Foreign Policy / Defense

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Foreign Policy / Defense

Our world today is a pretty unstable place, but it didn't have to be this way. George W. Bush's misadventure in Iraq has cost our country dearly in terms of American lives and taxpayer dollars. Ultimately, the ill-fated Iraq invasion gave rise to ISIS and the current Syrian conflict that has destabilized the Middle East, Europe, and beyond.

Endless war is not in anybody's interest, and it's no surprise that the most popular candidate during the presidential primary was Bernie Sanders, an independent whose platform called for an end to perpetual warfare in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. American soldiers know first-hand the horrors of war, and we shouldn't put them in harm's way unless absolutely necessary.

That is why my approach to foreign policy is diplomacy first. Only when all other reasonable alternatives have been exhausted should America resort to using force. And even when force is necessary it should be limited  to only those operations necessary to achieve our objectives. To the extent possible, we should avoid putting American soldiers in harm’s way and minimize so-called “collateral damage.”

Fortunately, our technology is so advanced nowadays that we don’t need to put thousands of troops on the ground. Instead, we can employ small teams of commandos aided by aerial reconnaissance. The hunt for Bin Laden is a prime example of how this strategy can be used to achieve our goals without deploying massive numbers of American soldiers.

When it became evident that Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the horrific 9/11 attacks and he was finding refuge in Afghanistan, I supported sending our commandos there to capture or kill him. This was our ONLY goal, and now that this goal has been met, it’s time for American troops to return home as soon as possible. As your congressman, I pledge to vote to return our troops home as soon as safely possible.

History has taught us that wars are devastating in many ways. Yet despite this, some misguided people have been beating the war drums again for another unnecessary war-- this time with Iran. As a country, we need to do everything in our power to avoid getting sucked into another costly quagmire in the Middle East. The region is already in a state of chaos, and taking on a rising power like Iran is simply ludicrous-- especially since it’s in our best interest to ensure that Iran cooperates with the international community to help resolve the crisis that has engulfed Syria and other countries in the region.

So instead of getting involved in another endless war, we should be using diplomacy to address the Middle East crisis. In doing so, we will need all the help we can get. Whether we like it or not, Iran is a major player in the region and it must be at the table when America sits down with other countries to resolve this crisis. We must resist calls by misguided individuals seeking to fan the flames of war with Iran, and we must act fast to resolve the armed conflict that is spreading throughout the Middle East.

As a congressman, I look forward to using my expertise in foreign policy and knowledge of the region to play a role in solving the Middle East crisis. Everywhere around the world-- especially here in America-- people have high expectations for the United States. People around the world cherish democracy, freedom, and other values embodied in our Constitution. They look up to America and want us to take the lead in finding a diplomatic solution to problems in the Middle East and elsewhere.

As a country, we have an obligation to pursue and fulfill these expectations. Whether we like it or not, we are part of an international community that is getting closer and smaller every day. As such, we must engage with the international community and play a constructive role in promoting peace; tackling global warming; and combatting extremism. In doing so, diplomacy must come first. As your congressman, I will do everything I can do ensure that America pursues a policy of constructive diplomacy and continues to serve as a global symbol of peace and freedom.

My opponent, Mimi Walters, supported YES on authorizing military force in Iraq (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HJRes114). Walters supported YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date (Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror; Bill HRES 861). Walters supported NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days (Out of Iraq Caucus bill; Bill H R 2237). Walters supported NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq (The Kucinich Privilege Resolution; Bill H.RES.1258). Walters voted NO on Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; Bill sponsored by Boehner, R-OH; Bill H R 3461). I’m certain, if given the chance, she will also vote for an unnecessary war with Iran. She did not care what lies were put before us by the Bush administration and did not want them investigated. She feels that our presence in Iraq is part of our war on terror and that we should be there permanently. Walters is and has been out of touch with WE the People. Another great Republican President and World War II hero, by the name of General Eisenhower, warned us that our government is in bed with the military industrial complex. Walters receives contributions to her campaign from the military industrial complex regularly and feels obligated to work for them, instead of WE the People. She is working for her Wall Street and Billionaire Class campaign contributors. See which industries are Walters' largest contributors here!

