Issue Position: Foreign Affairs and National Security

Issue Position

By:  Adam Schiff
Date: Jan. 1, 2012
Location: Unknown

"An America that inspires hope in its ideals is the best complement to an America that inspires awe in its strength. Integrity, generosity, and vision have always been essential cornerstones of our policy and prosperity. We are a more secure America when we rally the world to our side." - Congressman Adam Schiff

Topics in this Section:

* Protecting America from Terrorism

* Halting the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction

* Supporting Diplomacy and Worldwide Engagement

* Changing Course in Iraq and Restoring our Military

* Growing Global Democracy

* Securing America's Energy Supply

Protecting America in the Age of Terrorism

Following the September 11 attacks, Schiff supported American military action against al Qaeda. But he has also pushed for a broader strategy that emphasizes diplomacy, improvements in homeland security, intelligence reform, and efforts to stabilize countries to prevent future failed states from becoming havens for terrorists.

Congressman Schiff strongly supported the creation of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission and repeatedly pushed for adoption of the Commission's recommendations to centralize authority and accountability for intelligence, improve our ability to prevent terrorism here at home and address our relationship with the Arab and Muslim world.

While Schiff was pleased when Congress finally came to an agreement on necessary intelligence reforms in late 2004, he realized that many of the most important recommendations of the 9/11 Commission had still not been acted upon. Schiff was proud to be an original cosponsor of H.R. 1, which called for the implementation of the remaining recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. This bill was the first piece of legislation that was taken up by the 110th Congress in January, 2007.

Halting the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Schiff has made nonproliferation a centerpiece of his efforts to improve our nation's security. Nuclear nonproliferation has been identified as the single most serious threat to our national security by leaders of both political parties. The threat is heightened by Osama bin Laden's stated desire to use a nuclear weapon against the United States and by the nuclear weapons programs of Iran and North Korea.

Schiff has worked to accelerate the securing of nuclear material around the world, but especially in the former Soviet Union. The State Department has identified twenty-four "high priority" sites where such material is known to be at risk of being stolen and used in a terrorist plot. However, the State Department does not have a strategy for reducing this risk by removing these materials quickly and if the current pace is maintained, these high priority sites will not be secured until 2017. This is unacceptable.

In the 109th Congress (2005-2006), Schiff introduced the Omnibus Nonproliferation and Anti-Nuclear Terrorism Act which would have strengthened nonproliferation programs across the government. It included the establishment of a nonproliferation "czar" to oversee all U.S. nonproliferation initiatives and advise the President on these issues, and put new life into efforts like the Global Threat Reduction Initiative and the Proliferation Security Initiative, to halt the theft and trafficking in weapons of mass destruction. Many of the elements of Schiff's bill were included in H.R. 1 in the 110th Congress.

In the new Congress, Schiff has introduced two bills to make our nation safer from nuclear terrorism. The Ending Nuclear Trafficking Act would take the first steps towards making trafficking in nuclear materials a crime against humanity and would strengthen U.S. laws against nuclear trafficking as well. By making such trafficking unacceptable in the eyes of every country, we can fight this threat at its root. The Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act would strengthen our ability to identify the origin of nuclear material so that we can trace those who smuggle these materials and determine the source of a nuclear terrorist attack. With this ability, we could deter rogue nations from passing on weapons and material to terrorist groups, because they would be inextricably linked to the crime.

Building Security through Diplomacy and Engagement

hile the use of military force should never be ruled out, Congressman Schiff believes that our nation's diplomats are our first line of defense. Concerted efforts to seek diplomatic solutions to international crises can often produce better results for America than the use of force. Schiff has been consistent in urging the administration to seek peaceful resolutions to the nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran.

As a member of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, Schiff has pushed to increase the effectiveness of American diplomacy. He is especially supportive of efforts in the FY 2008 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations bill to improve our public diplomacy through educational and cultural exchange programs, better radio and television broadcasts (Voice of America, al Hurra, etc.) and a greater emphasis on proficiency in Arabic and other languages among American diplomats. Schiff also supports funding the construction of American embassies and consulates that are both secure and accessible.

Congressman Schiff also believes that American national security is enhanced by our leadership of multilateral institutions like the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF. Schiff recognizes these institutions, which were created in the aftermath of World War II, are not perfect and that the United Nations is especially in need of serious reform. Nevertheless, they have proven themselves as effective tools of American foreign policy and have been instrumental in helping the United States to work in concert with others on a wide variety of security, development, health, environmental and other issues.

