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Joseph Lieberman on Foreign Policy

Democratic Jr Senator (CT, retiring 2012), ran for V.P. with Gore, ran for president 2004


North Korean missiles were provocative, but don’t over-react

Q: What is your take on North Korea? And what should we do about it?

A: The North Korean act of firing those missiles was a provocative act. We should take it seriously. But we should not overreact to it. The fact is that the Bush administration in the last five and a half years has had an inconsistent and ultimately unsuccessful policy toward North Korea. And when I say inconsistent, sometimes saying that we would talk to the North Koreans in the six-party talks, sometimes saying we would not.

I think we are a strong enough nation that the one thing that hasn’t been tried either by the Clinton administration or the Bush administration is to talk directly to Kim Jong Il. We don’t lose any options if we do that. I wouldn’t do it now, because I wouldn’t reward his provocative act.

The danger is Kim Jong Il will sell these things to anybody who will buy them, including terrorists. That’s why it’s time for tough diplomacy and, I believe, economic sanctions against this regime.

Source: 2006 Connecticut Democratic Senate Primary debate , Jul 6, 2006

Adopt an international Marshall Plan for the Muslim world

Q: What do you think about the Iraq occupation?

A: Bush has lost the moral authority to lead an international coalition against terrorism because of his one-sided, unilateral, arrogant foreign policy. I am ready to be the president who will lead an international coalition to adopt an international Marshall Plan for the Muslim world. We’re going to win it by winning the larger war for the hearts and minds of people in the Islamic world, giving them an opportunity, helping them to live in freedom.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Presidential Debate in Durham NH , Dec 9, 2003

Preemptive war policy is foolish and provokes the world

The war against Saddam Hussein was right. But I never viewed it as part of Bush’s preemption policy. I opposed that policy. It was foolish to declare such a policy. It outraged both our enemies and our allies around the world. A nation always preserves the right to take preemptive action in defense of our security and our freedom. But why declare it & provoke everyone. I viewed the Iraq war as the last battle in the 1991 Gulf War. It was a battle to enforce the promises that Saddam made and never kept.
Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC , May 3, 2003

US must not withdraw troops and retreat into isolationism

Lieberman said, “If Bush thinks he’s going to pull soldiers out of peacekeeping in Europe, he hasn’t learned the lessons of the two world wars and the Cold War. He will truly wound the strongest military alliance in the history of the world. He will hurt the credibility & strength of the US around the world. He will raise questions about whether we are going back to an isolationist orientation. You’ve got to consider the extraordinary experience that Gore has had in foreign policy and military matters.”
Source: AP Story, NY Times , Oct 23, 2000

Cuba Libre, Free Cuba!

Lieberman said, “Al Gore and I believe that a free and democratic Cuba is in the interests of the United States. As long as the good Lord gives me breath, I will say, ‘Cuba Libre,’ free Cuba!”
Source: AP Story, NY Times , Oct 23, 2000

Deal with human rights issues with carrot AND stick

American foreign policy, at its best, reflects not just our economic interest but our political values. That is why we remain focused on human rights in China. The thrust of [bills dealing with Chinese human rights issues] are almost uniformly negative. There is no carrot. Only the stick. Americans are broadly opposed to Chinese policies that limit individual freedoms. But we have seen signs of progress in China. We must now recognize that progress and push it forward.
Source: Press Release, “Embracing Incentive” , Mar 5, 1998

Commission on human rights to monitor each Chinese province

Our Senate legislation proposes a commission to promote the rule of law, respect for individual rights, and religious tolerance, including a bilateral commission on human rights, an exchange of religious and legal professionals, and multilateral action on human and workers’ rights, including a registry on all political prisoners.

We also propose a commission to profile China province by province, since-as we know on more everyday issues here in the US-a little interstate competition can be a healthy catalyst for better quality, and the Chinese provinces are quite different in their governance from one another.

We envision these profiles serving as a basis for opening up investment in regions which have met basic international standards of human rights, labor and environmental practices, which have allowed increased and secure American investments, and which protect and encourage the free flow of ideas and respect for human rights. We encourage first, and punish only when necessary.

Source: Press Release, “Embracing Incentive” , Mar 5, 1998


Joseph Lieberman on Voting Record

Tighten Cuban trade embargo but help exiles

“I will not rest until we all do what we can to achieve for the people of that great island the freedom that we treasure in the United States of America,” Lieberman said of communist Cuba. Lieberman has the strongest record of supporting exile causes of any national candidate. The Connecticut senator consistently voted to tighten the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, and to prevent food and medicine sales to the island.
Source: Pat Neal, CNN.com , Oct 24, 2000

Voted YES on cooperating with India as a nuclear power.

Congressional Summary:US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): Integrating India into a global nonproliferation regime is a positive step. Before anyone gets too sanctimonious about India's nuclear weapons program, we should acknowledge that the five recognized nuclear weapons states have not done nearly enough to fulfill their commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including making serious reductions in their own arsenals, nor in the case of the US in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. BARBARA LEE (D, CA-9): In withholding my approval, I seek not to penalize the people of India but, rather, to affirm the principle of nuclear nonproliferation. Jettisoning adherence to the international nuclear nonproliferation framework that has served the world so well for more than 30 years, as approval of the agreement before us would do, is just simply unwise. It is also reckless.