Walters’s Voting/Support Record:

  • YES on authorizing military force in Iraq (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HJRes114)
  • YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date (Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror; Bill HRES 861)
  • NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days (Out of Iraq Caucus bill; Bill H R 2237)
  • NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq (The Kucinich Privilege Resolution; Bill H.RES.1258)
  • NO on Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; Bill sponsored by Boehner, R-OH; Bill H R 3461)
  • NOT standing up for WE the People

Varasteh’s Congressional Pledge:

  • Diplomacy over War in Iran’s case and all other future potential conflicts
  • Remove our troops, as soon as safely possible, in Afghanistan’s case and many other countries we currently occupy
  • Cut unnecessary waste in our military spending
  • Standing up for WE the People
  • Not for sale

For instance, we can start by listening to experts in the Air Force and Navy who say the F-35 is a big waste of money. This project has been a complete debacle. In September 2016 CNN reported that US Air Force officials had grounded 10 more of these planes-- just a month after they were declared "combat ready." and  The money spent on the F-35 project alone could be used to put us on track towards a balanced budget. 

In fiscal year 2016, military spending accounted for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion. It’s therefore logical and responsible to focus most of our energy on wasteful spending in the largest portion of our annual budget.

My opponent, Mimi Walters, voted YES on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016, both of which contained egregious amounts of wasteful military hardware spending. Walters, supported YES on authorizing military force in Iraq (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HJRes114). Walters supported YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date (Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror; Bill HRES 861). Walters supported NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days (Out of Iraq Caucus bill; Bill H R 2237). Walters supported NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq (The Kucinich Privilege Resolution; Bill H.RES.1258). Walters voted NO on Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; Bill sponsored by Boehner, R-OH; Bill H R 3461). I’m certain, if given the chance, she will also vote for an unnecessary war with Iran. She did not care what lies were put before us by the Bush administration and did not want them investigated. She feels that our presence in Iraq is part of our war on terror and that we should be there permanently. Walters is and has been out of touch with WE the People. Another great Republican President and World War II hero, by the name of General Eisenhower, warned us that our government is in bed with the military industrial complex. Walters receives contributions to her campaign from the military industrial complex regularly and feels obligated to work for them, instead of WE the PeopleShe is working for her Wall Street and Billionaire Class campaign contributors. See which industries are Walters' largest contributors here!

Walters’s Voting/Support Record:

  • YES on National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA'15) for Fiscal Year 2015
  • YES on National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA'16) for Fiscal Year 2016
  • YES on authorizing military force in Iraq (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HJRes114)
  • YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date (Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror; Bill HRES 861)
  • NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days (Out of Iraq Caucus bill; Bill H R 2237)
  • NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq (The Kucinich Privilege Resolution; Bill H.RES.1258)
  • NO on Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; Bill sponsored by Boehner, R-OH; Bill H R 3461)
  • NOT standing up for WE the People

Varasteh’s Congressional Pledge:

  • Balance the budget and reduce spending by cutting wasteful military hardware projects
  • Diplomacy over War in Iran’s case and all other future potential conflicts
  • Remove our troops, as soon as safely possible, in Afghanistan’s case and many other countries we currently occupy
  • Cut unnecessary waste in our military spending
  • Standing up for WE the People
  • Not for sale

Iraq & Afghanistan

Just to be clear, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were completely unrelated. America’s involvement in Afghanistan was related to the 9/11 attacks. However, the conflict in Afghanistan has been a complete disaster. We did not need to get involved in yet another costly invasion and occupation there. Rather, our response to the 9/11 attacks should have been surgically implemented via special forces working in concert with aerial reconnaissance.

On the other hand, the conflict in Iraq was completely based on bad intelligence and involved the invasion of a sovereign country that had no relationship with the terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks. Ultimately, however, both Iraq and Afghanistan have been costly, bloody confrontations that have little but create more terrorist havens, drain our resources, and embolden our enemies by giving them fodder for their propaganda machines.

In the case of Afghanistan, when it became evident that Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the horrific 9/11 attacks and he was finding refuge in Afghanistan, I supported sending our commandos there to capture or kill him. This was our ONLY goal and now that this goal has been met, it’s time for us to return home as soon as possible. As your congressman, I pledge to vote to return our troops home from Afghanistan-- as soon as safely possible.

