Al Franken on Foreign Policy

DFL Jr Senator (MN)


OpEd: Campaign website devoid of views on foreign policy

Ever since 1972, when presidential candidate George McGovern ran on the theme, "Come Home, America," whenever the public is asked where they would like to cut federal spending, the one area that gets bipartisan support is foreign aid. Under President Obama, it's fair to say that our foreign policy now is pretty much what McGovern was proposing, but strong arguments can be made both for and against ending our role as world cop.

When we live in a world where a handful of terrorists could soon send a note with some authenticity to the White House saying, "Surrender today or we will nuke New York," or some other city, shouldn't somebody who wants to be a U.S. senator be thoroughly screened about their views on foreign policy?

Check out the campaign web sites of Franken and McFadden. Look under issues. Neither one has a word to say about foreign policy. Not one.

One would think a gratuitous sentence or two describing their visions for America's role in the world would be merited.

Source: Morrison County Record OpEd on 2014 Minnesota Senate race , Aug 28, 2014

A great nation meets its obligations; pay up our UN dues

Q: Do you support the full and timely payment of U.S. assessments to the United Nations and its special fund for peacekeeping missions?

A: Yes. UN peacekeeping is one of the best deals around.

Q: It can help countries break the cycle of violence and help people rebuild normal lives.

Q: Whatever the problems with the UN or its peacekeeping operations, it doesn’t make sense for the US to block them or deprive them of needed resources.

Q: Will you oppose legislation that withholds U.S. dues to the U.N.?

A: Yes. This is just the kind of heavy-handed approach that has undercut America’s standing in the world. A great nation meets its obligations. I will oppose such legislation.

Source: Citizens for Global Solutions: 2008 Senate questionnaire , Sep 9, 2008

There is a difference between leading the world & ruling it

Q: What role should our nation play in the world today?

A: America has a lot to offer the world. Our democratic principles and adherence to the rule of law can serve as an example to reformers seeking freedom in their own countries. Our idealism can drive progress. And our military strength can create stability.

But there is a difference between leading the world and ruling it. We must work with our allies--and talk with our adversaries--in order to build a more peaceful and more prosperous world.

The 21st century has already presented us with numerous global challenges: global warming, pandemic disease, extreme poverty, failed states, international terrorism. Simply put, these are not challenges we can address alone, but they are challenges we must rise to meet. We can’t meet them with unilateral demands and cowboy diplomacy.

Source: Citizens for Global Solutions: 2008 Senate questionnaire , Sep 9, 2008

Foreign Development Assistance is right thing & smart thing

Q: Will you actively work to allocate an additional 1% of the US budget to Official Development Assistance?

A: Yes. The United States can boost its foreign aid, and should. Such assistance is an investment in the kind of world America wants to build, with rising living standards and growing economies. It’s both the right thing and the smart thing to do, because we know that weak and failing states pose a threat to our security and a haven for international terrorism. We need to make our aid more focused on the Millennium Development Goals, with greater emphasis on well proven ideas such as school feeding and microcredit (particularly for women), and with efforts to combat corruption and promote good governance. At the same time, aid is just a part of the development picture, so we need to get better at aligning trade and investment flows so that they promote development and worker rights.

Source: Citizens for Global Solutions: 2008 Senate questionnaire , Sep 9, 2008

Prohibit torture & interrogation banned by Geneva Convention

Q: Will you vote to prohibit interrogation practices that are inconsistent with the Geneva Conventions and deemed to be torture by the international community such as water boarding?

A: Yes. Terrorism is a serious threat, and we have to keep working to find terrorists, catch them, and shut them down. But the battle of ideas and the moral high ground is also an essential part of combating terrorism--the part that helps determine whether terrorists have a harder or easier time finding new recruits. For this part of the battle, the Bush Administration’s treatment of detainees has us fighting with one hand tied behind our backs. We will never restore America’s moral authority until we stop splitting hairs over torture. There is no need for it, and there is no excuse for it. What we need is a single standard of humane treatment for all U.S. personnel, including the CIA--so that our own people, and the rest of the world, will know what we mean when we say “we don’t torture.”

Source: Citizens for Global Solutions: 2008 Senate questionnaire , Sep 9, 2008

Supports International Criminal Court

Q: Do you support U.S. cooperation with the International Criminal Court and ratification of the ICC’s Rome Statute?

A: The purpose of the International Criminal Court is to deal with the world’s worst thugs and brutes--people like Slobodan Milosevic-- and to provide justice in places without legitimate justice systems. And I support that purpose. At the same time, we must recognize that the United States deploys more troops, and thus bears more of the burden, in the name of maintaining security and stability worldwide than any other nation. The ICC must remain focused on the “worst of the worst” and cannot become a venue to litigate against the superpower. Early signs are positive, and the Rome Statute does contain important safeguards protecting the servicemen and women who carry that burden. While we must continue to monitor the actions of the ICC, I am optimistic about the early signs, and believe that we will ultimately come to cooperate with this important effort.

