Chris Van Hollen on War & Peace
Democratic Representative (MD-8)
Do we further our interests in targeting enemies?
Q: Soleimani was our enemy. He had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers during the Iraq war. Why not kill him?
Van Hollen: Because you have to look at what the consequences are. We don't go around killing all the very bad people in the world.
We have President Trump embracing Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea who's got a lot of blood on his hands and is responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier, an
American citizen, and yet he's getting love letters from the president of the United States. The question is, do we further our interests by killing Soleimani?
Source: Fox News Sunday 2020 interview series
, Jan 5, 2020
End 2002 Iraq War authority; no ground troops in Mideast
Q: What strategy should the US pursue to protect itself and its allies from ISIS?
Van Hollen: Countering the threat of ISIS is a national security priority for the U.S., but we should not bear the burden alone. I support the use of American
surveillance, intelligence assets, and airpower to support the ground operations of the Iraqi army and Kurdish fighters in Iraq, and strike ISIS military equipment and command and control elsewhere. I have spoken out forcefully against the idea of
American troops on the ground in Syria, remembering the lessons of the Iraq War, which I opposed from the start. The removal of Saddam Hussein unleashed clashing sectarian forces that spawned al Qaeda in Iraq--the parent of ISIS.
We should end the 2002 Iraq War Resolution authority and the current version of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, which provides a blank check for the Executive to put U.S. ground combat forces into Iraq, Syria and other areas.
Source: Baltimore Sun Voter Guide on 2016 Maryland Senate race
, Sep 9, 2016
Voted NO on banning armed forces in Libya without Congressional approval.
RESOLUTION Declaring that the President shall not deploy, establish, or maintain the presence of US Armed Forces in Libya, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution.
The House of Representatives makes the following statements of policy: The President shall transmit a report describing in detail US security interests and objectives, and the activities of US Armed Forces, in Libya since March 19, 2011, including a description of the following:
- The US Armed Forces shall be used exclusively to defend and advance the national security interests of the US.
- The President has failed to provide Congress with a compelling rationale based upon US national security interests for current US military activities regarding Libya.
- The President shall not deploy, establish, or maintain the presence of units and members of the US Armed Forces on the ground in Libya unless the purpose of the presence is to rescue a member of the Armed Forces from imminent danger.
Congress has the constitutional prerogative to withhold funding for any unauthorized use of the US States Armed Forces, including for unauthorized activities regarding Libya.
Reference: Resolution on Libya;
; vote number 11-HV410
on Jun 3, 2011
- The President's
justification for not seeking authorization by Congress for the use of military force in Libya.
- US political and military objectives regarding Libya, including the relationship between the intended objectives and the operational means being employed to achieve them.
- Changes in US political and military objectives following the assumption of command by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
- Differences between US political and military objectives regarding Libya and those of other NATO member states engaged in military activities.
- The specific commitments by the US to ongoing NATO activities regarding Libya.
- The anticipated scope and duration of continued US military involvement in Libya.
- The costs of military, political, and humanitarian efforts concerning Libya as of June 3, 2011.
Voted NO on removing US armed forces from Afghanistan.
Directs the President, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, to remove the U.S. Armed Forces from Afghanistan:
- by no later than 30 days after this resolution is adopted; or
- if the President determines that it is not safe to remove them by such date, by no later than December 31, 2011.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Kucinich, D-OH]:The American people oppose this war by a margin of two to one. Nearly 2/3 of Americans say the war isn't worth fighting. We are spending $100 billion per year on this war. There are those who are saying the war could last at least another 10 years. Are we willing to spend another $1 trillion on a war that doesn't have any exit plan, for which there is no timeframe to get out, no endgame, where we haven't defined our mission? The question is not whether we can afford to leave. The question is, can we afford to stay? And I submit we cannot afford to stay.
The counterintelligence strategy of General Petraeus is an abysmal failure, and it needs to be called as such.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
Reference: Resolution on Afghanistan;
; vote number 11-HV193
on Mar 17, 2011
[Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL]: This resolution would undermine the efforts of our military and our international partners in Afghanistan and would gravely harm our Nation's security. 3,000 people died on Sep. 11 because we walked away once from Afghanistan, thinking that it didn't matter who controlled that country. We were wrong then. Let us not make the same mistake twice. Completing our mission in Afghanistan is essential to keeping our homeland safe. This is about our vital national security interests. It is about doing what is necessary to ensure that al Qaeda and other extremists cannot reestablish safe havens such as the ones they had in Afghanistan when the 9/11 attacks were planned against our Nation and our people. The enemy, indeed, is on the run. It is demoralized and divided. Let us not give up now.
