Alan Keyes on War & Peace

American Independent nominee for President; 2004 Republican challenger for IL Senate


Would not have chosen Iraq; would not have asked UN either

Regarding Iraq as priority in the war against terror: I have said in the past and would say now--and not with the wisdom of hindsight either--it was not what would have been my choice.

Having, however, determined that we were going to go to war, and what we said was the best interest of defending the American people against weapons of mass destruction and other terrible elements of terrorism, somebody explain to me why it is that we see fit to then take the question to the United Nations?

Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.alankeyes.com, “Issues” , Oct 1, 2007

After military victory, should have had UN nation-building

After we won the military victory in Iraq--which, thank God, everybody assumed we would--what should have happened? Well--and this is not the wisdom of hindsight, because I said so at the time--what we should have done at that point was to keep the security aspects to ourselves and turn all the political junk over to the UN. That’s part of why it’s there.

This whole business of nation-building and shepherding people through representative government--it’s not our purpose.

Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.alankeyes.com, “Issues” , Oct 1, 2007

Bush focuses on democracy for Iraq; not security for America

Q: Minority enlistment is declining because of one reason: the war in Iraq. What do you say to minorities who are overwhelmingly opposed to the continuation of this war?

A: I don’t think it’s hard to ask anybody in this country to stand in defense of the fundamental moral principle that you do not consciously target innocent human life. My one criticism? I think unfortunately, Pres. Bush put a lot of emphasis on democracy for people in Iraq, when our real goal is security for people in America.

Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University , Sep 27, 2007

Our efforts in Iraq defend against a deep & terrible threat

I think the most important thing to remember is that our efforts in Iraq and elsewhere right now that followed in the wake of September 11 aren’t an effort to defend Black people, white people, Jewish people, Christian people, et cetera. They’re an effort to defend the United States of America from a deep and terrible threat that came against us in disregard of the fundamental moral principle that is supposed to govern all international affairs, all wars that are conducted by countries, and that is that you do not consciously target innocent human life.

My father was a soldier--fought in Korea and Vietnam and World War II, did not stand in defense of this race or that, but stood in defense of the common principles of moral decency and justice that are derived from that premise that I talked about, that our rights come from God.

Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University , Sep 27, 2007

Autonomy for Christians in Iraq’s Nineveh region

Q: US policy has thus far failed Christians & other non-Muslim minorities in Iraq; their very existence is threatened. This would be a tragic and ironic outcome of Iraq’s liberation. Do you support their political goals by endorsing the creation of an autonomous administrative area in their ancestral homeland of the Nineveh plains, as permitted by Article 125 of the Iraqi Constitution?
Source: [Xref Paul] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Withdrawing before your enemy stops is called “defeat”

Some people think that we can just withdraw and forget about it, forgetting that we were attacked. And usually, when you withdraw from a war before your enemy stops fighting, you don’t call that “withdrawal.” You call it defeat and surrender. And, in this case, defeat & surrender could mean the loss of American lives right here at home. I’m not one of those people who thinks that everything we’ve done is perfect. But we have got to stay the course, [because] we’re there fighting for our own survival.
Source: Radio interview on “Janet Parshall’s America” , Sep 14, 2007

War on terror is about survival; war in Iraq is about morale

Q: Going into this election, is the #1 issue on everybody’s heart going to be Iraq and terrorism?

A: Well, I think that, in one immediate sense, we can’t get away from the truth that we are in a battle for our survival, but I think what we need to recognize clearly is that the problem we face right now on Iraq is actually a problem of morale. Our forces are over there doing the job they need to do--confronting terrorists, making sure that the terrorists deal with our armed forces rather than come over here and try to kill our unarmed people. And I think with that battle going on, we need to make sure we keep the resolve, the faith that is needed to support this effort, which is really an effort for the sake of the survival of liberty against forces who mean to destroy it. But you can see that it’s quavering here at home. A lot of leaders don’t want to deal with this.

Source: Radio interview on “Janet Parshall’s America” , Sep 14, 2007

Needed greater effort to bring in others to Iraq

Q: What would you say has been the greatest blunder of the Iraq war?

A: There could have been a greater effort, over the beginning of our efforts there, to bring in others. I would have brought others in on the political side of the equation, to help deal with the business of putting together an Iraqi government. That could still be done. But, it’s absolutely imperative that we keep the security dimensions of the Iraqi war under the control of the US, so that we can make sure that Iraq does not become a base for terrorist activity, that we are able to make sure a government does not come to power that will aid and abet terrorism, that we are able to do what’s necessary to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists. Those national security goals are the proper goals of our effort, and we ought to be looking to the Iraqi people and to the international community to help deal with the political dimensions of establishing a stable government there.

