Search for...
Follow @ontheissuesorg
OnTheIssuesLogo

Sheldon Whitehouse on War & Peace

Democratic Jr Senator, previously attorney general


Announce irrevocable schedule to withdraw from Iraq

Q: What would be your strategy in Iraq?

A: First, announce irrevocably our intention to withdraw our troops. Second, instruct the military to set up an appropriate schedule for redeploying the troops, putting troop safety as the paramount concern. And third, during the window before redeployment, engage in aggressive diplomacy to get these Iraqi factions to some kind of final agreement to take us out of the terrible situation we’re in right now, being held hostage to their feuds.

Source: 2006 RI Senate debate, by RIBA and WPRI-12 , Sep 13, 2006

Iraq war was premature and a mistake

America is a beacon for the world, but when we go it alone, we make it very difficult to succeed. It’s one of the reasons I felt the President’s decision to go to war in Iraq was premature, and a big mistake. Had I been in the Senate, I would have opposed the President’s decision.

I support a rapid and responsible withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. We can and should have most, if not all of our troops, redeployed out of Iraq by the end of this year.

Source: 2006 Senate website, WhitehouseForSenate.com, “Key issues” , May 2, 2006

Responsibly extricate ourselves from Iraq

The bravery of our troops-so many from Rhode Island-has been extraordinary. But we cannot let their continued presence on the ground become the source of more security problems than they solve. We need to responsibly extricate ourselves from Iraq. And we need to resolve that never again will American troops go to battle without the body armor and protection they deserve. It’s not a parent’s job to outfit America’s soldiers. That’s what the President and Congress are supposed to do.
Source: 2006 Senate website, WhitehouseForSenate.com, “Key issues” , May 2, 2006

Iraq war policies have been misguided and flawed

Tomorrow, when President Bush addresses the nation, he should acknowledge that his policies for the war in Iraq have been misguided and flawed. But most importantly, the President must send the signal to Iraqi forces that we are in withdrawal mode, that our timeframe is rapid, and that Iraq must take responsibility for its own security.
Source: Campaign press release, “Bush’s Address to the Nation” , Nov 29, 2005

Rapid and responsible withdrawal of our troops from Iraq

I have long argued for a rapid and responsible withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. That’s why I supported Sen. Kerry’s proposal to reduce troop levels by 20,000 before the end of the year and the Levin amendment in the Senate. And while military commanders should have the flexibility to establish specific timetables for withdrawal that protect troop safety and allow for response to the evolving situation on the ground, I believe that we should be redeployed out of Iraq by the end of 2006 - and possibly sooner if circumstances permit.

President Bush should send a signal to the Iraqis and to the world that this transition to withdrawal mode is real and bring a significant number of our troops home as soon after the December 15 Iraqi elections as possible.

Source: Campaign press release, “Bush’s Address to the Nation” , Nov 29, 2005

Voted YES on redeploying non-essential US troops out of Iraq in 9 months.

Vote to transition the missions of US Forces in Iraq to a more limited set of missions as specified by the President on September 13, 2007: S.AMDT.3875 amends S.AMDT.3874 and underlying bill H.R.2764:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LEVIN: "The amendment requires redeployment be completed within 9 months. At that point, funding for the war would be ended, with four narrow exceptions:"

  1. Security for US Government personnel and infrastructure
  2. Training Iraqi security forces
  3. Equipment to US service men and women to ensure their safety
Targeted operations against members of al-Qaida.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. McCAIN: "This year, after nearly 4 years of mismanaged war, our military has made significant gains under the so-called surge. Overall violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since [2003]. Improvised explosive device blasts now occur at a rate lower than at any point since September 2004.

"Al-Qaida's leadership knows which side is winning in Iraq. It may not be known in some parts of America and in this body, but al-Qaida knows. We are succeeding under the new strategy.

"Given these realities, some proponents of precipitous withdrawal from Iraq have shifted their focus. While conceding, finally, that there have been dramatic security gains, they have begun seizing on the lackluster performance of the Iraqi Government to insist that we should abandon the successful strategy and withdraw U.S. forces. This would be a terrible mistake."

Reference: Safe Redeployment Of US Troops From Iraq Amendment; Bill S.AMDT.3875 to H.R.2764 ; vote number 2007-437 on Dec 18, 2007

Voted YES on designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists.

