Joni Ernst

Consider Alternatives to Iran Nuclear Agreement - Aug. 4, 2015

Joni Ernst
August 04, 2015— Washington, D.C.
Armed Services Committee Meeting
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ERNST: Thank You, Mr. Chair. Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here today, this has been an enlightening discussion. I think it’s very good for all of us to participate and hear your areas of expertise. It has been brought up a couple times already today and I want to make it very clear a couple of you have affirmed this but I would like to ask each of you yes or no. Simple yes or no question then we can come back and talk a little bit more about it, but the president made very clear several weeks ago, very, very clear that it was either this nuclear agreement or war. There was no in-between, it was either the agreement- sign it have it done or we're going to war. General Dempsey pushed back on this, Admiral Richardson pushed back on this. They agreed that there are other options available, so just a simple yes or no, if we don't sign this agreement are we going to war? General Hayden?

HAYDEN: There's no necessity to go to war, if we don't sign this agreement. There are actions in between those two extremes.

ERNST: Thank you. Doctor Haass?

HAASS: I would echo that, but I can't rule out that Iran would not take steps that would force the United States to contemplate the use of military force. We would have to decide what, at some point, we deem to be intolerable.

ERNST: But do you think there are other options before we get to war?

HAASS: Absolutely from sanctions to covert action of various types and so forth.

ERNST: Thank you, Ambassador?

EDELMAN: Yes senator, I agree with you. I don't think those are the only alternatives.

ERNST: And Ambassador Burns.

BURNS: I don't believe that war would be inevitable. Possible, but I do think congressional disapproval would weaken the U.S. and our ability to hold the sanctions regime together which has been the key factor.

ERNST: And I think there has been some very good discussion today. I think it's very, again, enlightening that we have gone from a number of weeks ago, many people whenever I would bring up this topic about having other options available, why are we just talking about war? Now we're having very good discussion about other things that we need to do as the United States to protect not only our population but our friends in in that region and around the world. A number of weeks ago this was not happening. People were either saying we're going to sign this agreement were going to war. There are a lot of things that we can do and unfortunately, I think these discussions should have occurred much more significantly during the negotiations process. Now we're at a point we either take the deal, or not and the try and unilaterally come up with things that we can do as a country to push back on Iran. Do you agree with that?

HAASS: Violently I agree with that. And I think we would have had far more negotiating leverage, had congress been involved sooner. I remember Senator McCain and several others remember, because we all go way back, when you said senators and congressmen as part of the delegations. I would, I think the idea of joint negotiating approaches, so congress if you will is in on the take off as well as the landing. Because right now, you're right. We have, we have, I always say poor choices in very few of them. It would be much better to have expanded the range of choices and to improve the quality of the choices and I think there ought to be some lessons derived for future administrations and future congresses about how to conduct negotiations. We're leaving ourselves in a very difficult place, if we, if we, only get to this point after the deal is signed sealed and delivered.

ERNST: We are between a rock and a hard place right now, I most certainly. Iran's chief terrorist is of course I think General Soleimani. And we have talked a little bit about this gentleman today, and great article just out by Lieutenant General retired Michael Barbaro, “Empowering the Iranian who Murdered Americans”. I think twenty percent of the deaths in Iraq have been attributed to the AFP's that the general had had put in place, Soleimani. I think it's good that we remember that that this gentleman now is in good standing once this agreement goes into place. And this is a man who I don't think it's going to curb his terrorist activity are backing of Hezbollah and Hamas than many of these other organizations. How will this deal empower this general? General Hayden can you speak to that, please.

HAYDEN: Sure, Senator. In terms of direct impact he was going to travel United States anyway, or show up at the UN, so. But we talked earlier about unleashing resources that cannot be put at his disposal to continue doing what he's been doing. It and frankly couldn't possibly come at a worse time. I mean the man routinely is on the ground in Iraq directing Shia militia, and now we give them additional resources.

ERNST: Yes, thank you and I think it's wise to remember that all of us that serve in the senate probably have constituents and families in our states that have members that were killed overseas as a direct result from those EFP's. Thank You, Mr. Chair.