Voted YES on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq.
OnTheIssues.org Explanation: This vote is on referring the impeachment resolution to a Congressional Committee to decide further action (not on impeachment itself).
Congressional Summary: Resolved, That President George W. Bush be impeached for committing the following abuses of power:
Proponents' arguments for voting YEA: Rep. Kucinich: Now is the time for this Congress to examine the actions that led us into this war, just as we must work to bring our troops home. This resolution is a very serious matter and I urge the Committee on Judiciary to investigate and carefully consider this resolution.
- Article I--Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign To Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq
- Article VI & VIII--Invading Iraq in Violation of H.J. Res. 114, the U.N. Charter and International Criminal Law
- Article X--Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes
- Article XI--Establishment of Permanent US Military Bases in Iraq
- Article XII--Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources
- Article XVII--Detaining Indefinitely and Without Charge Persons Both US Citizens and Foreign Captives
- Article XXIV--Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the
- Article XXVI--Announcing the Intent To Violate Laws With Signing Statements, and Violating Those Laws
Rep. Wasserman-Schultz: Impeachment is a lengthy process which would divide Congress and this nation even more deeply than we are divided right now. Referring this resolution to the House Judiciary Committee is the constitutionally appropriate process that should be pursued.
Rep. Ron Paul: I rise, reluctantly, in favor of referring that resolution to the House Judiciary Committee for full consideration, which essentially directs the committee to examine the issue more closely than it has done to this point.
Reference: The Kucinich Privilege Resolution;
; vote number 2008-401
on Jun 11, 2008
Voted YES on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days.
To provide for the redeployment of US Armed Forces and defense contractors from Iraq. Requires within 90 days to commence the redeployment; and to complete such redeployment within 180 days after its commencement. Prohibits the use of DOD funds to increase the number of US forces serving in Iraq in excess of the number serving in Iraq as of January 1, 2007, unless specifically authorized by Congress. Authorizes retaining in Iraq US forces for providing security for diplomatic missions; for targeting al-Qaeda; and for training Iraqi Security Forces. Requires the President to transfer to the government of Iraq all interest held by the US in any military facility in Iraq.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This war is a terrible tragedy, and it is time to bring it to an end. This is a straightforward bill to redeploy our military forces from Iraq and to end the war in Iraq. This bill does not walk away from the Iraqi people.
It specifically continues diplomatic, social, economic, and reconstruction aid. Finally, this bill leaves all the decisions on the locations outside of Iraq to which our troops will be redeployed wholly in the hands of our military commanders.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This legislation embraces surrender and defeat. This legislation undermines our troops and the authority of the President as commander in chief. Opponents express concern about the effects of an ill-conceived military withdrawal, and about any legislation that places military decisions in the hands of politicians rather than the military commanders in the field. The enemy we face in Iraq view this bill as a sign of weakness. Now is not the time to signal retreat and surrender. It is absolutely essential that America, the last remaining superpower on earth, continue to be a voice for peace and a beacon for freedom in our shrinking world.
Reference: Out of Iraq Caucus bill;
Bill H R 2237
; vote number 2007-330
on May 10, 2007
Voted NO on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date.
Voting YES would support the following resolution (excerpted):
- Whereas the United States and its allies are engaged in a Global War on Terror, a long and demanding struggle against an adversary that is driven by hatred of American values and that is committed to imposing, by the use of terror, its repressive ideology throughout the world;
- Whereas the terrorists have declared Iraq to be the central front in their war against all who oppose their ideology;
- Whereas the United States and its Coalition partners will continue to support Iraq as part of the Global War on Terror:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
Reference: Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror;
Bill HRES 861
; vote number 2006-288
on Jun 12, 2006
- Honors all those Americans who have taken an active part in the Global War on Terror;
- Declares that it is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq;
- Declares that the United States is committed to the completion of
the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure, and united Iraq;
- Declares that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the noble struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.
