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Reason 17 to Vote Obama: Restore Foreign Policy

Ideally, I’d like to see American foreign policy mostly conformed to what Fareed Zakaria outlined in his book the Post-American World, which envisioned a strong United States successfully managing the “rise of the rest” to remain a leading power and center of innovation and ideals.

Because of this I am voting for Barack Obama for President. While I don’t agree with everything he lays out at http://www.barackobama.com/issues/foreignpolicy/, I believe he lays out a number of ways for us to restore our influence and prestige, including:

  • Talk to our Foes and Friends: Obama is willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe. He will do the careful preparation necessary, but will signal that America is ready to come to the table, and that he is willing to lead. And if America is willing to come to the table, the world will be more willing to rally behind American leadership to deal with challenges like terrorism, and Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs.
  • Expand our Diplomatic Presence: To make diplomacy a priority, Obama will stop shuttering consulates and start opening them in the tough and hopeless corners of the world – particularly in Africa. He will expand our foreign service, and develop the capacity of our civilian aid workers to work alongside the military.
  • Fight Global Poverty: Obama will embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty around the world in half by 2015, and he will double our foreign assistance to $50 billion to achieve that goal. He will help the world’s weakest states to build healthy and educated communities, reduce poverty, develop markets, and generate wealth.
  • Seek New Partnerships in Asia: Obama will forge a more effective framework in Asia that goes beyond bilateral agreements, occasional summits, and ad hoc arrangements, such as the six-party talks on North Korea. He will maintain strong ties with allies like Japan, South Korea and Australia; work to build an infrastructure with countries in East Asia that can promote stability and prosperity; and work to ensure that China plays by international rules.
  • Consultative Group: Obama will convene a bipartisan Consultative Group of leading members of Congress to foster better executive-legislative relations and bipartisan unity on foreign policy. This group will be comprised of the congressional leadership of both political parties, and the chair and ranking members of the Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Intelligence, and Appropriations Committees. This group will meet with the president once a month to review foreign policy priorities, and will be consulted in advance of military action.
  • Promote Democracy in Cuba and Throughout the Hemisphere: Barack Obama will support democracy that is strong and sustainable in the day to day lives of the people of the Americas. In the case of Cuba, he will empower our best ambassadors of freedom by allowing unlimited Cuban-American family travel and remittances to the island. Using aggressive and principled bilateral diplomacy he will also send an important message: if a post-Fidel government takes significant steps toward democracy, beginning with freeing all political prisoners, the U.S. is prepared to take steps to normalize relations and ease the embargo that has governed relations between our countries for the last five decades. Throughout the hemisphere, Obama will increase support for the building blocks of durable democracies—strong legislatures, independent judiciaries, free press, vibrant civil society, honest police forces, religious freedom, and the rule of law.

Despite the end of the cold war, nuclear weapons remain an issue. This issue has added urgency when you consider that states like Russia and Pakistan have unsecured nuclear weapons. These are the places where terrorists are likelist to find a weapon for sale — not in countries that are years away from prototypes. Senator Obama understands this, as can be seen on this section of his foreign policy page:

Nuclear Weapons

  • A Record of Results: The gravest danger to the American people is the threat of a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon and the spread of nuclear weapons to dangerous regimes. Obama has taken bipartisan action to secure nuclear weapons and materials:
    1. He joined Senator Dick Lugar in passing a law to help the United States and our allies detect and stop the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction throughout the world.
    2. He joined Senator Chuck Hagel to introduce a bill that seeks to prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, and stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
    3. And while other candidates have insisted that we should threaten to drop nuclear bombs on terrorist training camps, Obama believes that we must talk openly about nuclear weapons – because the best way to keep America safe is not to threaten terrorists with nuclear weapons, it’s to keep nuclear weapons away from terrorists.
  • Secure Loose Nuclear Materials from Terrorists: Obama will secure all loose nuclear materials in the world within four years. While we work to secure existing stockpiles of nuclear material, Obama will negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of new nuclear weapons material. This will deny terrorists the ability to steal or buy loose nuclear materials.
  • Strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Obama will crack down on nuclear proliferation by strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so that countries like North Korea and Iran that break the rules will automatically face strong international sanctions.
  • Toward a Nuclear Free World: Obama will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and pursue it. Obama will always maintain a strong deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist. But he will take several steps down the long road toward eliminating nuclear weapons. He will stop the development of new nuclear weapons; work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair trigger alert; seek dramatic reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles of nuclear weapons and material; and set a goal to expand the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate- range missiles so that the agreement is global.

There are many challenges in American foreign policy and so there is much more available on Obama’s foreign policy page. Look it over and come back and tell me what you think. If you disagree, great. But tell me why and what you (or your candidate) would do differently. It isn’t enough to be against something, we must be FOR something.

Obama was right when he stated:

This must be the moment when we answer the call of history. For eight years, we have paid the price for a foreign policy that lectures without listening; that divides us from one another – and from the world – instead of calling us to a common purpose; that focuses on our tactics in fighting a war without end in Iraq instead of forging a new strategy to face down the true threats that we face. We cannot afford four more years of a strategy that is out of balance and out of step with this defining moment.”

— Barack Obama, Washington, D.C., July 15, 2008

He has the ideas and energy to do something both different and positive. For this reason alone Barack Obama deserves your vote on November 4, 2008. Or before then if your state has early voting!

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