Source: Citizens for Global Solutions: 2008 Senate questionnaire , Sep 9, 2008

Convene a regional conference in the Middle East

We should be convening a regional conference including Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and Egypt to come up with a long-term plan for Iraq and ensure that a regional conflict does not arise. Jordan and Syria have over a million Iraqi refugees. Nobody wants Iraq to devolve into utter chaos. It’s inconceivable that the Bush administration hasn’t roused itself to initiate regional diplomacy.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.AlFranken.com, “Issues” , May 14, 2008

US intervention in Iran has made it worse

GEN. WES CLARK: This administration had pursued a policy of not talking to people it disagrees with, because it wants to change the regimes. We’ve created a poisonous atmosphere between the US & Iran at the Head of State level.

AL FRANKEN: We have changed the regime in Iran. We’ve made it worse.

CLARK: (laughs) Well, the President intervened before their elections and called for them to have a different government. Well, no group of people want another country to tell them who they should elect.

Source: General Wesley Clark joins Al Franken on Air America , Sep 11, 2006

Rated +2 by AAI, indicating pro-Arab pro-Palestine voting record.

Franken scores +2 by AAI on Arab-Israeli issues

The Arab American Institute has compiled a Scorecard to catalogue the voting record of the 112th Congress on issues of importance to the Arab American community. Though not comprehensive, we have attempted to provide a snapshot of legislation concerning many of the primary issues concerning Arab Americans. For the Senate, we have included 10 items: two bills on the Arab Spring, three on Palestine, one on Lebanon, one regarding civil liberties, and two for immigration reform.

  1. S. Res. 44: (+) calls on former President Hosni Mubarak to immediately begin a peaceful transition to a democratic political system
  2. S. Res. 109: (+) honoring and supporting women in North Africa and the Middle East
  3. S. Res. 138: (-) calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone report, formally known as the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which accused the Israeli government of targeting Palestinian civilians.
  4. S. Res. 185: (-) reaffirming the commitment of the US to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and calling for a US veto of any UN resolution on Palestinian statehood without a settlement.
  5. S. Con. Res. 23: (-) supporting Israel in maintaining defensible borders, and against Israel returning to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967
  6. S. 558: (+) the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, to limit the use of cluster munitions in areas normally inhabited by civilians.
  7. S. 1125: (+) greater judicial review of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and greater protections to individuals being monitored or gag-ordered by the FBI.
  8. S.1038, the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act, in opposition of PATRIOT Act extension.
  9. S. 723: (-) The Birthright Citizenship Act, limiting citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants born in the US.
  10. S. 952: (+) the DREAM Act, allowing undocumented minors to become US citizens, provided they meet certain conditions, including good moral character
Source: AAI website 12-AAI-S on May 2, 2012

Vigorous support for State of Israel against Hamas in Gaza.

Franken co-sponsored Resolution for Israeli Self-Defense

RESOLUTION expressing vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders:

    Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Congress:
  1. expresses unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes and strongly supports its inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism;
  2. reiterates that Hamas must end Gaza-linked terrorist rocket and missile attacks against Israel, recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;
  3. urges the UN Security Council to condemn the recent spike in Gaza-linked terrorist missile attacks against Israel, which risk causing civilian casualties in both Israel and Gaza; and
  4. encourages the President to continue to work diplomatically with the international community to prevent Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets and missiles against Israel.
Source: SR599/HR813 12-SRes599 on Nov 16, 2012

Disallow Palestine from joining ICC to threaten Israel.

Franken signed disallowing Palestine from joining ICC to threaten Israel

Excerpts from Letter from 73 Senators to Secretary of State Kerry We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seek membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC), because the Palestinian Authority is not a state and its express intent is to use this process to threaten Israel.

Pres. Abbas' effort contravene the spirit of earlier agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and erodes the prospect for peace. Therefore, the US must make clear that joining the ICC is not a legitimate or viable path for Palestinians.

Israel is a major strategic partner of the US and is facing increasing pressure from those who seek to delegitimize its very existence. The only realistic and sustainable path to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Supporting argument: (Heritage Foundation, "U.S. Should Not Join the ICC," Aug. 18, 2009): The ICC prosecutor is exploring a request by the Palestinian National Authority to prosecute Israeli commanders for alleged war crimes committed during the recent actions in Gaza. Palestinian lawyers maintain that the Palestinian National Authority can request ICC jurisdiction as the de facto sovereign even though it is not an internationally recognized state. By countenancing Palestine's claims, the ICC prosecutor has enabled pressure to be applied to Israel over alleged war crimes, while ignoring Hamas's incitement of the military action and its commission of war crimes against Israeli civilians. Furthermore, by seemingly recognizing Palestine as a sovereign entity, the prosecutor's action has created a pathway for Palestinian statehood without first reaching a comprehensive peace deal with Israel. This determination is an inherently political issue beyond the ICC's authority.

Source: Palestinian Bid to ICC 14LTR-ICC on Jan 29, 2015

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