Democratic presidential challenger; Independent RI Governor; Republican Senator (1999-2007)
There was no real evidence of WMDs in Iraq before invasion
CHAFEE: If you're looking ahead, and you're looking at someone who made that poor decision in 2002 to go into Iraq when there was no real evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,
I know because I did my homework, and, so, that's an indication of how someone will perform in the future. And that's what's important.
Q: He's questioning your judgment.
CLINTON: I recall very well being on a debate stage about 25 times with then Senator Obama, debating this very issue.
After the election, he asked me to become Secretary of State. He valued my judgment, and I spent a lot of time with him in the Situation Room.
WEBB: The third [strategic failing of recent administrations] was the recent deal allowing Iran to move forward and eventually acquire a nuclear weapon.
CHAFEE: I have to answer one thing that Senator Webb said about the Iran deal.
He said that because of the Iran deal, Russia came in. That's not true, Senator Webb. I respect your foreign policy chops. But Russia is aligned with Iran and with Assad and the Alawite Shias in Syria.
So that Iran deal did not allow Russia to come in.
WEBB: I believe that the signal that we sent to the region when the Iran nuclear deal was concluded was that we are accepting
Iran's greater position on this very important balance of power, among our greatest ally Israel, and I think it encouraged the acts that we've seen in the past several weeks.
American credibility suffered because of Iraqi WMD lies
We have to repair American credibility after we told the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which he didn't.
So there's an issue of American credibility out there. We have repair work to be done. I think we need someone that has the best in ethical standards as our next president.
Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas
, Oct 13, 2015
We need a new paradigm to stop these Mideast wars
We've got to stop these wars. You have to have a new dynamic, a new paradigm. We just spent a half-billion dollars arming and training soldiers, the rebel soldiers in Syria. They quickly join the other side.
We just bombed a hospital. We've had drone strikes that hit civilian weddings. So I would change how we--our approach to the Middle East. We need a new paradigm in the Middle East.
Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas
, Oct 13, 2015
I never believed Saddam had WMDs
What I'm most proud of is my judgment, particularly in the Iraq war vote. There was a lot of political pressure, public pressure. But I did my homework and I did not believe that the evidence was there that
Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And we live now with the consequences. I'm running for president to end the wars. I want to be the peacemaker. I am a proven peacemaker.
Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas
, Oct 13, 2015
Averse to foreign entanglements, including Iraq
Aversion to Foreign Entanglements: Only 23 of 100 Senators saw the folly of allowing Bush/Cheney to invade Iraq. I am very proud to be one of the 23.
The tragedies of the Iraq War are manifold; lost and injured lives, hundreds of billions of squandered tax dollars, the difficulty of providing just and proper care for our brave veterans, but maybe the most tragic, the loss of American credibility.
I commit to the repair needed to all the harm done. Our credibility will be restored when we respect our world partners and truly listen when they speak.
In a world of nuclear weapons, the United States must make international decisions with brains and not biceps.
Until Iraq War, there was lasting peace ahead of us
Q: You said explicitly that you're challenging Hillary Clinton primarily because of her vote for the Iraq war. Do you really think there's still enough anger left--this was a long time ago--to propel your candidacy based on that?
I enjoyed working with Sen. Clinton. We overlapped for six years and we served on the environment and public works committee together. But that vote for the Iraq war, that was a moment in time where the Vietnam era had ended, the Berlin wall come down.
There was lasting peace ahead of us if we made good decisions particularly after September 11th when people were angry and they were scared. And that was just a moment in time where the premise for going into Iraq was so false that there were weapons
of mass destruction--she didn't do her homework and we live with the ramifications today. And so you may say that's 12 years ago, but if you show lack of judgment, lack of doing your homework then, what can we expect in the future?
I had cast the only Republican vote against the war in Iraq.
Like every American, I looked at the facts and reached my own conclusion on whether Pres. Bush and V.P. Cheney knew, before they ordered our troops into Iraq, that
Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. Behind the scenes, I think, key figures in the administration had a variety of reasons for wanting to topple the dictator.
But none were willing to suggest to the American people that their sons and daughters should fight and die for any of these reasons. Instead, the
White House marketed the war on chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and the threat of "the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."
Deny future Bin Ladens recruitment propaganda tools
In September 2001 those of us who wanted to know what drove bin Laden's rage against us were looked upon with suspicion. Bin Laden had talked extensively about 3 grievances:
American military bases the holy sites of Mecca and Medina, in his native Saudi Arabia;
the plight of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank;
and the misery of the Iraqi people living under UN sanctions.
As I read the materials my staff gathered, I felt we had to define two missions ahead: to pursue bin Laden with every ounce of vigor and bring him to justice, and to deny future
bin Ladens the propaganda tools that had recruited the 19 men who brought down our airliners in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
2002: War authorization just ratchets up the hatred
In October of 2002, how could any Republican senator vote to send his country over the precipice again based on party loyalty? How could any Democratic senator follow suit out of political cowardice? When the president declared that Saddam was
an imminent threat to America from 7,000 miles away, veteran lawmakers in both parties failed to fight back. They let the administration go unchallenged when it sent up witnesses who did their best to get us into the war the president wanted.
On October 9, roughly 36 hours before the vote, I went to the Senate floor to say that the war authorization would serve those who believe in "ratcheting up the hatred."
In the end, even a majority of Senate Democrats voted for war. Only 23 senators voted to check a reckless president. I was the lone Republican among them.
Q: You have both spoken out against any timetables for the withdrawal of American troops. How would you bring this fight to a successful conclusion?
CHAFEE: That’s the biggest issue facing this country, what we do in the Middle East and particularly in
Iraq. We have to work with those countries around Iraq. There’re six countries that share a border with Iraq. And they all have a vested interest. A couple of them our adversary, Syria and Iran, we need their help in stabilizing what’s happening in Iraq.
If we can’t work with those countries, I would support a timetable.
LAFFEY: The plan is this?we told people of the world that we would make Iraq a stable place. By stable, we really mean it’s a place that’s no threat to itself. No threat to the
neighboring countries and no threat to the US. That means taking troops in Iraq, Iraqi troops and taking them to Europe to train them and bring them back. We have to train those troops so that we can get them to stand up so eventually we can stand down.
Only Republican to vote against Iraq war?but keep Rumsfeld
Q: What about Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld?
LAFFEY: I have called for the resignation of Rumsfeld. We took the worst case scenario to go to war but then we use one of the rosiest cases to win the war. I come from the business world and we have
to hold people accountable so my opponent has complained about the war and called Rumsfeld arrogant but wants to keep him around. I think he should leave. I think we should re-energize that.
CHAFEE: Laffey criticized me for not calling for
Rumsfeld’s resignation as he has, and by saying that job is not going well in Iraq and Rumsfeld should step down, that maybe that vindicates my vote against the war in Iraq. The only Republican to vote against the war in Iraq.
Laffey is very critical of me when I cast that vote as we traveled around the state at joint appearances. Very, very critical of Chafee’s vote against the war. I suppose now you might say that was a good vote.
Pressure Israel firmly, even when it looks like non-support
Chafee, chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the Middle East, is among a handful of senators who often dissent from measures calling for support of Israel and sanctions against its enemies. Supporters call Chafee a courageous voice of
independence from the pro-Israel lobby who is willing to prod Israel to take difficult actions needed for peace.
They praise Chafee for having warned that a U.S. failure to press Israel firmly enough toward peace would risk the election of
Hamas -- a party advocating Israel’s destruction -- to lead the Palestinian Authority. Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in January.
Critics say Chafee’s record puts him outside the mainstream of strong U.S. support for Israel. The senator replied last week that his “dogged” support of the peace process is in Israel’s long-term best interests.
Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007.
Voting YEA on this amendment would establish a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Voting NAY would keep the current situation without a timetable. The amendment states:
The President shall redeploy, commencing in 2006, US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007, leaving only the minimal number of forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces and conducting specialized counterterrorism operations.
The President should maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence to prosecute the war on terror and protect regional security interests.
Within 30 days, the administration shall submit to Congress a report that sets forth the strategy for the redeployment of US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007.
Opponents of the Resolution say:
This amendment would withdraw American forces from Iraq without regard to the real conditions on the ground.
The consequences of an American retreat would be terrible for the security of the
American people at home.
Our commitment is not open-ended. It is conditional on the Iraqis moving toward self-government and self-defense.
Supporters of the Resolution say:
Congress talks almost incessantly about the situation in Iraq as if on 9/11 the situation involved Iraq. Of course, it didn't. We were attacked by al-Qaida operating out of Afghanistan on 9/11.
One of the theories we hear is that somehow staying in Iraq is necessary because all the terrorists will come into Iraq, and then they wouldn't be able to attack us anywhere else. Some call this the roach-motel theory. The fact is, al-Qaida is operating in 60 to 80 countries. Yet our resources are only heavily focused on this Iraq situation.
In terms of differences from other Iraq amendments: This is binding, not just a sense of the Senate.
Secondly, we have a date; other amendments are open-ended.
Thirdly, this has an over-the-horizon force specifically to protect our security interests.
Voted YES on investigating contract awards in Iraq & Afghanistan.
To establish a special committee of the Senate to investigate the awarding and carrying out of contracts to conduct activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and to fight the war on terrorism. Voting YES would: create Senate special committee to investigate war contracts, taking into consideration: bidding, methods of contracting, subcontracting, oversight procedures, allegations of wasteful practices, accountability and lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Voted YES on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan.
Vote to pass a bill that would appropriate $86.5 billion in supplemental spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Fiscal 2004. The bill would provide $10.3 billion as a grant to rebuild Iraq. This includes:
$5.1 billion for security
$5.2 billion for reconstruction costs
$65.6 billion for military operations and maintenance
$1.3 billion for veterans medical care
$10 billion as a loan that would be converted to a grant if 90% of all bilateral debt incurred by the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, would have to be forgiven by other countries.
Reference: FY04 Emergency Supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan;
; vote number 2003-400
on Oct 17, 2003
Voted NO on authorizing use of military force against Iraq.
H.J.Res. 114; Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. The administration would be required to report to Congress that diplomatic options have been exhausted before, or within 48 hours after military action has started. Every 60 days the president would also be required to submit a progress report to Congress.
Supports $48 billion in new spending for anti-terrorism.
Chafee adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership issue stance:
The Republican Main Street Partnership (RMSP), the largest group of moderate GOP elected officials in the nation, applauds President Bush's call for $48 Billion in new defense spending to win the war on terrorism, provide for homeland defense and modernize the U.S. military.
Main Street Moderates, also offer support for the President's "Homeland Defense" initiative that strengthens border security ($2.1 Billion Increase), bulks up INS and Customs inspectors and agents (focusing on the northern border), and proposes a 500% increase in "Bio-Terrorism" spending.
These were part of the RMSP Anti-Terrorism Policy proposed by key Main Street members Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) and others shortly after Sept. 11th. Sen. Snowe called "the President's proposals to boost funding for the Coast Guard, border security and customs right on target." "By focusing on these issues (Defense and Homeland Security), he's clearly in touch with what's most important to the American people," said fellow Main Street member Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY).
Source: Republican Main Street Partnership press release 01-RMSP5 on Jan 30, 2002