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Barack Obama and Joe Biden on US Foreign Policy Issues, October 2008
Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Foreign Affairs Policy, October 2008.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan to Secure America and Restore our
The Obama-Biden Plan
- The Problem: Iran has sought nuclear weapons, supports
militias inside Iraq and terror across the region, and its leaders threaten
Israel and deny the Holocaust. But Obama and Biden believe that we have
not exhausted our non-military options in confronting this threat; in
many ways, we have yet to try them. That's why Obama stood up to the
Bush administration's warnings of war, just like he stood up to the
war in Iraq.
- Opposed Bush-Cheney Saber Rattling: Obama and Biden
opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which says we should use our military
presence in Iraq to counter the threat from Iran. Obama and Biden believe
that it was reckless for Congress to give George Bush any justification
to extend the Iraq War or to attack Iran. Obama also introduced a resolution
in the Senate declaring that no act of Congress – including Kyl-Lieberman
– gives the Bush administration authorization to attack Iran.
- Diplomacy: Obama supports tough, direct presidential
diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure
Iran directly to change their troubling behavior. Obama and Biden would
offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program
and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership
in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward
normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior,
we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. Seeking
this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make
Renewing American Diplomacy
- The Problem: The United States is trapped by the
Bush-Cheney approach to diplomacy that refuses to talk to leaders we
don't like. Not talking doesn't make us look tough – it makes
us look arrogant, it denies us opportunities to make progress, and it
makes it harder for America to rally international support for our leadership.
On challenges ranging from terrorism to disease, nuclear weapons to
climate change, we cannot make progress unless we can draw on strong
- Talk to our Foes and Friends: Obama and Biden are
willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe.They
will do the careful preparation necessary, but will signal that America
is ready to come to the table, and that he is willing to lead. And if
America is willing to come to the table, the world will be more willing
to rally behind American leadership to deal with challenges like terrorism,
and Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs.
- Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Obama and Biden will
make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a key diplomatic priority.
They will make a sustained push – working with Israelis and Palestinians
– to achieve the goal of two states, a Jewish state in Israel
and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security.
- Expand our Diplomatic Presence: To make diplomacy
a priority, Obama will stop shuttering consulates and start opening
them in the tough and hopeless corners of the world – particularly
in Africa. They will expand our foreign service, and develop the capacity
of our civilian aid workers to work alongside the military.
- Fight Global Poverty: Obama and Biden will embrace
the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty around the
world in half by 2015, and they will double our foreign assistance to
$50 billion to achieve that goal. They will help the world's weakest
states to build healthy and educated communities, reduce poverty, develop
markets, and generate wealth.
- Strengthen NATO: Obama and Biden will rally NATO
members to contribute troops to collective security operations, urging
them to invest more in reconstruction and stabilization operations,
streamlining the decision-making processes, and giving NATO commanders
in the field more flexibility.
- Seek New Partnerships in Asia: Obama and Biden will
forge a more effective framework in Asia that goes beyond bilateral
agreements, occasional summits, and ad hoc arrangements, such as the
six-party talks on North Korea. They will maintain strong ties with
allies like Japan, South Korea and Australia; work to build an infrastructure
with countries in East Asia that can promote stability and prosperity;
and work to ensure that China plays by international rules.
- A Record of Results: The gravest danger to the American
people is the threat of a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon and
the spread of nuclear weapons to dangerous regimes. Obama has taken
bipartisan action to secure nuclear weapons and materials:
- He joined Senator Dick Lugar in passing a law to help the United
States and our allies detect and stop the smuggling of weapons of
mass destruction throughout the world.
- He joined Senator Chuck Hagel to introduce a bill that seeks to
prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, and stop
the spread of nuclear weapons.
- And while others have insisted that we should threaten to drop
nuclear bombs on terrorist training camps, Obama believes that we
must talk openly about nuclear weapons – because the best
way to keep America safe is not to threaten terrorists with nuclear
weapons, it's to keep nuclear weapons away from terrorists.
- Secure Loose Nuclear Materials from Terrorists: Obama
and Biden will secure all loose nuclear materials in the world within
four years. While we work to secure existing stockpiles of nuclear material,
Obama and Biden will negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production
of new nuclear weapons material. This will deny terrorists the ability
to steal or buy loose nuclear materials.
- Strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:
Obama and Biden will crack down on nuclear proliferation by strengthening
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so that countries like North Korea
and Iran that break the rules will automatically face strong international
- Toward a Nuclear Free World: Obama and Biden will
set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and pursue it. Obama
and Biden will always maintain a strong deterrent as long as nuclear
weapons exist. Butthey will take several steps down the long road toward
eliminating nuclear weapons. They will stop the development of new nuclear
weapons; work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles
off hair trigger alert; seek dramatic reductions in U.S. and Russian
stockpiles of nuclear weapons and material; and set a goal to expand
the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate- range missiles so that the agreement
Bipartisanship and Openness
- The Problem: Under the Bush administration, foreign
policy has been used as a political wedge issue to divide us –
not as a cause to bring America together. And it is no coincidence that
one of the most secretive administrations in history has pursued policies
that have been disastrous for the American people. Obama and Biden strongly
believe that our foreign policy is stronger when Americans are united,
and the government is open and candid with the American people.
- A Record of Bringing People Together: In the Senate,
Obama has worked with Republicans and Democrats to advance important
policy initiatives on securing weapons of mass destruction and conventional
weapons, increasing funding for nonproliferation, and countering instability
- Consultative Group: Obama and Biden will convene
a bipartisan Consultative Group of leading members of Congress to foster
better executive-legislative relations and bipartisan unity on foreign
policy. This group will be comprised of the congressional leadership
of both political parties, and the chair and ranking members of the
Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Intelligence, and Appropriations
Committees. This group will meet with the president once a month to
review foreign policy priorities, and will be consulted in advance of
- Getting Politics out of Intelligence: Obama would
insulate the Director of National Intelligence from political pressure
by giving the DNI a fixed term, like the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Obama and Biden will seek consistency and integrity at the top of our
intelligence community – not just a political ally.
- Change the Culture of Secrecy: Obama will reverse
President Bush's policy of secrecy. He will institute a National Declassification
Center to make declassification secure but routine, efficient, and cost-effective.
- Engaging the American People on Foreign Policy: Obama
and Biden will bring foreign policy decisions directly to the people
by requiring his national security officials to have periodic national
broadband town hall meetings to discuss foreign policy. They will personally
deliver occasional fireside chats via webcast.
- Ensure a Strong U.S.-Israel Partnership: Barack Obama
and Joe Biden strongly support the U.S.-Israel relationship, believe
that our first and incontrovertible commitment in the Middle East must
be to the security of Israel, America's strongest ally in the Middle
East. They support this closeness, stating that that the United States
would never distance itself from Israel.
- Support Israel's Right to Self Defense: During the
July 2006 Lebanon war, Barack Obama stood up strongly for Israel's right
to defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rocket attacks, cosponsoring
a Senate resolution against Iran and Syria's involvement in the war,
and insisting that Israel should not be pressured into a ceasefire that
did not deal with the threat of Hezbollah missiles. He and Joe Biden
believe strongly in Israel's right to protect its citizens.
- Support Foreign Assistance to Israel: Barack Obama
and Joe Biden have consistently supported foreign assistance to Israel.
They defend and support the annual foreign aid package that involves
both military and economic assistance to Israel and have advocated increased
foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met.
They have called for continuing U.S. cooperation with Israel in the
development of missile defense systems.
- Read the full Israel Fact
Meeting the Challenge of a Resurgent Russia
The Problem: Russia's invasion of Georgia in August
2008 has created a serious new security challenge for the United States
and our partners in Europe. In contrast to the Bush Administration's
erratic policy of embracing Vladimir Putin but neglecting U.S.-Russian
relations, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will address the challenge posed
by an increasingly autocratic and bellicose Russia by pursuing a new,
comprehensive strategy that advances American national interests without
compromising our enduring principles.
A Comprehensive Strategy: Russia today is not the
Soviet Union, and we are not returning to the Cold War. Retrofitting
outdated 20th century thinking to address this new 21st century challenge
will not advance American national interests. Instead, Obama and Biden
will address the new challenges Russia poses by pursuing an integrated
and vigorous strategy that encompasses the entire region. The core
components of this strategy include:
- Supporting democratic partners and upholding principles of sovereignty
throughout Europe and Eurasia while working proactively to gauge
effectively the intentions of actors in the region, and address
tensions between countries before they escalate into military confrontations;
- Strengthening the Transatlantic alliance, so that we deal with
Russia with one, unified voice;
- Helping to decrease the dependence of our allies and partners
in the region on Russian energy;
- Engaging directly with the Russian government on issues of mutual
interest, such as countering nuclear proliferation, reducing our
nuclear arsenals, expanding trade and investment opportunities,
and fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban; and also reaching out directly
to the Russian people to promote our common values; and,
- Keeping the door open to fuller integration into the global system
for all states in the region, including Russia, that demonstrates
a commitment to act as responsible, law-abiding members of the international
- Read Previous Statements
on the Republic of Georgia / Russia Conflict
- Obama's Record: As a member of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, Barack Obama has fought to focus America's attention
on the challenges facing Africa – stopping the genocide in Darfur,
passing legislation to promote stability in the Congo and to bring
a war criminal to justice in Liberia, mobilizing international pressure
for a just government in Zimbabwe, fighting corruption in Kenya, demanding
honesty on HIV/AIDS in South Africa, developing a coherent strategy
for stabilizing Somalia, and travelling across the continent raising
awareness for these critical issues. He has also increased America's
focus on the long term challenges of education, poverty reduction,
disease, strengthening democratic institutions and spurring sustainable
economic development in Africa.