Vote on a "Sense of the Senate" amendment, S.Amdt. 3017, to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act), that finds:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LIEBERMAN: Some of our colleagues thought the Sense of the Senate may have opened the door to some kind of military action against Iran [so we removed some text]. That is not our intention. In fact, our intention is to increase the economic pressure on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps so that we will never have to consider the use of the military to stop them from what they are doing to kill our soldiers.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. BIDEN. I will oppose the Kyl-Lieberman amendment for one simple reason: this administration cannot be trusted. I am very concerned about the evidence that suggests that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities inside Iraq. Arguably, if we had a different President who abided by the meaning and intent of laws we pass, I might support this amendment. I fear, however, that this President might use the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity as a pretext to use force against Iran as he sees fit. [The same was done with the Senate resolution on Iraq in 2002]. Given this President's actions and misuse of authority, I cannot support the amendment.

Reference: Sense of the Senate on Iran; Bill S.Amdt. 3017 to H.R. 1585 ; vote number 2007-349 on Sep 26, 2007

Voted YES on redeploying US troops out of Iraq by March 2008.

Begins the phased redeployment of US forces from Iraq within 120 days of enactment of this joint resolution with the goal of redeploying by March 31, 2008, all US combat forces from Iraq, except for a limited number essential for protecting US and coalition personnel and infrastructure, training and equipping Iraqi forces, and conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations. Such redeployment shall be implemented as part of a diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community in order to bring stability to Iraq.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Our troops are caught in the midst of a civil war. The administration has begun to escalate this war with 21,000 more troops. This idea is not a new one. During this war, four previous surges have all failed. It is time for a different direction. It is time for a drawdown of our troops.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

This resolution calls for imposing an artificial timeline to withdraw our troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions on the ground or the consequences of defeat; a defeat that will surely be added to what is unfortunately a growing list of American humiliations. This legislation would hobble American commanders in the field and substantially endanger America's strategic objective of a unified federal democratic Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself and be an ally in the war against Islamic fascism. The unintended consequence of this resolution is to bring to reality Osama bin Laden's vision for Iraq; that after 4 years of fighting in Iraq the US Congress loses its will to fight. If we leave Iraq before the job is done, as surely as night follows day, the terrorists will follow us home. Osama bin Laden has openly said: America does not have the stomach to stay in the fight. He is a fanatic. He is an Islamic fascist. He is determined to destroy us and our way of life.

Reference: US Policy in Iraq Resolution; Bill S.J.Res.9 ; vote number 2007-075 on Mar 15, 2007

Deploy UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Whitehouse co-sponsored deploying UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur

Calling for the urgent deployment of a robust and effective multinational peacekeeping mission with sufficient size, resources, leadership, and mandate to protect civilians in Darfur.

Legislative Outcome: Agreed to by Senate by Unanimous Consent.

Source: Resolution on Darfur (S.RES 276) 07-SR276 on Jul 19, 2007

Iranian nuclear weapons: prevention instead of containment.

Whitehouse 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-SJR41 on May 24, 2012

Sponsored shutting down Iranian foreign reserves.

Whitehouse co-sponsored Iran Sanctions Loophole Elimination Act

Congressional Summary:Prohibits US-based correspondent accounts or a payable-through accounts by a foreign financial institution that knowingly:

Arguments for and against bill: (New York Times, May 8, 2013): Seeking to escalate pressure on Iran, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would deny the Iranian government access to its foreign exchange reserves, estimated to be worth as much as $100 billion. The legislation would be the first major new sanction confronting Iran since its inconclusive round of negotiations last month on its disputed nuclear program.

Sponsors of the legislation contend that Iran is not bargaining in good faith while it continues to enrich uranium. Part of the reason, they say, is that Iran has been able to work around the worst effects of the sanctions by tapping its foreign currency reserves overseas, which are largely beyond the reach of current restrictions. "Closing the foreign currency loophole in our sanctions policy is critical in our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability," the sponsors said.

Critics said the new legislation risked further alienating Iranians who suspect that the sanctions' true purpose is not to pressure Iran in the nuclear negotiations, but to cause an economic implosion that would lead to regime change. "When we've cemented a sanctions escalation path, we're creating a trajectory toward actual confrontation," said the founder of the National Iranian American Council, a Washington group that opposes sanctions. Some Iranian leaders, he said, see the sanctions "as a train that can only go in one direction and has no brakes."

Source: S.892 13-S892 on May 8, 2013

Require Congress' approval before military action in Iran.

Whitehouse co-sponsored requiring Congress' approval before military action in Iran