Voted NO on approving removal of Saddam & valiant service of US troops.
States that the House of Representatives:
Reference: War in Iraq Anniversary resolution;
Bill H Res 557
; vote number 2004-64
on Mar 17, 2004
- affirms that the United States and the world have been made safer with the removal of Saddam Hussein and his regime from power in Iraq;
- commends the Iraqi people for their courage in the face of unspeakable oppression and brutality inflicted on them by Saddam Hussein's regime;
- commends the Iraqi people on the adoption of Iraq's interim constitution; and
- commends the members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Coalition forces for liberating Iraq and expresses its gratitude for their valiant service.
Boycott & sanctions against Iran for terrorism & nukes.
Van Hollen signed Iran Threat Reduction Act
Source: H.R.1905 11-HR1905 on May 13, 2011
- Declares that it is US policy to deny Iran the ability to support acts of foreign terrorist organizations and develop unconventional weapons and ballistic missiles.
- Urges the President to initiate diplomatic efforts to expand the multilateral sanctions regime regarding Iran.
- Directs the President to impose specified sanctions on a person who knowingly makes specified investments with respect to Iran's ability to develop petroleum resources; or exports to any items that would contribute to Iran's ability to acquire or develop chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, or acquire or develop destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons.
- Defines sanctions to include: prohibitions on loans from US financial institutions; prohibitions on foreign exchange; prohibitions on property transactions; and export and procurement sanctions.
- States that a determination to impose sanctions under this Act shall not be reviewable in any court.
Authorizes financial and political assistance to entities that support democracy in Iran.
- Imposes visa, property, and financial sanctions on persons identified as officials of the government of Iran, security services, or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
- Directs the President to develop a National Strategy to Counter Iran.
- Requires a report on the Central Bank of Iran's activities to facilitate Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear missile capacities, and promote terrorism.
Terminates the provisions of this Act when Iran:
- has dismantled its efforts to develop or acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons;
- no longer provides support for acts of international terrorism; and
- poses no threat to US national security, interests, or allies.
Iranian nuclear weapons: prevention instead of containment.
Van Hollen co-sponsored Resolution on Iran's nuclear program
Expressing the sense of Congress regarding the nuclear program of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, that Congress--
- Whereas, since at least the late 1980s, Iran has engaged in a sustained pattern of illicit and deceptive activities to acquire nuclear capability;
- Whereas the UN Security Council has adopted multiple resolutions since 2006 demanding the full suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities by Iran, particularly possible military dimensions;
- Whereas, in Nov. 2011, the IAEA issued an extensive report that documents "serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme";
- Whereas top leaders of Iran have repeatedly threatened the existence of the State of Israel;
- Whereas the Department of State has designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984;
- Whereas Iran has provided weapons, training, & funding to terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Shiite militias in Iraq;
Whereas Iran had forged a "secret deal" with al Qaeda to facilitate the movement of al Qaeda fighters and funding through Iranian territory;
Source: HRes568/SR41 12-HJR568 on Mar 1, 2012
- Reaffirms that the US Government has a vital interest in working together to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
- warns that time is limited to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
- urges continued and increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran until a full and sustained suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities;
- expresses that the window for diplomacy is closing;
- expresses support for the universal rights and democratic aspirations of the people of Iran;
- strongly supports US policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
- rejects any US policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.
Intervene in Iraq to protect persecuted Christians.
Van Hollen signed Relief to Nineveh Plain of Iraq
Calling for urgent international intervention on behalf of Iraqi civilians facing a dire humanitarian crisis in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq.
Whereas recent extremist attacks have had a particularly severe effect on ethnic and religious minority communities in the region;
- Whereas the UN Security Council on July22, 2014 denounced the persecution of Iraqi Christians, including Yazidis and Mandeans;
- Whereas reports indicate that some 150,000 Iraqi people in the Nineveh Plain region are now facing ethnic and religious cleansing and have been targeted for retribution by ISIS;
- Resolved that Congress--
- Condemns the religious bigotry, property destruction, and violent attacks on, and intimidation of, Iraqi civilians by armed extremists.
- Calls upon the government of Iraq to protect the safety and constitutional rights of all Iraqi citizens.
