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Congress Votes to End Military Activities against Iran

The House of Representatives yesterday expressed its displeasure with President Trump’s military actions against Iran.

 

By a vote of 224-194, the House passed House Concurrent Resolution 83, which invokes the War Powers Act to end Iranian hostilities. The resolution states that the President must stop military action against or in Iran until:

 

(1) Congress has declared war or enacted specific statutory authorization for such use of the Armed Forces; or

 

(2) such use of the Armed Forces is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces, consistent with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution.

 

This resolution was prompted by President Trump’s drone strike, which killed a top Iranian general. Many members of Congress have said this action will likely lead to war with Iran. They point out that the Constitution requires that Congress declare war. President Trump pushed back, saying that what he did was allowed because he is commander-in-chief. He said that the drone strike saved American lives and stopped an imminent threat.

 

The War Powers Act, invoked by this resolution, requires that presidents consult with Congress before military actions and seek congressional approval for longer-term military deployments. Enacted in the 1970s in the wake of the Vietnam War, presidents have routinely claimed that the law is an unconstitutional violation of their powers as commander-in-chief.

 

The vote was mainly along party lines. Three Republicans and one independent voted in favor of the resolution. Eight Democrats voted against it. The Senate is unlikely to take up a similar resolution.

 

Do you think that military action against Iran should stop until Congress votes to declare war against that country?

Congress to Debate Iranian Military Action

President Trump thinks that he has the authority to attack Iran without congressional approval. Some key members of the House and Senate disagree.

 

In the Senate, Republicans Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky blasted the Trump Administration after receiving a briefing on the drone strike that killed an Iranian general. The Trump Administration contends that the use of force resolution for the Iraq passed by Congress in 2003 covered his strike on Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Both Sen. Lee and Sen. Paul said this was absurd and that hostilities with Iran require new congressional approval.

 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi agrees. She has introduced a use of force resolution that the House will vote on today. The premise of this resolution is that only Congress has the authority to legitimize military action against Iran.

 

The debate about which branch controls the war-making power is an old one. The Constitution says the president is commander-in-chief. Presidents argue that this gives them sole authority to direct the military. The Constitution also says that Congress must declare war. Members of Congress argue that the president can only use his power as commander-in-chief after congress has made such a declaration.

 

The House will likely pass its use of force resolution, but the Senate is unlikely to consider it. Many Senate Republicans are fine with what President Trump is doing in relation to Iran. Sen. Lindsay Graham went so far as to say that senators such as Sens. Lee and Paul who question the president’s actions are empowering the enemy.

 

Do you think that President Trump should seek congressional approval before taking military action against Iran?

Iraq Votes to Expel U.S. Troops

In the wake of a drone strike killing a top Iranian military official, the Iraqi parliament has voted to expel U.S. troops.

 

The resolution, which removes Iraqi government approval for the U.S. military to remain in the nation, passed by a large margin on Sunday. The Shiite-dominated parliament met after Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi called it into an emergency session to consider the question.

 

The prime minister said that part of the motivation behind the resolution was the fear that Iraqi military forces could not protect Americans who are in the country. The U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani has inflamed tensions in the region.

 

President Trump has reacted to the news by threatening to sanction Iraq.

 

The current government in Iraq is a caretaker government that has limited legal authority. It is unclear if the resolution has a binding effect. While the legal issues are being sorted out, the U.S. military presence in Iraq will continue.

 

Do you think that U.S. troops should remain in Iraq?

Trump Orders Drone Strike on Top Iranian Official

A U.S. drone strike yesterday killed Qasem Soleimani, a high-ranking Iranian military official. President Trump said he ordered the killing to disrupt a plot that would have killed Americans. Some Democrats are questioning whether it is wise for the U.S. to heighten military tensions with Iran.

 

Soleimani was a key figure in Iranian efforts to train paramilitary groups that advances Iranian goals in the Middle East. U.S. officials blamed him for playing a large role in the recent unrest that has engulfed the U.S. embassy in Iraq.

 

The U.S. and Iran have a long history of conflict since the late 1970s, when Muslim fundamentalists took over the nation from the American-backed shah. Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Iran has been influencing Shiite militia in that nation in ways that counter American interests.

