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Public Statements

In Case You Missed It: "Rising To A New Generation Of Global Challenges"

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Date:
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In Case You Missed It: "Rising To A New Generation Of Global Challenges"

"Less than six years after 9/11, Washington is as divided and conflicted over foreign policy as it has been at any point in the last 50 years. Senator Arthur Vandenberg once famously declared that 'politics stops at the water's edge'; today, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee declares that our major political parties should carry out two separate foreign policies. The Senate unanimously confirmed General David Petraeus, who pledged to implement a new strategy, as the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. Yet just weeks later, the Senate began crafting legislation specifically designed to stop that new strategy. More broadly, lines have been drawn between those labeled 'realists' and those labeled 'neoconservatives.' Yet these terms mean little when even the most committed neoconservative recognizes that any successful policy must be grounded in reality and even the most hardened realist admits that much of the United States' power and influence stems from its values and ideals.

"In the midst of these divisions, the American people - and many others around the world - have increasing doubts about the United States' direction and role in the world. Indeed, it seems that concern about Washington's divisiveness and capability to meet today's challenges is the one thing that unites us all. We need new thinking on foreign policy and an overarching strategy that can unite the United States and its allies - not around a particular political camp or foreign policy school but around a shared understanding of how to meet a new generation of challenges."

...

"Today, the nation's attention is focused on Iraq. All Americans want U.S. troops to come home as soon as possible. But walking away now or dividing Iraq up into parts and walking away later would present grave risks to the United States and the world. Iran could seize the Shiite south, al Qaeda could dominate the Sunni west, and Kurdish nationalism could destabilize the border with Turkey. A regional conflict could ensue, perhaps even requiring the return of U.S. troops under far worse circumstances. There is no guarantee that the new strategy pursued by General Petraeus will ultimately succeed, but the stakes are too high and the potential fallout too great to deny our military leaders and troops on the ground the resources and the time needed to give it an opportunity to succeed.

"Many still fail to comprehend the extent of the threat posed by radical Islam, specifically by those extremists who promote violent jihad against the United States and the universal values Americans espouse. Understandably, the nation tends to focus on Afghanistan and Iraq, where American men and women are dying. We think in terms of countries because countries were our enemies in the last century's great conflicts. The congressional debate in Washington has largely, and myopically, focused on whether troops should be redeployed from Iraq to Afghanistan, as if these were isolated issues. Yet the jihad is much broader than any one nation, or even several nations. It is broader than the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, or that between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Radical Islam has one goal: to replace all modern Islamic states with a worldwide caliphate while destroying the United States and converting all nonbelievers, forcibly if necessary, to Islam. This plan sounds irrational, and it is. But it is no more irrational than the policies pursued by Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s and Stalin's Soviet Union during the Cold War. And the threat is just as real."

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"While the difficult struggle in Iraq dominates the political debate, we cannot let current polls and political dynamics drive us to repeat mistakes the United States has made at critical moments of doubt and uncertainty about our role in the world. Twice in the last several decades, following the end of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam and the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, the United States became dangerously unprepared. Today, among our main challenges are an Iranian regime and an al Qaeda network that developed while we let down our defenses. Whether or not the current 'surge' in troop levels in Iraq succeeds, the United States and our allies need to be prepared to deal not only with the struggle against jihadists but with a new generation of challenges that go far beyond any single nation or conflict.

"We need an honest debate about what policies and what sacrifices will ensure a strong America and a safe world. As President Ronald Reagan once observed, 'There have been four wars in my lifetime. None of them came about because the United States was too strong.' A strong America requires a strong military and a strong economy. And we need to take further action if we are to remain strong and if we are to build a safe world, with peace, prosperity, freedom, and dignity. Doing so will be controversial, and it will be strongly resisted because it will require dramatic changes to Cold War institutions and approaches."

...

"Change will require sacrifice from the American people. But I believe America is ready for the challenge. To meet it, we need to focus on four key pillars of action."

Building U.S. Military And Economic Strength:

"First, we need to increase our investment in national defense. This means adding at least 100,000 troops and making a long-overdue investment in equipment, armament, weapons systems, and strategic defense. The need to support our troops is repeated like a mantra in Washington. Yet little has been said about the commitment of resources needed to make this more than an empty phrase."

...

"The Bush administration has proposed an increase in defense spending for next year. This is an important first step, but we are going to need at least an additional $30-$40 billion annually over the next several years to modernize our military, fill gaps in troop levels, ease the strain on our National Guard and Reserves, and support our wounded soldiers."

...

"The next president should commit to spending a minimum of four percent of GDP on national defense. Increased spending should not mean increased waste, however. A team of private-sector leaders and defense experts should carry out a stem-to-stern analysis of military purchasing."

...

Energy Independence:

"Second, the United States must become energy independent. This does not mean no longer importing or using oil. It means making sure that our nation's future will always be in our hands. Our decisions and destiny cannot be bound to the whims of oil-producing states."

...

"Energy independence will require technology that allows us to use energy more efficiently in our cars, homes, and businesses. It will also mean increasing our domestic energy production with more drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, more nuclear power, more renewable energy sources, more ethanol, more biodiesel, more solar and wind power, and a fuller exploitation of coal. Shared investments or incentives may be required to develop additional and alternative sources of energy.

