Kaine's Brutal Honesty On The Failed Clinton-Obama Foreign Policy Doctrine

- October 4, 2016

On Some Of The Most Pressing Foreign Policy Issues That Face The United States Kaine Opposes The Clinton-Obama Foreign Policy Doctrine


  • After three years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee all Kaine has to show for it is stark opposition to the Clinton-Obama agenda.
  • In a previous visit to Longwood University, Kaine asserted his belief that the United States has "no strategy" to deal with some of the largest foreign policy challenges that the Obama administration has grappled with.
  • Kaine has directly opposed the Clinton-Obama ISIS strategy, criticizing Obama's lack of a "comprehensive strategy" and faulting an "overreaching president" for the "illegal war" Kaine believes is being conducted.
  • The Clinton-Obama botched actions in Libya were criticized by Kaine, who asserted that Obama and Clinton should have sought more input in the operation they touted until the effects of their "improvisation" took hold.
  • In reference to the Clinton-Obama approach to Assad, Kaine called their strategy "a joke" and criticized their lack of action against forcing the Syrian leader from power.


Tonight, Senator Tim Kaine Will Debate Governor Mike Pence At Longwood University In Farmville, Virginia. "Last week hardly marked the first time the two men had devoted considerable time and attention to Tuesday's debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va. For both Mr. Kaine and Mr. Pence, the vice-presidential debate, moderated by CBS News's Elaine Quijano, will be their lone one-on-one face-off this election, and is the most high-profile and highly anticipated moment of their political careers so far." (Ashley Parker And Thomas Kaplan, "Tim Kaine And Mike Pence Prepare For Vice-Presidential Proxy Fight," The New York Times, 10/3/16)

In April 2016, Kaine Visited Longwood University And Joined Students In A Foreign Policy Class, Where He Said That The United States Has "No Strategy" For Dealing With Threats Like North Korea And Putin's Russia. "Kaine's main point was that 'we have O(perational) plans, but no strategy. We have a plan for what to do if North Korea were to move across the border into South Korea; we have a plan for what we would do if Putin decided to move Russian troops into a NATO allied country. We have plans for all these eventualities, but we don't have a strategy.' Kaine asserted that the United States need to refer back to Winston Churchill's 'Sinews of Peace' speech, more commonly known as the Iron Curtain speech and the Truman Doctrine. He mentions that the Truman Doctrine, 'the last comprehensive foreign policy that the United States has had,' has its flaws, designating too much money to defense, which takes away from the money going to education and getting students to college." (Kiersteen Freedman, "Sen Kaine Speaks Out About Foreign Policy," The [Longwood University] Rotunda , 4/8/16)


Kaine Has Argued Directly Against Obama's Use Of Force Against ISIS, Claiming That His Actions Are Illegal And Do Not Represent A Comprehensive Strategy

Kaine On The Obama Administration's Approach To ISIS: "The Problem Is, We Don't Have A Comprehensive Strategy." MSNBC'S JOE SCARBOROUGH: "Let's talk about what's happening right now in Syria, and what's happening in Iraq, and what's happening in the battle against ISIS. Ian Bremmer yesterday I saw sent out a tweet that said that Russia now has more boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq in the fight against ISIS than does the United States of America. It seems to me that we're leading from behind, and from behind Vladimir Putin doesn't seem like a safe thing to do. What's you're reaction?" SENATOR TIM KAINE: "Well Joe, I think the problem is, we don't have a comprehensive strategy." (MSNBC's Morning Joe, 11/10/15)

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In A September 2014 Center For American Progress Speech, Kaine Said That For President Obama To Pursue A Military Campaign Against ISIS Without Congressional Authorization Will Create "A Horrible Precedent." "Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) intensified his calls for Congress to debate the authorization of expanded U.S. military operations in the Middle East Tuesday: failing to take up the issue later this fall, he said, would essentially be an endorsement of the Cheney Doctrine of preemptive war they'd once rejected.'" (Ed O'Keefe, "Kaine: If Congress Doesn't Authorize Military Action 'We Will Have Created A Horrible Precedent,'" The Washington Post , 9/23/14)