 

President Trump said that Soleimani has been responsible for American deaths in the past. Military officials say that he was planning a new attack, one that could have killed dozens or hundreds of Americans. They say that his killing will likely disrupt that plan.

 

Some Democrats in Congress accuse the president of launching the drone attack as a way to distract from impeachment. They say that the Trump Administration is focused on escalating tensions with Iran instead of seeking ways to bring peace to the region.

 

Do you support the Trump Administration’s policy towards Iran?

Congress Passes Bill to Create Space Force

The Space Force will soon be a reality for the U.S. military.

 

The Senate approved the Dense authorization bill by a vote of 86-8 today, authorizing spending on the U.S. military for the next year. Included in that legislation is the creation of the Space Force, a priority of President Trump.

 

In 2018, the president announced plans to create a sixth branch of the military to undertake operations in space.

 

It is still unclear how far the mission of the Space Force will reach. NASA undertakes peaceful missions in space, and that would remain unchanged. The new force is aimed at ensuring that space cannot be used for offensive action against the United States. Its main aim, at least initially, will be to protect satellites, which are increasingly important for both civilian and military uses.

 

Other nations have similar forces. Russia created an Aerospace Force in 2015. The U.S. Space Force will be part of the Air Force.

 

The House of Representatives has already passed the Defense authorization bill, and it now heads to President Trump for his signature.

 

Do you support creation of the Space Force?

House Endorses Two-State Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict

Since Israel became independent in 1948, there has been conflict about its existence. Last week, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for an independent Palestinian state in order to quell the latest round of violence in the region.

 

By a vote of 226-188, the House passed a House Resolution 326, a nonbinding measure that supports U.S. efforts to negotiate a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. The text of the resolution reads, in part:

 

Whereas the United States remains unwavering in its commitment to help Israel address the myriad challenges it faces, including terrorism, regional instability, horrifying violence in neighboring states, and hostile regimes that call for its destruction;

 

Whereas the United States has long sought a just, stable, and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that recognizes the Palestinian right to self-determination and offers Israel long-term security and full normalization with its neighbors;

 

It then concludes:

 

only the outcome of a two-state solution that enhances stability and security for Israel, Palestinians, and their neighbors can both ensure the state of Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state and fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own…

 

And a United States proposal to achieve a just, stable, and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should expressly endorse a two-state solution as its objective and discourage steps by either side that would put a peaceful end to the conflict further out of reach, including unilateral annexation of territory or efforts to achieve Palestinian statehood status outside the framework of negotiations with Israel.

 

The idea of forming a separate Palestinian state out of Israel has long been a topic of discussion. Palestinians have demanded their own state, free from Israeli rule. However, Israel has demanded that Palestinians and other Arab states recognize Israel’s right to exist. Israel says it cannot cede any territory as long as its existence is threatened. Palestinians and many Arab leaders view Israel as an illegitimate nation that obtained its territory through theft of land.

 

Negotiations to end the violence that continues to plague this region are ongoing. 

 

Do you support creating a separate state for Palestinians? Should Arab nations and Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in exchange for such a state?

House Takes Aim at Hong Kong Crackdown

Hong Kong has seen nearly six months of protests over Chinese government policies. This week the House of Representatives voted on two measures which aim to bolster the protesters who are urging more freedom in Hong Kong.

 

 By a vote of 417-0, the House passed S. 2710, legislation that would ban the U.S. from selling tear gas, rubber bullets, or handcuffs to the Hong Kong police. And by a vote of 417-1, it passed S. 1838, legislation that could end Hong Kong’s special trade relationship with the U.S. and subject some Hong Kong officials to sanctions.

 

These two bills come in response to the Chinese crackdown of protests in Hong Kong that are demanding wider democracy and an examination of police practices. The protests began in June over legislation that would have allowed the extradition of Hong Kong residents to China. Hong Kong is part of China, but has a separate economic and legal system that is a remnant from its colonial rule by Great Britain. It has a freer economic system and stronger political and legal protections than the rest of China.

 

Hong Kong residents have been wary of Chinese attempts to undermine their economic and legal rights since Great Britain turned over the city to China in 1999. Protester saw the extradition bill as a way for China to persecute political dissidents, and they took to the streets to protest. The Chinese government has withdrawn the bill, but the protests continued over the violent crackdown that has met the protesters.

