Democratic Party on War & Peace

Party Platform


Congress approval for Iran action; end support for Saudis


Democrats: Require congressional approval for military action against Iran. 2020 war powers bill required congressional approval for military attacks on Iran except in emergency situations. Earlier 2019 bill ended U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia war in Yemen. President Trump vetoed.

Republicans: Mostly oppose requiring congressional approval for military action against Iran. Mostly oppose ending military support for Saudi Arabia.

Source: CampusElect on 2020 Major Party positions , Aug 30, 2020

Deliver on overdue commitment to end the forever wars

Democrats will deliver on this overdue commitment to end the forever wars, and we will do it responsibly--setting priorities, leading with diplomacy, protecting ourselves from terrorist threats, enabling local partners, and bringing our troops home. We will only use force when necessary to protect national security and when the objective is clear and achievable--with the informed consent of the American people, and where warranted, the approval of Congress.
Source: Democratic Party Platform adopted at 2020 Convention , Jul 27, 2020

No US forces in Iraq; no US bases in Iraq

For over half a decade, our focus on Iraq meant we had taken our eye off of al-Qaeda, and it had cost us thousands of lives, a trillion dollars, and severely strained our key alliances. When President Obama took office, there were over 140,000 American troops in harm's way in Iraq. Today, all of those forces are out of Iraq, and there are no American bases there either. The Iraqi people, in continued partnership with the United States, now have the opportunity to build a better future.

After taking office, President Obama removed our combat brigades and ended our combat mission on a 19-month timetable. And after an interim period in which we continued to advise Iraqis and conduct counterterrorism operations, we completed the drawdown of all U.S. troops last December. This decision was reached after extensive discussions and with the full agreement of the Iraqi government, and it was determined to be in the best interest of both nations.

Source: 2012 Democratic Party Platform , Sep 4, 2012

Bring our troops home from Afghanistan by 2014

We have begun the process of bringing our troops home from Afghanistan, including removing 33,000 by September 2012. And, with the support of our allies, the President has outlined a plan to end the war in Afghanistan in 2014.

Already, the US and our NATO allies have begun to transition responsibility to Afghan security forces. At the same time, we are keeping up the pressure on the Taliban, pursuing the possibility of a political resolution to parts of the conflict, and continuing our capacity-building efforts. Beyond 2014, we will continue to provide counterterrorism and training assistance and to build an enduring relationship with Afghanistan. But we will not build permanent bases in Afghanistan. More broadly, we will also continue to support peace and stability in South Asia. Pakistan can be a partner in that process. The US will make clear that we respect Pakistan's sovereignty and democratic institutions, and that our interest is in putting an end to al-Qaeda's safe havens.

Source: 2012 Democratic Party Platform , Sep 4, 2012

Balance between MoveOn anti-war & Bush militarism

It was almost as if the Democratic foreign policy establishment were running two different campaigns at once, one against the Republicans and another against the left wing of the Democratic Party.

On the one hand, they were opposed to Bush's policies and to the worldview of the neoconservatives. They believed the Bush administration had vastly overemphasized how much the US should rely on military power--and, indeed, how much the use of force could accomplish.

Yet on the other hand, the Democrats did not agree with groups like MoveOn, which often leaped from criticisms of the war in Iraq to a broader denunciation of America's role in the world. The Democratic foreign policy hands were not opposed in principle to the use of force.

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p. 54 , Jun 14, 2012

“Name and shame” terrorist sponsors, tough on Saudi Arabia

Cutting off terrorist funds. We will move decisively to cut off the flow of terrorist funds. We will impose tough financial sanctions against nations or banks that engage in money laundering or fail to act against it. We will strengthen our anti-money laundering laws to prevent terrorists from using hedge funds and unregulated institutions to finance terror. We will launch a “name and shame” campaign against those that are financing terror. If nations do not respond, they will be shut out of the U.S. financial system. And in the specific case of Saudi Arabia, we will put an end to the Bush Administration’s kid-glove approach to the supply and laundering of terrorist money.
Source: The Democratic Platform for America, p. 5 , Jul 10, 2004

Focus on Afghanistan to avoid renewing terrorist haven

Preventing Afghanistan and other nations from becoming terrorist havens. Nowhere is the need for collective endeavor greater than in Afghanistan. The Bush Administration has badly mishandled the war’s aftermath. Two years ago, President Bush promised a Marshall Plan to rebuild that country. Instead, he has all but turned away from Afghanistan, allowing it to become again a potential haven for terrorists. We must expand NATO forces outside Kabul. We must accelerate training for the Afghan army and police. The program to disarm and reintegrate warlord militias into society must be expedited and expanded into a mainstream strategy. We will attack the exploding opium trade ignored by the Bush Administration by doubling our counter-narcotics assistance to the Karzai Government and reinvigorating the regional drug control program. Beyond Afghanistan, failed and failing states or countries with large areas of limited government control need international help to close down terrorist havens.
Source: The Democratic Platform for America, p. 5 , Jul 10, 2004

Focus on preventing terrorism by education in Muslim world

Increasing public diplomacy to promote understanding and prevent terrorist recruitment. At the core of this conflict is a fundamental struggle of ideas: democracy and tolerance against those who would use any means and attack any target to impose their narrow views. The war on terror is not a clash of civilizations. It is a clash of civilization against chaos. America needs a major initiative in public diplomacy to support the many voices of freedom in the Arab and Muslim world. To improve education for the next generation of Islamic youth, we need a cooperative international effort to compete with radical Madrassas. And we must support human rights groups, independent media, and labor unions dedicated to building a democratic culture from the grassroots up. Democracy will not blossom overnight, but America should speed its growth by sustaining the forces of democracy against repressive regimes and by rewarding governments that work toward this end.
Source: The Democratic Platform for America, p. 5-6 , Jul 10, 2004

Need a plan to “win the peace” in Iraq

Winning the peace in Iraq. More than a year ago, President Bush stood on an aircraft carrier under a banner that proclaimed “mission accomplished.” But today we know that the mission is not finished, hostilities have not ended, and our men & women in uniform fight almost alone with the target squarely on their backs. People of good will disagree about whether America should have gone to war in Iraq, but this much is clear: this Administration badly exaggerated its case, particularly with respect to weapons of mass destruction and the connection between Saddam’s government and al Qaeda. This Administration did not build a true international coalition. This Administration disdained the United Nations weapons inspection process and rushed to war without exhausting diplomatic alternatives. Ignoring the advice of military leaders, this Administration did not send sufficient forces into Iraq to accomplish the mission. And this Administration went into Iraq without a plan to win the peace.
Source: The Democratic Platform for America, p. 8 , Jul 10, 2004

Internationalize Iraqi military and political presence

We must create a stable and secure environment in Iraq. We must truly internationalize both politically and militarily: we cannot depend on a US-only presence. Other nations have a vital interest in the outcome, and we must bring them in to commit troops and resources. The Bush Administration has missed 3 great opportunities to do that.
  1. The President broke his promise to build a legitimate coalition in Iraq by exhausting diplomacy before resorting to the use of military force.
  2. When the statue fell in Baghdad, Kofi Annan invited the US to come to the table to discuss international support-but we rejected his offer.
  3. When the President addressed the UN last fall, he once again refused to acknowledge the difficulties we faced in Iraq and failed to elicit support from other nations.
The President has not given our troops the clarity of mission, the equipment or the international support they need and deserve. We have a different approach based on a simple commitment: Troops come first
Source: The Democratic Platform for America, p. 8 , Jul 10, 2004

Committed to Israel but support Palestinian state

The Democratic Party is fundamentally committed to the security of our ally Israel and the creation of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors. Our special relationship with Israel is based on the unshakable foundation of shared values and a mutual commitment to democracy, and we will ensure that under all circumstances, Israel retains the qualitative edge for its national security and its right to self-defense.

We support the creation of a democratic Palestinian state dedicated to living in peace and security side by side with the Jewish State of Israel. The creation of a Palestinian state should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel. Furthermore, all understand that it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. And we understand that all final status negotiations must be mutually agreed.

Source: The Democratic Platform for America, p.11 , Jul 10, 2004

Granting open-ended authority for Iraq war lost '02 election

The Republican victory in the 2002 election, while large enough to give them control of Congress, was still a narrow one. One factor tipping the election to the Republicans was the unnecessary weight of key miscalculations by Democrats. Apparently hoping to reduce the impact of national security issues, some Democrats supported legislation giving the president open-ended authority for a war with Iraq, without first requiring either that the case be made that war is necessary or that the US attempt to work through the UN, the organization created precisely for such a situation.

So, on foreign policy the 2002 election was not a referendum on Democratic versus Republican ideals. Left without a clear choice, voters, by a slight margin, opted for Republican over Republican Lite.

Source: Crossroads, by Andrew Cuomo, p. 89-90 , Oct 14, 2003

Commitment to Israel is unshakable

The Democratic Party is committed to the security of Israel, and the creation of a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors. We will continue to work with all parties to make progress. Our special relationship with Israel is based on the unshakable foundation of a mutual commitment to democracy, and we will ensure that under all circumstances, Israel retains the qualitative military edge for its national security. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and should remain undivided.
Source: 2000 Democratic National Platform as adopted by the DNC , Aug 15, 2000

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Page last updated: Feb 24, 2022