The Global Citizen
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."
Now that both the Democrats and the Republicans have released their official party platforms for 2012, they can be compared side-by-side. We've done all of the legwork for you and have summarized their main stances on a number of issues. Hyperlinks are included and they will take you to the pertinent section of that party's platform if you want to read the actual text.
Update September 6: Changes made on the floor of the Democratic Convention have resulted in the platform stating that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that the status of Jerusalem as an Israeli holding is a condition for any peace talks.
On August 21, the committee charged with composing the GOP’s platform for the 2012 election season submitted their draft to the party for approval. According to Fox News, the platform was “emphatically” given the nod on August 28th. While the usual news outlets have paid much attention to the sections of the platform concerning the party’s stances on abortion and gay marriage, the mainstream media has failed to address the Republican Party’s troubling take on the nexus between national security and climate change.
The language used by the GOP’s official platform is quite critical of the Obama Administration’s classification of climate change as a serious threat to national security. In fact, the new GOP platform states that the current national security strategy “elevates ‘climate change’ to the level of a ‘severe threat’ equivalent to foreign aggression.” If the GOP had done their homework, they would have encountered an overwhelming body of evidence coming from some impressive sources that outright contradicts their platform before it was approved and widely circulated.
The 1960 Republican platform pledged to "support and strengthen the UN." Today, the 2012 Republican Platform is vastly different from the ideals that the GOP once held, and shockingly polarizing.
This election year, the Republican platform opposes U.S. involvement with the International Criminal Court on the mistaken basis that this would give the ICC jurisdiction over U.S. troops. It discounts our commitment to reduce our stockpile of nuclear weapons, reversing the U.S. commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. The human rights section is a measly five sentences. The most shockingly offensive section, however, is the point encouraging that the US should limit the amount of foreign aid and UN funding, despite saying that "Foreign aid should serve our national interest, an essential part of which is the peaceful development of less advanced and vulnerable societies in critical parts of the world."
Much has been made of the sizzling weather this summer. You've heard about it around the water cooler and in line at Starbucks. This week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that July was the hottest month in United States history. 3,215 daily high temperature records were set or tied in June. More than 63 percent of the country in the lower 48 states is experiencing drought. Whether the high temperatures are caused by a broader climate change trend is unclear, but the heat will inevitably affect short-term crop supply, meat prices, and land arability. Moreover, the heat, if part of a climate change regime, could also affect the frequency, duration, and intensity of armed conflicts.
The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will not pass this year and sources suggest the United States was central to its failure. The US showed little dissatisfaction throughout the month-long conference, but raised major concerns in the final hours of negotiations that ultimately killed the treaty.
The potential treaty would have been a historic advancement for international peace and security. It sought tougher regulation of the international sale of arms and the transfer of arms to perpetrators and potential perpetrators of atrocities.
GlobalSolutions.org remains committed to passing a meaningful arms treaty. We highlighted the broad significance of the treaty by sending the names of over 5,000 supporters to Secretary Clinton and other top diplomats. The Control Arms coalition also presented negotiators with several hundred thousand petition signatures supporting more regulation.
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:
"Bringing that dark chapter into light helps clarify and sharpen what we mean when we say never again. But despite all we have learned and accomplished in the last 70 years, never again remains an unmet, urgent goal."
Addressing a crowd of 200 onlookers at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the legacy of the Holocaust at a forum entitled "Imagining the Unimaginable: Ending Genocide in the 21st Century." The pledge that never again should the world stand by while millions are killed in genocide was a central theme to her keynote speech. To remember our history and learn from past mistakes is the best way to prevent and put an end to genocide in the 21st Century. Human nature did not dramatically change when the Holocaust ended, she noted, therefore, our history continues to show that putting an end to mass atrocities must still be a priority for the international community.
But how can the international community end genocide? Clinton praised the new emphasis on prevention-worldwide education efforts and Foreign Service officers sent to at-risk countries are now being trained to watch for the warning signs. Genocide does not just erupt and explode in a single moment; over time an environment is created where "hatred is not only acceptable, it is encouraged." This "license to hate, turns into the license to kill," Clinton said.
Saudi Arabian Women Athletes
Saudi Arabia is notorious for its troublesome human rights record and most especially for denying women an assortment of basic liberties. However, in a brief moment of openness, the Saudi government announced it will allow two women athletes to compete in this year’s London Olympics. It will be the first time that women are allowed to compete on behalf of the Islamic monarchy. This represents a dramatic shift in policy given that women are not allowed to participate in physical education classes or attend a gym. Their participation means that all competing countries at the Olympics will have women athletes after Brunei and Qatar relented this year.
The two athletes are named Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani (competing in Judo) and Sarah Attar (competing in the 800-meter race). The women will not be allowed to interact with men, must wear “suitable” clothing, and must be accompanied at all times. While it is an encouraging development, it is unclear whether the announcement will have ripple effects for nearly fifteen million Saudi women.
Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp, U.S. Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice, spoke on July 4th in Delft at "A Grotian Moment: The International Criminal Court, The U.S. and The Hague Tradition."
It’s exciting to hear Ambassador Rapp speaking about the U.S. and the ICC at such an event. I hope this signals good things to come for the relationship between the U.S. and the Court and our country’s continued engagement with the ICC.
Watch Ambassador Rapp's speech below:
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