In the case of Iraq, the G. W. Bush administration accused Saddam Hussein of possession and concealment of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and, based upon that accusation, convinced the United Nations (UN) and US Congress to go to war with Iraq. I believe that we were too quick to judge the Iraqi regime and therefore too quick to jump into a war that should have never started. I’m thrilled that we are finally out of Iraq.  Too many of our brave young men and women of the armed forces of our United States made the ultimate sacrifice and too many more returned home physically and psychologically injured due to this grave misadventure. This was an unnecessary war that I really wish I was able to stop from ever starting.

My opponent, Mimi Walters, supported YES on authorizing military force in Iraq (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HJRes114). Walters supported YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date (Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror; Bill HRES 861). Walters supported NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days (Out of Iraq Caucus bill; Bill H R 2237). Walters supported NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq (The Kucinich Privilege Resolution; Bill H.RES.1258). Walters voted NO on Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; Bill sponsored by Boehner, R-OH; Bill H R 3461). I’m certain, if given the chance, she will also vote for an unnecessary war with Iran. She did not care what lies were put before us by the Bush administration and did not want them investigated. She feels that our presence in Iraq is part of our war on terror and that we should be there permanently. Walters is and has been out of touch with WE the People. Another great Republican President and World War II hero, by the name of General Eisenhower, warned us that our government is in bed with the military industrial complex. Walters receives contributions to her campaign from the military industrial complex regularly and feels obligated to work for them, instead of WE the PeopleShe is working for her Wall Street and Billionaire Class campaign contributors. See which industries are Walters' largest contributors here!

Walters’s Voting/Support Record:

  • YES on authorizing military force in Iraq (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HJRes114)
  • YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date (Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror; Bill HRES 861)
  • NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days (Out of Iraq Caucus bill; Bill H R 2237)
  • NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq (The Kucinich Privilege Resolution; Bill H.RES.1258)
  • NO on Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; Bill sponsored by Boehner, R-OH; Bill H R 3461)
  • NOT standing up for WE the People

Varasteh’s Congressional Pledge:

  • Diplomacy over War in Iran’s case and all other future potential conflicts
  • Remove our troops, as soon as safely possible, in Afghanistan’s case and many other countries we currently occupy
  • Cut unnecessary waste in our military spending
  • Standing up for WE the People
  • Not for sale

Syria & Refugees

For years, I have been saying that we need to focus most of our energy on domestic affairs and very little in our affairs with other nations. Russia, western European nations, and the United States have all contributed to mid-east conflicts for decades. The revolution/civil-war in Syria has been our latest involvement; yet another nation that we feel we must get ourselves involved in. I feel the United States is now partly responsible for creating the mess there and I feel that as a civilized member of the community of nations in good standing, we must play our part to address the exodus of refugees from the affected areas in Syria.

What began as peaceful protest turned into chaos with a number of warring factions and foreign nations embroiled in the conflict. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died in the conflict and even more have been displaced. We must address the humanitarian crisis created by the war.

Since 2011, the war has killed an estimated 250,000 Syrians and displaced almost 50% of the Syrian population — an estimated 6 million people are internally displaced within the country and 4 million people have fled the country to become refugees.

I oppose Republican-led efforts to block Syrian refugees from coming to the America. I say USA, Europe, and the Persian Gulf states have a moral obligation to welcome Syrian refugees who in many cases are fleeing their country with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. At the same time, we must provide humanitarian aid to countries bordering Syria that have been accepting refugees.

My opponent, Mimi Walters, has not only endorsed Donald Trump and his outrageous policies, but has also supported him since before the Republican convention. She supported YES on building a fence along the Mexican border (Secure Fence Act; Bill H R 6061). Walters supported NO on more immigrant visas for skilled workers (Bill introduced by Smith, R-TX.; Bill HR 3736). Once again, she is not working for WE the People. Instead, she is working for her Wall Street and Billionaire Class campaign contributors. See which industries are Walters' largest contributors here!

