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Rep. Walter Jones, Rest in Peace

Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina died earlier today:

Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., an Eastern North Carolina congressman who made it his mission to atone for his vote sending U.S. troops into Iraq in the early 2000s, died Sunday on his 76th birthday. Jones, like his father, served his district for nearly a quarter-century.

Rep. Jones was one of the finest men in public service, and he distinguished himself from many of his colleagues by taking full responsibility for his mistakes and doing everything he could to prevent similar mistakes from being made again. The tributes from his colleagues and admirers testify to the sort of man he was:

Jones was a longtime friend of TAC, and he delivered the opening remarks at our 2017 foreign policy conference. Listen to what he said here:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSnjbIrIQdk&w=554&h=360]

He not only acknowledged early on that his initial support for the Iraq war was wrong, but spent the rest of his career fighting for a more restrained and peaceful foreign policy. Rep. Jones was one of the original Republican co-sponsors of the first House antiwar resolution to end U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen. He co-authored an op-ed with Reps. Khanna and Pocan in 2017 in support of their resolution:

We believe that the American people, if presented with the facts of this conflict, will oppose the use of their tax dollars to bomb and starve civilians in order to further the Saudi monarchy’s regional goals. Our House resolution is a first step in expanding democracy into an arena long insulated from public accountability. Too many lives hang in the balance to allow this American war to continue without congressional consent. When our bill comes to the floor for a vote, our colleagues should consider first the solution proposed by the director of Unicef, Anthony Lake, for stopping the unimaginable suffering of millions of Yemenis: “Stop the war.”

It is unfortunate that Rep. Jones did not live to see the House pass that resolution to end U.S. support for the war, but when a new version of that resolution passes later this month it will be thanks in no small part to his leadership.

Jones became a reliable scourge of unnecessary and unauthorized foreign wars wherever they happened to be. He saw the continuation of open-ended and illegal wars as an attack on the Constitution and an abuse of the men and women who volunteered to serve their country. His opposition to these wars earned him the enmity of Republican hawks, who repeatedly and unsuccessfully sought to unseat him through primary challenges. Whatever their disagreements with him may have been over the years, his constituents recognized and appreciated his integrity and his dedication to the country.

The cause of peace and restraint has lost one of its great defenders, TAC has lost one of our good friends, and America has lot one of its most honorable and decent public servants. May his memory be eternal.

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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