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Mitch McConnell
  U.S. Senate Sen. Majority Leader Mc Connell on Syria Bill  CSPAN  October 23, 2019 9:12am-9:21am EDT

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drawdown in syria and prevent turkey's incursion into syria. and this is the same way that minority leader charles schumer tried for a second time to bring up a house pass resolution opposing the u.s. withdrawal. >> no another matter, madam president, i oppose president trump's decision to withdraw u.s. troops from syria. so i'm encouraged by press reports his administration is considering retaining a military presence in that country to keep the pressure on isis. since september the 11th our nation has learned several key lessons about the fight against radical islamic terrorism. the terrorist threat cannot be wished away. the terrorists mean us harm and we cannot allow them to establish safe havens and solidify their networks. when they do, the bloodshed ends up right here on our
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shores. american leadership is essential. we've seen our partners and allies step up and take on important roles. in fact, as we speak, france is playing a leading role in the african, but every time the president tries to lead from behind reminds there are certain types of leadership that only america can contribute. fortunately, we're not in this alone. the huge progress we've won in recent years against isis and the taliban has come by partnering with local forces, with support from a broad international coalition. america has only provided limited, specialized capabilities to reinforce the local partners who do the heaviest lifting. this approach is sustainable. unfortunately, we know exactly what happens when america forgets these lessons and
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simply decides, we're tired of sustaining the fight. abandoning afghanistan in the 1990's helped create the conditions for al qaeda's ability to grow and plan the september 11th attacks from a sa safehaven far from our shores. president obama's retreat from iraq allowed to rise the still warm ashes of al qaeda in iraq. if not arrested, withdrawing from syria will invite more of the case chaos that backs isis and our adversaries will fill. and assad to retain control over northern syria repressing sunni areas and creating the same conditions that led isis to grow in the first place. russia will gain more amassed power into the middle east and
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projected power into mediterranean and promote its interests in africa. iran-backed forces could have access to a strategic corridor that runs from tehran to the very doorstep of israel. so, madam president, where do we go from here? well, many of us in the senate were ahead of the game on the need to reaffirm american global leadership in the ongoing fight of radical terror. at the beginning of this year, a bipartisan super majority of senators warned about exactly this course of events. the mcconnell amendment to s-1 earned 70 votes and we warned of the precipitous withdrawal of afghanistan or syria and noted the need for american presence. congress should affirm, actually reaffirm the same truth today and we should do so
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strongly. now, unfortunately, the resolution crafted by house democrats is simply not sufficient. it's not so much wrong as it is badly insufficient. it focuses solely on the kurds, ignoring the sunni arab community that suffered under both assad's regime and isis and vulnerable minority communities like the christian arabs of syria. and the house was silent on the key matter of maintaining an actual physical u.s. military presence in syria. perhaps the goal was to paper over disagreements within the democratic party. after all, our colleague, the senior senator from massachusetts recently told a national television audience, quote, this is the senior senator from massachusetts, i think we ought to get out of the middle east. i think we ought to get out of the middle east, said the senior senator from massachusetts. and almost all of our
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democratic colleagues currently running for president refused to sign on to the mcconnell amendment that earned 70 votes earlier this year. but we can't afford to dance around the critical question of u.s. presence in syria and the middle east for the sake of democratic presidential primary politics. the senate needs to speak up. we cannot effectively support our partners on the ground without a military presence. senators who thought we should withdraw from afghanistan in february do not get to criticize president trump from withdrawing from syria today unless they go on the record, admit they changed their minds and say it's too dangerous to quit. and so today, along with chairman inhofe, chairman risch, chairman burr, and senator graham, i'm introducing a stronger resolution that acknowledges hard truths and
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focuses on our strategic interests in the middle east. our resolution acknowledges the vital role that our kurdish partners have played in rooting out the isis caliphate. warns against the abandonment of our allies and partners in syria and urges president trump to rethink his invitation for president erdogan to visit the white house. and acknowledges turkey's national legitimate security concerns emanating from the conflict in syria and the significant risk to the united states if such a strategically consequential ally were to fall further into moscow's orbit. it recognizes the grave consequences of u.s. withdrawal, a rising influence of russia, iran, and the assad regime and the escape of more than 100 isis affiliated
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fighters detained in the region. we specifically urged the president to end, end the drawdown, something that fortunately appears to be underway. we urge a reengagement with our partners in this region. we highlight the need for international diplomatic efforts to end the underlying civil wars in syria and afghanistan on terms that address the conditions that have allowed al qaeda and isis to thrive. we cannot repeat this mistake in afghanistan. so, madam president, i'm aware there's some appetite on both sides of the aisle to quickly reach for the toolbox of sanctions. i myself played a critical role in creating regimes in the past, but i caution against a reflex to use sanctions as a tool of first, last and only
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resort. sanctions may play an important role in this process and i'm open to the senate considering them, but we need to think extremely carefully before we employ the same tools against a democratic nato ally that we would against the worst rogue states. do we know what the political impacts of sanctions will have inside turkey? will they weaken president erdogan or rally the country to his cause? do we know the impact sanctions will have on u.s. companies or on the economies of our closest allies who have deeply integrated their economies with turkey? if we're going to use sanctions against a democratic ally, we're going to have to be careful. we're going to have to be smart. we're going to have to be thoughtful and deliberate. we don't want to further drive a nato ally into the arms of the russians.
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serious conversations about the use of sanctions must involve our colleagues on foreign relations, banking, and finance committees to ensure that this tool is used correctly. and most important thing the senate can do now is speak clearly and reaffirm the core principles that unite most of us, republicans and democrats, about the proper role for american leadership in syria, in the middle east and for that matter, in the world. we hope the damage in syria can be undone. but perhaps even more importantly, we absolutely must take steps for the same mistakes, the same mistakes are not repeated in iraq, or afghanistan. i feel confident that my resolution is a strong and sorely needed step. i feel confident my colleagues will agree and i would u