Friday, October 10, 2008

Oct. 10: Where They Stand: Foreign Policy

By Sylvia Gurinsky

My look at the presidential candidates' stands on issues continues with foreign policy. Information comes from Project Vote Smart and the candidates' Web sites.

John McCain

-War on Terror: McCain was an advocate for the creation of the 9/11 Commission, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Northern Command. Wants to streamline congressional oversight over DHS, calling it "inefficient," and supports single oversight committee. He advocates stronger partnerships with local governments and the private sector. He supports modernization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and reform of intelligence gathering efforts. Advocates funding to state and local governments on a risk assessment basis. He co-sponsored the "Border Security First Act of 2007," which provided funding for fencing, more and better trained border patrol agents, vehicles, detention of immigrants who overstay their visas.
McCain advocates improving security screening for those entering the U.S. through seaports and airports. He wants to improve the access to communication and training of first responders and create a Public Safety network. He supports increased protection of water and storage systems, chemical plants, cybersecurity and public transportation.
He supports the Military Commissions Act as a way to bring those accused of terrorism to trial.
In July, McCain did not vote on a measure amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to define who could be targeted for surveillance. In August, 2007, he did not vote on a bill amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. In September, 2006, he voted No on an amendment for stronger congressional oversight of CIA interrogation, rendition and detention programs.
Last July, McCain did not vote on a bill striking telecom immunity from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Bill, nor did he vote on an August, 2007 bill authorizing the United States to monitor foreign electronic communications to and in the United States.

Iraq: McCain supports the surge and has voted No on efforts to bring the troops home within a fixed timetable. He says the Iraqis are moving toward reconciliation, but says improvements are needed, including job creation. He said the United Nations needs to provide strong support for upcoming elections. Advocates Iraq using its budget surplus to employ Iraqis in infrastructure projects and restore basic services.
From McCain's Web site: "The international community should bolster proven microfinance programs to spur local-level entrepreneurship throughout the country. Iraq's Arab neighbors, in particular, should promote regional stability by directly investing the fruits of their oil exports in Iraq. As these efforts begin to take hold in Iraq, the private sector, as always, will create the jobs and propel the growth that will end reliance on outside aid. Iraq’s government needs support to better deliver basic services—clean water, garbage collection, abundant electricity, and, above all, a basic level of security—that create a climate where the Iraqi economy creation can flourish."
He also calls for pressure on Syria and Iran to back down from aiding the violence in Iraq.

-Iran: Supports tougher sanctions, even going beyond United Nations sanctions, including sanctions to restrict Iran's ability to import refined petroleum products. Supports encouraging U.S. allies to also impose sanctions, including visas, the Central Bank of Iran and launching a worldwide divestment campaign.

-Israel: Supports increase in federal aid. Advocates better support to Lebanon to undermine Hezbollah.

-Military: McCain supports the expansion of the armed forces, and modernization of their training. He believes spending should be taken care of in the regular budget appropriations process and not emergency supplementals. He has advocated improved military pay and benefits, and supports bringing pay and benefits for members of the National Guard in line with other branches of service. He advocates veterans and disabled veterans receiving health care and benefits comparable to that of federal employees, and supports increased benefits for reservists and improving veterans' access to health care. He supports repealing the ban on veterans receiving both disability and retirement pay. He also supports transitional and job training programs for veterans adjusting to civilian life, and assistance for homeless veterans, and protection for active personnel from being denied bankruptcy claims.
In September, 2007, McCain voted No on an amendment to mandate a rest period for troops between deployments.
In June, McCain did not vote on a measure that appropriated money for Iraq and Afghanistan and provided education funding for certain veterans.
In November, 2005, McCain voted against more funding for health care for veterans, including mental health. In October, 2005, he voted against taking into account changes in population and inflation in funding health care for veterans.

-Misc.: McCain supports the development of a missile defense system. He advocates a Joint Chiefs of Staff review of U.S. nuclear strategy and policy, and supports further arms reductions, including a new arms control treaty with Russia. He supports a nuclear dialogue with China.
In 1999, he voted against the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. In March, 2006, McCain voted Yes on a bill to deny funding to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the basis that human rights-violating countries are eligible for council membership. In 2005, McCain voted Yes on CAFTA.

For more information:

Subtopics include National Security, Iraq, Homeland Security and Veterans.

