Secretary of State John F. Kerry is due on the Hill tomorrow to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Freedom House lists some excellent questions for him, for example: “Among other measures to deter Russian aggression, would the United States advocate a movement to strip Russia of membership in the G8 as well as its role as host country of the 2018 World Cup if Vladimir Putin continues his policies of belligerence toward Ukraine?” They boil down to: Why have you neglected human rights to the detriment of the United States and free people everywhere? There is a lot more to ask, of course.
Congressmen could ask if Sen. Robert Menendez (R-N.J.) is correct that we should be authorizing “$50 million for democracy, governance and civil society assistance and $100 million for enhanced security cooperation for Ukraine and other states in Central and Eastern Europe . . . [and] additional sanctions, complementing the president’s executive order, against Ukrainians and Russians alike responsible for violence and serious human rights abuses against anti-government protesters and those responsible for undermining the peace, security, stability, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine.” If so, why hasn’t the president initiated these items?
In his long conversations with Vladimir Putin, does the president ever suggest that we would end nuclear arms talks or make any meaningful gesture to sanction Russia? If not, do you think Putin has the impression that he can push around the United States with little or no consequences?
The administration’s proposed defense budget eventually would depart from its historic national security policy that we should have sufficient funds to conduct two wars, if necessary. Do you think the United States in the next five to 10 years might have to use significant military force simultaneously in the Middle East and, say, the Pacific? What do we do then?
The United Nations finds “Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has failed to fulfill campaign promises to allow greater freedom of expression and there has been a sharp rise in executions since his election.” What makes you think he is a moderate? If he is, what makes you think he has the final say?
Sen. Menendez, more than 70 of his colleagues and the president’s former adviser on Iran, Dennis Ross, believe sanctions conditioned on either an Iranian violation of the interim agreement or a failure to reach a final deal that dismantles Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program are consistent with stated U.S. policy and are the only means of forcing Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. Are they all wrong? Are you afraid Iran would walk out? Why would the Iranians walk if sanctions brought them to the table and have remained, as you say, mostly in place?
Has Iran’s economy improved since sanctions were lifted? If Iran’s economy recovers somewhat with a relaxation of sanctions, is Iran more or less likely to hold to the six-month time frame?
Why are you allowing Iran to continue with advanced centrifuge research and its ballistic missile program? Isn’t everything Iran stopped reversible within days?
Iran’s leaders say they will never dismantle their program. What makes you think a deal is possible?
Has the Palestinian Authority ever said it would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, in essence giving up the right of return? Unless it does, is there any chance for a peace agreement?
Why do you think Sunni Arab leaders are dismayed by U.S. conduct?
What percentage of illegal weapons has Syrian President Bashar al-Assad given up? If he isn’t in compliance with his obligations, is the United States prepared to use force? Was American credibility in the region strengthened or weakened by the president’s refusal to follow up on his “red line” threat? Other than giving up a small portion of illegal weapons, what harm has befallen Bashar al-Assad for crossing that red line?
Do you think more robust U.S. action two or three years ago would have made a difference and saved thousands of lives in the Syrian civil war?
Was Russian reset an error in judgment?
Was failure to more rigorously support the Green Revolution a mistake?
I’m sure there are more topics to cover, but lawmakers might start with those. And GOP presidential aspirants better know how they’d answer those questions as well.