Joe Biden: “Military Families Sacrifice Everything”

Joe Biden
Joe Biden (Credit - Creative Commons)
Joe Biden (Credit – Creative Commons)

On the Campaign Trail:

In a July 11 speech devoted to foreign policy, the former Vice President savaged President Trump.

What’s Biden’s Record?

The former Vice President was among the more dovish of President Obama’s aides. He argued against Obama’s build-up of Afghan forces in 2009. Unlike Hillary Clinton, he did not favor arming the Syrian rebels.

At the same time, Biden boasted he wrote the template for the Patriot Act, which was used to justify mass surveillance of Americans (reportedly discontinued by Trump.) He also voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq in 2002.

On issues of war and peace, Biden is a status quo candidate who sometimes resists military solutions but sees no need for a fundamental change in the U.S. national security apparatus.

A Biden presidency would be welcomed by the policymaking elites, intelligence chiefs, and military leaders disturbed by Trump’s hostility to intelligence agencies; his indifference to the perceived threat of Russia; his withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, and his disdain for the policymaking process.

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Trump on Iran: ‘Minimum Results’

Venezuela: Yes to Regime Change

The overriding goal in Venezuela must be to hold free and fair elections so that the Venezuelan people may recover their democracy and rebuild their country. Nicolas Maduro is a tyrant, who has stolen elections, abused his authority, allowed his cronies to enrich themselves, and denied the delivery of food and medicine to the people he claims to lead. I was among the first Democratic foreign policy voices to recognize Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader and to call for Maduro to resign.
Maduro rigged the May 2018 election, and today his regime is barely holding on through violent oppression and by dismantling the last vestiges of Venezuelan democracy. Yet, the Trump Administration appears more interested in using the Venezuelan crisis to rally domestic political support than in seeking practical ways to effect democratic change in Venezuela.
The U.S. should push for stronger multilateral sanctions so that supporters of the regime cannot live, study, shop, or hide their assets in the United States, Europe, or Latin America. We should grant Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans already in the United States and support countries like Colombia, which are caring for millions of Venezuelans who have fled their country in desperation. I would also marshal the international community to help Venezuelans rebuild their country after Maduro is gone. Finally, the U.S. should use this pressure and promise to achieve a peaceful and negotiated outcome that leads to the release of all political prisoners and credible new elections. Maduro has used dialogue in the past as a tactic to delay action and concentrate power, so the U.S. should maintain sanctions pressure until negotiations produce results.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

Biden supports Trump’s policy of “regime change,” namely replacing President Nicholas Maduro with opposition leader Juan Guaido , who is also supported by many Western governments.

On Alliances:

On North Korea:

The next president will almost certainly inherit a North Korea nuclear challenge that is worse than when President Trump took office. After three made-for-TV summits, we still don’t have a single concrete commitment from North Korea. Not one missile or nuclear weapon has been destroyed, not one inspector is on the ground. If anything, the situation has gotten worse. North Korea has more capability today than when Trump began his “love affair” with Kim Jong-un, a murderous tyrant who, thanks to Trump, is no longer an isolated pariah on the world stage.
Diplomacy is important, but diplomacy requires a strategy, a process, and competent leadership to deliver. That is why, as President, I would renew a commitment to arms control for a new era — including on North Korea. The historic Iran nuclear deal the Obama-Biden administration negotiated blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and it provides a blueprint for an effective negotiation. As president, I will empower our negotiators and jumpstart a sustained, coordinated campaign with our allies and others – including China – to advance our shared objective of a denuclearized North Korea.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

His Support for Iraq Invasion: ‘A Mistake’

In 2002 Biden voted to authorize President Bush to invade Iraq and praised his handling of the issue. “President Bush did not lash out precipitously at Iraq after 9/11. He did not snub the U.N. or our allies. He did not dismiss new inspection regimes. He did not ignore Congress,” Biden declared in a floor speech.

“It was a mistake,” Biden said on NBC’s Meet the Press in 2005. “It was a mistake to assume the president would use the authority we gave him properly.”

On Afghanistan: A Pessimist

For eight years, Biden was the Obama administration’s “in-house pessimist” on Afghanistan. He argued that the country would revert to chaos, regardless of how long the United States stayed there. “It doesn’t matter if we leave tomorrow or 10 years from now,” he said at one meeting in 2015. He was, he said, a “broken record” on this issue.

Syria: Defending Non-Intervention.