Approval of this agreement undermines our efforts to dissuade countries like Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. By approving this agreement, all we are doing is creating incentives for other countries to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Reference: US-India Nuclear Agreement; Bill HR.7081 ; vote number 2008-S211 on Oct 1, 2008

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 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 YES 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

Progressive Internationalism: globalize with US pre-eminence.

Lieberman signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Build a Public Consensus Supporting US Global Leadership
The internationalist outlook that served America and the world so well during the second half of the 20th century is under attack from both ends of the political spectrum. As the left has gravitated toward protectionism, many on the right have reverted to “America First” isolationism.

Our leaders should articulate a progressive internationalism based on the new realities of the Information Age: globalization, democracy, American pre-eminence, and the rise of a new array of threats ranging from regional and ethnic conflicts to the spread of missiles and biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. This approach recognizes the need to revamp, while continuing to rely on, multilateral alliances that advance U.S. values and interests.

A strong, technologically superior defense is the foundation for US global leadership. Yet the US continues to employ defense strategies, military missions, and force structures left over from the Cold War, creating a defense establishment that is ill-prepared to meet new threats to our security. The US must speed up the “revolution in military affairs” that uses our technological advantage to project force in many different contingencies involving uncertain and rapidly changing security threats -- including terrorism and information warfare.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC12 on Aug 1, 2000

Increase aid to avert humanitarian crisis in Congo.

Lieberman co-sponsored increasing aid to avert humanitarian crisis in Congo

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: There is a country embroiled in conflict that has not yet received the high-level attention or resources it needs. It's the Democratic Republic of Congo, and right now it is in the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe.

31,000 people are dying in the Congo each month and 3.8 million people have died in the previous 6 years. The country, which is the size of Western Europe, lies at the geographic heart of Africa and borders every major region across the continent. If left untended, Congo's tragedy will continue to infect Africa.

I believe that the United States can make a profound difference in this crisis. According to international aid agencies, there are innumerable cost-effective interventions that could be quickly undertaken--such as the provision of basic medical care, immunization and clean water--that could save thousands of lives. On the political front, sustained U.S. leadership could fill a perilous vacuum.

EXCERPTS OF BILL:

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Became Public Law No. 109-456

Source: Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act (S.2125) 05-S2125 on Dec 16, 2005

Suspend Russia's participation in the G-8.

Lieberman co-sponsored suspending Russia's participation in the G-8

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A resolution expressing the sense of Congress that the continued participation of the Russian Federation in the Group of 8 nations should be conditioned on the Russian Government voluntarily accepting and adhering to the norms and standards of democracy.

EXCERPTS OF BILL:

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; never came to a vote.

Source: Russia in the Group of 8 (S.CON.RES.14/H.CON.RES.143) 05-SC14 on Feb 17, 2005

Impose sanctions and an import ban on Burma.

Lieberman co-sponsored imposing sanctions and an import ban on Burma

A bill to impose sanctions on officials of the State Peace and Development Council in Burma, to prohibit the importation of gemstones and hardwoods from Burma, & to promote a coordinated international effort to restore civilian democratic rule to Burma.

(The two Senate versions currently differ in wording). The Saffron Revolution Support Act states that it is U.S. policy to:

  1. support the democratic aspirations of Burma's people;
  2. condemn the repression carried out by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); and
  3. hold accountable individuals responsible for the repression of peaceful political activity in Burma.
Directs the President to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a list of:
  1. SPDC officials who play or have played a substantial role in political repression in Burma or in the commission of human rights abuses;
  2. Subjects persons so identified to U.S. entry prohibition and financial sanctions.
  3. Amends the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 to prohibit the importation into the US of Burmese gems, teak, or other hardwood timber.
  4. Prohibits any U.S. person or corporation from investing in Burma.

Introductory statement by Sponsor:

Sen. McCAIN. The world has reacted with horror and revulsion at the Burmese junta's recent brutal crackdown against peaceful demonstrators. In crushing the Saffron Revolution, killing hundreds and jailing thousands, including countless Buddhist monks, the junta has left no doubt about its blatant disregard for basic human decency. We, as Americans, stand on the side of freedom, not fear; of peace, not violence; and of the millions in Burma who aspire to a better life, not those who would keep them isolated and oppressed. Our response must go beyond statements of condemnation, and the time to act is now. This legislation imposes meaningful and effective punitive action against the cruel, thuggish, and illegitimate Burmese government.

Source: Burma Democracy Promotion Act (S.2257 & S.2172) 07-S2257 on Oct 29, 2007

Implement Darfur Peace Agreement with UN peacekeeping force.

Lieberman co-sponsored implementing Darfur Peace Agreement with UN peacekeeping force

Source: S.RES.455 08-SR455 on Feb 14, 2008

Seeds of Peace: promote coexistence in regions of conflict.