 

The Senate has already passed both S. 2710 and S. 1838. They now head to President Trump for his signature.

 

Do you support U.S. efforts to punish China for cracking down on Hong Kong protesters?

Honoring America’s Veterans

Today is Veterans Day – a federal holiday specifically set aside to honor the service of the men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces.

 

Originally, the holiday on November 11 was called Armistice Day. It commemorated the end of hostilities in World War I. The Allied nations and Germany signed an armistice that took place at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918, that ended the fighting in that war. In 1938, the date became an official U.S. holiday, with Congress declaring it to be “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'.”

 

After World War II, a veteran from that conflict began lobbying for the day to be renamed in order to recognize veterans from all wars, not just World War I. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill into law that officially changed the November 11 holiday to Veterans Day.

 

This holiday is celebrated in many nations that were part of the Allied cause in World War I. In the United Kingdom, it has been renamed Remembrance Day to remember the war dead.

 

How are you commemorating Veterans Day?

House Takes Aim at Turkey This Week

President Trump’s decision to remove American military forces from northern Syria, and the subsequent invasion of the area by Turkey, has provoked howls of outrage in Washington, D.C. Now the House of Representatives is targeting Turkey with votes on two bills – one symbolic and one that would have consequences for Turkish officials if signed into law.

 

The symbolic resolution is House Resolution 296, concerning the Armenian genocide, which occurred in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923. It states:

 

That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that it is the policy of the United States to—

 

(1) commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance;

 

(2) reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the United States Government with denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide; and

 

(3) encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the United States role in the humanitarian relief effort, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.

 

While this will not change official U.S. foreign policy, it is aimed squarely at Turkey. That nation has strongly denied that the there was ever an official policy by the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of Turkey, to massacre Armenians. It objects to any statement by the U.S. government that recognizes such a genocide.

 

The second bill is HR 4695. As described by VoteSpotter, that bill would “block the transfer of assets belonging to senior Turkish officials and deny them entry into the United States in response to Turkish military action in norther Syria. The legislation would also prohibit some arms sales to the Turkish military.”

 

If passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump, HR 4685 would subject the Turkish president and other Turkish military and government officials to financial restrictions on any assets in the U.S.

 

With the bipartisan condemnation of Turkish actions in northern Syria, these two bills may pass with bipartisan support. It is unclear if the sanctions bill will be taken up by the Senate.

 

Do you support imposing sanctions on Turkey in response to its military actions in Syria?

House, Senate Hold Hearings on Syria & Turkey

President Trump’s decision to remove U.S. troops from norther Syria has sparked outrage across the political spectrum. Now both the House and Senate are set to hold hearings into the president’s actions and the resulting Turkish military incursions in the area.

 

Earlier this month, President Trump removed a small force of American troops that were stationed in northern Syria. He said that America should not be involved in endless foreign wars. Critics, however, said that this would result in Turkish attacks on America’s Kurdish allies in the region. President Trump sent a letter to the Turkish president warning him not to attack the Kurds, but the Turkish military began operations in that area after the U.S. military left.

 

Both Republicans and Democrats criticized the move. They said that this was a betrayal of long-time allies, the Kurds. They noted that this is what Turkey wants, and that President Trump has business interests in that nation. In addition, they said it would strengthen Russian influence in the Middle East.

 

This week there will be three hearings in both chambers of Congress that will allow members of Congress to focus their anger at this action. In the House, the Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “The Betrayal of our Syrian Kurdish Partners: How Will American Foreign Policy and Leadership Recover?” The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, headed by Republicans, will focus its hearing on the Turkish offensive that came after U.S. troops left. A Senate appropriations subcommittee will also hold a hearing on U.S. foreign policy towards Syria.

 

It is unclear what actions Congress could take in response to President Trump’s actions. More answers may emerge after the hearings this week.

 

Do you support removing U.S. troops from northern Syria?

Afghanistan Troop Draw Down may be Imminent

It’s been 18 years since the U.S. war in Afghanistan began. Despite vows by President Trump to bring American troops home from that nation, there are now more U.S. soldiers there today than when he was inaugurated. But U.S. negotiators appear close to an agreement with the Taliban that may lead to significant troop withdrawals.

 

President Trump is meeting with officials today to be briefed on the talks between the U.S. and the Taliban on ending hostilities in Afghanistan. If successful, the Taliban would then begin negotiations with government in Afghanistan and renounce ties to Al-Qaeda. That would trigger the immediate withdrawal of thousands of U.S. troops, to be followed by the withdrawal of thousands more after 18 months.

 

The presence of the U.S. military in Afghanistan is something that Donald Trump has denounced both during his campaign for the presidency and his time in office. He has long pushed to withdraw most military forces from that nation. However, officials from the armed forces and cabinet officers persuaded him to increase the military presence there two years ago.

 

An agreement that would lead to a negotiated cease-fire between the Taliban and the Afghan government along with the withdrawal of most U.S. troops would represent a significant change from the ongoing military actions that have lasted nearly two decades. NATO forces invaded Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks in 2001 to drive out the ruling Taliban government. The Taliban has been waging a war against the new government formed after the invasion.

 

Do you think that U.S. troops should withdraw from Afghanistan?

House Passes Resolution Condemning Boycotts of Israel

Bipartisanship is rare in the House of Representatives these days, but it is not dead – Democrats and Republicans joined together this week to pass a resolution that condemns the efforts to boycott Israel and force companies to divest from that nation.

 

House Resolution 246 spells out some of the problems that these House members see with this boycott and divestment movement:

 

Whereas the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) targeting Israel is a campaign that does not favor a two-state solution and that seeks to exclude the State of Israel and the Israeli people from the economic, cultural, and academic life of the rest of the world;

 

Whereas the BDS Movement targets not only the Israeli government but also Israeli academic, cultural, and civil society institutions, as well as individual Israeli citizens of all political persuasions, religions, and ethnicities, and in some cases even Jews of other nationalities who support Israel;

 

Whereas the BDS Movement does not recognize, and many of its supporters explicitly deny, the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination;

 

The resolution concludes by saying that the House of Representatives:

 

opposes the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS Movement) targeting Israel, including efforts to target United States companies that are engaged in commercial activities that are legal under United States law, and all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel;

 

…affirms that the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by demanding concessions of one party alone and encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiations in favor of international pressure;

 

… reaffirms its strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states—a democratic Jewish State of Israel, and a viable, democratic Palestinian state—living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition.

 

While the vote was overwhelming in favor of this resolution, it was not unanimous. The House passed it 389-17, with 5 members voting “present.” Sixteen Democrats and 1 Republican voted against it.

 

Those who supported the resolution said it was necessary to show support for Israel, a strong American ally. Opponents countered that the House of Representatives should not be interfering with peaceful movements to make political change. They said that those pushing for a boycott of Israel are exercising their First Amendment rights.

 

This is a non-binding resolution, so it will have no legal effect on the organizations and individuals who are pushing to boycott Israel.

 

Do you agree that efforts to boycott Israel should be condemned?

Most Democrats Embrace Iran Deal During Debate

The large field of Democratic candidates held their first debate last night, with a variety of issues being discussed. One thing where nearly all candidates agreed was reviving the nuclear deal with Iran. Everyone on stage except Sen. Cory Booker raised his or her hand when asked if they supported the deal.

 

In 2015, President Barack Obama entered the U.S. into a multinational agreement that was aimed at keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Many on the right criticized him for this, saying that it would ultimately lead to a nuclear-armed Iran. President Trump withdrew the U.S. from this deal, saying it was “disastrous.”

 

The question about the U.S. once again joining this agreement came during a period of increased tensions with Iran. That nation shot down a U.S. drone last week. President Trump considered retaliating with a military strike, but ultimately did not do so. He imposed sanctions, instead. The president has verbally sparred with the Iranian leadership during the course of his term, at times threatening war with the nation. He recently ordered more military personnel to the Middle East.

 

Senator Cory Booker broke with his fellow Democratic candidates in supporting the Iran deal. He backed it in 2015, but now says that conditions have changed. He said he supported some kind of agreement with Iran, but it would differ from the one agreed to by President Obama.

 

Do you think the U.S. should re-enter the multinational nuclear deal with Iran? Should the U.S. take military action against Iran?

Trump Threatens China Tariff Hike

President Trump is escalating his trade war with China, threatening to increase tariffs to 25% on thousands of that nation’s products.

