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:
Walter Jones was a fine Soutern gentleman, a kind man in a mean profession, a person of faith willing to change his mind and follow his conscience, and a principled voice for peace. RIP.
— Jim Antle (@jimantle) February 10, 2019
RIP: When Christopher Hitchens was calling him a "political and moral cretin" for opposing the Iraq War, Rep. Walter Jones was writing 8k letters to soldiers' survivors. He told me it was what "my lord would want me to do." My '09 @Antiwarcom interview: https://t.co/zLPGw3OnC6pic.twitter.com/rQV67aNA9i
— Kelley B. Vlahos (@KelleyBVlahos) February 11, 2019
Rep. Jones was among very few policymakers to acknowledge their personal culpability for supporting the Iraq War.
In atonement, he was unmatched in his use of Congressional oversight powers to rigorously question military leadership. RIP https://t.co/oWmjqoLWGm
— Micah Zenko (@MicahZenko) February 11, 2019
Guided in part by libertarian principles, Walter Jones recognized the systematic dispossession and denial of liberty endured by Palestinians, and was a foremost voice against a costly war of choice with Iran https://t.co/lDws38lvVs
— Dylan Williams (@dylanotes) February 11, 2019
My friend and colleague Walter Jones has passed away. Walter was a kind and good man. He was friend and ally. RIP Walter, and prayers for your family.
Walter Jones: Longtime North Carolina congressman has died | Raleigh News & Observer https://t.co/dosS8a04jT
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) February 11, 2019
My dear friend Walter Jones has died. He is the most honorable, principled, and courageous person I have known. Walter was kind, a cherished member of the @libertycaucus, and a leading voice for peace.
I will miss you, Walter. God bless your family. May your memory be eternal.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) February 11, 2019
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:
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.