US Senate

September 3rd, 2013
 

Iowa Republican U.S. Senate Candidates Weigh in on Crisis in Syria

As the situation in Syria continues to escalate following the use of chemical weapons, President Obama is now calling on the United States military to get involved.  Over the weekend, the President announced that he would request congressional approval for a military strike on Syria.

1. What do you believe America’s role in the world is militarily? 

Sam Clovis:

If one defines super power as a nation that has presence and the ability to project that presence to any spot on earth, the United States remains the sole super power in the world.  The ability to project power comes in the form of military capabilities that simply do not exist in the hands of other nations.

Our role militarily in the world takes on many dimensions.  First, our military capability ensures a safe homeland.  Our force structure, comprised of active, reserve and National Guard forces, builds layers of protection for our borders and shores.  These wonderful soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are citizen-soldiers charged with protecting the Constitution.  The Constitution is the ultimate expression of an ideal established through Divine Providence that has allowed this great experiment in liberty to flourish.

Secondly, our incredible military power is a deterrent.  Many nations and non-state organizations might be less inhibited were it not for American military strength.

Third, our military capabilities, which include the best trained and equipped forces in the world, can, in a matter of hours, bring the full weight of this nation to bear against those who threaten the interests of the United States and our allies.

Joni Ernst:

As a soldier and combat veteran, I believe American military forces should only be used in the defense and furtherance of our nation’s vital interests.

While I believe we should use our military judiciously, when we do use them I believe they should be used with overwhelming force, with a defined mission, and a plan for withdrawal.

Matt Whitaker:

The American military is responsible for our national security.  We have the best trained, best equipped and deadliest military force known to man and we should keep it that way. Our role in the world is to stand by our allies, stand up for freedom and protect our vital national interests.

David Young:

The United States has a proud history of being a leader in the fight to defend liberty and protect innocent civilians against tyrannical regimes. Our Commander in Chief, President Obama, is not leading. Whether it is delivering speeches on “red lines,” which carry no consequence if crossed, circumventing then (thankfully) seeking Congressional approval, or “leaking” critical war strategy like the positioning of the U.S. Navy and outlining a timeline of attack, it is clear President Obama lacks the clarity to lead.

2. What warrants American military involvement in foreign countries?

Sam Clovis:

We should only expend the treasure and blood of this nation to protect our national interests.  Each circumstance should be measured by the long term consequences of such actions and the desired outcomes that support and further our national interests.  Generally speaking, our national interests rest in several categories for consideration:

–Imminent physical threat to America and/or its allies.

–Access to resources essential to the physical and economic well-being of the nation.

–Political and economic stability in nations and regions that by inaction might lead to deterioration of the interests above.

Joni Ernst:

As a United States Senator, I would demand answers for the following questions before I could support any foreign military action:

1)   Has the administration given us a thorough explanation as to why U.S. military force is being requested, including actionable intelligence that supports the call for arms?

2)   Has the administration presented a clear, well-defined mission? In other words, what exactly are we asking our troops to accomplish, what will it take to get the job done effectively, and how long will our men and women in uniform be in harms way?

3)   Do our military leaders have the assets, manpower and logistical support required to accomplish the mission?

4)   Have we been given guarantees, and have funds been appropriated to back them up, that once the mission is accomplished and our troops are headed home, that the welfare of our troops, and their families, will remain a priority?

Matt Whitaker:

A clear and direct link to our national interests.

David Young:

Before the United States gets involved in any military conflict and sends our nation’s sons, daughters, mothers and fathers to combat, we must have all of the information possible. We must first: Establish clear objectives, Evaluate the capacity of the U.S. military to achieve those objectives, Establish an exit strategy, and, Weigh the benefits and costs of the military options.  It is also important to draw allied support from the international community.

Furthermore, the President must abide by the powers granted in the United States Constitution and first consult Congress before sending American soldiers to war.

3. Define what America’s interests around the world are?

Sam Clovis:

–Imminent physical threat to America and/or its allies.

–Access to resources essential to the physical and economic well-being of the nation.

–Political and economic stability in nations and regions that by inaction might lead to deterioration of the interests above.

Joni Ernst:

America’s interests are broad and varied but certainly include the continued global defense of American citizens, property, and economic security, support of our key allies and strategic partners, as well as the continued fight against rogue nations and terrorist groups who threaten our nation.

Matt Whitaker:

America’s interests are first and foremost our own national security and protecting American’s lives and liberty around the globe. Secondly, we have always stood on the side of freedom and against tyranny and oppression.