Lieberman co-sponsored Seeds of Peace: promote coexistence in regions of conflict

A resolution recognizing the 15th anniversary of the founding of Seeds of Peace, an organization promoting understanding, reconciliation, acceptance, coexistence, & peace in the Middle East, South Asia, and other regions of conflict.

Legislative Outcome: Related bill: H.CON.RES.337; agreed to in Senate, by Unanimous Consent.
Source: S.RES.536 08-SR536 on Apr 28, 2008

Condemns Russia for provocative statements to Georgia.

Lieberman co-sponsored condemning Russia for provocative statements to Georgia

A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding provocative and dangerous statements made by the Government of the Russian Federation that undermine the territorial integrity of the Republic of Georgia.

Legislative Outcome: Related bills: H.RES.1166 & S.RES.418; Agreed to by Senate; Passed/agreed to in House, by recorded vote: 390-23 (Roll no. 269).
Source: Resolution on South Ossetia (S. RES. 550) 08-SR550 on May 2, 2008

Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s.

Lieberman 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

Develop a strategy to protect civilians in Darfur.

Lieberman co-sponsored developing a strategy to protect civilians in Darfur

A resolution calling on the United States Government and the international community to promptly develop, fund, and implement a comprehensive regional strategy in Africa to protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian operations, contain and reduce violence, and contribute to conditions for sustainable peace in eastern Chad, northern Central African Republic, and Darfur, Sudan.

Source: Darfur Resolution (S.RES.76) 2007-SR76 on Feb 8, 2007

Let Ukraine & Georgia enter NATO.

Lieberman co-sponsored including Ukraine & Georgia in NATO

Congressional Summary: A resolution expressing strong support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to enter into a Membership Action Plan with Georgia and Ukraine:

  1. reaffirming support for enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to include democratic governments that are able to meet the membership responsibilities;
  2. that NATO's expansion contributes to its relevance;
  3. that Georgia and Ukraine are strong allies that have made important progress in the areas of defense and democratic and human rights reform;
  4. that a stronger relationship among Georgia, Ukraine, and NATO will benefit those countries and NATO member states; and
  5. that the United States should take the lead in supporting the awarding of a Membership Action Plan to Georgia and Ukraine.

Legislative Outome: Resolution agreed to in Senate without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent.

Source: S.RES.439 & H.RES.997 2008-SR439 on Jan 31, 2008

Condemn violence by Chinese government in Tibet.

Lieberman co-sponsored condemning the violence by Chinese government in Tibet

A resolution condemning the violence in Tibet and calling for restraint by the Government of the People's Republic of China and the people of Tibet. Calls for:

  1. a dialogue between the government of China and His Holiness the Dalai Lama on religious and cultural autonomy for Tibet within China; and
  2. release of peaceful protesters.
    Calls on the PRC to:
  1. respect the right of the people of Tibet to speak of the Dalai Lama and possess his photograph;
  2. respect basic human rights;
  3. allow international journalists free access to China; and
  4. provide a full accounting of the March 2008 protests in Tibet.
Urges that the agreement permitting the PRC to open further diplomatic missions in the United States should be contingent upon establishment of a U.S. government office in Lhasa, Tibet.
Source: S.RES.504 2008-SR504 on Apr 7, 2008

Sanction Mugabe until Zimbabwe transitions to democracy.

Lieberman co-sponsored sanctioning Mugabe until Zimbabwe transitions to democracy

A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the political situation in Zimbabwe. Expresses the sense of the Senate:

  1. supporting the people of Zimbabwe;
  2. that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should immediately release the legitimate results of the presidential election and ratify the previously announced results of the parliamentary elections;
  3. that President Robert Mugabe should accept the will of the people of Zimbabwe in order to effect a timely and peaceful transition to democratic rule;
  4. that the U.S. government and the international community should impose targeted sanctions against individuals in the government of Zimbabwe and state security services and militias who are responsible for human rights abuses and election interference;
  5. that the U.S. government and the international community should work together to prepare an economic and political recovery package for Zimbabwe;
  6. that regional organizations should play an active role in resolving the crisis; and
  7. that the U.N. Security Council should support efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution of the crisis and impose an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe until a legitimate democratic government has taken power.
Source: S.RES.533&H.RES.1230 2008-SR533 on Apr 24, 2008

Support Iranian demonstrators against Iranian government.

Lieberman signed bill supporting demonstrations against Iran

Source: SR.193&HR.549 2009-SR193 on Jun 19, 2009

Condemn Iran for state-sponsored persecution of Baha'i.

Lieberman signed bill condemning Iran for persecution of Baha'i

    Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate and House of Representatives
  1. condemns the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights;
  2. calls on the Government of Iran to immediately release the seven leaders and all other prisoners held solely on account of their religion; and
  3. calls on the President and Secretary of State, in cooperation with the international community, to immediately condemn Iran's continued violation of human rights.
    Source: SR71&HR175 2009-SR71 on Feb 13, 2009

    Pressure friendly Arab states to end Israeli boycott.

    Lieberman 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

    Other candidates on Foreign Policy: Joseph Lieberman on other issues:
    CT Gubernatorial:
    Dan Malloy
    CT Senatorial:
    Richard Blumenthal

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    Page last updated: Feb 23, 2012