Chris Dodd on Foreign Policy
Democratic Sr Senator (CT)
Dodd is right that slave labor exists in China. In June 2007, a group of parents in Shanxi Province discovered that owners of many of the region’s brick kilns were kidnapping and enslaving children, forcing them to work up to 18 hours per day. But Dodd is wrong to suggest that the Chinese government is sanctioning slavery. Nearly 35,000 police officers descended on Shanxi province, raiding more than 7,500 work places. And less than a month after the story garnered international headlines, Chinese courts had sentenced 28 overseers at the kiln to prison and ordered another executed.
We agree that enslaving children is reprehensible, but Dodd was wrong to suggest that the Chinese government condones the practice.
A: We’ve been basically AWOL on dealing with these nations here, and that has bred a lack of understanding and appreciation. Over these last six years, despite this effort over the last few days in Annapolis, where has this administration been on the Middle East issues here? It appears definitely here that we’re not engaged at all. Over the past years, both Republican and Democratic administrations have made it a part of their agenda to stay engaged, to make it clear that we’re an honest broker trying to resolve the issue of Israel’s security as well as the legitimate issue of Palestinians seeking an independent state. We’ve walked away from that.
A: Well, I think there’s an ongoing situation. I want to commend the people in Congress who just recently, when the Dalai Lama was here, presented him with a gold medal. We’ve raised the issue--not often enough--on Tibet and what’s happened with the almost genocidal behavior, when dealing with this remarkable culture that’s been under assault. And the idea that we’d recognize him and welcome him here as a religious leader in the world is exactly the kind of symbols we need to send--to make them recognize that the Dalai Lama is an international religious leader who’s worthy of recognition. And if they, as they apparently did, threaten to deny some ships to able to move in waters off China over that, they need to understand this isn’t going to change in a Democratic administration.
A: We’re jumping ahead of ourselves here. I hope this Annapolis meeting works. Nothing would please me more than to have a two-state solution here. Israel would get the security it deserves and needs, and the Palestinians get a state, an independent state. That’s the ideal goal here. Why did it take this long, six or seven years? Walking away from the Middle East over the last 6 or 7 years has exactly contributed to the kind of problems we’re seeing today, in my view, with Iran. Had we been engaged more consistently over the years, I think we would have had a lot more success. They’ll re-engage now, utilizing the Annapolis meeting, which brought together Syria, the Arab League, all the other major parties in the region were there, except the Iranians and Hamas, which should have been excluded. So, talking about military action in Iran I think is premature.
A: Obviously, we’ve got to keep working with Musharraf. I joined others who are condemning his declaring a state of emergency and suspending the constitution. But this is a problem that was created by this administration. This was loading up Musharraf with too much for him to probably carry as a result of our not putting the kind of emphasis on Afghanistan after 9/11 that we should have.
Q: Would you start putting some pressure on President Musharraf, for example, by reducing US military and/or economic assistance?
A: That is something you should consider. Obviously, at this point, you need to make sure that the country is not going to fall apart. And so, working with him to find out how we can move from the position he has put himself in today to a more open process here that allows for possibly a coalition government to emerge here. But we need a stable and strong Pakistan here.
A: Here’s a deeper question here, because not only the pledge you make, but this audience and others here make a determination which of us here have the experience, the background here to manage the situation. It’s a critical question. The problem’s not only the Middle East. What’s going on in the Far East, and in Latin America and elsewhere. The more immediate problem is Pakistan, the one that needs to be addressed
A: Absolutely. I think it’s the right way to go. The best way to approach that is through the sanctions, the diplomatic approach. What is not the right way to go, in my view, is the resolution adopted several weeks ago in the Senate, which almost exclusively focused on the military option in Iran.
Q: But back in March, you co-sponsored a resolution that said this: “The [US} should designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization.” What’s the difference?
A: Well, a huge difference. [The March resolution] was exclusively focused on diplomacy and sanctions and specifically said no military action should be taken in Iran without the prior approval of the Congress. Very, very different approaches than the recent resolution, in which the language on diplomacy and sanctions was removed.
A: We have neglected Latin America for these last six years here. I’m old enough to remember when Richard Nixon’s car was stoned in Caracas, Venezuela, in the late 1950s. And then, two years later, we elected an American president whose photograph still hangs in many huts and hovels from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego. We need to re-engage once again here. We’re spending $1.6 billion for all of Latin America in terms of aid and assistance, a fraction of what we’re spending in Iraq, the $500 billion we’ve spent there. We need to engage with the hopes and aspirations of people in this part of the world.