"We need to initiate a bold, far-reaching research initiative - an energy revolution - that will be our generation's equivalent of the Manhattan Project or the mission to the moon. It will be a mission to create new, economical sources of clean energy and clean ways to use the sources we have now. We will license our technology to other nations, and, of course, we will employ it at home. It will be good for our national defense, it will be good for our foreign policy, and it will be good for our economy. Moreover, even as scientists still debate how much human activity impacts the environment, we can all agree that alternative energy sources will be good for the planet. For any and all of these reasons, the time for energy independence has come."

Rethinking And Reenergizing Civilian Capabilities:

"Third, we need to dramatically and fundamentally transform our civilian capabilities to promote peace, security, and freedom around the world. After World War II, America created capabilities and structures - such as the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development - to meet the challenges of a world that was radically different from that of the 1930s. In the Reagan era, the Goldwater-Nichols Act helped tear down bureaucratic boundaries that were undermining our military effectiveness, fostered unified efforts across military services, and established 'joint commands,' with an individual commander fully responsible for everything going on within his or her geographic region. We need the same level of dramatic rethinking and reform that took place at these critical junctures.

"Today, there is no such unity among our international nonmilitary resources. There is no clear leadership and no clear line of authority. Too often, we struggle to integrate our nonmilitary instruments into coherent, timely, and effective operations."

...

"It is time to move beyond the current limited approaches that call for 'transformation' and truly transform our interagency and civilian capabilities. We need to fundamentally change the cultures of our civilian agencies and create dynamic, flexible, and task-based approaches that focus on results rather than bureaucracy. We need joint strategies and joint operations that go beyond the Goldwater-Nichols Act to mobilize all areas of our national power. Just as the military has divided the world into regional theaters for all of its branches, the work of our civilian agencies should be organized along common geographic boundaries. For every region, one civilian leader should have authority over and responsibility for all the relevant agencies and departments, similar to the single military commander who heads U.S. Central Command."...

Revitalizing And Strengthening Alliances:

"Finally, we need to strengthen old partnerships and alliances and inaugurate new ones to meet twenty-first-century challenges. The inaction, if not the breakdown, of many Cold War institutions has made many Americans skeptical of multilateralism. Nothing shows the failures of the current system more clearly than the UN Human Rights Council, an entity that has condemned the democratic government of Israel nine times while remaining virtually silent on the serial human rights abuses of the governments of Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, and Sudan. In the face of such hypocrisy, it is understandable that some Americans would be tempted to favor unilateralism. But such failures should not obscure the fact that the United States' strength is amplified when it is combined with the strength of other nations. Whether diplomatically, militarily, or economically, the United States is stronger when its friends stand alongside it."

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"In no area is our leadership more important and more urgently needed than the Islamic world. Today, the Middle East is facing a demographic crisis: over half the population there is under 22 years old, and the GDP of all Arab nations put together remains lower than that of Spain. A growing population and a lack of jobs create fertile ground for radical Islam. The Marshall Plan showed our deep understanding that winning the Cold War would depend on far more than the strength of our military. The situation we face today is dramatically different from the one we faced in the wake of World War II. Yet it requires the same type of political attention and resolve we exhibited then."

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"If elected, one of my first acts as president would be to call for a summit of nations to address these issues. In addition to the United States, the countries convened would include other leading developed nations and moderate Muslim states. The objective of the summit would be to create a worldwide strategy to support moderate Muslims in their effort to defeat radical and violent Islam. I envision that the summit would lead to the creation of a Partnership for Prosperity and Progress: a coalition of states that would assemble resources from developed nations and use them to support public schools (not Wahhabi madrasahs), microcredit and banking, the rule of law, human rights, basic health care, and free-market policies in modernizing Islamic states. These resources would be drawn from public and private institutions and from volunteers and nongovernmental organizations.

"A critical part of this effort would involve creating new trade and economic opportunities for the Middle East that could be powerful forces, not only economically, but also in breaking down barriers to cooperation on even the most intractable problems. Muslim countries pursuing free-trade agreements with the United States, for example, have dismantled all aspects of the Arab League's boycott of Israel."

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"Merely closing our eyes and hoping that jihadism will go away is not an acceptable solution. U.S. military action alone cannot change the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of Muslims. In the end, only Muslims themselves can defeat the violent radicals. But we must work with them. The consequences of ignoring this challenge - such as a radicalized Islamic actor possessing nuclear weapons - are simply unacceptable."

Moving Forward:

"The new generation of challenges we face may seem daunting. Yet confronting challenges has always made the United States stronger. The confusion and pessimism that prevail in Washington today in no way reflect the United States' legacy or underlying strengths. I believe our current generation can match the courage, dedication, and vision of 'the greatest generation.'"

...

"We are a unique nation, and there is no substitute for our leadership. The difficulties we face in Iraq should neither cause us to lose faith in the United States' strength and role in the world nor blind us to the new challenges we face. Our future and that of generations to come depend on our resolve to move beyond the divisiveness in Washington today and unite America and our allies to confront a new generation of global challenges."


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