Barack Obama

-War on Terror: Obama advocates better integration of federal agencies "in stabilization and aid efforts," improved intelligence gathering, a Shared Security Partnership Program with other countries, an end to nuclear smuggling, increased diplomacy and foreign aid to reduce the root causes for terrorist recruitment, a Global Education Fund, a public diplomacy effort, including "America Houses" modeled on what was established in Germany after World War II. He wants to revise the Patriot Act to increase oversight so civil liberties are not violated, restore Habeas Corpus and eliminate warrantless wiretaps. Homeland security funding should be allocated according to risk, homeland security should be reviewed every four years, as the Pentagon is. Obama also advocates secure chemical plants, energy centers and ports, revising the list of what's at risk, giving more support to first responders and better communications systems, and improving information sharing and analysis. He also wants to increase cybersecurity and improve math and science education for national security.
In July, Obama voted Yes on amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
In September, 2006, he voted Yes to provide congressional oversight for certain CIA interrogation, rendition and detention programs. He also voted No on the Military Commissions Act.
Last July, he voted Yes on an amendment striking telecom immunity from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Bill. In August, 2007, Obama voted No on a bill authorizing the United States to monitor foreign electronic communications in the U.S.

-Afghanistan: Obama's plan includes an end to the war in Iraq, a redeployment of troops to Afghanistan and increased NATO involvement in Afghanistan, increased non-military aid and training of the country's army and police.

-Pakistan: Obama advocates increased pressure on Pakistan to shut down Al Quaida training camps and, as he has said recently, might use military force if necessary.

-Iraq: Obama supports a phased withdrawal from Iraq, pressure on the Iraqi government to take more responsibility, regional diplomacy and support for reconstruction and development.
In September, 2007, Obama voted Yes on an amendment to begin withdrawing troops. In May, Obama voted No on an amendment appropriating funds for Iraq and establishing regulations regarding U.S. activities in Iraq and other countries.

-Iran: From Obama's Web site: "Obama supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior. Obama and Biden would offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress."

-Israel: Obama supports full foreign financial and defensive support to Israel. Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden, co-sponsored the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, which says that no financial assistance goes to the part of the Palestinian Authority controlled by Hamas unless it renounces terrorism, recognizes Israel and abides by all previous agreements. Obama also cosponsored the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act, which promotes joint research by the two countries.

-Russia: Obama plans to support the nations around Russia, including helping them to lower dependence on Russian energy, and (from the Web site) "Engaging directly with the Russian government on issues of mutual interest, such as countering nuclear proliferation, reducing our nuclear arsenals, expanding trade and investment opportunities, and fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban; and also reaching out directly to the Russian people to promote our common values; and, Keeping the door open to fuller integration into the global system for all states in the region, including Russia, that demonstrates a commitment to act as responsible, law-abiding members of the international community."

-Africa: Obama plans to increase pressure on Sudan to end the genocide in Darfur. He plans to double foreign assistance, support debt cancellation for poor countries and provide more funding to fight HIV/AIDS. He also plans an Add Value To Agriculture initiative and a Global Energy and Environment Initiative to allow Africans to become more self-sufficient, and strengthen the African Growth and Opportunity Act to increase trade between African nations and the U.S.

-Latin America: Obama supports a normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba if Cuba, post-Fidel Castro, takes "significant steps" towards democracy. Obama also supports an Energy Partnership for the Americas and increase foreign assistance to cut poverty. He also supports a hemispheric security initiative that fights drug trafficking, among other things.

-Europe: Obama wants to strengthen partnerships with the European Union, including on the issue of climate change. He wants to restore a strategic partnership with Turkey.

-Asia: Obama advocates "candid dialogue" with China, rebalancing the economic partnership and making China a partner on environmental and energy issues, and pressuring that country on human rights at home and in other countries.

-Military: Obama supports the end of torture and extreme rendition, and wants to close down the detention center in Guantanamo. He wants to improve training, including language training, improve care for wounded veterans at military hospitals, create a Military Families Advisory Board, end the "back door draft," establish regular deployment schedules, repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," improve National Guard readiness and improve transition services from military to civilian life, including better mental health services.
In November, 2005, Obama voted for more funding for health care for veterans, including mental health. In October, 2005, he voted for taking into account changes in population and inflation in funding health care for veterans.
In June, Obama voted Yes on a measure that appropriated money for Iraq and Afghanistan and provided education funding for certain veterans.
Misc.: In March, 2006, Obama voted No on a concurrent resolution to deny 2007 funds to the United Nations Rights Council on the basis that human rights-violating countries are eligible for council membership. In 2005, Obama voted No on CAFTA.

For more information:

No comments: