THE ISSUES

Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy

China and Human Rights

China is aggressively engaging in theft, practicing commercial espionage, and ignoring intellectual-property rights as well as trampling on human rights and democracy in their drive to dominate global markets. The US must maintain a strong position regarding China with regard to economics, politics, and human rights.

China’s treatment of the Uighurs and of Hong Kong reflect their aggressive drive for domination and their disdain for human rights and democracy. The United States needs to stand up for human rights and call out the gross violations of human rights committed by China. China’s treatment of the Uighur minority is inexcusable. I call on China to close the Uighur internment camps and allow the estimated 1 million people detained based on their religious and ethnic identity to be released to their homes and reunited with their families.

The United States should also speak out against the authoritarian push for greater control in Hong Kong where thousands of people are demonstrating for their democratic rights. I support the call for an independent inquiry into China’s law enforcement practices towards the demonstrators.

Additionally, the US has the power to prevent China from buying strategically important companies, which we have done through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS). We should exercise this power more vigorously as we defend our economic interests and human rights for all.

Iran  

I would rejoin the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a historic achievement in multilateral diplomacy. Every International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report confirmed Iran's compliance. US withdrawal and severe sanctions violated the trust that had been painstakingly built. Rejoining the JCPOA will require healing from this rupture and rebuilding trust.

After the deal, Iranian moderates gained popularity and fundamentalists lost power. The people elected President Rouhani to restore the economy and improve relationships with the West. Foreign Minister Zarif, who led negotiations, had a good relationship with then Secretary Kerry. This deal was intended as a first step toward improving relationships.

The Supreme Leader and hardliners opposed the deal. US withdrawal increases their popularity and justifies their mistrust of the US. Our sanctions are harming the Iranian people.

US propaganda exaggerates threats and falsely claims the deal lets Iran get nuclear weapons within 10 years. This disregards the likelihood of changed dynamics and improved relationships. Iran is a potential ally against Sunni extremism with many common interests to build upon.

Over half of Iran’s graduate students are women. About 60 percent of the people are under 30. Many of them want normal relations with the West.

Iran is a political football. The UAE and Saudi Arabia do not want the US to improve relations with Iran and would like to provoke a war. We must not be drawn into war by those who want us to fight Iranians for them. I would increase diplomacy, decrease tensions, and transform relations to create a context to address human rights and other issues. Sanctions relief would support travel, entrepreneurship, and normalization of relations.

North Korea

Nuclear weapons are a symptom of conflict, fear, insecurity, and a drive to dominate. Denuclearization will follow more naturally and easily with decreased tensions and improved relationships.

Sanctions are a form of economic warfare with a high rate of failure. Punitive, coercive policies do not always achieve the best outcomes. Sanctions harm innocent people, escalate conflicts and can put us on a path to war. They can provoke targeted populations to rally round the flag, support hardliners and inflame resentment against America.

We can achieve superior outcomes with clear-eyed respect and steps towards thawing the ice. This could help improve our relationship with Kim Jong Un and de-escalate threats from North Korea.

Actions that can be taken to reduce tension and build a stable and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula including the following:

  • Principled progress on diplomacy, including citizen diplomacy
  • A political statement declaring an end to the Korean War, replacing the armistice agreement with a peace regime
  • Support South Korean efforts to improve inter-Korean relations through confidence-building and tension reduction measures
  • Family reunions
  • Inter-Korean economic, cultural and civic projects
  • Humanitarian relief efforts
  • Inclusion of women, youth, and civil society in negotiations
  • Joint US-DPRK trust-building programs
  • Continuing POW/MIA remains repatriation
  • Reunions between long-divided North Korean and Korean American families

Action might also include partial sanctions relief in exchange for some serious dismantling of their nuclear weapons program, as steps towards de-escalation and improved relations.

Negotiating a peace agreement would end the Korean War and ease denuclearization. It could shift resources away from endless wars to human needs, improving life for millions of North Koreans and reducing a global threat.

Russia

Part of the Russian aggression against Ukraine involves the Russian interference with the Ukrainian elections. Methods that Russia used against the United States in the 2016 election were first used against the Ukrainians. Russia launched a cyber Pearl Harbor attack against the United States and successfully interfered in our elections. I support a vigorous investigation into the Russian interference in elections in the US, Ukraine and Europe, and massively strengthened cyber-security for US elections.

Afghanistan

The US government is negotiating with the Taliban, discussing US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban’s agreement to renounce al-Qaeda and prevent al-Qaeda from operating in areas under Taliban control. I am concerned this dialogue does not address the rights of women, towards whom the Taliban have been known for a history of brutality. When elected, I will talk with the appropriate voices for women in Afghanistan and factor their protection and rights into all plans for withdrawal. The protection of women and women’s rights must be part of any agreement.

My aim would be a safe withdrawal of all US troops as soon as possible. We should consider a UN or nonviolent people force that could assist in the transition.

Yemen

The United States needs to take a much stronger position with regard to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led genocidal war in Yemen is being fought with US support. U.S. Air Force pilots are reportedly providing in-air refueling so Saudi and UAE warplanes can bomb Yemen, and US special forces are fighting alongside Saudi troops in what the New York Times called “a continuing escalation of America’s secret wars.”

We must stop US involvement in the war in Yemen, as Congress has voted to do. The Constitution gives the power of declaring war to Congress, and we must respect the authority of Congress in this regard.

We should reject all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

We should press for an independent criminal investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi including any role that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have played in his death, as called for by the UN expert on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, after her five-month investigation revealed the operation was carefully planned and endorsed by high-level Saudis. American intelligence officials have concluded that the Crown Prince ordered the killing.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The United States should have equal and simultaneous support for both the legitimate security concerns of Israel, and the human rights, dignity, and economic opportunities of the Palestinian people. As such, I support the two-state solution.

I will be a president who listens deeply to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Leaders of the Palestinian Authority will know that I hear them and understand their plight, yet nothing is going to sway me from my commitment to the legitimate security of Israel. Israeli leaders will know that I hear them and understand their plight, yet nothing is going to sway me from my commitment to the human rights, dignity, and economic hopes of the Palestinian people.

I do not believe the settlements on the West Bank are legal. Also, I would rescind the president's affirmation of sovereignty of Israel over the Golan Heights. I understand the occupation of the Golan Heights, but only until there is a stable government in Syria with whom one can negotiate.

According to international law, the occupation of a territory does not give the occupying country a right to annex it. Also, according to international law, the resources of the occupied territory are to be used for the good of those living there. As such, I do not support the blockade of Gaza and remain very concerned about the looming public health and environmental disaster there due to the lack of adequate sanitation facilities.

I will use pressure afforded me as president of the United States to exert pressure on Israel to restart talks on a two-state solution.

Venezuela

The US government has wanted regime change in Venezuela since at least 2002 (the year of the failed military coup against Chávez). Efforts to remove the leftwing governments of Chávez and now Maduro have consistently made things worse in Venezuela and have arguably harmed US regional interests.

The US government has for years supported radical elements of the opposition, those that support destabilization campaigns and military coups, rather than more moderate factions that support electoral solutions, and in so doing have exacerbated the internal polarization in the country. This has in turn contributed to the current political crisis. The Trump administration’s support for Guaidó, who - until recently was calling for a military coup against Maduro and refusing all dialogue - is an example of this counterproductive approach.

Since 2017 the Trump administration has been trying to force Maduro out through increasingly damaging economic sanctions that have made the country’s economic crisis worse and generated higher levels of migration out of the country, creating enormous difficulties for neighboring countries. The end result has been more human suffering - including thousands of avoidable deaths - and, ironically, the consolidation of Maduro’s rule over the country, as the lower income chavista base has rallied in his defense against “imperial intervention.”

If the US really wants to see a peaceful political transition in Venezuela it needs to help create the conditions for effective dialogue, which means supporting moderate factions on both sides that seek a peaceful transition and supporting existing efforts to promote dialogue, in particular those being led at the moment - with some success - by the Norwegian government.

The historical record shows that when the US government engages in aggressive intervention to remove a leader that it dislikes, its efforts generally backfire or lead to unforeseen political and social developments that are not easy to resolve. The best policy in Venezuela and most places is to support efforts that allow the country’s citizens to decide on their political future (even if it’s not exactly the sort of future that the US favors).

Africa

We are wrong to ignore Africa because it is the continent with the fastest growing population. In a generation, Nigeria may have a larger population than the US. While some African countries manage their economies well, others have poor economies and risk becoming failed states. Failing states can become grounds for terrorist groups such as Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, for epidemics as we see with the Ebola virus in Eastern Congo, or sources of refugees seeking political asylum. Ignoring Africa means ignoring real risks to our security.

At the same time, a growing Africa also means opportunities we should not ignore. Angola has a president who is reversing decades of corruption. Algeria and Sudan are seeking peaceful transitions of power, and South Africa is struggling to re-establish economic growth and build opportunity for its people. In each case the United States could have been involved in these positive developments but was not.

The United States has supported many innovative business and developmental programs in Africa, not to mention the millions of life-saving interventions to address HIV/AIDs, malaria, and other diseases. More strategic and robust engagement through USAID missions on the continent and through Millennium Challenge Corporation compacts can build on these gains and foster bilateral and regional relationships. In addition, I support the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) extension to 2025 and when elected would seek to extend it further.

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

When trade agreements are structured fairly, they can help expand markets and create jobs for Americans, and help build relationships and strengthen alliances with other countries. Trade can increase levels of prosperity around the globe, including in developing countries. When people in developing countries have more means to provide for their families, stability increases, the likelihood of civil unrest decreases, and new markets open to American technology and goods.

But trade agreements must be FAIR, with strong protections for workers, communities and the environment. Trade agreements must make sense in terms of workers’ rights, indigenous people's rights, environmental protections, women's rights, and more. Even the World Trade Organization recognizes that trade agreements in the modern era MUST take into account more than the bottom line.

There was a time when trade agreements were negotiated through multiple rounds of consultations with civil society. As president, I would call for increased consultations with civil society including unions when negotiating large-scale trade agreements, including the CPTPP.

Trade wars and tit-for-tat tariff battles are backfiring. They are short-sighted and come from an energy of resentment and fear. Let us instead design and align our trade policy with the goals of creating prosperous and sustainable communities. In this way we can achieve greater prosperity, a more just society, and a healthier ecosystem to sustain life.

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