Chafee says US Must "Reject, Once and For All, the Belligerent Advocates of Conflict"

Aug 7, 2015

There are the remarks, as delivered, by former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee at the Iowa Democrats' Hall of Fame Dinner, July 17, 2015.

Thank you very much. Congratulations to all the Hall of Fame Inductees - a great group of people working so hard to get Democrats elected in Iowa. Congratulations, Inductees. And, thank you for inviting me to this exciting night in Cedar Rapids. Tonight, you will hear from five good candidates with a wide range of passions and experiences. And, it’s good to be in Iowa. I’m a college wrestler and I’ve long admired the many Hawkeye and Cyclone champions.

As you may know, I am the only presidential candidate who has been a mayor, a U. S. senator, and a governor. And, throughout these experiences I’ve tried to earn a reputation for courage and honesty. I also have shown strong convictions, sometimes under enormous political pressure. I am proud of my long support for beneficial social programs that help build the middle class; my long support for a tax structure where the wealthy pay their fair share; my long support for raising the minimum wage; my long support for protecting the environment and addressing climate change; my long support for quality health care for all; my long support for a woman’s right to choose; my long support for LGBT rights; my long support for immigration reform; my long support for investing in public education; my long support for investing in our roads, bridges, rail lines, dams, and all public infrastructure. And my record will stand up to scrutiny on these and many other issues.

In this campaign, I also place a high priority on addressing what is happening overseas, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. As General Petraeus famously asked during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, “tell me, how does this end?” The 2016 Presidential election will go a long way to answering that question: How does this end? We have a choice in 2016 -- Prosperity through peace or endless war. This week, we had the great news of a breakthrough with Iran. What a change. Let’s give all those who helped make it happen a big hand, especially President Obama and his team. Avoiding war is worth every bit of our energy. The Iran agreement was crafted with the help of Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. This is the right way to make the world safer. Yes, working with our United Nations’ partners, this is the model, the sensible path for America -- Leading with strong, smart, patient diplomacy. This is also a different course than the failed, arrogant, unilateral, bellicose, Republican approach to the world. That’s the choice we have in 2016. We need to reject, once and for all, the belligerent advocates of conflict. As governor and senator I attended too many funerals of service men and service women killed in Iraq, a sad and avoidable chapter in American foreign policy. As one who voted against the Iraq War, and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Chair of the Middle East Subcommittee, I have long been supporting the course that President Obama and Secretary Kerry are now charting, not only with Iran but also with Cuba. This has been an historic few weeks. If we’re smart with our diplomacy, we can avoid these endless wars and create savings that can be better spent at home. Diplomacy is the ultimate test of leadership.

Leadership is also about seeing the future. I see a future with a strong and well supported diplomatic corps that is a complement to our military strength. I see a future where America is a United Nations leader working with mutual respect on climate change, world food and health issues, and fair trade. I see a future where less of our resources are going to quagmires overseas and more are going to help students get their education without crushing debt; more going to struggling families so they can have true economic opportunity and have a chance to buy their own home; more going to help our seniors enjoy the dignified retirement they worked so hard to earn. I see a future where the word “coexist” really means something. Where those of different races, religious beliefs, genders, sexual orientation, and cultural backgrounds can live and work together. I see a future where once again everyone has a chance at the American Dream.

That is the future I see. The way that we are going to do that is to first of all believe it is possible. I believe it is possible, and that’s why I’m running for President and respectfully ask for your support. We have a special country and a special planet. Let’s take care of both. Thank you Iowa Democrats. Have a great evening.