CONGRESSMAN JIM HIMES

Representing the 4th District of Connecticut

Foreign Affairs and Defense: In Depth

The most important function of government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. We must continue to make critical investments in our national security and strengthen our partnerships abroad. However, I also believe that the choice between our values and our safety is a false one. We face many challenges abroad, but I am fully committed to our proud tradition of engaged, sustained, and competent global leadership.

Reclaiming Congress’s Duty to Declare War

For too long Congress has been accepted gradual encroachment on its power to make and declare war by the executive branch. I have introduced a bill, the Reclamation of War Powers Act, to reaffirm the duty of Congress to have public debate on the use of our military men and women to in hostilities in foreign lands. My bill would ensure that the use of military force is properly balanced and considered along with an analysis of the threat, the specific objectives to be achieved, and a description of the scope, duration, cost and probability of success. Only after considering all of these issues can the Congress make a determination on whether the objective is worth the cost.

I will continue to push for a new authorization for use of military force (AUMF) to limit the increasing use of U.S. troops under the umbrella of the 2001 AUMF and avoid quagmires in the future.  

Ending the Wars in the Middle East

The Syrian civil war  is not one singular conflict, but an amalgamation of local and sectarian disputes among armed opposition groups, forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, ISIS,and others. Given our results in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, pursuing a military option in order to achieve peace in Syria is ill-advised and risks dragging the U.S. into another war in the Middle East that has already caused chaos and led to one of the worst refugee crises in generations. 

We have been at war in Afghanistan for over 16 years at a cost of $900 billion and more than 2,300 American lives. We cannot stand idly by while the region becomes a safe haven for terrorists. However, it is clear that a conventional military occupation and mission of nation building will not succeed. A decisive military victory is not a possible outcome. I believe that we should reduce our presence in Afghanistan as rapidly as possible and reshape our mission to focus exclusively on counterterrorism. This will require some presence in the region, but one considerably smaller and more agile than that required by our present strategy of train-and-advise the Afghan National Security Forces with the objective of destroying al-Qaeda. Our presence should be just large enough to disrupt and destroy any terrorist infrastructure that develops and prevent al-Qaeda, ISIS or any other terrorist network from establishing a foothold in the region.

Reductions in Nuclear Weapons

The threat of a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon is one of the gravest dangers facing Americans today. I fully support the comprehensive strategy of non-proliferation and nuclear security, and pledge to do all I can to push for a world free of nuclear weapons. I have been proud to support several measures to strengthen sanctions against Iran, including the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, the toughest sanctions against Iran ever passed by the United States and the Iran Sanctions Extension Act, which imposed financial penalties on any persons directly investing in or significantly contributing to the enhancement of Iran’s ability to develop its petroleum resources.

I believe these sanctions – in concert with those imposed by the United Nations and the European Union – successfully forced Iran to engage with the international community to address their nuclear stockpile.

I have and will continue to advocate for engagement with the Chinese as a mechanism to deescalate nuclear tensions with a belligerent North Korean regime and supported the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act. These sanctions are intended to encourage North Korea to engage in negotiations that will hopefully lead to a peaceful and diplomatic solution. Our deal with Iran can serve as an example of how we can create strong, enforceable agreements to improve global security with adversarial countries, even if we do not trust them, by using independent verification.

Promoting Peace and Security in Israel and the Middle East

A two-state solution, in which Israel and Palestine live within recognized, peaceful and secure borders has long been a key goal of a decades-long process. I wholeheartedly support this goal. The Israeli and Palestinian peoples deserve and require nothing less. Unfortunately, the situation is more complicated than it has been for a long time. Popular uprisings have rocked the Middle East and left an oft unsettled region even more volatile. As these revolutions spread from Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria, they created uncertainty and left power vacuums in their wake. 

Throughout the process, we must never forget that Israel is the sole functioning democracy and our most reliable ally in the Middle East. Its history, politics, and thriving economy create a special and unbreakable bond between Americans and Israelis, and I will continue to support measures which strengthen our nation’s relationship with this critical partner. Through the continued support of Congress for investments in the security and development of the region, I hope that we can begin to make progress towards a just and lasting peace.

Supporting Development Abroad

Targeted, effective international aid programs ease the suffering of millions each day and are among the very best investments we can make in our national security and long-term prosperity. International aid is a powerful tool of soft power that can prevent the chaos and instability that serve as a breeding ground for terrorist recruitment. Having spent much of my youth in Latin America, where my father worked for the Ford Foundation, I have a deep personal interest in America’s relationships abroad. I strongly believe in programs and partnerships that help our neighbors in developing nations build healthy and productive communities.