The Global Citizen: Capitol Hill
With the final ballots cast and the winners and losers decided, it is clear that the people of this nation demand leaders that will address global issues in a realistic way. Because of the overwhelming results of this election, we thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at some of the more prominent winners that realize the importance of an engaged foreign policy strategy. These are leaders that Global Solutions PAC supported throughout the election.
Virginia's Senatorial race was a victory for those that champion American involvement in the international community. Winning 52.4% of the vote, Democratic candidate Tim Kaine edged out Republican candidate George Allen who garnered 47.6%. Allen's history in the US Senate gives us a clear view of his stances on foreign policy. Without fail, he voted against legislation that would have helped to address climate change, increasing funding for the global AIDS prevention services, and US involvement in the ICC. Consequentially, Allen earned a "0" (equivalent of an 'F') in 2004, a "D" in 2005, and a "D" in 2006.
"We believe that 'We're all in this together' is a far better philosophy than 'You're on your own'.'' That's how Bill Clinton summed up the philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans when he nominated President Barack Obama to run and eventually win a second term. It's also the philosophy that underpins the work of the Connect U.S. Fund. For the last eight years they have brought together a community of advocacy and grassroots groups, philanthropic foundations, and think tanks to push for farsighted American leadership in efforts to create a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. They have just released a letter to President Obama and his transition team signed by over 180 foreign policy leaders, who represent millions of Americans, and came together to develop proposals to enhance U.S. global leadership and cooperation in this new presidential term. As one of its signatories, I'm excited by the detailed recommendations which lay out a blueprint for constructive and achievable U.S. actions across four key areas: human rights, climate change, nuclear weapons, and development. The letter urges the President to take action to:
The United States sent a message on Tuesday night's election: women's human rights are not to be threatened. This message was loud and clear when the country elected a record-breaking number of women to Senate. The 113th Congress of the United States will have 20 women Senators---the most women to serve in United States history. Ever.
I hope you're not wondering what could have set this precedent but if you are, let's recap:
Representative Todd Akin, who was running for Claire McCaskill's Missouri Senate Seat made his "legitimate rape" comment, explaining how the female body has "ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Richard Mourdock, running for Senate in Indiana spoke for God when he declared that when a woman gets pregnant from a rape, it "is something God intended." There were scores more of men who made similar statements.
State Representative Roger Rivard lost re-election in Wisconsin when he declared, "consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry [...] some girls, they rape so easy."
Sadly, there are a more comments like these, which you can read here.
Bill Clinton's masterful speech to nominate Barack Obama summed up the philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans saying, "We believe that 'We're all in this together' is a far better philosophy than 'You're on your own'.'' It's clear that these divergent views extend to the two parties' take on the rest of the world.
My colleague Andrew Hess has pulled together a great side by side comparison of the Ds and Rs platforms on Energy, the Environment, and Foreign Policy. There is a clear difference between the two that will impact our nation's role in an increasingly multi-polar interdependent world.
Democrats stress international cooperation, saying that "The greatest dangers we face--terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber and biological attacks, climate change, and transnational crime--cannot be solved by any one nation alone. Addressing these challenges requires broad and effective global cooperation."
For the past two and a half years, a big part of my job at Global Solutions has involved managing the work of our political action committee, Global Solutions PAC. I've met with congressional candidates from around the country, listened to their views on foreign policy, recommended endorsements and contributions to their campaigns, and attended fundraisers to show our support. It's been a great experience, and one that has taught me quite a lot.
Now, as I prepare to leave Global Solutions and embrace new opportunities, I look back on my time here and have a few thoughts and memories I'd like to share with you.
It doesn't take a genius or political pundit to know that most Americans are not primarily focused on foreign policy this year as they decide which candidates they want to send to the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives. Most voters, understandably, are more focused on jobs and the economy. However, there is plenty of evidence that voters do want to see a U.S. foreign policy that remains engaged outside our borders and works with allies and international institutions to build a better world. For example, according to a recent survey by the Better World Campaign:
Last Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), seeking to gauge the treaty's performance in the time since February 2011, when it first came into effect. Witnesses brought before the committee included the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Thomas P. D'Agostino; the Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the State Department, Rose Gottemoeller; and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, Madelyn R. Creedon.
Each of the witnesses offered positive assessments of New START's effectiveness, highlighting the ways in which the agreement has helped to make nuclear relations between the US and Russia more stable and transparent. In her testimony, Gottemoeller remarked that New START has helped to improve the flow of nuclear weapons-related information between the two countries. In particular, she cited the treaty's verification mechanisms, including exhibitions of strategic arms and guaranteed on-site inspections, as concrete examples of provisions that have helped to improve the aforementioned information flow.
Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations resumed a markup of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, setting their priorities for spending on Foreign Affairs for the 2013 fiscal year. This was an important and revealing moment for the Senate because what they designate money for in the international affairs budget shows where their foreign policy priorities lay. The Senate showed a much stronger commitment to international development and human rights than the House did, and we applaud them for that.
Fortunately, the Senate bill provides $1.6 billion for Contributions to International Organizations (CIO), which is slightly above the level requested by the President. However, for contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA), the bill provides $2 billion for UN peacekeeping, which is $100 million less than the President's request.
One glaring issue with the Senate bill is the question of funding for UNESCO. Due to an almost 20-year-old law, the United States is barred from contributing to UNESCO because of the recent vote that made Palestine its newest member.
It was a bad and sad day for Indiana on Tuesday.
Senator Richard Lugar not only lost in the Republican primary; Tea Party extremists did their best to humiliate America's finest public servant. A few even trespassed onto the senator's farm and put up the obnoxious "Retire Lugar" campaign signs that popped up like weeds across our state this spring.
Through his work on the school board and as Indianapolis mayor, Lugar set the stage for the remaking of the Indiana capital city into a major, world class city. As senator, he made Indiana a better state, but also globally important.
As an Indiana Republican, Senator Lugar made the party a powerhouse, but often saved the GOP from its worst excesses. The man once known as Nixon's favorite mayor was now deemed too moderate for a strong majority of Indiana Republicans.
Here is what some other, more graceful, Hoosiers posted on facebook on Tuesday night:
Kiel, Terre Haute, IN: Thanks for 36 years of representing Indiana well on a global stage, helping end apartheid and all of that.
Gabe, Columbus, IN: Lugar stood up to the hawks in the Reagan administration to demand the President break with the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines.
Dave, Indianapolis, IN: Sad day for the hungry, a sad day for our nation. Democracy is about talking with one another, not shouting at others.
This Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on U.S. policy on Iran. Witnesses included the Honorable Thomas Pickering, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, General James Cartwright, former Vice Chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Mr. Karim Sadjadpour, Senior Associate for the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The hearing assessed the current nuclear crisis in Iran and what the future of the situation looks like. Chairman Kerry acknowledged that intelligence shows that Iran has not yet started to make a nuclear weapon, but it is clear that the purpose of Iran developing better nuclear technology is so that they will be ready when that decision is made. To deter this decision, the international community has been placing sanctions on Iran. The European Union has banned oil contracts with Iran and the Swiss have announced that they will not grant access to Iranian banks. Chairman Kerry reiterated the President's resolve to "keep all options on the table", and continue to push Iran forward. Senator Lugar gave short remarks, noting that even as Iran grows more isolated, nothing has changed. The regime continues the oppression and persecution of certain groups within the country.
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