A: Well, a very important one, and the transition is already occurring. You don’t have to wait for it to happen. The question is whether or not we’re going to sit on the sidelines or be a part of this transition here. Certainly what we’ve done over the last 50 years I don’t think has worked. Fifty years of this policy, of the embargo has basically left the same man in power, the same repressive politics, an economy that’s been failing in the country. He has been using that as an excuse for his own failures. As president, I would begin to unravel that embargo. I would lift travel restrictions, so Cuban Americans can go visit their families. I would be lifting the restrictions on remissions. We need to understand that the hopes and aspirations of the Cuban people are as important as anything to us. We need safety and security; we need not fear Fidel Castro.
DODD: When I disagreed with my colleague from Illinois, was about the issue of whether or not a prepared speech should suggest a hypothetical situation and a hypothetical solution, that raised serious issues within Pakistan. The only person that separates us from a jihadist government in Pakistan with nuclear weapons is President Musharraf. And, therefore, I thought it was irresponsible to engage in that kind of a suggestion. That’s dangerous. Words mean something in campaigns. You’re not going to have time in Jan. 2009 to get ready for this job. You’ve got to be ready immediately for it and bringing back the experience over the years to deal with these issues, as I have.
OBAMA: We shouldn’t have strategic ambiguity with the American people when it comes to describing how we’re going to deal with the most serious national security issues that we face.
DODD: Words mean things. We’ve got to be very careful about language that’s used in terms of the harm it can do to our nation. When you raise issues about Pakistan, while General Musharraf is no Thomas Jefferson, he may be the only thing that stands between us and having an Islamic fundamentalist state in that country. The alternative could be a lot worse for our country. I think it’s highly irresponsible to suggest we may be willing unilaterally to invade a nation who we’re trying to get to be more cooperative with us in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
OBAMA: Sen. Dodd obviously didn’t read my speech. Because I said we have to refocus, get out of Iraq, make certain that we are helping Pakistan deal with the problem of al Qaeda in the hills between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
A: Last week, I passed legislation out of the committee to deal with the Chinese currency situation. It’s a massive subsidy for them in terms of disadvantaging our manufacturers here. And I would say they’re a competitor, but be careful. It’s getting close to adversary. Let’s not have any illusions here. China’s investing a great deal of its resources in building up a military capacity. And in the 21st century, we’d better recognize here, while they’re competitors today, if we’re not careful here, then we could face some serious problems with China in the latter part of this century. We need to be insisting that for every product in our shelves here, we need to be insisting that we have access to their shelves, to their marketplaces. That’s not happening, and it needs to stop.
A: I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Caribbean back some 40 years ago and care deeply about what happens because too often we neglect what happens in these small island countries that are so close to our own nation. And so I will pay particular attention, where the incidence of HIV/AIDS can be higher as a percentage of the population in some of these small countries that exist elsewhere.
A: We’ve unfortunately, as a result of our conflict in Iraq, have lost our moral authority. And as a result of that, our ability to mobilize the world on issues like Darfur has been severely damaged. But the United States should be able to take some unilateral action here in providing the kind of protection where people are being slaughtered in that country; and in the meantime, get our military out of Iraq, as I’ve planned and offered to do, and thus regain that stature, which we need to be doing as a nation in this world and be able to build those coalitions that will respond to an issue like Darfur. But in the meantime, the United States ought to act.
The risks were considerable, but I had confidence in Mexico's new president, Ernesto Zedillo. Besides, we simply couldn't let Mexico fall without trying to help. In addition to the economic problems it would cause both for us and for the Mexicans, we would be sending a terrible signal of selfishness and shortsightedness throughout Latin America.
I called the congressional leaders to the White House, explained the situation, and asked for their support. All of them pledged it, including Senator Chris Dodd.
Congress would not pass the bill so we ended up providing the money to Mexico out of the Exchange Stabilization Fund.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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Newly appointed in 2009;
special election in 2010:
Announced retirement as of 2010:
Senate races in 2010:
AK:Miller(R) vs.McAdams(D) vs.Murkowski(I)
CA:Boxer(D) vs.Fiorina(R) vs.Lightfoot(L)
FL:Rubio(R) vs.Crist(I) vs.Meek(D) vs.DeCastro(C) vs.Snitker(L)
KS:Johnston(D) vs.Moran(R) vs.Bellis(Rfm)
OH:Fisher(R) vs.Portman(D) vs.Deaton(C)
VT:Leahy(D) vs.Britton(R) vs.Freilich(I)
Senate Votes (analysis)