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Kaine’s Poor Foreign Policy Record

Hillary Clinton selected Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate last week:

Hillary Clinton named U.S. Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate on Friday, opting for an experienced governing partner who will help her present the Democratic ticket as a steady alternative to the unpredictable campaign of Republican presidential rival Donald Trump.

That is in line with what she was expected to do, since Kaine was always considered one of the top contenders for the position. Unlike many of the others being considered for it, Kaine can plausibly claim he is prepared to be president if the need should ever arise. VP nominees typically do little or nothing to affect the final outcome of the election, and it seems unlikely that adding Kaine would do Clinton any significant harm. He is admittedly the safe and “boring” choice, but as Jonathan Bernstein points out that is a good thing:

Since there’s not much of an upside with vice-presidential picks, the key is to avoid someone who creates trouble in the campaign or once elected.

Kaine’s foreign policy record is mostly poor, but it includes a couple good points. Like Clinton, he is hawkish on Syria and has supported a “no-fly zone” in the past, but he has also consistently argued for Congressional approval for any military action there. Possibly the most interesting thing about Kaine related to these issues is that he is one of the few members of Congress that has taken Congressional responsibilities in matters of war seriously. There is almost no pressure to debate and vote on an authorization for the war on ISIS, which is coming up on its second anniversary next month, but whatever pressure there has been in the Senate has been largely due to Kaine’s work. Daniel DePetris reviews his efforts:

On war powers, however, Kaine’s record as the loudest and most hardworking advocate for congressional authority during an armed conflict will give the left some amount of comfort. In virtually every committee hearing where Syria, Iraq, or the Islamic State is a topic of discussion, Sen. Kaine reminds his colleagues that Congress has been emasculated itself and repeatedly neglected to do its most basic but solemn duty under the constitution: authorize the use of military force against foreign enemies. AUMFs have been written and submitted by Sen. Kaine’s office ever since the bombing of ISIL began almost two years ago, but the Republican leadership under each instance decided not to pursue the issue. Kaine keeps trying to force his colleagues to have a debate — both for the integrity and power of Congress as an institution but also on behalf of the troops and pilots who are fighting and the American taxpayers who are funding the anti-ISIL campaign. He has failed on every single occasion, but certainly not for lack of effort.

He is a supporter of the nuclear deal with Iran, and boycotted Netanyahu’s speech, but he has also repeated shameless Saudi propaganda about the war on Yemen and backed the Saudi-led war on Yemen from the start. Back in March 2015, Kaine released a statement saying this:

I support the efforts of the region, led by Saudi Arabia and a strong coalition of ten nations, to launch airstrikes to stop Houthi military advances against President Hadi’s government. I strongly urge the continued provision of U.S. logistical and intelligence support to Gulf Cooperation Council-led military operations [bold mine-DL]. The United States cannot take the place of Arab partners in securing their region, and I encourage the same coordinated regional approach to address the continued threat from ISIL. We stand with the Yemeni people and will continue to support the legitimate government of Yemen and our regional partners.

Kaine is hardly alone in supporting the indefensible U.S.-backed war on Yemen, but it is worth knowing that Clinton’s choice for VP has supported the U.S. backing of an unnecessary and reckless military intervention that has helped create one of the worst humanitarian disasters on earth.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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