Maintain US sovereignty from UN
- Strongly Support means you believe: The United Nations has too much power; the US should withdraw, or restrict their actions.
The same applies to other international institutions.
- Support means you believe: United States military forces should never serve under other countries' commands; but multinational forces are acceptable under U.S. command.
In general, the U.S. should consider her own national interests first, and then act with other nations in accordance with those interests.
- Oppose means you believe: We can best advance U.S. interests by building alliances and working with other countries on mutual interests.
Multilateralism is more effective than unilateralism.
- Strongly Oppose means you believe: The United States is just one country among hundreds; we are an important country but the opinions of others count too.
We should not throw our weight around, but should use "soft power" and seek other non-military solutions.
This question is looking for your views on the United States' relations with the rest of the world.
However you answer the above question would be similar to your response to these statements:
How do you decide between "Support" and "Strongly Support" when you agree with both the descriptions above? (Or between "Oppose" and "Strongly Oppose").
The strong positions are generally based on matters of PRINCIPLES where the regular support and oppose positions are based on PRACTICAL matters.
If you answer "No Opinion," this question is not counted in the VoteMatch answers for any candidate.
If you give a general answer of Support vs. Oppose, VoteMatch can more accurately match a candidate with your stand.
Don't worry so much about getting the strength of your answer exactly refined, or to think too hard about the exact wording of the question -- like candidates!
- I believe in American Exceptionalism.
- America: Love it or leave it.
- US out of the UN; UN out of the US.
- America is not subject to the rulings of the International Court of Justice.
- America is not in decline; but the "declinists" may make it so.
- America has a responsibility as the world's policeman.
- Isolationism is better than internationalism.
- Cease Foreign Aid to Russia, India, China, and third-world countries.
- Strongly Support means you believe in the principle of unilateralism: America's national interests should always be our priority.
- Support means you believe in promoting national interests for practical reasons, focusing on specific national security interests, and supporting reliable allies.
- Oppose means you believe in multinational cooperation for practical reasons, as a means of achieving America's national interests abroad in conjunction with allies.
America's long-term interests are best served by improving international organizations so we can deal with the future geopolitical reality of several equal powers.
- Strongly Oppose means you believe in the principle of multilateralism: The U.S. should work with other countries because it's the right thing to do.
You believe that "National interests" are just a pretext for enforcing "might makes right."
New Foreign Policy Topics for 2014
These topics arose during the 2013-2014 debates as new topics; we also update the older topics below from the 2012 primaries...
Previous election cycle's Policy Topics (2012)
- American Exceptionalism:
refers to America having a unique status in the world today. The interest in American exceptionalism counters Obama's rejection of the concept, when Obama said, "Sure, I believe in American exceptionalism in the same way the British believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Republicans generally interpret that as meaning, "No, I don't believe in your version of American exceptionalism at all."
- Islamic State: President Obama's foreign policy has focused heavily in 2013-14 on getting other countries to participate in U.S. sanctions (and potential military action) against ISIL (also known as ISIS; the "L" is for "Levant", a wider region than just the "S" for "Syria").
After a politically-unpopular attempt to engage U.S. forces in Syria in 2013, Pres. Obama began doing so in 2014 in both Syria and Iraq (more details in "War and Peace" section).
These topics arose during the 2011-2012 Republican primary debates as new topics:
refers to the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996, sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms (R, NC) and Rep. Dan Burton (R, IN). The law extended the embargo against Cuba, initiated by Pres. Eisenhower in 1960 and strengthened by Pres. Kennedy in 1962. The embargo expresses US opposition to Fidel Castro's communist policies in Cuba. Fidel Castro retired in 2008; the Communist Party still rules via Fidel's brother Raul Castro. Pres. Obama has promised to relax the embargo but as of 2012, only the travel ban was slightly loosened.
- Cuba Travel Blockade:
The US government has forbidden US citizens from traveling to Cuba since the 1960s. Try booking a trip from Mexico City to Havana on travelocity.com (or any travel website) and it says, "Due to a U.S. government travel restriction we are unable to book this reservation." You can, however, purchase that same ticket while in Mexico City, or anywhere else in the world. The bill below attempts to undo this long-standing situation.
The 2012 election has candidates demanding a decrease in foreign aid (or an increase). The actual numbers are listed below; the foreign aid allocation, while controversial, is not economically large: it represents 1.5% of federal expenditures ($47.6 billion out of $1.3 trillion in 2009). Total foreign aid is broken down into military and non-military components, since many would not consider military assistance to be foreign aid but rather war spending by proxy.
- The term Arab Spring refers to a series of revolutions in Arab countries, which toppled (or threatened to topple) dictators or kings.
- Immolation: The first revolution began in Tunisia on Dec. 17, 2010: a fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, tried to stop a policewoman from stealing his fruit. The woman and some other officers then hit the vendor with a baton. After being told at city hall that he could not register a complaint about the incident, Bouazizi immolated himself in an anguished act of protest.
