Foreign Policy & National Security

Iraq: Kerry vs. Bush vs. You

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On June 04, 2004 at 6:00 pm):

So President Bush has laid out his for Iraq:

John Kerry has a plan as well:

Is Kerry’s plan enough? What would you add? Subtract? If you had 5 minutes with Candidate Kerry to talk about Iraq, what is the most important thing you would want to convey?

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Nukes Escaped Iraq??!

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On April 19, 2004 at 1:40 pm):

As the AP reported last week, “Some Iraqi nuclear facilities appear to be unguarded, and radioactive materials are being taken out of the country, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency reported after reviewing satellite images and equipment that has turned up in European scrapyards.”

(For the full article, visit: lear.ap/index.html)

I don’t know about you, but when I read this, my reaction is, “what the…??” Didn’t we invade Iraq to ensure that WMD wouldn’t fall into the hands of terrorists? Time and again, the Bush Administration ignores the real threat America faces (say, a suitcase “dirty” bomb smuggled into our ports), while instead spending billions of dollars on programs that don’t work (say, missile defense).

In your opinion, what is the gravest nuclear threat the U.S. faces? What should we do about it?

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Dems + foreign policy = Big Mess??

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On March 10, 2004 at 4:18 pm):

“…I was equally dismayed at the feckless, equivocal way in which the Democrats handled the debate. For months, they contented themselves with asking “tough questions” about the invasion plans–clearly hoping the whole issue would go away so that they could get back to talking about the economy. But it didn’t go away. In the end, Bush won plaudits for shifting (apparently) to an approach that emphasized the need for U.N. approval and the involvement of our allies–one more in line with Democratic thinking. But Democrats didn’t lead Bush to that position. They were instead dragged to it, and looked weak and craven as a result.”

That quote’s from this article (it’s older, but relevant):

Washington Monthly: Why Dems Can’t Talk Straight on National Security /2001/0211.hurlburt.html

What are the three (or more) major obstacles YOU think the Dems face on national security issues? Can Kerry overcome these obstacles?

On another note…

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New Nuclear Weapons?!?!

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On February 20, 2004 at 4:33 pm):

For a change of pace, an issue we can all agree on (hopefully).

In his FY2005 budget request, the Bush administration requested $30 million to research nuclear “bunker busters,” and $9 million to research “mini-nukes.” In the administration’s 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, the President made it clear that he’s interested in developing a new generation of “usable” nuclear weapons, and even listed 7 nations (China, Russia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria) for a possible first strike! (for more info, visit: od/npr.htm)

Amazingly, the President continues to push ahead on these weapons, despite the fact that BOTH Republicans and Democrats in Congress have expressed grave concerns (see this letter from the chair and ranking member of the Energy and Water Approps Subcommittee that deals with nukes:

So, can we all agree: The U.S. shouldn’t build new nuclear weapons? Is this a point of consensus?

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From Yellowcake Uranium in 2003…

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On January 21, 2004 at 1:42 pm):

To, “…weapons of mass destruction-related program activities” in 2004.

The following are just a few quotes from President Bush’s speech last night. What are your comments? What about the Democratic response? Was it adequate?

“Because of American leadership and resolve, the world is changing for the better”

“Different threats require different strategies. Along with nations in the region, we’re insisting that North Korea eliminate its nuclear program. America and the international community are demanding that Iran meet its commitments and not develop nuclear weapons. America is committed to keeping the world’s most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous regimes. “

“…weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.”

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Topic du Jour: Responding to the State of the Union

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On January 14, 2004 at 12:53 pm):

As the State of the Union approaches, pundits and pols on the right are sending signals as to what foreign policy highlights could appear in President Bush’s speech next Tuesday. For a prime example, read William Safire’s editorial from the NYT this week: SAFI.html

If President Bush makes these claims in his speech next week, and you were the chosen Democratic respondent, what would you say? Over the past year, have the actions of the Bush Administration made you feel safer?

