I have three governing principles as it relates to foreign policy.
First, U.S. foreign policy must be clearly communicated and consistently applied. Our President should be cautious about drawing red lines, but willing to act once he or she has done so. Mixed signals and half measures put pressure on our alliances and make the entire world unsure how we will respond to the next crisis. They also embolden countries with interests that are adverse to the United States and encourage them to behave in counter-productive ways.
Second, we must have proactive foreign policy when it comes to clearly protecting our vital national interests. From Al-Qaeda and ISIS to a nuclear-armed Iran, there are areas where the United States must protect U.S. national security and U.S. interests.
Third, I believe our obligations to our troops don’t end when the last bullet is fired. We must fully understand the costs, financial, human and diplomatic, before we put our troops in harms way. A Washington that’s focused merely on the next election cycle oftentimes ignores the long-term impact of their decisions. It’s clear that Washington has not honored its sacred commitment to our soldiers and is jeopardizing veterans’ lives long after they leave the battlefield.
More than 630,000 veterans are waiting for care today because we never fully anticipated the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We obviously must do more for these veterans today and do a far better job in anticipating the needs of returning troops before future engagements.
Sadly, rather than think about foreign policy in a more thoughtful and purposeful way, over the last 15 years, many in Washington have used U.S. foreign policy as just another extension of the partisan battle. Scoring political points shouldn’t be more important than advancing our national interests. A divided America only encourages and gives comfort to our enemies. Our politicians shouldn’t be secretly cheering at our international failures just to make partisan points.
Finally, for the United States to retain its leadership in world affairs, we need to get our house in order domestically. As former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen has suggested the greatest threat to U.S. national security is our federal debt. We need to make hard choices to eliminate our country's dependence on foreign creditors. We also need to continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by continuing to encourage the development of domestic and renewable sources of energy for transportation purposes. Doing so will not only strengthen our domestic economy, but will also reduce our economic exposure to volatile regions of the world.
Israel is one of America’s key allies and in the Senate I will work to strengthen our bond with Israel and increase economic and diplomatic cooperation.
War in Gaza
If rockets were flying over the United States our nation would rightly demand action to stop them. At the same time, all nations at war should do everything possible to minimize civilian casualties, which Israel has done.
Over the long term the only solution is a two state diplomatic solution where both sides' needs are met. The people of Israel have the right to live in peace and security with the knowledge that a future Palestinian state will not be used as a launching pad for terror. The Palestinian territories need to be able to develop their economies, invest in their people through education, and give all Palestinians real hope for a better future. But the process of reconciliation cannot begin without both sides sitting down together to negotiate the parameters of a final settlement.
We have fought in and supported Iraq for more than a decade spending more than $1 trillion in part to ensure that radical Islamist terrorists are not granted a safe haven. Yet ISIS has the possibility of creating just such a safe haven. We should continue to support the Iraqi people with logistical support, training, and strategic air support, but we must be extremely cautious of putting boots back on the ground in Iraq.
In order for Iraq to regain its stability as a sovereign nation, it is incumbent upon newly selected Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other Iraqi politicians to use its newly formed coalition government to support a professional military. The people most likely to succeed in fighting ISIS are the Iraqi people.
Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon under any circumstances and all options must be on the table to deal with this possibility. Given Iran’s stated intentions and the way that they’ve behaved in the past, we need to do everything in our power to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.
While strong international sanctions and diplomatic efforts have begun to modify Iran’s actions we cannot soften our position or allow Iran to use negotiations simply to buy time. Any agreement with Iran must ensure that the country will never be able to construct a nuclear weapon.
It’s clear that Vladimir Putin has no respect for international norms or any interest in being a responsible member of the world community. While war with another nuclear power simply isn’t an option on the table, we must continue to respond to his belligerent actions and make clear that there is a price for his country’s behavior. Fully accomplishing this will require alignment on both economic and diplomatic fronts with our European and Asian allies, to pressure Russia into changing their behavior.
Sign up to help bring Common Sense to Washington.