Foreign Policy/National Security
We live in a dangerous world, and our foreign policy and national security strategies must protect the American people by addressing modern threats. As a former member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (members are term limited to 8 years), I take national security very seriously. As we work to wrap up the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ISIS and Al Qaeda safe havens, we must also shift our attention to emerging challenges in countries where terrorist networks can feed off chronic instability and to isolate rogue regimes that threaten our security and global stability.
President Obama once said, "Where the stakes are the highest, in the war on terror, we cannot possibly succeed without extraordinary international cooperation." As our military footprint is reduced around the world, we should increase our investment in diplomatic and economic engagement. With the international community becoming increasingly interdependent, I support strong U.S. leadership in international organizations and institutions such as the United Nations and NATO.
I also believe that the United States must continue to be a leader in fighting repression, poverty, disease, and other human suffering throughout the world. I am a member of the Executive Committee of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and I am committed to promoting fundamental human rights around the world. I strongly support foreign assistance funding, which not only provides critical humanitarian relief but also helps prevent instability and violence in some of the world's most troubled regions.
The International Workers’ Rights Caucus serves as a voice for millions of working people around the globe. As Chair, I aim to raise awareness of worker exploitation and promote the enforcement of labor rights internationally, while educating other members on this subject.
Investing in women is one proven way to strengthen entire communities. Studies have shown that women are far more likely to invest their money in their families and societies than are men. Educating women and girls, ensuring they have access to health and reproductive care, investing in their small business ventures, and promoting their role as peacemakers in negotiation processes are critical steps toward ensuring stability and prosperity.
I am a supporter of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, and I have worked in Congress to ensure a safe and secure future for the Jewish state. I believe in the importance of a negotiated, two-state solution that establishes a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel, and as a member of Congress I have worked to help the parties return to the negotiating table to reach such an agreement.
As a member of Congress, I believe in the importance of meeting international partners and experiencing other countries first-hand. We pass legislation that affects the entire international community, and I believe travel is critical to gain global perspective and to understand how our policies shape the lives of people throughout the world.
During my time in Congress, I have traveled to over 30 countries in Latin America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, including Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Tunisia, Egypt, South Africa, Ghana, Liberia, Haiti, Cuba, Honduras, Colombia, China, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. During those trips, I have had the opportunity to interact with policy makers, civil society leaders, and citizens to discuss the future of U.S. policy and engagement.
I believe we must reduce our reliance on private military contractors in war zones, particularly armed private security contractors. When we drew down troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan we left tens of thousands of contractors behind - men and women who answer to a private corporation and do not wear the badge of the United States. Contractors are not subject to the same rigorous standards of behavior and conduct as are members of our armed forces, and companies like the infamous Academi have a long history of misconduct and abuse. I believe we need to reduce our reliance on contractors and increase oversight over the companies we hire.
I support smart cuts to our military budget. We can reduce what former Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the "gusher" of defense spending without compromising our national security by focusing on modern threats and ending funding for Cold War-era weapons. We currently spend as much on defense as the next seven countries combined (most of whom are our allies). As a former member of President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, I proposed a deficit reduction plan that significantly reduced the defense budget by eliminating waste and outdated weapons systems. With defense spending at record levels, I support common-sense reductions to the Pentagon budget, particularly at a time when many in Washington are talking about drastic cuts to critical domestic social safety net programs.
We must reduce military spending in ways that do not break our promises to soldiers, their families, and veterans. I do not support policies and proposals to reduce service member or veteran benefits. Our men and women in uniform perform an extraordinary service to our nation, at great personal sacrifice, and we have a responsibility to ensure that they have access to the benefits they have earned and the services that they need. Our soldiers and their families deserve our deepest gratitude.
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