- Stop the Genocide in Darfur: As president, Obama
will take immediate steps to end the genocide in Darfur by increasing
pressure on the Sudanese and pressure the government to halt the killing
and stop impeding the deployment of a robust international force.
He and Joe Biden will hold the government in Khartoum accountable
for abiding by its commitments under the Comprehensive Peace Accord
that ended the 30 year conflict between the north and south. Obama
worked with Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) to pass the Darfur Peace
and Accountability Act in 2006.
- Fight Poverty: Obama and Joe Biden will double
our annual investment in foreign assistance from $25 billion in 2008
to $50 billion by the end of his first term and make the Millennium
Development Goals, which aim to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015,
America's goals. They will fully fund debt cancellation for Heavily
Indebted Poor Countries in order to provide sustainable debt relief
and invest at least $50 billion by 2013 for the global fight against
HIV/AIDS, including our fair share of the Global Fund.
- Expand Prosperity: Obama and Biden will expand
prosperity by establishing an Add Value to Agriculture Initiative,
creating a fund that will extend seed capital and technical assistance
to small and medium enterprises, and reforming the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund. They will launch the Global Energy and
Environment Initiative to ensure African countries have access to
low carbon energy technology and can profitably participate in the
new global carbon market so as to ensure solid economic development
even while the world dramatically reduces its greenhouse gas emissions.
They will also strengthen the African Growth and Opportunity Act to
ensure that African producers can access the U.S. market and will
encourage more American companies to invest on the continent.
On Latin America & the Caribbean
- The Problem: George Bush’s policy in the Americas
has been negligent toward our friends, ineffective with our adversaries,
disinterested in the challenges that matter in people’s lives, and
incapable of advancing our interests in the region. As the Americas
have changed, we have sat on the sideline, offering no compelling
vision and creating a vacuum for demagogues to advance an anti-American
- Start a New Chapter of Engagement with Latin America and
the Caribbean: Obama and Biden will rebuild diplomatic links
throughout the hemisphere through aggressive, principled, and sustained
diplomacy in the Americas from Day One. He will bolster U.S. interests
in the region by pursuing policies that advance democracy, opportunity,
and security and will treat our hemispheric partners and neighbors
with dignity and respect.
- Promote Democracy in Cuba and Throughout the Hemisphere:
Barack Obama and Joe Biden will support democracy that is strong and
sustainable in the day to day lives of the people of the Americas.
In the case of Cuba, they will empower our best ambassadors of freedom
by allowing unlimited Cuban-American family travel and remittances
to the island. Using aggressive and principled bilateral diplomacy
he will also send an important message: if a post-Fidel government
takes significant steps toward democracy, beginning with freeing all
political prisoners, the U.S. is prepared to take steps to normalize
relations and ease the embargo that has governed relations between
our countries for the last five decades. Throughout the hemisphere,
Obama and Biden will increase support for the building blocks of durable
democracies—strong legislatures, independent judiciaries, free press,
vibrant civil society, honest police forces, religious freedom, and
the rule of law.
- Work Towards Energy Security: Barack Obama and
Joe Biden will bring together the countries of the region in a new
Energy Partnership for the Americas to forge a path toward sustainable
growth and clean energy. They will call on the American people to
join this effort through an Energy Corps of engineers and scientists
who will go to the region and beyond to help develop clean energy
- Advance Opportunity from the Bottom-up: Obama and
Biden will substantially increase our aid to the Americas and embrace
the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty around
the world in half by 2015, and they will double our foreign assistance
to $50 billion to achieve that goal.
- Trade Policy That Works for All People in All Countries:
Obama and Biden believe that trade with foreign nations should strengthen
the American economy and create more American jobs. They will stand
firm against agreements that undermine our economic security and will
use trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards
around the world.
- Advance Security Across the Region: Obama and Biden
believe that we need to target all sources of insecurity through a
new hemispheric security initiative. This initiative will foster cooperation
within the region to combat gangs, trafficking and violent criminal
activity. It will strive to find the best practices that work across
the hemisphere, and to tailor approaches to fit each country.
Source: Barack Obama website, www.barackobama.com.
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