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Topic Du Jour: Bush Plan for 2004

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On January 07, 2004 at 4:39 pm):

For now, we will hosting the “open forum” or “layer 1” in this area of the discussion, and “layer 2” will continue in the “State of Consensus” area, which is linked to on the right of the screen. Later tonight (west coast time) the State of Consensus area will be updated and incorporate many of the points discussed below. Then y’all will be able to break that down and discuss it some more!

To get some free-flowing, public forum-type discussion going, I want folks to check out the following editorial from Colin Powell, in the NYT on January 1, 2004, “What we will do in 2004” tml

In one of Shauna’s recent posts, she asserted that our foreign policy must consistently represent our values. Some of the values Powell claims the Bush Administration will work for are prosperity, freedom and democracy. I think we all support those values as well, but would disagree with how the Bush Admin attempts to advance them. What are the values we want our foreign policy to represent? How can we avoid being all places at all times, as Jesse wonders? And if we were in Powell’s place, what would our op-ed look like?

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New (and improved!) web format

Post submitted by AlexanderLiebman (On January 07, 2004 at 3:38 pm):

Hello everyone!

We’ve been doing a great job in our discussions — more people are posting, and we’re having interesting and lively debates.

I’m writing to report a new format for our discussions (this will take effect in all the policy groups). We are now moving to a “two-layered” discussion. The first layer, which we in Foreign Policy have actually been doing a bit of already, is going to be a more open and free forum. This is the place to discuss current events and issues, post links to articles, statistics, data, speeches…anything of interest. We can discuss and debate anything. Erin and I will certainly be posting articles and links, but you should feel free to as well (as most of you already have). The more the merrier. This part of the site will be changing daily, so check back every day, see what’s new, and post new stuff of your own. The ultimate plan is for this part of the site to become public, but that’s still a little bit away.

The “second layer” is basically the discussion that we already have now. The difference is that we will try to draw on ideas that come up in layer 1. If, for example, there’s a lot of consensus around a point in layer 1, we will try to add it to our consensus and debate it anew. The idea is to draw brainpower and inspiration from the first layer.

The format of the website is also going to be changing over the next few weeks. New features like “quote of the week” are going to be added, and a format that works better for the new system will be installed. So keep your eye out.

We’re expecting increased traffic to the site because of the 2020 State of the Union campaign, so come to the site often and post! We want to have a dynamic site that reflects the activity and intelligence of our members.

— Alex

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Just and Unjust War

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On January 02, 2004 at 10:06 pm):

Per Jesse and Tom’s request, a new question for everyone. Let’s discuss how we construct a rationale for foreign intervention. What criteria should the U.S. use to determine when it’s appropriate to use military force?

Suggested reading: Just and Unjust Wars by Michael Walzer

A housekeeping note: Alex and I are still pulling some consensus points out of our most recent (and lengthy!) discussion and will post more re: that soon. No worries, we have not ignored all of your impressive input! Hope you all had happy holidays!

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What do YOU want to talk about?

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On December 12, 2003 at 9:42 pm):

What are some questions you would like to discuss? It would be great if itreferred to a point/issue in our current state of consensus, but it doesn’t have to.

Also, I have added to our state of consensus what I think came out of the economic discussion earlier. There’s obviously more that could be added and points, particularly about subsidies and U.S. companies, that we didn’t come to agreement on, so there is more to discuss later. If you have comments on the State of Consensus, please follow Jesse’s lead over there and post away!

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Defense Policy

Post submitted by AlexanderLiebman (On December 05, 2003 at 3:29 am):

Hello all,

The way we’re going to get consensus has changed. As Erin said, the idea is first to generate dynamic and compelling discussion, and then pull out points of consensus. We’re going to approach the issues less systematically, moving more freely from topic to topic.

To get us started again: the United States now faces a variety of threats to her national security. Terrorism is the fear of the day, but threats from small heavily armed states loom, the possible reemergence of great power conflict lies just around the corner, among other dangers.

What do you think is the most dangerous threat to the national security to the US today? What do you think it will be in 2020? What are steps (both military and civil) that we can take to protect the country?

Again, sorry for the delay. It was my fault. Now that I know what our goal is here, it won’t happen again.


