My view of foreign affairs is founded on the belief that as one of the world's strongest, richest and most innovative countries, we must do our part to raise the standard of living for other less fortunate parts of the world and by doing so, we help create a more stable international environment, thereby also benefiting us.
The United States has always recognized the need for investment in the promotion of international democracy and rule of law throughout the world, and I will work to ensure that we continue to devote the needed resources to raising the standard of living in the developing world. As a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Peace and Security Task Force, I have cosponsored the Smart Security Platform for the 21st century (H.Res. 19), which reflects many of my global foreign policy beliefs to advance a comprehensive and forward thinking approach to our national security. I am also encouraged by the Obama Administration’s pledge to focus on diplomacy first.
In January 2005, I was asked by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to join the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC). This commission was created by Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress. It consists of nine members each from the Senate and the House of Representatives and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President. The CECC recognizes that only the Chinese people can decide China's direction and future, and that the United States cannot impose its will on the 1.3 billion citizens of the People’s Republic of China. I invite you to read the CECC’s findings and recommendations in its 2010 Annual Report.
Both the Israeli and Palestinian people deserve to live a life free of the threat of attack or psychological fear. It has always been my hope that U.S. involvement in the region may be used to positively improve the lives of people affected by the conflict between Israel and Palestine. I ardently support Israel’s right to defend itself and to protect its people from those who would do them harm, and I believe that a two state solution with the creation of a Palestinian state is the best way to achieve peace in the region. For the past decade, American efforts in resolving the conflict between Israel and its neighbors have been lackluster. America, as the world’s sole superpower, needs to more actively engage in diplomatic efforts to bring the region back from the brink and towards a fair, lasting peace, and I am hopeful that progress is being made under the leadership of President Obama.
President Barack Obama inherited an ongoing war in Afghanistan that was practically ignored by his predecessor, who failed to provide an overall strategy and the resources necessary to succeed. After conducting a review of U.S. operations, in December 2009, President Obama outlined his plans for how the United States should proceed with the war in Afghanistan.
I have previously commended the President for doing his due diligence and taking the time to assess all possible avenues of engagement rather than rushing to make a decision. I still strongly believe, however, that before committing any additional troops and aid, we must first measure the effectiveness of the U.S. mission in building peace and stability in Afghanistan. We will continue to fall short of this goal as long as the country's political, economic, and social needs remain unmet.
In my role as the Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s (CPC) Afghanistan Task Force during the previous 111th Congress, I had suggested an “80-20 roadmap” that commits 80% of U.S. funding toward building Afghanistan’s infrastructure and governance, with 20% of funding directed towards security. As evidenced by the last nine years, there is not a military solution to Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a country very much on the brink. Its newborn children face the second most unhealthy and unstable environment next to Somalia. Its utilities, roadways, and police force are unreliable, lawless, and underfunded. All of this has occurred despite billions of U.S. dollars and constant military involvement. For the cost of a U.S. soldier, at $1 million a year, one could train and pay several hundred Afghan soldiers. This fact becomes especially poignant when one takes into consideration that only 30 cents of every foreign military dollar stays in Afghanistan to build its human and economic capacities.
Furthermore, the costs of the war continue to mount at a time when our national and California budgets both face unprecedented challenges. Since 2001, we have funded over $420 billion towards the war, and taxpayers in our congressional district have paid their share of the costs at approximately $1.7 billion. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided in our district for a year (compiled by the National Priorities Project):
February 13, 2011, marked the one year point for the escalated military campaign in Afghanistan. Starting with the assault on Marjah in Helmand Province, the strategy enabled by President Obama’s troop increases has continually failed to live up to the promises of its backers and placed more Americans in harm’s way. With human loss and economic costs rising and without reasonable hope of a military victory, it’s no wonder Americans want Congress to act decisively this year to bring our troops home.
As a member of the CPC’s Peace and Security Task Force, I remain committed to bringing our troops home. I believe we must engage in sustained diplomatic efforts, coupled with economic
In 2002, I voted to oppose President Bush's decision to invade Iraq, as I believed that a diplomatic solution was still possible. I remain convinced that this preemptive invasion and war with Iraq has weakened America's relationships with its allies, standing in the United Nations and NATO, and respect for international law. For these reasons, I became a proud member of the Congressional Out of Iraq Caucus, which was established to force a debate about the war in Iraq and the Bush Administration’s justifications for the decision to go to war, to urge the return of U.S. service members to their families as soon as possible, and to provide a voice in Congress for the individuals and groups who support these efforts.
On August 31, 2010, President Obama announced the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the departure of the last major U.S. combat unit from Iraq. Approximately 50,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq conducting stability operations, focusing on advising, assisting, and training Iraqi Security Forces. In accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the U.S. and Iraq, these remaining troops will withdraw by the end of 2011.
I have had the honor, as founder and co-Chair of the Congressional Ethiopia and Ethiopian American Caucus, to see first-hand how compassionate and strategic implementation of foreign assistance can be invaluable in improving lives. In June of 2005, I traveled to Ethiopia and saw the economic, social and political challenges that this leading African nation faces. My visit to Ethiopia and my analysis of the country's progress toward democracy reinforce my belief that the Ethiopian American community has an important and powerful role to play in fostering democratic reforms, respect for human rights, and forming development policy.
As part of its program to promote genuine elections and support democratic development in Indonesia, the Carter Center had the opportunity to observe their presidential elections in 2004 and I had the privilege of participating as an election monitor with former President Carter. The Center was invited by the Indonesian Election Commission (KPU) to observe the 2004 legislative and presidential electoral processes, and all major political parties have welcomed the Center's role.
Overall, the Center's assessment of all three rounds of voting in Indonesia in 2004 was very positive. In early October 2004, former general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was declared winner of the presidential run-off and was inaugurated as Indonesia's sixth president. An estimated 125 million people voted nationwide.
Clearly, there many regions in the world that are experiencing conflict and strife. Where appropriate, the United States must be an honest broker and facilitator of understanding and promoter of peace.
Bill Name (i.e. HR 1776)
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