  • Kaine Said The Argument, Advanced By The Obama Administration, That Military Action In Syria Could Be Legally Justified By The 2001 AUMF "Just Really Doesn't Add Up." "Kaine called the rise of the Islamic State terror group 'a significant threat' and 'a growing threat' to the United States, but he criticized the Obama administration for suggesting that current military action in Syria can be legally justified by a military force authorization passed by Congress in 2001. Doing so is 'an extremely creative stretch by extremely creative lawyers...that just really doesn't add up,' Kaine said." (Ed O'Keefe, "Kaine: If Congress Doesn't Authorize Military Action 'We Will Have Created A Horrible Precedent,'" The Washington Post , 9/23/14)

In An August 2015 Interview, Kaine Said The U.S. Fight Against The Islamic State Is "Basically An Illegal War," Explaining That He Faulted "An Overreaching President" And Congress For Its Failure To Debate Or Vote On The War. "Kaine joined HuffPost Live on Thursday and sounded off on the increasing military operations against the extremist group. While the senator said he is 'supportive of U.S. military action against ISIL,' he urged Congress to weigh in on the matter. 'I don't want it to be done on a presidential say-so without a vote of Congress. … This is now basically an illegal war. I don't think there's a legal justification for it,' Kaine told host Alyona Minkovski. … But Kaine didn't completely blame Obama for the 'illegal' military action. 'The fault is on an overreaching president, in my view, but it's even more on the shoulders of Congress, because Congress has affirmatively refused to debate or vote on this war, in deep derogation of its Constitutional responsibilities,' he said. 'But more importantly than that, it's sending the message to the troops … that Congress could care less. That's also the message that ISIL gets - Congress could care less. It's the message that other allies in the region get - Congress could care less.'" (Rahel Gebreyes, "Sen. Tim Kaine Calls Fight Against ISIS An 'Illegal War,'' The Huffington Post, 8/6/15)

  • Kaine: "Since The Beginning Of U.S. Airstrikes Against Iraq & Syria In August 2014, I Have Been Demanding A Debate And Vote On A New Authorization For The Mission Well Beyond The Intent Of The 2001 AUMF." ("Foreign Relations Committee," Senator Tim Kaine, Accessed 7/5/16)

By All Measures, The Clinton-Obama Policy On ISIS Is Not Working And Has Been Criticized By Top U.S. Officials As ISIS Continues To Grow

Obama's Current Strategy Against ISIS Has Been Panned As Bad Policy By Former Top U.S. Generals. "But some of his predecessors disagree. James Mattis, a retired Marine general who commanded Central Command from 2010 to 2013, says the war on ISIS is 'unguided by a sustained policy or sound strategy [and is] replete with half-measures.' Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine four-star who held the same post from 1997 to 2000, says he doesn't think he could do so today. 'I don't want to be part of a strategy that in my heart of hearts I know is going to fail,' he says. 'It's a bad strategy, it's the wrong strategy, and maybe I would tell the President that he would be better served to find somebody who believes in it, whoever that idiot may be.'" (Mark Thompson, "Former U.S. Commanders Take Increasingly Dim View Of War On ISIS," Time, 8/31/16)

Director Of National Intelligence James Clapper: There Currently Exist More Terrorist Safe Havens "Than At Any Time In History." "Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was also at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, estimated that violent extremists were active in about 40 countries and that there currently exist more terrorist safe havens 'than at any time in history.'" (Ryan Browne, "Top Intelligence Official: ISIS To Attempt U.S. Attacks This Year," CNN, 2/9/16)

  • Former Acting Director Of The CIA John McLaughlin: Due To Chaos In Syria And Iraq, ISIS Has More Ungoverned Territory At Its Disposal Than Any Terrorist Group Has Had "In Decades." "In fact, the combination of chaos in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the weakness of so many Middle Eastern and African governments give terrorists more 'ungoverned' space to exploit than has existed in the last couple decades." (John McLaughlin, "ISIS Is Hurt But Its End Is Not In Sight," The Cipher Brief, 7/28/16)
  • As Recently As June, ISIS Occupied Over 26,370 Square Miles In Syria And Iraq. "The territory controlled by the ultra-hardline Sunni group shrank from 90,800 sq km (35,000 square miles) in January 2015, six months after it declared a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, to 68,300 sq km (26,370 square miles), the research firm said." (Maher Chmaytelli and Lisa Barrington, "Islamic State Lost Quarter Of Its Iraq, Syria Territory In 18 Months: HIS," Reuters, 6/10/16)
  • ISIS Has Gained Control Of Much Of The Oil Infrastructure In Iraq. "IS has gained control of much of the oil infrastructure in Syria and Iraq, and oil sold on the black market was originally the group's biggest single source of revenue." ("Islamic State group: Crisis In Seven Charts," BBC, 8/3/16)

Clinton Has Owned Obama's Failed ISIS Strategy As "Close To Mine" And Believes The President Does Not Require An AUMF To Wage War On ISIS Unlike Her Running Mate

In December 2015, Clinton Said That Obama's ISIS Strategy "Is Close To Mine." QUESTION: "Anything you would have said differently or disagreed with respect to President Obama's address [inaudible]?" CLINTON: "I was really happy that he made the address. I thought it was very important for him to address the nation. And you know, I think his take on what needs to be done is close to mine." (Hillary Clinton, Interview With The Concord Monitor Editorial Board, 12/8/15)

  • In February 2015, Clinton Said Obama Is Making "The Right Moves" In The Effort Against ISIS. QUESTION: "Do you think enough is being done?" CLINTON: "Well, I think that it's a very hard challenge because you can't very well put American or western troops in to fight this organism. You have to use not only air force, but also army soldiers, from the region, and particularly from Iraq… So yes, I think a lot of the right moves are being made, but this is a really complicated and long term problem." (Hillary Clinton, Interview With ReCode, 2/24/15)

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"Clinton Sees Things Differently" And Believes That The President Has The Authority To Fight ISIS Without Seeking An AUMF. "Clinton sees things differently and is effectively trying to have it both ways. Like Obama, she believes she could fight the Islamic State without explicit congressional approval. At the same time, she has said she's open to a new AUMF about the Islamic State, in part as a public relations gesture to show congressional support for the fight. 'Congress ought to express its resolve to stand behind our military and win this fight by passing a new AUMF, and she has publicly applauded Kaine's efforts,' Clinton spokesman Jesse Lehrich told Foreign Policy in a statement Tuesday." (David Francis, John Hudson And Molly O'Toole, "Tim Kaine Thinks ISIS Fight Needs Congressional Approval," Foreign Policy, 7/26/16)

  • If Elected, Clinton Would Continue To Wage War Against ISIS Regardless Of An AUMF. "Put another way, a Clinton-Kaine administration would likely carry on the fight against the Islamic State by relying on the same legal argument that Obama has made: It doesn't need congressional approval - the existing authorizations suffice - but it would be nice to have it." (David Francis, John Hudson And Molly O'Toole, "Tim Kaine Thinks ISIS Fight Needs Congressional Approval," Foreign Policy, 7/26/16)


Kaine Has Argued That Obama Should Have Sought More Input From Congress On His Failed Libya Actions

Kaine Believes That Congress Must Be "Thorough And Tough In Questioning Any Commitment Of American Troops Abroad" And Has Said He Would Have Preferred "More Engagement With And Input From The Congress" On President Obama's Libya Policy. "When I visited Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006, I saw first hand the heroic performance of our troops under difficult circumstances in two lengthy ground wars. Combat operations in Iraq have ceased and we need to bring our troops home as soon as possible. The main mission in Afghanistan-destroying Al Qaeda-is nearly complete and we should bring our troops home as quickly as we can, consistent with the need to make sure that Afghanistan poses no danger in the broader region. The experience of both wars demonstrates that Congressional leaders need to be thorough and tough in questioning any commitment of American troops abroad. Though the President's rationale for our recent engagement in Libya was sound, I would have preferred more engagement with and input from the Congress. The war in Iraq was the product of poor civilian decision-making and Congress did not adequately perform its Constitutional oversight role. The war in Afghanistan had to be waged, but the initial lack of a clearly defined end goal and the diversion of manpower and key resources to the war in Iraq dramatically lengthened the period of time needed to accomplish the core mission of dismantling Al Qaeda." ("National Security/Military & Veterans," Kaine For VA, Accessed 7/5/16)

As A Senate Candidate, Kaine Said In A June 18, 2011 Interview That The Obama Administration Should Consult Congress Further Over America's Involvement In Libya. "Former Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Saturday that the Obama administration should consult Congress further over American involvement in Libya's civil war. 'I do think in things like this, err on the side of caution and go to Congress,' Kaine said in an interview after a campaign stop in Charlottesville. When asked whether the War Powers Act legally requires the White House to get congressional approval for Libya, Kaine was noncommittal. 'I'm not the lawyer on that,' Kaine said, adding that the president had a 'good rationale' for going in, given that sanctions had failed and the United Nations and the Arab League signed off on intervention." (Graham Moomaw, "Kaine Talks Libya At Local Stop," The Daily Progress , 6/19/11)

Clinton Bragged About Her Role In Military Actions In Libya In 2011

The 2011 Military Intervention Into Libya Was Initially Seen As A Foreign Policy Success For Clinton And Obama. "Seven months later, with longtime U.S. nemesis Moammar Gaddafi dead and Libya's onetime rebels now in charge, the coalition air campaign has emerged as a foreign policy success for the Obama administration and its most famous Cabinet member, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton." (Joby Warrick, "Hillary's War: How Conviction Replaced Skepticism In Libya Intervention," The Washington Post , 10/30/11)

  • Clinton's State Department Aides Developed A 'Brag Sheet' For Clinton On Libya And Joked That She Celebrated Like She Called In The Airstrikes Herself. "The timeline, her top policy aide, Jake Sullivan, wrote, demonstrated Mrs. Clinton's 'leadership/ownership/stewardship of this country's Libya policy from start to finish.' The memo's language put her at the center of everything: 'HRC announces … HRC directs … HRC travels … HRC engages,' it read. It was a brag sheet for a cabinet member eyeing a presidential race, and the Clinton team's eagerness to claim credit for her prompted eye-rolling at the White House and the Pentagon. Some joked that to hear her aides tell it, she had practically called in the airstrikes herself." (Jo Becker and Scott Shane, "A New Libya, With 'Very Little Time Left'," The New York Times, 2/27/16)
  • Clinton, Speaking About The Air Campaign, Said, "We Set Into Motion A Policy That Was On The Right Side Of History, On The Right Side Of Our Values, On The Right Side Of Our Strategic Interests In The Region." "Clinton, in an interview, acknowledged 'periods of anguish and buyer's remorse' during the seven months of the campaign. But, she said, 'we set into motion a policy that was on the right side of history, on the right side of our values, on the right side of our strategic interests in the region.'" (Joby Warrick, "Clinton Credited With Key Role In Success Of NATO Airstrikes, Libyan Rebels," The Washington Post , 10/30/11)

Both Obama And Clinton Walked Back From Their Failure To Plan For A Post-Gaddafi Libya As Instability Has Wracked The Country

"President Obama Washed His Hands Of Libya After Islamists Killed His Ambassador, Chris Stevens, In Benghazi In September 2012." ("Libya's Civil War: That Is Should Come To This," The Economist, 1/10/15)

As She Planned For The Intervention, Clinton Failed To Resolve How "Just How Libya Would Be Governed After Gaddafi." "In 2011, as the United States considered intervention, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among those who pushed for intervention-without resolving just how Libya would be governed after Gaddafi, according to a senior defense official who was part of the decision-making process." (Nancy A. Youssef, "Hillary's Libya Post-War Plan Was 'Play It By Ear,' Gates Says," The Daily Beast , 10/20/15)

  • The Consequences Of Clinton's "Improvisation Are Still Being Felt Today." "And the consequences of that improvisation are still being felt today. The country is an epicenter of the refugee crisis sweeping the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Part of Libya is under the control of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. And the Russians use the U.S.-NATO intervention in Libya to justify their own military incursions in places like Syria." (Nancy A. Youssef, "Hillary's Libya Post-War Plan Was 'Play It By Ear,' Gates Says," The Daily Beast , 10/20/15)


Kaine Has Referenced The Obama-Clinton Syria Strategy As "A Joke," Criticizing Both Their Approach To Assad As Well As Their "Very Mixed" Assistance In Addressing The Humanitarian Crisis

In An October 2015 Interview, Kaine Criticized The Obama Administration's Syria Strategy As "A Joke." "Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) on Thursday criticized the Obama administration's handling of Syria. 'In Syria, the strategy's a joke,' he said on 'The John Fredericks Show' broadcasting from Chesapeake, Va. 'The idea that you can train 30 people and put them in a civil war featuring millions and have them be effective is highly fanciful,' said Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 'You could tell they were Sisyphus trying to roll the boulder up the hill.'" (Mark Hensch, "Dem Senator: Syria Strategy 'A Joke,'" The Hill, 10/9/15)

In A November 2015 Interview, Kaine Criticized The Obama Administration For Its Lack Of Action Against Forcing Assad From Power As Well As For Its "Very Mixed" Assistance In The Humanitarian Crisis. VOX's ZACK BEAUCHAMP: "You've been critical of the US effort so far against ISIS. Is that just a matter of rhetorical emphasis, or are there real areas in which the US needs to change its policy?" KAINE: "There are some real policy areas. Let me give you one that's both: Is it the policy of the United States that Assad must go? You hear very different things about that depending on whom you talk to. Certainly, folks outside the United States don't understand what the policy is. The president said, 'Assad must go.' But we haven't taken actions to oppose Assad vigorously. I think - this is my intuition, I'm not giving you any inside info - the president probably heard himself say, 'Assad must go,' and he was reminded that he had said the same thing about Qaddafi and Mubarak. President Bush said the same thing about Saddam Hussein. [Obama may have concluded] that when we try to dictate who another country has as its leader we've not been very good at doing it, especially in this region. I would also say that the US assistance in this humanitarian crisis is very mixed. We've written a big check, $4.5 billion dollars, to Syrian refugees who are leaving the country. Beyond that, the assistance to the refugees and the humanitarian effort has been pretty paltry." (Zack Beauchamp, "Sen. Tim Kaine On Why He Supports More Assertive US Action On Syria," Vox, 11/23/15)

Clinton And Obama Believed That Despite All Evidence To The Contrary Assad Could Be "A Reformer," Setting The Stage For The "Avoidable" Failed U.S. Policy

In 2011, Clinton Said Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad Was "A Reformer." CLINTON: "There's a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer." (CBS' "Face The Nation," 3/27/11)

  • The Washington Post Editorial : Clinton And The Obama Administration Believed That Assad, "Despite His Brutality, Sponsorship Of Terrorism, And Close Alliance With Iran," Could Somehow Become A Western Ally. "Ms. Clinton was only reflecting a piece of wishful thinking to which the Obama administration and its congressional allies have tenaciously clung: that Mr. Assad, despite his brutality, sponsorship of terrorism and close alliance with Iran, can somehow be turned into a Western ally." (Editorial, "Can Syria's Dictator Reform?" The Washington Post, 3/29/11)

Over Several Years In Syria, There Has Been A Failed U.S. Policy "That Avoided Supporting Groups That Were More Western And Democratic-Leaning." "But the rise of the Islamists is at least partially due to a failed U.S. policy over the last three years that avoided supporting groups that were more Western and democratic-leaning, said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy." (Josh Rogin, Obama's Failed Islamist Outreach," The Daily Beast, 12/30/13)

  • Politico's Michael Weiss: "All Of This Was Avoidable." "All of this was avoidable. Even after the Aug. 21 chemical attacks, there were still conspicuous rebels willing to cast their lot with the United States. Their logic was simple: Surely after psychopathically gassing hundreds of people in his own capital city, Assad had motivated even a reluctant and war-weary Barack Obama to hasten his removal. I met and interviewed dozens of such fighters in Antakya, Turkey, in that fateful week when the administration instead announced that it had brokered a deal with the Kremlin. There was now a sense of finality in the air; enough was enough." (Michael Weiss, "The Unraveling," Politico, 1/2/14)

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