A picture of Senator Patrick J. Leahy
Patrick L.
Democrat VT

About Sen. Patrick
  • American Foreign Policy

    by Senator Patrick J. Leahy

    Posted on 2015-03-10

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    LEAHY. Mr. President, I want to completely align myself with views of the distinguished Senator from Illinois. This isn't a case of who can score political points for the evening news broadcast. We are talking about potentially the lives of millions of people. We are talking about the possibility of a cataclysmic mistake that could create havoc long after any of us has left this body. I have had the honor of representing Vermont in the Senate beginning at the time when Gerald Ford was President.

    We have had Presidents I have agreed with--in fact, with every President there have been things I agreed with and with every President, Democratic or Republican, there have been things I have disagreed with. But one thing I have always done when there are such negotiations going on, I am willing to talk to the President privately, but I am not going to state my position, for or against, publicly. We can only have one person negotiating for the United States. Can you imagine if everybody who wanted to rush to the cable news shows to get on TV were to say, well, here is our negotiating position--and we are going to force the President to leave the negotiating table? What do you think those countries that joined us in imposing multilateral sanctions would do? Many of those countries that joined us are doing so at great economic cost to themselves, but they responded--when President Obama went to each of them and asked: Will you join us in imposing sanctions, they agreed. That made the sanctions far more effective. If they think we are not serious, they are going to be very tempted to ask: Why should we join you in supporting sanctions in the future? If the United States were alone in supporting sanctions, no matter what those sanctions are, it would not create any real pressure on Iran.

    Have we not made enough mistakes in the Middle East? I remember some who said we must go to war in Iraq because it would protect Israel or because they had nuclear weapons or because they had weapons of mass destruction. None of that was true. None of it. I remember people stopping me on the street, angry that I voted against the war in Iraq. They said: We heard Vice President Cheney say they have nuclear weapons. I said: There are none.

    The senior Senator from Michigan, in quoting Arthur Vandenberg--he was no fan of Franklin Roosevelt, quite the opposite, but he did say, as we were going into World War II, ``politics must stop at the water's edge.'' That has been the view in my own State of both Republicans and Democrats.

    Let's stop rushing for the cameras and potentially hurting the Senate, potentially hurting the country. Let's think about what is best for the country.

    I see the distinguished chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the floor, so I will yield the floor so he can speak.


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