Carper on Iran: “We have got to be smarter than this”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) spoke on the Senate floor regarding escalating tensions between the United States and Iran nearly one year after the Trump Administration pulled the U.S. out of the carefully negotiated Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

Earlier this week, while out for a run a couple of miles from here – around the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial – I ran past the Vietnam Memorial. Whenever I do that, I take my left hand and run it along the names of 55,000 men and women who died in that war,” said Senator Carper. “I served with them. I am the last Vietnam veteran serving in the Senate. They died, and many of us risked our lives, over a war that was premised on an untruth – some would say a lie.”

Senator Carper continued, “In August 1964, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that the North Vietnamese had engaged the U.S. Navy in the Gulf of Tonkin, and asked Congress to pass a resolution supporting retaliatory attacks. The following day, he added these words to his request: ‘the United States intends no rashness, and seeks no wider war.’ Those were his words in August 1964.  His administration went on to justify an almost decade long war on the basis of that document. 55,000 of my colleagues, shipmates, fellow marines, soldiers, and airmen died.

“We had a similar situation in Iraq. It did not involve the Gulf of Tonkin. It did not involve ships. It did not involve the Vietnamese. But there were allegations of weapons of mass destruction. The President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State all asserted that the Iraqis were developing weapons of mass destruction and called on this Congress to give the President the power to respond appropriately.

“There are 55,000 names on the Vietnam Memorial wall. There is no wall for the 4,100 men and women who died in Iraq since Congress provided President Bush the authority to respond to the alleged perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. While there is no wall to write those 4,100 names, those names are written in graveyards in every state of this country. That is 4,100 men and women, some young, some old who laid down their lives on what was based on a lie – weapons of mass destruction.

“That lie was perpetrated chiefly by a fellow named John Bolton in that administration. Fast to forward to today, we have seen that movie before. Thanks to John Bolton’s rash actions in the Middle East, I can see it happening again. I don’t want to see it happen again. I’ve been to too many funerals of service members from Delaware who died in Iraq. I don’t want to go to any more.  I don’t want to have to comfort anymore spouses, children, parents, brothers and sisters as we’ve done in recent years for families that have been crushed by sorrow from our engagement with Iraq.

“John Bolton has agitated for war with Iran for over a decade. He even wrote an op-ed about it. It was titled, ‘To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.’ Under Bolton’s leadership, the Trump Administration’s Iran policy is becoming ever more dangerous, and ever more isolated from our traditional allies. This strategy could very well plunge us into another foreign war if not corrected.

“This needless escalation is no way to conduct our foreign policy—or to safeguard our national security. What’s more, the administration’s actions with respect to Iran haven’t just increased the odds of an armed conflict. They’ve also damaged credibility of our country around the world.

“If the United States cannot be trusted to uphold our commitments to those with whom we negotiate, there is little reason to believe that other countries, let alone nuclear-armed ones like North Korea, will be willing to negotiate with us in good faith,” concluded Senator Carper.  

Video of Senator Carper’s full remarks are available here.