Joe Sestak on Foreign Policy

Democratic Senate Challenger; former Navy Admiral


Absence from leadership has let autocrats act with impunity

I want to restore U.S. leadership within a rules-based liberal world order that holds nations accountable for their behavior. We must regain our leadership of the values-based world order from which we have retreated. Our absence has permitted China, Russia and emerging autocrats to act with impunity, with no concerns about consequences. We need to renew our commitment to multilateral action and the international institutions we built to establish and enforce global human rights standards.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary , Jul 30, 2019

Work with allies to oppose Russian aggression in Ukraine

The territorial aggression of Russia must not be allowed to continue. This is a prime example of why US leadership of a rules-based global order is so important that also recognizes the value and need of allies for their equal contributions in different ways. We need new leadership here at home in order to re-establish that the United States is committed to democracy's values, and that we will not turn our backs on democratic countries under threat from autocrats like Vladimir Putin.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary , Jul 30, 2019

Join with allies to compel improved behavior by Saudis

For decades the United States considered Saudi Arabia our closest ally in the Arab world, even though this meant turning a blind eye to their egregious human rights record, including abhorrent treatment of women. Saudi Arabia has made clear that its incoming leader will fail to have the values necessary to change the nation's illiberal behavior. We must work within and in leadership of a global concord to compel behavior by the Saudis that moves it toward a rules-based world order.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary , Jul 30, 2019

Support 2-state solution; return embassy to Tel Aviv

We must maintain our steadfast support of Israel, but we must also work much harder to deal fairly with the Palestinians. This means returning our embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, because it has always been accepted that this would be part of a two-state solution, not a unilateral decision. At the same time we must deal with the bias against Israel in key United Nations organizations and make clear that our support for Israel as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people is sacrosanct.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary , Jul 30, 2019

Can't risk losing influence in Africa to China

Africa will be a powerhouse soon, and Africans will remember who was there for them. We must double down on meeting the continent's needs--from addressing poverty and infrastructure to developmental aid and education--or we risk losing influence in Africa to China and other countries not aligned with our values. We must also offer much more economic, financial and diplomatic support to the developing economies of Africa, and incentivize US companies to get engaged in fair, just ways.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 presidential primary , Jul 30, 2019

Rejoin Iran deal; strengthen trade with allies

Sestak calls for re-joining the Iranian nuclear deal, modernizing our military by focusing on cyberspace capabilities, and supporting our military servicemembers (including LGBTQ individuals). Sestak also advocates for "reestablishing" ties and trade with allies "because countries that trade and do business with each other are much less likely to fight wars."
Source: Townhall.com on 2020 Democratic primary , Jul 9, 2019

Rejoin Iran nuclear deal; "reestablish" ties with allies

Sestak calls for re-joining the Iranian nuclear deal, modernizing our military by focusing on cyberspace capabilities, and supporting our military servicemembers (including LGBTQ individuals). Sestak also advocates for "reestablishing" ties and trade with allies "because countries that trade and do business with each other are much less likely to fight wars."
Source: Townhall.com, 2019 interview series , Jul 9, 2019

Strengthen our alliances; other countries are interconnected

During my 31 years in the United States Navy--from the height of the Cold War to post-September 11th world--I traveled to more than 80 countries. I developed a profound and abiding respect for our allies whom I served alongside, and early on came to realize just how interconnected we are with other countries. As Director of Defense Policy under President Clinton and as a U.S. Congressman, I experienced first-hand the challenges of conducting a thoughtful, principled foreign policy in the context of a complicated and dangerous world.

I know--deep down in my gut--that America's prosperity at home is inextricably tied to economic development, stability, and peace abroad. As President, I will work to strengthen our alliances, modernize our military, and ensure peace and security for all Americans.

Source: 2020 presidential campaign website JoeSestak.com , Jun 23, 2019

Reverse America's retreat from the global community

Source: 2020 presidential campaign website JoeSestak.com , Jun 23, 2019

Building liberal world order is what makes America First

Sestak, who graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1974 and earned a Ph.D. from Harvard, said in a campaign video released Sunday that "America's retreat from the world today" is "dangerous and damaging to our American Dream." He said that "building the liberal world order based upon the rules of individual and human rights, open and fair markets, fair and just governments" is "what really makes 'America First.' "
Source: USA Today on 2020 Democratic primary , Jun 23, 2019

Restore U.S. status abroad; protect American dream at home

Sestak said in a press release on his campaign website, "What Americans most want today is someone who is accountable to them, above self, above party, above any special interest. A President who has the depth of global experience to restore America's leadership in the world to protect our American Dream at home, and one who is trusted to restructure policies where too many see only the growth of inequity not of the economy,"
Source: The Hill e-zine on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Jun 23, 2019

China is a threat by holding so much of our reserves

China was mentioned as a source of national security concern when the candidates were asked about the nature of the threats facing the US. Sestak replied "It is actually our economic security. China."

"They hold so much of our reserves. If they dumped them on the stock market--imagine what would happen. Remember, it really is a strong economy that undergirds our military. That undergirds our education, that undergirds our health system," said Sestak.

His rival agreed with him on that one.

Source: Epoch Times coverage of 2010 PA Senate debate , Oct 23, 2010

Voted YES on supporting democratic institutions in Pakistan.

Congressional Summary:Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act (PEACE Act): Authorizes the President to provide assistance for Pakistan to support democratic institutions; economic development; human rights; health care; and public diplomacy.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. IKE SKELTON (D, MO-4): Pakistan is important to the Middle East and our intentions there. Their cooperation, of course, is so very, very important. This legislation gives economic and democratic development assistance to that country.

Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): We can't allow al Qaeda or any other terrorist group that threatens our national security to operate with impunity in the tribal regions or any other part of Pakistan. Nor can we permit the Pakistani state and its nuclear arsenal to be taken over by the Taliban. To help prevent this nightmare scenario, we need to forge a true strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people, strengthen Pakistan's democrat government, and work to make Pakistan a source of stability in a volatile region.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R, FL-18): This bill focuses on past actions and failures attributed to the Pakistani Government, punishing the new leadership for the sins of its predecessors. While the authors of H.R. 1886 may have sought to empower our Pakistani partners to undertake the formidable task of fighting and winning against violent extremists, it does the opposite. We have gone down this road before. I recall during the Iraq debate, Members sought to prejudge the surge strategy before it could even be implemented. Let us hope that this will not be repeated with respect to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Reference: The PEACE Act; Bill H.R.1886 ; vote number 2009-H333 on Jun 11, 2009

Voted NO 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-H662 on Sep 27, 2008

Keep sanctions against Syria until WMDs are dismantled.

Sestak co-sponsored keeping sanctions against Syria until WMDs are dismantled

This bill states that U.S. sanctions and controls relating to Syria shall remain in effect until the President certifies that Syria has ceased support for terrorism, has dismantled biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons programs, and has committed to combat their proliferation, respects the boundaries and sovereignty of all neighboring countries, and upholds human rights and civil liberties.

Also imposes specified trade, assistance, and military sanctions, as appropriate, on persons or countries that transfer goods or technology so as to contribute to Syria's biological, chemical, nuclear, or advanced conventional weapons programs.

Imposes specified sanctions aimed at Syria's energy sector.

Sets forth diplomatic measures intended to isolate the government of Syria.

Directs the President to provide assistance to support a democratic transition in Syria.

Source: Syria Accountability and Liberation Act (H.R.2332) 07-HR2332 on May 15, 2007

Condemns Russia for provocative statements to Georgia.

Sestak 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

Allow travel between the United States and Cuba.

Sestak signed Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act

Prohibits the President from regulating or prohibiting travel to or from Cuba by U.S. citizens or legal residents or any of the transactions ordinarily incident to such travel, except in time of war or armed hostilities between the United States and Cuba, or of imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of U.S. travelers.

Source: S.428&HR.874 2009-S428 on Feb 12, 2009

Ease the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

Sestak signed Letter to Pres. Obama from 54 members of Congress

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for your ongoing work to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for your commitment of $300 million in US aid to rebuild the Gaza Strip. We write to you with great concern about the ongoing crisis in Gaza.

The people of Gaza have suffered enormously since the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt following Hamas’ coup, and particularly following Operation Cast Lead. We also sympathize deeply with the people of southern Israel who have suffered from abhorrent rocket and mortar attacks. We recognize that the Israeli government has imposed restrictions on Gaza out of a legitimate and keenly felt fear of continued terrorist action by Hamas and other militant groups. This concern must be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip. Truly, fulfilling the needs of civilians in Israel and Gaza are mutually reinforcing goals.

Despite ad hoc easing of the blockade, there has been no significant improvement in the quantity and scope of goods allowed into Gaza. Lifting these restrictions will give civilians in Gaza a tangible sense that diplomacy can be an effective tool for bettering their conditions.
Source: Letter to Pres. Obama from 54 members of Congress 2010-LT-IP on Jan 27, 2010

Other candidates on Foreign Policy: Joe Sestak on other issues:
2020 Presidential Democratic Primary Candidates:
Sen.Michael Bennet (D-CO)
V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Mayor Wayne Messam (D-FL)
Gov.Deval Patrick (D-MA)
Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
CEO Tom Steyer (D-CA)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
CEO Andrew Yang (D-NY)

2020 GOP and Independent Candidates:
Rep.Justin Amash (Libertarian-MI)
CEO Don Blankenship (C-WV)
Howie Hawkins (Green-NY)
Gov.Larry Hogan (R-MD)
Gov.John Kasich (R-OH)
V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN)
Gov.Mark Sanford (R-SC)
CEO Howard Schultz (I-WA)
Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)
Gov.Jesse Ventura (I-MN)
V.C.Arvin Vohra (Libertarian-MD)
Rep.Joe Walsh (R-IL)
Gov.Bill Weld (L-NY,R-MA)
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

External Links about Joe Sestak:

2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
State Rep.Stacey Abrams (D-GA)
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC)
Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen.Mike Gravel (D-AK)
Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
Rep.Tim Ryan (D-CA)
Adm.Joe Sestak (D-PA)
Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)

Page last updated: Dec 16, 2019