- Calls on the President, Secretary of State, and the Permanent Representative to the
UN to implement a humanitarian intervention to protect civilians, stabilize the security situation in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq, and facilitate humanitarian assistance in the Kurdistan region to help absorb the influx of refugees.
Argument in opposition: (by The Christian Post)
ISIS has asked minorities to flee, convert to Islam, or be killed. H.Con. Res. 110 makes it a priority to protect Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and create safe havens for them. Yazidis are viewed by the ISIS as "devil worshipers."
Argument in opposition: (by Baltimore Nonviolence Center, July 26, 2014)
[We're seeking] action to keep us from sliding back to war in Iraq. On July 25, the House passed H. Con. Res. 105, the proposal to keep U.S. troops out of Iraq, by an overwhelming vote of 370-40. By passing the Iraq War Powers Resolution, Congress made clear that they stand with the American public, who do not want to go back to war in Iraq.
Source: H.C.R.110 14_HCR110 on Jul 24, 2014
Work with Iraqi government to fight ISIL.
Van Hollen signed Resolution on ISIL
RESOLUTION Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the current situation in Iraq and the urgent need to protect religious minorities from persecution from the Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) as it expands its control over areas in northwestern Iraq.Whereas ISIL has a stated mission of establishing an Islamic state and a caliphate across the Levant through violence against Shiites, non-Muslims, and unsupportive Sunnis;Resolved, That the House of Representatives--calls on the US Department of State to work with the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Iraqi central government, neighboring countries, the diaspora community in the US, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to help secure safe havens for those claiming amnesty in Iraq; andrequests the addition of a Special Representative for Religious Minorities to [the Iraqi] government.
Reporting pro & con by Politico.com, Sept. 17, 2014:
Secretary of State John Kerry said arming the moderate opposition in Syria was the "best counterweight" against ISIL and emphasized to lawmakers: "ISIL must be defeated. Period." However, "US ground troops will not be sent into combat in this conflict," Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Instead, they will support Iraq forces on the ground as they fight for their country."
Protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink stood up, held signs and chanted "No more war!" Kerry turned his attention to the protesters, and told them that while he was sympathetic to their opposition to war, if they believed in the broader mission of Code Pink, "then you ought to care about fighting ISIL." Stressing that the Islamic State was "killing and raping and mutilating women" and "making a mockery of a peaceful religion," Kerry told the protesters: "There is no negotiation with ISIL."
Source: H.RES.683 14_HRes683 on Jul 24, 2014
No military force against Iran without Congress approval.
Van Hollen voted YEA the Iran War Powers Resolution
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.
Source: Supreme Court case 20-SCR33 argued on Jan 9, 2020
Sanctions on Iran to end nuclear program.
Van Hollen signed Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act
Expresses the sense of Congress that:
- diplomatic efforts to address Iran's illicit nuclear efforts, unconventional and ballistic missile development programs, and support for international terrorism are more likely to be effective if the President is empowered with explicit authority to impose additional sanctions on the government of Iran;
- US concerns regarding Iran are strictly the result of that government's actions; and
- the people of the United States have feelings of friendship for the people of Iran and regret that developments in recent decades have created impediments to that friendship.
States that it should be US policy to:
- support international diplomatic efforts to end Iran's uranium enrichment program and its nuclear weapons program;
- encourage foreign governments to direct state-owned and private entities to cease all investment in, and support of, Iran's energy sector and all exports of refined petroleum products to Iran;
- impose sanctions
on the Central Bank of Iran and any other Iranian financial institution engaged in proliferation activities or support of terrorist groups; and
- work with allies to protect the international financial system from deceptive and illicit practices by Iranian financial institutions involved in proliferation activities or support of terrorist groups.
Source: S.908&HR.2194 2009-S908 on Apr 30, 2009
- Amends the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to direct the President to impose sanctions if a person has made an investment of $20 million or more (or any combination of investments of at least $5 million which in the aggregate equals or exceeds $20 million in any 12-month period) that directly and significantly contributed to Iran's ability to develop its petroleum resources. (Under current law the sanction thresholds are $40 million, $10 million, and $40 million, respectively.)
- Establishes additional sanctions prohibiting specified foreign exchange, banking, and property transactions.
- Includes refined petroleum resources.
Page last updated: May 18, 2020