David Young:

America should protect freedom and democracy and thwart tyranny and oppression around the world where and when feasible, and provide a strong national defense against foreign entities wishing to do Americans harm. As of today, a week before Congress has the debate on whether or not to authorize military action in Syria, I am eager to learn the President’s specific plan of what America’s interests are and hear the debate in Congress.

4. Would you authorize President Obama to use military force against Syria?  If yes, what should the scope of such action be?

Sam Clovis:

No, not under the current circumstances.  Of course, we do not have access to the intelligence he does nor do we have any idea what the scope of his actions might be.  If he were to make a compelling case that such actions would support our interests in the region, then I might be willing to support those actions.  However, to date, no so such case has been made to the American people.

One must be particularly cautious of weighing in on one side or the other in a civil war where both sides represent political elements that have, through actions, demonstrated that America is an enemy.

Joni Ernst:

To date, the president and his administration have yet to provide the American people with a compelling case for use of American military force in Syria.

I am greatly disappointed by the irrational and inconsistent approach taken by the president. He has failed to fully and confidently lay out a clear and concise argument to the American people as to why it is in our vital interests to use force in the midst of Syria’s ongoing civil war, nor has he explained what the objectives of any such mission would be. For example, will we aim to greatly reduce the Syrian Government’s capabilities to launch future chemical attacks, or are the targets more cosmetic and politically driven?

The American people are right to be confused and conflicted about taking action in Syria. After all, how can the public make a decision relating to use of force when the president has not told them what the actual mission is meant to accomplish?

Despite the administration’s bungling, let me be clear about one thing: Any use of chemical or other weapons of mass destruction by governments or terrorist organizations simply cannot be tolerated. If intelligence exists that unequivocally demonstrates that Assad or his regime launched such an attack on his own people, they should be forced to account for their actions.

Matt Whitaker:

Based upon the publicly available information I have seen, I would not vote to give the President the authority to use force against Syria.

The President has handled this situation poorly by putting himself in a box. By drawing a red line, he has put our credibility as a nation on the line. He will now have to make his case for action to Congress and the American people.

I do not believe striking Syria is in our strategic national interest. While the use of chemical weapons can never be condoned, the United States would be setting a terrible precedent.  It should not be our policy to intervene in every conflict where chemical weapons have been used.

David Young:

It is impossible to make the informed decision of a U.S. Senator without first having a firm understanding of the facts both classified and publicly available. As a U.S. Senator who receives classified briefings on national security matters, I would first need to know all of the facts, have a clear understanding of what the objectives are, what is the capacity of the U.S. military to achieve those objectives, what is the U.S. exit strategy, and what are the benefits and costs of the military options.

At this time, with the information available to me as a private citizen, rather than a U.S. Senator who receives classified national security briefings, I am not convinced we need American boots on the ground in Syria.

5. Should the goal of any American military action in Syria be regime change?

Sam Clovis:

As things sit right now, there should be no military action in Syria by American forces.  If such circumstances were to arise, there is no way to predict what forces might ascend to power if and when regime change was to take place.  Thus, the resulting outcome might leave the United States and region in worse conditions than exists now.

Joni Ernst:

There is no doubt that the Assad regime, an ally of Iran and close partner with Hezbollah, remains a threat to American interests and regional security. We are not alone in this view, which is also held by our close ally and regional partner, Israel. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that parts of the opposition moving into Syria contain radical foreign fighters and even elements of Al Qaeda. Before the United States takes any action meant to destabilize the Assad regime, we must have a plan in place for what will happen if and when that regime falls. We cannot allow radical elements to take control of Syria, and gain access to its chemical stockpiles or other weaponry. This was a mistake the administration made in Libya, and it cannot be repeated.

Matt Whitaker:

Regime change in Syria is a dangerous game. Much of the opposition to the Assad regime is less friendly to our country than the current one.

I will listen carefully to the debate ahead, but changing the regime may very well have the unintended consequence of making the situation on the ground worse.

I also worry that Syria’s Christians would be at risk under any new regime as we have seen in other countries in the region.

David Young:

Regime change would be ideal if we could guarantee the outcome to be a democratic government that represented the people. However, we cannot guarantee such an outcome.

Below are the original documents each campaign sent TheIowaRepublican.com containing their answers.

Joni Ernst – Syria (Ernst)-1

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and TheIowaRepublican.com as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, TheIowaRepublcian.com. Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.




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