Charles Rangel on War & Peace



2003: Lonely voice opposing pre-emptive war

Why was my voice so lonely out there in 2003, when I questioned our invasion and the new doctrine of pre-emptive war?

The pre-emptive strike on Iraq has been a historic watershed for the US. It's established a new precedent in our putative role as a leader of the UN. Under our new doctrine, you don't have to go to the UN to determine your right to go to war when you haven't been attacked. All you have to do is convince a majority of citizens that such a war is in our self-interest; consent or cooperation from any and all nations is welcome but not required. Dissent or opposition may not be tolerated.

Sometime early in 2005 the serious questions about how and why we got into Iraq really began to penetrate the American consciousness.

Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p. 69-71 , Aug 5, 2008

Troops suffer by not knowing when they'll come home

When they tell you you're pulling out on July 15, your job is to stay alive until July 15. When they tell you you're not leaving on July 15 after all, they are messing with your mind, and your life.

That's one reason our troops are suffering so terribly in Iraq: they keep getting told that their service there will be limited in some way, but they keep sending them back, holding them in place with stop-loss orders and the like. This mismatch between the clear duty to serve one's country in time of war and the cloudy objective--military and political--of this war is taking a toll on the junior military officers we may desperately need 10 or 15 years from now, when a real war comes along.

Without an honest and true statement of who the enemy is, and a definite yardstick for measuring his defeat, our soldiers are to some extent just sitting ducks.

Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p. 69-70 , Aug 5, 2008

Opposes war politically, out of respect for soldiers

Every time I go to a soldier's funeral, I'm always hoping that the bereaved families have never misinterpreted my strong political opposition to the war as flowing from anything except a love and respect for those who have stood where I have stood in battle.

As I arrived at the funeral of a young Dominican soldier in my district, I saw a dead soldier who was about twenty years old. He had on the same brown uniform that I had worn with such swagger over fifty years ago. When I saw how much he looked like me when I was his age, my knees buckled. The sight of that young Dominican put me right back to my beginnings as cannon fodder in a questionable war.

Source: I Haven't Had a Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p.269 , Aug 5, 2008

Reinstitute draft to avoid another Iraq

In 2006, I introduced a bill to reinstitute the draft. The downward trend in recruitment, along with the rising level of public skepticism about the means and ends of the prosecution of the war in Iraq, should force them to at least listen.

I'm not just trying to make a partisan political point with this call. The Pentagon's own researchers say there's a crisis in military recruitment, and there's no plan to fix it. I want to make those who support preemptive war either consider putting people from their own families, their own neighborhoods, and their own class in harm's way, or consider themselves hypocrites. With all the evidence that we now have showing why we never should have gone into Iraq in the first place, there is no doubt in my mind that with a draft in place we would have held the president's case for war in Iraq to a much higher standard, and never gone in. But now that we're there, if people still support the war, why wouldn't they support a draft?

Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p. 46-47 , Aug 5, 2008

Opposed Kerry in 2004 primary because Kerry voted for war

The president had given Congress and the American people misleading information--linking Saddam Hussein, 9/11, al Qaeda, WMD's, uranium from Niger, and so on. This was the problem John Kerry had; he just could not say he was misled into voting for the war. I can't imagine how a heroic Vietnam veteran being challenged by Bush and Cheney with no war records between them felt he had to defend himself about whether or not it was his medals or his ribbons that he threw over the White House fence. Who cares?

The 2004 presidential campaign seemed to be our election to lose. Senator Kerry came to visit me in my congressional office. I said, "I can't find myself supporting any candidate for president who actually voted for the war."

[Kerry should have explained his war vote with saying he was misled by Bush. Instead], Kerry started with "Oh, Charlie, come off of it." I entered the elevator, the doors closed, and with them closed my interest in John Kerry.

Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p. 80-81 , Aug 5, 2008

Morally suspect war in Iraq is funded by deficit

Today we have the morally suspect war in Iraq, and the threat of the doctrine of preemptive war spilling over into Iran. So many of our soldiers are being killed or maimed every day. These policies are being financed with spiraling deficits, piled up by an inequitable tax system, while we fail to meet domestic priorities like protecting the people of New Orleans, before and after Hurricane Katrina. One day, dear reader, someone may ask you: "During the time our nation was pouring out its blood and treasure in these conflicts, and committing these atrocities abroad and at home, what were YOU doing?"

If somehow we can appreciate what we do each day as making a little history--especially election days--every day is exciting because every day can make a difference.

Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p.133 , Aug 5, 2008

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:
  1. The US Armed Forces shall be used exclusively to defend and advance the national security interests of the US.
  2. The President has failed to provide Congress with a compelling rationale based upon US national security interests for current US military activities regarding Libya.
  3. 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.
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:
  1. The President's justification for not seeking authorization by Congress for the use of military force in Libya.
  2. US political and military objectives regarding Libya, including the relationship between the intended objectives and the operational means being employed to achieve them.
  3. Changes in US political and military objectives following the assumption of command by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  4. Differences between US political and military objectives regarding Libya and those of other NATO member states engaged in military activities.
  5. The specific commitments by the US to ongoing NATO activities regarding Libya.
  6. The anticipated scope and duration of continued US military involvement in Libya.
  7. The costs of military, political, and humanitarian efforts concerning Libya as of June 3, 2011.
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; Bill HRes294 ; vote number 11-HV410 on Jun 3, 2011

Voted YES on removing US armed forces from Afghanistan.

Congressional Summary:
    Directs the President, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, to remove the U.S. Armed Forces from Afghanistan:
  1. by no later than 30 days after this resolution is adopted; or
  2. 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:
[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.

Reference: Resolution on Afghanistan; Bill HConRes28 ; vote number 11-HV193 on Mar 17, 2011

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.

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; Bill H.RES.1258 ; vote number 2008-401 on Jun 11, 2008

Strengthen sanctions on Syria & assist democratic transition.

Rangel co-sponsored strengthening sanctions on Syria & assist democratic transition

A bill to strengthen sanctions against the Government of Syria, to enhance multilateral commitment to address the Government of Syria's threatening policies, to establish a program to support a transition to a democratically-elected government in Syria.

Source: Syria Accountability and Liberation Act (S2917/HR2332) 08-S2917 on Apr 24, 2008

Boycott & sanctions against Iran for terrorism & nukes.

Rangel signed Iran Threat Reduction Act

Source: H.R.1905 11-HR1905 on May 13, 2011

Terminate funding for Iraq War on Dec. 31, 2011.

Rangel signed Iraq Withdrawal Accountability Act

A BILL: To prohibit the use of funds to maintain United States Armed Forces and military contractors in Iraq after December 31, 2011.

    Congress makes the following findings:
  1. The Agreement Between the US and the Republic of Iraq states that the deadline for withdrawal of US Armed Forces from Iraq is December 31, 2011.
  2. The American people support the withdrawal of US Armed Forces from Iraq by the agreed upon deadline of December 31, 2011, and during the campaign of then presidential candidate Barack Obama, the President stated that he would end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home.
  3. It is estimated that the US will save tens of billions of dollars by bringing all US Armed Forces and military contractors safely home from Iraq by the agreed upon deadline of December 31, 2011.
  4. Leaving US Armed Forces in Iraq beyond the deadline is not in US security interests, strategic interests, and economic interests.
Source: H.R.2757 11-HR2757 on Aug 1, 2011

Iranian nuclear weapons: prevention instead of containment.

Rangel co-sponsored Resolution on Iran's nuclear program

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, that Congress--
  1. Reaffirms that the US Government has a vital interest in working together to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  2. warns that time is limited to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  3. urges continued and increasing economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran until a full and sustained suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities;
  4. expresses that the window for diplomacy is closing;
  5. expresses support for the universal rights and democratic aspirations of the people of Iran;
  6. strongly supports US policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability;
  7. rejects any US policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.
Source: HRes568/SR41 12-HJR568 on Mar 1, 2012

Defund US military presence in Afghanistan.

Rangel co-sponsored Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act

It is the policy of the United States to ensure that funds made available for operations of the Armed Forces in Afghanistan are to be used only for purposes of providing for the safe and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan of all members of the Armed Forces and Department of Defense contractor personnel who are in Afghanistan.

Funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law for operations of the Armed Forces in Afghanistan shall be obligated and expended only for purposes of providing for the safe and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the use of funds for the continuation of combat operations in Afghanistan while carrying out the safe and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit or restrict the use of funds available to carry out diplomatic efforts or humanitarian, development, or general reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.

Source: H.R.200 13-HR0200 on Jan 4, 2013

Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Rangel co-sponsored the Jerusalem Embassy Act

Corresponding House bill is H.R.1595. Became Public Law No: 104-45.
Source: Bill sponsored by 77 Senators and 78 Reps 95-S1322 on Oct 13, 1995

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