Walters’ Voting/Support Record:

  • YES on building a fence along the Mexican border (Secure Fence Act; Bill H R 6061)
  • NO on more immigrant visas for skilled workers (Bill introduced by Smith, R-TX.; Bill HR 3736)
  • NOT standing up for WE the People

Varasteh’s Congressional Pledge:

  • Crack down on employers hiring the undocumented illegally and enforce eVerify
  • Comprehensive Immigration reform, DREAM Act, temporary migrant working visas
  • Standing up for WE the People
  • Not for sale

Iran

While some politicians might view the Iran deal as an opportunity to score political points, by all accounts the Iran deal has been a huge success. We managed to convince Iran to halt its nuclear program and accept strict inspections of its nuclear facilities by the United Nations, and so far these nuclear inspections have been wildly successful (http://www.vox.com/2016/7/14/12187790/iran-deal-one-year).  

As such, it boggles our minds as to why some politicians continue to criticize the Iran agreement to this day. No agreement is perfect, and the fact that both sides walked away unsatisfied is actually a good sign; indeed, it’s usually an indication that both sides managed to get something they wanted.

Viewed in this light, the Iran deal represents a huge step forward. Whether we like it or not, the international community simply didn’t have enough leverage to press for anything more.  If America hadn’t given Iran something it wanted the deal would never have been accepted by Iran, in which case Iran would have been able to continue building its nuclear program and would have become an even bigger threat to America’s interests, our regional allies, and world peace.

Accordingly, the Iran deal represents a huge victory because it keeps everyone safe and provides an opportunity for Iran to re-engage with the international community. Whether we like it or not, it’s crucial that we find a way to convince Iran’s leaders that it’s in their best interest to re-engage with the international community. Isolating Iran simply hasn’t worked and has only made the Middle East a more dangerous place for America’s interests and allies. Whether we like it or not, we must find a way to reach a rapprochement with Iran. It’s a rising power in the region that has the potential to create havoc if we don’t communicate with Iran’s leaders and convince them that it’s in their best interests to start playing nice.

The conflict in Syria has been growing and it’s clear that America alone cannot solve this crisis. Unless we communicate and reach some kind of accommodation with all major players in the region-- including Iran-- there is absolutely no way we can solve the crisis that has engulfed Syria and surrounding countries. Whether we like it or not, we have no choice but to communicate with Iran in order to resolve the Syrian conflict. Otherwise, the conflict will spiral out of control and Iran will find ways to fan the flames and destabilize the region. Instead of viewing the re-emergence of Iran as a major threat, the United States should view it as an opportunity to bring greater stability to a region that has been fraught with conflict for decades.

My opponent, Mimi Walters, did not support and voted against the Iran nuclear deal. I’m certain, if given the chance, she will also vote for an unnecessary war against Iran. Walters supported YES on authorizing military force in Iraq (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HJRes114). Walters supported YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date (Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror; Bill HRES 861). Walters supported NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days (Out of Iraq Caucus bill; Bill H R 2237). Walters supported NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq (The Kucinich Privilege Resolution; Bill H.RES.1258). She did not care what lies were put before us by the Bush administration and did not want them investigated. She feels that our presence in Iraq is part of our war on terror and that we should be there permanently. Walters is and has been out of touch with WE the People. Another great Republican President and World War II hero, by the name of General Eisenhower, warned us that our government is in bed with the military industrial complex. Walters receives contributions to her campaign from the military industrial complex regularly and feels obligated to work for them, instead of WE the PeopleShe is working for her Wall Street and Billionaire Class campaign contributors. See which industries are Walters' largest contributors here!

Walters’s Voting/Support Record:

  • YES on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (Bill sponsored by Barletta, R-PA; Bill H R 1191)
  • NO on approving the nuclear agreement with Iran (Bill sponsored by Boehner, R-OH; Bill H R 3461)
  • YES on suspension of Iran sanctions relief (Bill sponsored by Roskam, R-IL; Bill H R 3460)
  • YES on authorizing military force in Iraq (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HJRes114)
  • YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date (Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror; Bill HRES 861)
  • NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days (Out of Iraq Caucus bill; Bill H R 2237)
  • NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq (The Kucinich Privilege Resolution; Bill H.RES.1258)
  • NOT standing up for WE the People

