Thursday, August 04, 2016

From the Archives: Virginia Congressman Robert Hurt discusses U.S. policy in Syria and Iraq

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on October 8, 2014. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Virginia Congressman Robert Hurt discusses U.S. policy in Syria and Iraq

Just before a campaign rally at Republican party headquarters in Albemarle Square on October 8, U.S. Representative Robert Hurt (R-VA5) spoke to Charlottesville area news media about a range of issues, from health care and education to job growth and presidential usurpation of congressional authority.

In an exclusive interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner, Congressman Hurt answered questions about foreign policy issues, starting with the use of military force in Iraq and Syria.

Last month, Hurt voted against an amendment to authorize the Secretary of Defense to provide arms to certain Syrian rebel groups, as part of the Obama administration's strategy to fight the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). Hurt was in the minority, as the amendment passed on a vote of 273-156.

'Grotesque organization'
Hurt explained that he thinks that “the President has made the case – and I'm convinced based on all the briefings that I've attended – that we really do face an existential threat from ISIL, certainly as it relates to our allies in the Middle East, as it relates to our American interests in the Middle East, and then, finally, ultimately, here, if this grotesque organization is not destroyed.”

The Fifth District congressman added for emphasis: “We need to destroy them.”

The reason he voted against the so-called McKeon amendment, he said, was “in large measure due to the fact that the President has not asked for congressional authorization to use military force in Iraq and Syria.”

President Obama, he explained, “claims that he has the power to do it under the 2002 and 2001 military authorizations; I just simply disagree: Different time, different conflict, different parties.”

The President, Hurt said, “needs to recognize that he has a constitutional obligation to come” to Congress, where “we'd have an honest and candid debate about what is going to be required of the American taxpayer [and] most of all, what's going to be required of the American men and women in uniform.”

Moreover, he added, the President has to explain what victory will look like.

Hurt said he does not believe that the President has “laid out that case, so I think it's something that needs to be debated in Congress.”

Asked whether the U.S. military can effectively end a conflict in the Middle East that has been going on for 1,300 years, Hurt replied: “It's a very hard question.”

'Secure in our homes'
He said that “it's unlikely that we can solve these problems. The best that we can do is destroy the immediate threat [ISIL] and degrade the long-term threat and, hopefully, get to a place where we can at least be secure in our homes here on our soil and certainly provide for safe passage for those Americans who are traveling across the world in different countries, [and for] business that's being done internationally. Those are all important things.”

Admitting some uncertainty, Hurt added: “I don't know that we'll ever be able to solve those problems. Like you said, it's been going on a pretty long time, and I think it's unlikely that we can do that but I do think that we need to destroy the immediate threat as soon as we can.”

Robert Hurt is running for re-election to a third term in the House of Representatives. He has three opponents: Democrat Lawrence Gaughan, Independent Green Kenneth Hildebrandt, and Libertarian Paul Jones. The election takes place on November 4.


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