 

The U.S. and China are in the midst of trade negotiations, but there have been disagreements over intellectual property and technology transfers. There have been some signals that a trade agreement could be reached by Friday. If it isn’t, then the president is saying he may react by a dramatic tariff hike.

 

The president’s proposal would affect nearly 6,000 products. These are used by consumers and businesses in the U.S., which would face higher prices for the imported goods. Economists worry that such a large and sudden spike in tariffs would disrupt the U.S. economy and cost jobs. The president says that is necessary to combat unfair trade practices from China.

 

Both before and after his election as president, Donald Trump has complained about the U.S. trade deficit and what he perceives as unfair trade deals. He has used his time as president to push for renegotiation of trade deals and impose news tariffs. Economists say that free trade, not restrictions such as those supported by the president, lead to job creation and economic growth. The president, however, sees the trade deficit as a bigger threat.

 

Do you support higher tariffs on Chinese goods? Will higher tariffs hurt American consumers and workers?

Trump Vetoes Yemen War Resolution

A bloody civil war is raging in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia backing one side and Iran the other. The U.S. is assisting Saudi Arabia in this conflict, and will continue to do so thanks to a veto issued by President Trump on Tuesday.

 

The House and Senate both passed Senate Joint Resolution 7, which directs the president to stop U.S. military involvement in the Yemeni civil war. President Trump vetoed the resolution, arguing that the U.S. is not involved in the Yemeni hostilities. However, the military does provide technical assistance and refueling for Saudi forces that are battling rebels in the country.

 

Proponents of military assistance to Saudi Arabia argue that this is necessary to prevent the Iranian-backed rebels from taking over Yemen. Opponents counter that the U.S. should not involve itself in a Yemeni civil war that has led to atrocities and a high civilian death count.

 

The Senate voted 54-46 in favor of the resolution, while the House voted 247-175 to support it. Neither votes reached the 2/3 majority to overcome a presidential veto.

 

Do you think that the U.S. military should be involved in the Yemeni civil war?

House Rebukes Trump on Transgender Military Ban

By a vote of 238-185, this week the House of Representatives expressed its opposition to the Trump Administration’s ban on openly transgender troops serving in the Armed Forces.

 

House Resolution 124 states that the House of Representatives:

 

(1) strongly opposes President Trump’s discriminatory ban on transgender members of the Armed Forces;

 

(2) rejects the flawed scientific and medical claims upon which it is based; and

 

(3) strongly urges the Department of Defense to not reinstate President Trump’s ban on transgender members of the Armed Forces and to maintain an inclusive policy allowing qualified transgender Americans to enlist and serve in the Armed Forces.

 

Every Democratic member of the House who voted supported this resolution, and they were joined by 5 Republicans.

 

In 2017, President Trump issued a memorandum that prohibited openly transgender individuals from serving in the armed forces. This reversed a 2016 action by the Obama Administration which allowed such individuals to serve. President Trump’s ban has been tied up with legal challenges, although the Supreme Court did rule 5-4 in January to lift one of the injunctions against it.

 

This resolution does not have the force of law, but it does signal the disagreement of the House of Representatives with the president's action.

 

Do you think openly transgender individuals should be allowed to serve in the military?

“ISIS Bride” Puts Citizenship Dispute at the Forefront

Who is a citizen and what duties does the government owe a citizen – these are the questions at the center of a new lawsuit.

 

The case is being brought on behalf of Hoda Muthana, a woman who left the U.S. to marry an ISIS fighter in Syria. She is seeking to return to the U.S. but the Trump Administration is barring her, arguing that she is not a citizen. President Trump has waded into the fray, tweeting that he instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to bar her from re-entry.

 

The case hinges on a few key disputes. One is whether Muthana is a citizen or not. She claims that because she was born in the U.S., she is a citizen via birthright citizenship. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution grants citizenship to anyone born in the U.S. with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is for children born who are not “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” That is generally interpreted to pertain to children of diplomats. Muthana was born to a Yemeni diplomat, but her lawyers argue that her father had resigned his diplomatic position prior to her birth. The Trump Administration counters that this resignation did not become effective until after her birth.