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New State of Consensus

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On October 14, 2003 at 3:33 pm):

Here is a draft “state of consensus” to update our 2nd point, sustainable economic development:

“By 2020, international sustainable economic development will be a reality. We support sustainable economic development because it creates international stability, promotes democracy and enhances U.S. security.

Under our definition, sustainable economic development means financial and social benefits of development must accrue to the general population of both developing and developed nations, not a handful of elites.

To achieve sustainable economic development, the U.S. should support:

–Creation of new international institutions to define and help implement basic labor and environmental standards worldwide.

–Bilateral and/or multilateral trade agreements with countries that meet above labor and environmental standards.

–Elimination of unfair, protectionist domestic subsidies.

–Regulation of behavior of U.S. companies operating abroad.”

What do you think of this? Agree or disagree? What needs to change to truly reflect our group’s consensus? And finally, as a strong counterpoint to much of our discussion, check this article out: Does it change your opinion? Should it change our state of consensus? Or is the author just crazy?

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Clarifying Question #2

Post submitted by AlexanderLiebman (On October 05, 2003 at 9:58 pm):

Great posts. Just to give everyone a (small) ego-trip, our policy group is doing great in terms of participation. That is awesome. Still, we need more people to participate! If you’re reading the posts, this is your chance to put in your two cents.

Jim is absolutely right to ask what we mean by “free trade,” and Jesse is right to point out that many of the initial assumptions made by the free trade theorists don’t really apply today (if they ever did). I’m going to try to break what we mean when we say “free trade” down into two few smaller issues, so weigh in on each one. (Remember to explain why you think so, and to relate it to our goal of creating global sustainable economic development.) Note: this is not what “free trade” means in academic circles, but in the American policy debate both are usually lumped together.

1) The free movement of capital (foreign direct investment). Should firms be able to set up factories and plants in countries where labor is cheaper? If so, should standards be set on how they have to treat their workers and the environment?

And, if so, here’s the vital question: who should be responsible (the host country, the home country, the firm itself, international organizations, etc) for enforcing these measures?

2) The free movement of goods – open markets. Should countries open their markets to goods produced abroad? To answer Jim’s question, this means getting rid of tarriff barriers AND so called “non-tarriff barriers” (NTB’s), most notably subsidies to import-competing businesses, but also anti-dumping taxes, excessive quality control, etc.

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Question 2: Free Trade

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On September 29, 2003 at 5:01 pm):


The goal of this group is crafting a foreign policy vision we want to see implemented by 2020. We are focused primarily on crafing broad objectives for our vision–therefore, think big, think creative! In dicussing these objectives, WHY will be very important–always justify your ideas. Topics of discussion will be introduced by the policy guides, Erin and Alex, and the goal will be to reach a state of consensus for each topic. We ask that you follow the general discussion rules as defined by 2020 Democrats. Please feel free to make recommendations and post your comments and questions.

Question #2

For question number two, we’re going to get much more controversial: given that sustainable global economic development is in our national interest, what should be the role of free trade in getting us there? Will free trade make everyone better off, or will it only enrich elites at the expense of everyone else?

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Welcome to the Foreign Policy and National Security Group!

Post submitted by ErinSikorsky (On September 24, 2003 at 5:08 am):

The goal of this group is crafting a foreign policy vision we want to see implemented by 2020. We are focused primarily on crafing broad objectives for our vision–therefore, think big, think creative! In dicussing these objectives, WHY will be very important–always justify your ideas. Topics of discussion will be introduced by the policy guides, Erin and Alex, and the goal will be to reach a state of consensus for each topic. We ask that you follow the general discussion rules as defined by 2020 Democrats. Please feel free to make recommendations and post your comments and questions.

For the first few weeks, our main goal is to get the discussion group running smoothly. To this end, we think it will be essential that everybody 1) stays focused on the topic at hand, and 2) keeps their posts to manageable lengths. It is going to take a couple of weeks to see what works and what doesn’t, so be patient with us as we experiment.

To begin, in our 2nd point under the state of consensus (which can be viewed in full at the bar to the right), we state that we want, “sustainable economic development at home and abroad.” Let’s start from the ground up: WHY do we want sustainable economic development at home and abroad?

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