Varasteh’s Congressional Pledge:

  • As President Reagan always said, Trust but Verify the Iran Nuclear Agreement
  • Diplomacy over War in Iran’s case and all other future potential conflicts
  • Remove our troops, as soon as safely possible, in Afghanistan’s case and many other countries we currently occupy
  • Cut unnecessary waste in our military spending
  • Standing up for WE the People
  • Not for sale

Germany Japan & Other Rich Allies

America should be proud to have so many allies around the world, and our close relationship with Germany and Japan are a testament to humankind’s ability to forgive and rebuild trust after the devastation of World War II. In fact, these former enemies have entrusted the United States with the awesome responsibility of providing for their national security.

This responsibility doesn't come cheap, however, as America must spend untold billions of dollars to maintain bases, personnel, and weaponry in order to protect Germany, Japan, and several other countries. Although many countries allied with America cannot afford to share this financial burden, there are also several countries-- particularly Germany and Japan-- which are more than capable of sharing the costs associated with maintaining American forces overseas.  

Accordingly, it’s imperative that we require our rich allies to contribute a greater share of these costs. It’s simply unfair to expect otherwise, and given America’s precarious fiscal position we cannot afford to continue paying enormous sums of money for these national security services. Of course, it’s also in America’s interests to protect our close allies, so it’s only fair that we continue to share this financial burden alongside Germany, Japan, and other rich allies. However, our relationship with these countries must be put on a more equal footing, and as your congressman I will fight hard to make sure our rich allies are paying their fair share.

By putting our defense partnerships with these countries on a more equal relationship, it will not only alleviate the enormous burden on our budget, but also strengthen our relationship with these important allies. America will no longer feel like we’re being duped, and these countries will be more committed to mutual defense because they have a greater stake in their alliance with America.

As a result, the governments of Germany and Japan will invest more to ensure their own militaries are combat-ready instead of relying on America for all their security needs. Moreover, the people of these countries will have more pride in their military and develop a more favorable view of America. By putting our relationship with these close allies on a more equal footing, people on both sides of the relationship will have more respect for each other and these crucial alliances will grow stronger, thereby enhancing both America’s national security and global security.

As your congressman, I look forward to using my expertise in foreign policy to champion legislation which requires Germany, Japan, and other rich allies to shoulder a greater share of mutual defense costs. In doing so, America will not only improve our fiscal position, but also strengthen both national and international security.

My opponent, Mimi Walters, supported YES on authorizing military force in Iraq (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HJRes114). Walters supported YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date (Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror; Bill HRES 861). Walters supported NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days (Out of Iraq Caucus bill; Bill H R 2237). Walters supported NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq (The Kucinich Privilege Resolution; Bill H.RES.1258). Walters voted NO on Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; Bill sponsored by Boehner, R-OH; Bill H R 3461). I’m certain, if given the chance, she will also vote for an unnecessary war with Iran. She did not care what lies were put before us by the Bush administration and did not want them investigated. She feels that our presence in Iraq is part of our war on terror and that we should be there permanently. Walters is and has been out of touch with WE the People. Another great Republican President and World War II hero, by the name of General Eisenhower, warned us that our government is in bed with the military industrial complex. Walters receives contributions to her campaign from the military industrial complex regularly and feels obligated to work for them, instead of WE the PeopleShe is working for her Wall Street and Billionaire Class campaign contributors. See which industries are Walters' largest contributors here!

Walters’s Voting/Support Record:

  • YES on authorizing military force in Iraq (Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HJRes114)
  • YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date (Resolution on Prevailing in the Global War on Terror; Bill HRES 861)
  • NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days (Out of Iraq Caucus bill; Bill H R 2237)
  • NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq (The Kucinich Privilege Resolution; Bill H.RES.1258)
  • NO on Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; Bill sponsored by Boehner, R-OH; Bill H R 3461)
  • NOT standing up for WE the People

Varasteh’s Congressional Pledge:

  • Diplomacy over War in Iran’s case and all other future potential conflicts
  • Remove our troops, as soon as safely possible, in Afghanistan’s case and many other countries we currently occupy
  • Cut unnecessary waste in our military spending
  • Standing up for WE the People
  • Not for sale