 

A follow-up dispute occurs if indeed Muthana is determined to be a citizen. Her lawyers contend that the government cannot block any citizen from returning to the U.S. They say that if this happens, it would be a violation of the Constitution for a president to unilaterally disregard citizenship protections.

 

If Muthana returns to the U.S., she expects to face criminal charges for her interactions with ISIS.

 

Do you support birthright citizenship, the constitutional practice of recognizing anyone born on U.S. soil as a citizen? Can the government prevent citizens from returning to the U.S.?

Senate Reauthorizes Israel Aid, Rebukes Trump Syria Policy

This week the U.S. Senate passed S. 1, legislation that dealt with military aid to both Israel and Jordan.

 

Here is how VoteSpotter describes that bill:

 

Reauthorize military aid to Israel and Jordan

To reauthorize military assistance and arm sales to Israel and Jordan. The bill also authorizes state and local governments to pass measures to remove investments from entities that boycott or sanction Israel.

 

Senators supported it by a vote of 77-23.

 

As part of that bill, senators incorporated this amendment offered by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

 

Oppose troop withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan

To amend a Middle East defense bill express the sense of the Senate that there continues to be terrorism threats in Syria and Afghanistan and that the sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from those nations will put U.S. national security at risk.

 

Senators supported it by a vote of 70-26. It was a clear rebuke of President Trump’s recent announcement that he would withdraw troops from Syria. While this may be a significant symbolic vote, it was merely a “senate of the Senate” vote that had no force of law.

 

Do you approve of the Senate voting to reauthorize military aid to Israel and Jordan? Do you support President Trump’s removal of troops from Syria?

Venezuelan Opposition Leader Gains U.S. Recognition

Grappling with economic crises and protests, the socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro now faces a new problem – a rival claim to power by National Assembly Leader Juan Guaido. After announcing that he was the legitimate head of state, Guaido received swift recognition by the United States, Canada, and other governments. With Maduro refusing to step down, it is unclear what is in store for the future of this oil-rich nation.

 

Venezuela’s economy has been deteriorating for years, with hyperinflation, extremely high poverty rates, and a crisis in the health care sector. Millions of Venezuelans have fled. Many observers point to the socialist policies begun by Hugo Chavez two decades ago and continued under Maduro as the reason why the economy has collapsed. Maduro says that these socialist policies are not the problem, but instead the collapse in the price of oil is to blame.

 

There have been popular protests against the Maduro regime, but he won a presidential election vote last year. However, observers from 60 countries have said that this vote was plagued by corruption. Many consider it illegitimate. There are also widespread reports of the Maduro government violating civil liberties.

 

After Guaido’s announcement, Venezuelans took to the streets to protest Maduro’s continued hold on power. These protests were the largest in two years. Maduro says that he will stay, and the Supreme Court is remaining loyal to him. One of the criticisms of the Chavez and Maduro regimes is that they have packed courts and many other government institutions with loyalists.

 

Guaido is calling for a new election that will be free from corruption.

 

Do you think that the U.S. is right to recognize the opposition government of Juan Guaido in Venezuela?

Trump Visit to Iraq Spurs Calls for Troop Withdrawal

Over the Christmas holiday, President Trump made a surprise visit to U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. This move prompted several members of the Iraqi parliament to call for the expulsion of American military personnel, an idea that has support across the Iraqi political spectrum.

 

Facing criticism that he was not spending Christmas with members of the military, President Trump flew to Iraq the day after Christmas to spend three hours at an Iraqi air base meeting with some of the 5,200 troops stationed in the country. This was the president’s first visit to a military zone. As part of the visit, he did not meet with any Iraqi officials, something the prime minister called a breach of diplomatic norms.

 

In response to this visit, members of the Iraqi parliament called for the expulsion of U.S. troops. This proposal is uniting a diverse group of Iraqi politicians who are divided on other issues. These lawmakers have promised to call a special session of the parliament to debate this issue. An Iraqi militia leader even threatened to expel the troops by force if the government did not vote to expel them.

 

President Obama withdrew U.S. military personnel from Iraq in 2011, but returned a few thousand to the country in 2014 to help Iraq defeat ISIS. President Trump recently announced that he was withdrawing the U.S. troops in Syria who had been fighting ISIS. The president has said that he has no plans to withdraw the troops in Iraq.

 

Do you think that U.S. troops in Iraq should return home?

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