- Tunisia: Bouazizi's suicide sparked widespread protests in Tunisia that toppled the country's dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and then spread throughout the region.
- Egypt: Protests began in Egypt on Jan. 25; Hosni Mubarak resigned on Feb. 10, 2011.
- Libya: On Jan. 14 2011, protests began in Libya and degenerated into a civil war. On March 19, UN forces (including the US) began a bombing campaign. On Aug. 13, 2011, Moammar Khadafy fled the capital and was subsequently killed.
- Syria: Protests began in Syria on Jan. 26 2011; as part of the region-wide Arab Spring. In 18 months of fighting, over 20,000 civilians have been killed, mostly in the rebel stronghold of Homs, including about 2,000 opposition protesters. Protesters have demanded the end to nearly five decades of Ba’ath Party rule, an end to torture for imprisoned protesters, as well as the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, who inherited his position from his father. The Arab League, the US, and the European Union have condemned Assad's actions, but China and Russia have blocked any sanctions at the UN.
- Major protests have occurred in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, and Iraq; numerous other Arab countries have had protests as well.
- As of 2014, Arab Spring has converted into a civil war in Syria and Iraq; see the "War and Peace" section for more on that topic.
|Billions / year||Economic Assistance||Military Assistance|
|2000||$13.20 ||$4.90 |
|2001||$12.90 ||$3.90 |
|2002||$15.20 ||$4.80 |
|2003||$19.10 ||$6.70 |
|2004||$27.40 ||$6.10 |
|2005||$29.70 ||$7.40 |
|2006||$27.10 ||$12.30 |
|2007||$27.70 ||$13.20 |
|2008||$33.00 ||$15.90 |
|2009||$33.90 ||$13.70 |
- The UN was founded in 1945 with 51 member countries. Its membership has since grown to 189 member countries, with representation from about 90% of the world's countries.
- UN Members are sovereign countries. The UN is not a world government, and it does not make laws. It does, however, provide the means to help resolve international conflict and formulate policies on matters affecting every country.
Some of the UN's major organs are:
- The General Assembly: All UN Member States are represented in the General Assembly - a kind of parliament of nations which meets to consider the world's most pressing problems. Each Member State has one vote.
- The Security Council: The organ with primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. There are 15 Council members. Five of these - China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States - are permanent members. The other 10 are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. Member States have discussed making changes in Council membership to reflect today's political and economic realities.
- UN peacekeeping operations are established by the Security Council. There's an ongoing UN presence in Kashmir since 1949; in Cyprus since 1964, and in Kosovo since 1999, for a few examples. The US commits troops to some of these peacekeeping efforts.
- The Economic and Social Council: Under the authority of the General Assembly, its organs include the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Children's Fund.
- The International Court of Justice: The "World Court" is the main judicial organ of the UN. Consisting of 15 judges elected by the General Assembly and the Security Council, the Court decides disputes between countries. Participation by States in a proceeding is voluntary, but if a State agrees to participate, it is obligated to comply with the Court's decision.
- The International Monetary Fund: The IMF, the World Bank, and other specialized agencies are linked to the UN through cooperative international agreements.
- The UN System: In addition to financial organizations, other specialized agencies include: the World Health Organization, the Universal Postal Union, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and other treaty-based organizations for international cooperation and commerce.
- The US failed to pay its UN dues, until the total reached almost $1 billion in 2000. In May 2001, the House voted 252-165 to withhold $244 million in back dues the US had agreed to pay, until the UN restored the US seat on the UN Human Rights Commission.
- Despite the failure to pay dues, the US contributed a total of more than $1.4 billion dollars to the UN system in other assessments, and spent an additional $8.7 billion from the US military budget to support various UN resolutions and peacekeeping operations around the world.
- The UN budget (1999) is about $1.3 billion per year for the UN itself and about $10 billion for the UN system (excluding the separate budgets for the IMF and World Bank).
Israel & Palestine
- Russia continues to suffer from 50% annual inflation and a recession exacerbated by the Asian economic crisis. The IMF is planning to shore up Russia with a $4.5 billion loan.
- US-Russian relations were strained by the Kosovo conflict (Russia has historically supported the Serbs); the expansion of NATO (we added 3 former Soviet satellites over Russian objections in 1997); the war in Chechnya (a Russian province suffering from a Muslim uprising and independence movement); and uncertainty over President Yeltsin's political stability.
- Vladimir Putin won election as President of Russia in early 2000. President George W. Bush met with Putin shortly after Bush's inauguration in January 2001.
- While Chechnya still is a thorn in the side of US-Russian relations, Russia's assistance in the US war in Afghanistan seems likely to foster good relations and additional US economic aid.
- The hard-line Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu lost the election to Ehud Barak in May 1999. Barak had re-opened peace talks with Syria and Lebanon as of July 1999, promising a negotiated peace with both by next year.
- A land-for-peace deal was negotiated with Palestine in the Wye River Accords of 1998, but the process was stalled under Netanyahu. The Palestinian Authority under Yassir Arafat currently controls 27% of the land area of West Bank and Gaza; the Wye River Accords would add 13%. The current land area includes 98% of the Palestinian population.
- Ariel Sharon, a conservative hard-liner and former military leader, won election as Prime Minister in 2001, in large part because of Israeli frustration at the continuing Intifadeh, or Palestinian uprising.
- Israel has occupied Syria's Golan Heights since 1967. Israel has controlled much of South Lebanon since the early 1980s, with Syria controlling much of the rest of Lebanon. Negotiations with Syria will focus on returning Golan to Syria and returning Lebanon to independence.
- Does Palestine Exist? (a hot topic in the 2012 GOP primaries):
Britain controlled both Israel and Palestine as a colony known as "The British Mandate in Palestine" prior to 1948. On May 14, 1948, the United Nations (with US support, but without Arab support) declared the region partitioned into two states, Israel and Palestine. Neighboring Arab countries immediately invaded; Israel survived the ensuing war but Palestine did not. Egypt, Syria, and Jordan occupied areas which the UN had declared as parts of Palestine. Israel also occupied some of those areas in 1948, and all of those areas in 1967, but Israel agrees that eventually there should be two states. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum claimed during the presidential primaries that "Palestine" does not exist; they mean that it was only an independent legal nation for a very brief period in 1948. But the "Palestinian" identity did exist prior to 1948, and has become the self-identification of Arabs living within the current Israeli borders.
- Since the Gulf War in 1991, the US has launched 4 major military strikes against Iraq, most recently Operation Desert Fox in December 1998.
- The US and UN continue to actively enforce a containment policy against Saddam Hussein; our primary tools are the 'no-fly zones' and an economic embargo.
- During the US War on Terror, Saddam has been regularly accused of state-sponsored terrorism and of building bioterrorism weapons, but has laid low during the prosecution of the war.
- The Iraq War formally ended on Dec. 15, 2011. Approximately 5,000 "security contractors" will remain to guard the US Embassy in Baghdad, plus several thousand more "general support contractors." Another 9,000 US troops are just over the border in Kuwait.
Asian Economic Crisis
The economies of the Asia-Pacific region until 1997 seemed to be rushing towards prosperity on par with the US and Europe.
But in July 1997, the currencies of Thailand and Indonesia collapsed, followed by recessions throughout East Asia.
The 'Asian Miracle' countries were characterized by limited democracy (usually one-party) in open economies (albeit via political insiders).
The current situation is:
Japan: In slump since 1990 and in recession since June 1998; Japan outlined an Emergency Economic Package in Nov. 1998.
Indonesia: President Suharto resigned after 1998 riots in which 1,200 were killed; elections promised for 1999.
East Timor: Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 shortly after Portugal granted it independence. This island of 800,000 people (to Indonesia's 200 million) voted 80% for independence in August 1999.
In September, Pres. Habibie invited in an Australian-led, UN-sponsored force of 7,000, including US support groups but no troops, to stop a massacre by the Indonesian army.
China: Holding the line on devaluing its currency is credited with stopping total Asian economic collapse.
China's economy has been growing by 8-10% annually in recent years, by far the world's fastest growth. They maintain a partially open economy with a Communist government.
Asian Tigers: Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan all suffered minor recessions and are currently recovering.
ASEAN: Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Thailand were economically weaker than the more developed 'Tigers,' and suffered accordingly.
Nevertheless, ASEAN admitted 4 new members (Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos), which may open and democratize those countries.
- North Korean Nukes:
Pakistan and their nemesis India both successfully tested nuclear weapons in 1998. Neither country signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and hence their nuclear test were not subject to international criticism. Iran, in contrast, signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1996 and hence is subject to international criticism for developing nuclear weapons. North Korea never signed the treaty, but was criticized internationally anyway for its first nuclear test in 2006. Pakistan and India have about 100 nuclear warheads each, compared to 8,500 possessed by the United States; 11,000 possessed by Russia; and fewer than 10 possessed by North Korea.
- North Korea:
- As many as 2 million have died from starvation since 1995. Drought and famine continue today, and South Korea is concerned that the North will attack if facing imminent political collapse.
- Naval clashes threatened open warfare in spring and summer 1999.
- In 2000, the regime placed emphasis on expanding foreign trade links, embracing modern technology, and attracting foreign investment, but in no way at the expense of relinquishing central control over key national assets or undergoing market-oriented reforms.
- North Korean Succession:
- North Korean President Kim made a trip to Moscow in 2000, his first trip ever out of the country, but spent 10 days traveling in each direction by train because he refused to fly.
- Kim Jong-Il died in Dec. 2011, and was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-un. The military may get involved in the succession.