Changing Course in Iraq and Restoring Our Military

Our troops in Iraq have done their duty with honor and courage and they have paid a terrible price in blood. Now it is time to transform their mission from policing a civil war, to counter-terrorism, containment and training, and to begin bringing our combat forces home. Congressman Schiff has, for years, maintained that there can be no military solution to the Iraqi Civil War; only a process of political compromise and reconciliation can stabilize Iraq. Schiff remains committed to the goal of ending the war and bringing our combat troops home, and he will continue to pursue every legislative avenue to put pressure on the Administration to change course.

On multiple occasions this year, Congressman Schiff has voted to change course in Iraq - to redeploy our combat forces from Iraq, to concentrate on training Iraqi military and security forces, to engage in regional diplomacy with Iraq's neighbors and to press the Iraqis to make the political compromises that are a necessary precursor to ending the civil war.

On May 10, 2007, the House of Representatives voted on a proposal to immediately redeploy our combat troops from Iraq, H.R. 2237. This legislation would have required U.S. combat troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq within ninety days, and withdrawal no more than 180 days afterwards. Along with 170 of his colleagues, Schiff voted in favor of this bill. Although this legislation failed to pass the House, the strong support it attracted reflects the growing conviction that it is time for America to begin the process of redeploying our combat forces from Iraq.

Two weeks later, on May 24, the House considered H.R. 1591, a supplemental spending bill for Iraq that did not establish benchmarks linking progress in Iraq to a phased redeployment of American combat troops. Schiff opposed the bill and demanded that a better funding measure be produced, because it lacked any mechanism to hold accountable either the administration's conduct of the war or progress by the Iraqi government towards political reconciliation.

The campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the Iraq war, and ongoing military commitments have stretched our military. Troop deployments have been extended and the National Guard and Reserves are being used in ways that they were never intended. The pace and tempo of operations has affected morale, readiness, training and re-enlistment rates. The war in Iraq has also taken a toll on a wide range of military equipment. In early February 2007, the Army estimated that there was a three year backlog in damaged equipment in need of repair.

Congressman Schiff believes that the Army and Marine Corps must have additional troops to perform all of the missions. He strongly supported legislation permitting the Army to increase its troop strength by 20,000 soldiers and the Marines by 3,000 in 2005, with further increases through 2009.

Enlarging the Circle of Democracy

Congressman Schiff agrees with those who say that strengthening emerging democracies and helping other states to make the transition to democracy is the best antidote to extremism and the conditions that give rise to it. He also understands that building democracies is a long-term process and that democracy cannot be imposed from without.

In 2005, Schiff was appointed to serve on the newly-created House Democracy Assistance Commission by Democratic Leader (now Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi. The mission of the House Democracy Assistance Commission is to promote responsive, effective government and strengthen democratic institutions by assisting legislatures in emerging democracies. Central to the Commission's work is peer-to-peer cooperation to build technical expertise in partner legislatures that will enhance accountability, transparency, legislative independence, access to information, and government oversight.

During the 109th Congress, Schiff and his colleagues on the Commission worked with partner legislatures in 12 countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, East Timor, Georgia, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Mongolia, and Ukraine. In the 110th Congress they are continuing their work with partner legislatures and are continually assessing additional candidates for cooperation in the future.

Securing America's Energy Supply

America's reliance on foreign oil, especially oil from the volatile Middle East, is the most serious threat to our nation's long-term security and independence. Stable, reliable, and affordable sources of energy are crucial to our security and our prosperity. To ensure such a supply, Congressman Schiff believes that developing cleaner sources of energy and encouraging energy efficiency and conservation must be among our nation's top priorities.

As a member of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, Schiff has long advocated for increased investments in the search for alternative fuels and the development of energy efficient technology. Today, European and Asian competitors are already developing technologies that will reduce fuel consumption and lower emissions of greenhouse gases. Rather than American entrepreneurs, it is our competitors who are prospering from these developments. By marshalling America's great strengths - our innovativeness, our technological prowess, and our entrepreneurial spirit - we could better secure our nation, save the environment, and become the world leader in a cutting edge industry. For all of these reasons, Schiff is proud to have cosponsored the CLEAN Energy Act which repealed tax breaks on oil companies and reserved the money to support clean, renewable energy. The bill passed the House on January 18th, 2007..

Schiff is also a cosponsor of the Program for Real Energy Security Act which would establish a national commission to plan the transition to new fuels and found a research center devoted to improving the efficiency of our cars and trucks. The bill would also help set up the network of pipes and other infrastructure that would help us get new fuels from refineries to gas stations.

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