stand ready to put themselves at risk to promote our just national interests.
We are fully justified in acting under the venerable doctrine of preventing an attack upon ourselves. When there is a smoking gun or a mushroom cloud it is too late.
For those who have anxiety about the pre-emption doctrine, and I do not in this case, I urge them to remember that we have been in an actual state of military hostilities with Iraq almost since 1991. He shoots at our pilots and aircraft regularly. He has violated, in 16 ways, the conditions that he agreed to save his evil regime.
Let's not waiver, let's not delay, let's not go wobbly. Let us produce a strong vote for this strong resolution. Then the situation will become clear. We will say to Saddam Hussein, once and for all, you will disarm or, like the Taliban, you will fall.
I yield the floor.