Source: IL Senate Debate , Oct 26, 2004

War on Terror requires both intelligence and discretion

With respect to these tons of explosives, it’s still not clear what the chain of possession was, and whether or not it was after the US took possession that we lost track of these explosives. All Americans are gonna look at the larger picture of whether or not we have taken steps that have effectively stopped Saddam from delivering weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. The probability of that is zero. Whether we have in fact established a base that allows us effectively to recruit the kind of intelligence that we need to deal with this situation in Iran, in Syria, and elsewhere, whether we have discouraged other terrorist-sponsoring states from continuing with their activities that could result in death for Americans, the kind of things we are doing in Iraq and in Afghanistan are only part of the effort we must make against terror, which is to carry the war to the terrorists themselves. That is part of the effort that does require both intelligence and discretion, and it is going forward.
Source: IL Senate Debate , Oct 26, 2004

Iraq War reduced probability of attack from Saddam to zero

Q: Is the Iraq War the right war at the right time?

KEYES: We either fight the war against terror or the terrorists kill us. What Pres. Bush did was take a situation where there was a probability of a terrorist attack and respond. Now what probability was there that there was going to be a biological or nuclear attack against the US? Bush did was what any responsible president would have to do: He acted to reduce that probability to zero because that is the only probability we want. So he acted to attack them before they attack us, to make it clear to enablers of terrorism like Saddam Hussein that we will retaliate. And it’s worked. It was a necessary decision the president made to save our country from disaster.

OBAMA: We have not reduced the probability of a terrorist attack to zero, when we have nuclear fuel lying around in the former Soviet Union & while Osama bin Laden roams free in the hills of Afghanistan.

KEYES: We have reduced the probability of an attack from Saddam Hussein to zero

Source: Illinois Senate Debate #3: Barack Obama vs. Alan Keyes , Oct 21, 2004

Naive to think Saddam has no connections to Al Qaeda

Q: Is the Iraq War the right war at the right time?

OBAMA: There was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. This war has made us less safe. Osama bin Laden roams free in the hills of Afghanistan.

KEYES: The breathtaking naivete of the assertion that there is no connection between Al Qaeda & Saddam Hussein when Saddam was providing payments to the families of Hamas suicide bombers who had ties to Al Qaeda. I worked on the National Security Council staff. Maybe that’s why I understand the situation a little better than Barack Obama. Those ties are real and we cannot afford to let them operate.

OBAMA: I don’t think that Mr. Keyes knowledge of the situation is better than Donald Rumsfeld’s or the other experts who have confirmed that there was no connection between those who perpetrated the attacks of 9/11 and Iraq. This was an ideologically driven war. But now we do have a hotbed of terrorism to fight in Iraq.

Source: Illinois Senate Debate #3: Barack Obama vs. Alan Keyes , Oct 21, 2004

Troops should stay in Iraq until they get the job done

Q: How long should US armed forces stay in Iraq, and how should we get them out?

A: They stay there until they get the job done. Kerry is preoccupied with an exit strategy, but if you get into a battle and the only thing you’re thinking about is how to get out, I think we have a word for you-and it’s not very complimentary. We are engaged in a war against terror that was started by the terrorists, that claimed the lives of thousands of Americans, that involves a global infrastructure of insidious individuals. We have seen the work they do against innocent lives in the most bestial fashion possible. To fight that war, it is not sufficient to have rhetoric, it is not sufficient to react after the fact. You have got to preemptively move against their bases, against their sources of supply, against their training camps, against the states the provide them with safe haven and infrastructure. If you do not, then they will simply prepare for further attacks.

Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network , Oct 12, 2004

Preemptive strike in Iraq is a right decision

In a world where we have WMD, it’s not good enough to say that, “If there’s a 50% chance that they could use them, I will act”-once one such attack succeeds, we could end up losing tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people. Bush has done the correct thing. He moved preemptively in Afghanistan, he moved preemptively in Iraq to make sure the American people will not again suffer even worse damage from this kind of insidious attack. We ought to stay there until our national security purposes are served. We ought to understand the national security objective is different than the political objective. It is up to the people of Iraq, and we can work with other countries, internationally, to help them establish a regime that will be more respectful of human rights, that will never again become a base for terror or involved in the infrastructure of terror. But our main objective in which we have to act, whether we have cooperation or not, is to defend the security and lives of our people.
Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network , Oct 12, 2004

There is no distinction between Afghanistan and Iraq

Q: Isn’t there a distinction between Afghanistan and Iraq and our military incursions into both places?

A: There is not. One of the problems with folks who haven’t really had much experience in dealing with terror is that they don’t understand that we are in fact faced with a global infrastructure. Saddam was providing, for instance, payments to the families of suicide bombers who were moving against the Israelis. Bin Laden made it very clear he was doing so on behalf of, he said, the Palestinians and their cause. All of this suggests is the reality that we are not dealing with discrete elements here. We are dealing with a single war that has a front in Afghanistan, a front in Iraq that has a covert series of fronts that we don’t hear much about, but in which our people are presumably going after the cadre of terror, that has a financial front & other fronts. To deal with this as if we’re dealing with discrete little episodes is to show that you have no real understanding of the danger that we face.

Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network , Oct 12, 2004

Bush didn’t have the wisdom of hindsight in the Iraqi War

OBAMA: The Bush administration could not find a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. WMD are not found in Iraq. And so, it is absolutely true that we have a network of terrorists, but it takes a huge leap of logic to suddenly suggest that that means that we invade Iraq. Saudi Arabia has a whole bunch of terrorists, so have Syria and Iran, and all across the globe. To mount full-scale invasions as a consequence is a bad strategy. It makes more sense for us to focus on those terrorists who are active to try to roll them up where we have evidence that in fact these countries are being used as staging grounds that would potentially cause us eminent harm, and then we go in. The US has to reserve all military options in facing such an imminent threat- but we have to do it wisely.

KEYES: That’s the fallacy, because you did make an argument just then from the wisdom of hindsight, based on conclusions reached now which were not in Bush’s hands several months ago when he had to make this decision.

Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network , Oct 12, 2004

Respond to facts, not Serb intentions

Q: You’ve said the scale of Serb atrocities in Kosovo was grossly overstated and that the US intervening was more dangerous than what happened inside the province itself. In light of new reports, do you still stand by your view?
A: If I understand the report, it confirms an intention. [We should not] in foreign policy to intentions. We’ve got to react to facts. And the facts as they have been established on the ground do not support all the reports that came out in the course of that war.
Source: Phoenix Arizona GOP Debate , Dec 7, 1999

Kosovo sets precedent for more future intervention

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton have said that the NATO action in Yugoslavia is just the beginning. They view this war as a precedent for a new internationalism, and expect similar interventions to happen regularly. Our “victory” in Yugoslavia, should it occur, will be worse than hollow -- it will be ripe with the seeds of greater evil to come, now that America has begun to teach the world that the end justifies the means.
Source: (Cross-ref from Defense) WorldNetDaily “Terrorism -- America , Jun 14, 1999

NATO strategy against civilians is terrorism

The NATO campaign has followed a strategy that we know to be wrong and deeply immoral. Moral norms of decent and civilized people condemn a strategy that aims to break and destroy the civilian people of a country in order to achieve political objectives. The classic definition of terrorism is the use of force against civilians in order to get them to do your bidding as a result of the terror induced in their hearts. And we have been practicing a strategy based on just such a use of force.
Source: WorldNetDaily “Terrorism -- American style” , Jun 4, 1999

“Ends justify the means” is the path to evil

Aren’t we doing it for the sake of the Kosovars, and doesn’t that make it all right? The evil enemies we fought in this century did not consider themselves to be evil any more than we do now. The real evil in them was their acceptance of the principle that the end justifies the means. They are pushed into evil by people who persuade them that evil is necessary to achieve some greater good, and that the good justifies the evil. And this is what has happened to us with the war in Kosovo.
Source: WorldNetDaily “Terrorism -- American style” , Jun 4, 1999

Kosovo not based on human rights policy nor precedent

A: [Defending Kosovo] isn’t about saving face because we have the kind of power and position in the world where we should be thinking about how we maturely and responsibly make use of that power, particularly where military force is concerned.

Q: I would rather see the issue be framed around other bad guys around the world watching this, and if we pull out and let a guy like Milosevic win, that is going to open the floodgates up to dozens of others.

A: I think that’s nonsense. I’m sorry. If you were going to consider that, [what about] the brutal Communist dictators with whom Clinton refuses to stop doing business? He wants to kill off half the population of Yugoslavia in the name of human rights, but he won’t even stop buying Chinese- made paper boxes? I don’t believe that this argument is made with sincerity. I think that a serious human rights policy requires that you build it and that you sustain it over the course of years in all the different aspects of your policy.

Source: Interview on “The O’Reilly Factor” , Apr 7, 1999

Support Israel on moral grounds, not economic nor strategic

As US Ambassador to the UN Economic & Social Council, I spent somewhere between 50% and 70% of my time dealing with our policy toward the Middle East in general and with the US-Israeli relationship in particular. It is not easy to defend our special relationship with Israel at the practical, pragmatic, entirely material level: strategic interests; sheer economics; geopolitics; where the oil is. You can’t sustain the argument in favor of a strong partnership with Israel solely on the basis of those considerations.

The best case we can make is at the level of our moral identity. When we come face to face with the ultimate issues of war and peace, all of those geo-strategic things go by the boards. [We should] appeal to arguments that stir the moral sentiments of this nation, and that call upon our willingness to moral commitments, to the things that we believe are right.

Source: Our Character, Our Future, p.112-3 , May 2, 1996

Bosnian intervention MUST be approved by Congress

The circumstances in Bosnia did not justify intervention. The Constitution has that business about declaring war so that presidents were not to commit us to things like this, without *consulting* the Representatives of the people. And that consultation was not meant to be a rubber stamp on decisions that can’t be justified. It was meant to FORCE that justification, and if the justification was not satisfactory, it was meant to give the people the chance to say NO.
Source: Speech to the National Jewish Coalition , Nov 28, 1995

Other candidates on War & Peace: Alan Keyes on other issues:
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Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
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George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
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Dwight Eisenhower (R,1953-1961)
Harry_S_TrumanHarry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

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Page last updated: Oct 26, 2021