Monday, October 5, 2015

Morgan Griffith on the Foreign Policy Game

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

"Monday, October 5, 2015 –

The Great Game is Afoot
Many are familiar with the 1967 Walt Disney classic film The Jungle Book – the tale of a young orphan boy, Mowgli, raised by wolves but who must leave his wolf family and return to the “man village” as the result of the fearsome tiger Shere Khan. This animated film was inspired by a book by the same name, which was written by the popular writer Rudyard Kipling. Kipling was born in 1865 in Bombay, and moved with his family to England when he was approximately five years old.
Kipling is also the author of Kim, a novel set against the backdrop of the political rivalry and conflict between the British and Russian Empires in Central Asia, a period known as “The Great Game.” Though Kim is likely set somewhere between 1893 to 1898, The Great Game’s push-me-pull-me of nations pursuing strategic supremacy in the world continues taking place today.
That The Great Game is still afoot is particularly evident in the Middle East.
Last week, the House made a move in the ongoing Great Game, which also furthered the pursuit of justice. With my strong support, the House of Representatives passed the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act (H.R. 3457) on October 1. This legislation, which I was proud to cosponsor, would prohibit the President from waiving sanctions for Iran until the President certifies to Congress that Iran has paid court-ordered damages it owes to victims of terror. Despite having $43.5 billion in unpaid, court-awarded damages, Iran could receive as much as $150 billion in sanctions relief as the result of the President’s ill-advised Iran nuclear deal.
According to Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA), the author of the legislation, “Among the victims of Iranian terrorism who have been awarded judgments in U.S. courts are victims of the 9/11 attacks, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, the 1983 attack on the Beirut Marine barracks, and numerous other bus bombings, suicide attacks, assassinations and hostage takings. All these attacks were linked in court to Iranian support or financing.”
I am opposed to President Obama’s bad nuclear deal with Iran, and I am appalled by the possibility that Iran may be given sanctions relief while American families of those who have lost their lives as the result of Iran’s terror see nothing. This legislation would see to it that victims be paid what U.S. courts say they are owed before Iran receives even one cent in U.S. sanctions relief. Consequently, this would reduce the amount of funds then available for Iran to use for other potentially nefarious activities.
While I believe the President’s policies regarding Iran have been irresponsible, when it comes to Syria, I believe he and his Administration have been neglectful.
Not surprisingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin is moving to take advantage of the leadership vacuum and strengthen his position in the Middle East. It is reported that Putin is strengthening his ties with Syria while also working with Iran to shift the balance of power in the Middle East toward a more Russia-friendly position, all to the detriment of the leadership position of the United States in the Middle East. The Russian parliament has given Putin permission to put boots on the ground, and the Russian air force began airstrikes on Syrian targets just two days after meeting with President Obama at the United Nations. According to The Hill, “Experts say Russia's airstrikes could worsen the Syrian crisis, which has led to more than 250,000 deaths and more than 4 million refugees fleeing the region."
Additionally, on October 2, the President himself acknowledged that his Administration’s plan to train and equip opposition forces in Syria “did not work the way it was supposed to.”
The President’s policies regarding Syria and Iran and his Administration’s lackluster performance in The Great Game are very concerning and detrimental to America’s position in the world. Unless you favor American isolationism, the absence of leadership from President Obama is having a high cost, a cost that, unfortunately, is getting worse with each passing day.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives."