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Ted Kennedy on Foreign Policy

Democratic Sr Senator (MA)


1960: Toured newly-independent Africa with Senate delegation

I [asked for] an appointment to travel and gain experience that would help me when I was ready to declare for the Senate. Jack considered this; "Go back to Africa." (He was referring to my 1956 visit to Algeria as a reporter for the International News Service.)

"Back to Africa?" I said.

"Yes. Go back and see what's going on over there. That's a continent that's going to be enormously important. There's this East-West struggle going on in these countries. The Belgian Congo has just obtained its independence from Belgium."

I left that night for four weeks in West Africa [with a Senate delegation]. We were looking at the numerous independence movements in these countries, with an eye to whether the United States, with its various development programs, or Soviet communism would fill the vacuum of the old colonial powers.

Source: True Compass, by Edward M. Kennedy, p.163-164 , Sep 14, 2009

1968: Pressed for aid for refugees from Biafra

A fresh wave of terrified, starving victims of war welled up--this time in Africa. Biafra, a territory of 7 million people, most of them Catholic Ibos, on the southeastern coast of Nigeria, had declared its independence from the much larger and heavily Muslim federation in May 1967. (Nigeria itself had only just gained independence from Great Britain in 1960.) Riots and armed fighting between these religious and ethnic adversaries had flared up for years, but Biafra's secession triggered an immediate full-scale civil war, with catastrophic results.

In my first Senate speech following Bobby's death, on Sept. 23, 1968, I pointed out that while the US and other nations did nothing to intervene, more than 7000 Biafrans were dying of starvation each day. After that I spent weeks pressing administration officials to do their humanitarian duty. By the end of 1968, my lobbying had produced results. Some relief planes were flying into the devastated area, but several were shot down.

Source: True Compass, by Edward M. Kennedy, p.298-299 , Sep 14, 2009

1972: Resolution for uniting Ireland & British out of North

In Northern Ireland, British rule of the Protestant North, and the marginalization of the Catholic minority there, was of course an ancient and seemingly settled fact of history. In 1972, I cosponsored a resolution calling for withdrawal of the British troops from Northern Ireland and establishing a united Ireland. On January 20, 1972--Bloody Sunday--when a British paratroop regiment had fired on Catholics marching in Derry to protest the British policy of internment. Thirteen of the demonstrators were killed.

In 1976, I worked to address the issue of Northern Ireland for the first time in the Democratic platform. We worked with Jimmy Carter to include the following language: "The voice of the United States should be heard in Northern Ireland against violence and terror, against the discrimination, repression and deprivation which brought about that civil strife, and for the efforts of the parties toward a peaceful resolution of the future of Northern Ireland."

Source: True Compass, by Edward M. Kennedy, p.354-356 , Sep 14, 2009

Voted YES on enlarging NATO to include Eastern Europe.

H.R. 3167; Gerald B. H. Solomon Freedom Consolidation Act of 2001, To endorse the vision of further enlargement of the NATO Alliance. Vote to pass a bill that would support further expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, authorize military assistance to several eastern European countries and lift assistance restrictions on Slovakia.
Reference: Bill HR.3167 ; vote number 2002-116 on May 17, 2002

Voted YES on killing a bill for trade sanctions if China sells weapons.

Vote to table [kill] an amendment that would require sanctions against China or other countries if they were found to be selling illicit weapons of mass destruction.
Reference: Bill HR.4444 ; vote number 2000-242 on Sep 13, 2000

Voted NO on capping foreign aid at only $12.7 billion.

Adoption of the conference report on the 2000 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill provided $12.7 billion for foreign aid programs in 2000.

Vetoed by President Clinton

Veto message of 10/18/1999: W cannot protect American interests at home without active engagement abroad. We must lead in the world, working with other nations to defuse crises, repel dangers, promote more open economic and political systems, and strengthen the rule of law. This bill rejects all of those principles.

The overall funding provided by H.R. 2606 is inadequate. By denying America a decent investment in diplomacy, this bill suggests we should meet threats to our security with our military might alone. That is a dangerous proposition. For if we underfund our diplomacy, we will end up overusing our military.

For example, A generation from now, no one is going to say we did too much to help the nations of the former Soviet Union safeguard their nuclear technology and expertise. If the funding cuts in this bill were to become law, future generations would certainly say we did too little and that we imperiled our future in the process.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)51; N)49

Reference: H.R. 2606 Conference Report; Bill H.R. 2606 ; vote number 1999-312 on Oct 6, 1999

Voted YES on limiting the President's power to impose economic sanctions.

To kill a proposal limiting President Clinton's ability to impose economic sanctions on foreign nations.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)53; N)46; NV)1
Reference: Motion to table the Lugar Amdt #3156.; Bill S. 2159 ; vote number 1998-201 on Jul 15, 1998

Voted NO on limiting NATO expansion to only Poland, Hungary & Czech.

This amendment would have limited NATO Expansion to only include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Status: Amdt Rejected Y)41; N)59
Reference: NATO Expansion limit-Warner Amdt. #2322; Bill NATO Expansion Treaty #105-36 ; vote number 1998-112 on Apr 30, 1998

Voted YES on $17.9 billion to IMF.

Would provide $17.9 billion for the International Monetary Fund.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)84; N)16
Reference: McConnell Amdt #2100; Bill S. 1768 ; vote number 1998-44 on Mar 26, 1998

Voted NO on Strengthening of the trade embargo against Cuba.

Strengthening of the trade embargo against Cuba.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)74; N)22; NV)4
Reference: Conference Report on H.R. 927; Bill H.R. 927 ; vote number 1996-22 on Mar 5, 1996

Voted YES on ending Vietnam embargo.

Ending U.S. trade embargos on the country of Vietnam.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)62; N)38
Reference: For. Reltns. Auth. Act FY 94 & 95; Bill S. 1281 ; vote number 1994-5 on Jan 27, 1994

Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s.

Kennedy co-sponsored acknowledging the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s

Sen. DURBIN: The definition of "genocide" is "the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group." Scholars agree that what the Armenian people suffered in 1915 to 1917 fits the definition of genocide. To date, 19 countries and 37 US states recognize the Armenian Genocide. Genocide is wrong. It is evil. It is evil whether its victims are Armenians, Sudanese, Rwandan Tutsis, Cambodians or European Jews. Not to acknowledge genocide for what it is denigrates the memory of its victims. Recognition of genocide is part of the healing process. Official recognition will reaffirm our tradition of protecting the vulnerable and inspire us to not stand by and watch as genocide occurs in our time.
Source: Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.RES.106/H.RES.106) 2007-SR106 on Mar 14, 2007

Urge Venezuela to re-open dissident radio & TV stations.

Kennedy co-sponsored urging Venezuela to re-open dissident radio & TV stations

Source: Radio Caracas Resolution (S.RES.211) 2007-SR211 on May 21, 2007

Pressure friendly Arab states to end Israeli boycott.

Kennedy signed Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members

    Dear Secretary Rice,
    In the past, the lack of sufficient support from [non-participating] Arab states have made it difficult to reach agreements [on the Arab-Israeli conflict]. You should press friendly Arab countries that have not yet done so, to:
  1. Participate in the upcoming international meeting and be a full partner of the US in advancing regional peace
  2. Take visible, meaningful steps in the financial, diplomatic and political arena to help Palestinian President Abbas govern effectively and meet obligations to fight terror
  3. Stop support for terrorist groups and cease all anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement
  4. Recognize Israel's right to exist and not use such recognition as a bargaining chip for future Israeli concessions
  5. End the Arab League economic boycott of Israel in all of its forms
  6. Pressure Hamas to recognize Israel, reject terror, and accept prior agreements, and isolate Hamas until it takes such steps.
Source: Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members 2010-LT-AR on Oct 2, 2007

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Page last updated: Mar 14, 2014