Lincoln Chafee on Foreign Policy

Democratic presidential challenger; Independent RI Governor; Republican Senator (1999-2007)


End prevailing attitude of arrogant reckless war

We take seriously the decision to enter into foreign entanglements. During the last Administration, then-Senator Obama and I shared a mutual desire to end the prevailing attitude of arrogance and recklessness on matters of war and peace that characterized those years.

President Obama knows that wars are not to be entered into lightly; he knows that overseas conflicts don't only do damage in the land in which they are fought, but in the land of those who fight them, as well.

Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 6, 2012

Hugo Chavez does not fit into all-good-or-all-bad rhetoric

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was elected in 1998, but is often caricatured as a "foreign dictator."

In the course of conversation, President Chavez allowed as how, unlike some of his neighboring heads of state, he had never been afforded an Oval Office photo opportunity. I sometimes wondered if this blow to his ego had played a part in escalating his fiery rhetoric [against President Bush].

I never got the feeling that Chavez enjoys being our enemy. Fidel Castro has made a living off playing David to the US' Goliath, but Castro is the past. Chavez is up-and-coming. It would make sense for him to forge the best possible relationship with us, and us with him. Of course, the clashists who came to power with President Bush would have none of that; they need every nation labeled and driven into one of two camps: all good or all bad.

When the clashists fanned the flames of enmity with Chavez, he ran with it, applying his talent for anti-American rhetoric in extravagant ways.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.196-199 , Apr 1, 2008

War against Islamic extremism hinges on Pakistan

In 2003, I visited Pakistan, a country where Islam is the official state religion. There were people everywhere. Every street and marketplace and bus stop was teeming with people buying and selling, and not just the goods of everyday life; they were buying and selling ideas that will determine whether America wins or loses the fight against Islamic extremism. The shooting fronts were in Afghanistan and Iraq, but I knew the war could just as well hinge on what happened in Pakistan, a young and volatile country carved out of what used to be known as British India.

Every action we take in this Muslim nation tends to push Pakistanis to one side or the other of our roster of friends and enemies. In my time in Washington, I saw the Bush administration doing things that were virtually certain to promote extremism in this strategic country between the Middle East and the subcontinent [especially on the topic of getting] tougher on Afghan fighters taking sanctuary in Pakistan.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.114-115 , Apr 1, 2008

Castro doesn't want end to Cuban embargo

I asked the Cuban president, mischievously, whether he supported calls for an end to the US embargo. Even conservative senators from farm states were working to normalize trade with Cuba in the interest of opening new markets for their crops. Votes to end the embargo were increasingly close. Was it a given that Castro supported these efforts? I was betting he did not. Ending the embargo imposed in 1962 would change the way he had done business for almost his entire reign. He knew what I was getting at: The embargo works for him in a perverse way. Having a reason to lash out at the US has been his meal ticket with the Cuban people for a long time.

He dodged my question and zoomed off on a tangent that I no longer recall. But I was satisfied; by not answering my question, he had answered it.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.191-192 , Apr 1, 2008

Strong supporter of Palestinian-Israeli land-for-peace deal

President Bush said he would chart a bold new direction in the peace process. Indeed his "road map" to the Palestinian state went far beyond any vision ever articulated by an American president.

I was a strong supporter of the land-for-peace principle, which amounts to Palestinians gaining a homeland in exchange for recognizing the legitimacy of the state of Israel.

The president and I had battled over many issues but if he meant what he said about a Palestinian state, I would be one of his most vocal allies on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. I was in a key position now, as chairman of the subcommittee that has jurisdiction over our policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.212 , Apr 1, 2008

Opposes linking Human Rights to trade with China

The Senator noted that Rhode Island has much to gain from the opening of Chinese markets to American goods and services. Chafee also pointed out that trade with China is important to businesses of all sizes. Larger businesses will also benefit.

“Trade with China is the single most important measure Congress has faced this year,” Chafee said. “To date, China has largely been a closed market to American -- and Rhode Island -- factories, workers, and goods.

Source: Press Release, “Chinese markets”, May 24, 2000 , Sep 19, 2000

Supports continuing Foreign Aid to Russia, Israel, & others

This year, Senator Chafee has been instrumental in securing funding for debt relief for some of the world’s most impoverished nations -- a key aim of the church-led Jubilee 2000 movement. Senator Chafee also played a critical role in securing funding for the rebuilding of East Timor. Since last November, Senator Chafee has participated in fruitful discussions with foreign dignitaries and heads of state, such as Colombian President Andres Pastrana.
Source: Senate web site, “Debt relief” , Sep 19, 2000

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

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Page last updated: Oct 01, 2016