When 51 diplomats criticized Obama’s decision not intervene militarily in Syria in 2016, Biden defended the president saying the critics presented no plausible alternative. “There is not a single, solitary recommendation that I saw that has a single, solitary answer attached to it — how to do what they’re talking about,” he said. (CBS, This Morning, June 21, 2016)

Libya Intervention: ‘Strongly Against’

“I argued strongly against going to Libya. My question was, ‘Okay, tell me what happens? He’s gone. What happens?’ Doesn’t the country disintegrate? What happens then? Doesn’t it become a place where it becomes a petri dish for the growth of extremism? Tell me. Tell me what we’re going to do,” Biden said. (CBS, This Morning, June 21, 2016)

NATO: Expansion Advocate

Biden was an enthusiastic advocate of expanding NATO, the U.S. policy that enraged Russian president Vladimir Putin the most. He was deeply involved in policy of intervening in Ukraine to secure a more pro-Western government.

Israel: Netanyahu’s Friend

I believe a two-state solution is the only path to long-term security for Israel, while sustaining its identity as a Jewish and democratic state. It is also the only way to ensure Palestinian dignity and their legitimate interest in national self-determination. And it is a necessary condition to take full advantage of the opening that exists for greater cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
At present, neither the Israeli nor Palestinian leadership seems willing to take the political risks necessary to make progress through direct negotiations. This challenge has been made even more difficult by President Trump’s unilateralism, his moves to cut off assistance to the Palestinians, and his equivocation on the importance of a two-state solution.
I will restore credible engagement with both sides to the conflict. America must sustain its ironclad commitment to Israel’s security – including the unprecedented support provided by the Obama-Biden administration. It is also essential to resume assistance to the Palestinian Authority that supports Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, people-to-people programs, economic development, and humanitarian aid and health care for the Palestinian people.
My administration will urge both sides to take steps to keep the prospect of a two-state outcome alive. Palestinian leaders should end the incitement and glorification of violence, and they must begin to level with their people about the legitimacy and permanence of Israel as a Jewish state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. Israeli leaders should stop the expansion of West Bank settlements and talk of annexation that would make two states impossible to achieve. They must recognize the legitimacy of Palestinians’ aspirations for statehood. Both sides should work to provide more relief to the people of Gaza while working to weaken, and ultimately replace, Hamas. And Arab states should take more steps toward normalization with Israel and increase their financial and diplomatic support for building Palestinian institutions.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

During the 2012 vice presidential debate, getting visibly upset, Biden deflected criticism of strained Israel-U.S. ties from Paul Ryan by insisting he and Netanyahu had been friends for 39 years. In 2007, he told “Shalom TV” in 2007: “I am a Zionist. You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist” (Biden himself is Catholic).

On Israel and the Mideast, Will Biden 2020 Be a Repeat of Clinton vs. Trump in 2016? — Haaretz

Guatemala: Elections Matter

On China and Trade:

On Human Rights in China:

The United States should push back on China’s deepening authoritarianism, even as we seek to cooperate on issues where our interests are aligned. It is inspiring to see the brave people of Hong Kong demonstrating peacefully for the civil liberties and autonomy promised by Beijing. The world is watching; we should all stand in support of democratic principles and freedom.
The forced detention of over a million Uighur Muslims in western China is unconscionable. America should speak out against the internment camps in Xinjiang and hold to account the people and companies complicit in this appalling oppression, including through sanctions and applying the Magnitsky Act.
The challenge doesn’t stop at China’s borders. Freedom in the 21st century will be won and lost in cyberspace. The Free World should come together to compete with China’s efforts to proliferate its model of high-tech authoritarianism. The United States should lead in shaping the rules, norms, and institutions that will govern the use of new technologies, like Artificial Intelligence. Through diplomacy and development finance, we can work with democratic allies to provide countries with a digital alternative to China’s dystopian system of surveillance and censorship. These efforts could begin at the global Summit for Democracy that I will host my first year in office.
Most important is that we lead once again by the power of our example. America’s commitment to universal values sets us apart from China. I will reinvigorate and repair our democracy by eliminating the Trump administration’s Muslim ban, increasing our refugee admissions, and ending the indefensible practice of separating families at the border. That is how to project a model that others want to emulate, rather than following China’s authoritarian path.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

Defense Sector Campaign Contributions

Defense donations only make up 0.11% of all Biden campaign donations

Biden has not taken a lot of money from the military industrial complex.

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Elizabeth Warren Stands up for the Rohingya

Elizabeth Warren Washington Times

On The Campaign Trail

[Do you like Elizabeth Warren? Tell us why in the comments section. Or DM us @jeffersonmorley. We will publish your comments with minimal editing.]

Claiming the Mantle of JFK

Sen. Elizabeth Warren at American University, November 29, 2018

For her debut speech on issues of war and peace, Senator Elizabeth Warren chose the symbolically potent setting of American University in Washington DC.

In June 1963, President John F. Kennedy gave one of the most famous speeches in the same spot, calling for a “strategy of peace” to end the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war. The speech was controversial at the time because is signaled JFK’s dovish intentions toward the Soviet Union and the world.

By speaking in the same spot, Warren was placing her foreign policy in the tradition of President Kennedy’s last year in office. She was positioning herself, like JFK, as an agent of responsible change in U.S. foreign policy.

Warren has taken more explicit policy positions than any other Democratic candidate with the possible exception of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Like Sanders, her foreign policy is rooted in her views on the national and world economy where she sees the power of corporations and the wealthy as a threat to ordinary Americans.

President Warren, she says, would pursue “a foreign policy for all. “

On the Military Industrial Complex:

On Hong Kong:

On Diplomacy:

On Iran: No War Without Congress

“I’m very concerned about a slide towards war with Iran. I want to remind this administration that the administration cannot declare war on its own. It has to come to Congress and make that case and ask for an authorization for a use of military force. That’s not politics, that’s a point of the Constitution of the United States of America….{…}…Part of the problem we’ve got right now is that the president backed out of a deal that the United States had committed to and he does it with no coherent alternative strategy. …{…}…He’s continued to poke at Iran but then back off. At one point we hear an announcement there’s going to a huge troop buildup, then no troop buildup. It’s not possible to tell where the president is headed and if we can’t tell that here in the United States, it means our Congress can’t fulfill its Constitutional function.” — Fox News from Manchester, N.H.

Warren endorses the Iran nuclear deal and does not talk about “getting tough.”

It’s obvious that Iran isn’t our friend. It sponsors terrorism, engages in human rights abuses, tests missiles, and takes other destabilizing actions. But one area where we’ve made real progress is the nuclear deal, which put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program and placed it under monitoring and inspections. Enforcing this deal is better than no deal at all, and even skeptics like Trump’s Secretary of Defense agree.


On Venezuela: Sanctions Hurt Everyday People

Warren is against the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and the threat of U.S. intervention, another sign that she is not a candidate of continuity in foreign policy. The sanctions are supported by other Democratic candidates and the Washington foreign policy establishment.

“The Venezuelan people deserve free and fair elections, an economy that works, and the ability to live without fear of violence from their own government,” she said. “Instead of reckless threats of military action or sanctions that hurt those in need, we should be taking real steps to support the Venezuelan people.”

Where Democratic Presidential Contenders Stand On The Venezuelan Crisis — Huffington Pos
Defense donations only make up 0.1% of all campaign donations

On the Defense Budget: Reduce the Bloat

President Warren would cut defense spending.

A strong military should act as a deterrent so that most of the time, we won’t have to use it.

We should also leverage all the tools of our national power, not just our military might. That means cutting our bloated defense budget and ending the stranglehold of defense contractors on our military policy.

Source: Issues| Elizabeth Warren

On Afghanistan: ‘Going in Circles’

We’ve “turned the corner” in Afghanistan so many times that we’re now going in circles.

On Russia: Arms Control Before its Too Late

Warren talks more about pursuing arms control with Russia, as opposed to “getting tough.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “testing Donald Trump“ to see how far he can go without punishment, Warren said, and Trump is “failing.” “He is not responding with strength,” Warren said of the mercurial Republican president, who has at times overtly sought friendly relations with the Russian strongman.

Warren also noted,however, that Trump has threatened to engage in a new nuclear arms race against Russia. She insisted that is a foolish idea because the U.S. does not need more nuclear weapons.

Warren said the U.S. should pursue more arms control initiatives, and she came out in favor of a “no first use” doctrine, which means the U.S. would pledge not to be the first to use a nuclear weapon in a conflict. 

‘A moment of crisis’: Warren lays out foreign policy vision — Politic

On the Intelligence Community:

On North Korea: Patience and Experience Needed

We’re at the beginning of a diplomatic process that will require patience, experience, and close coordination with our allies. I want to see the President succeed, but a handshake is no substitute for a binding, verifiable deal.”

Warren Statement on the United States-North Korea Summit — 6.12.2018 Press Release

In the Eyes of ‘the Blob’ and the Secret Intelligence Agencies:

President Warren’s left-liberal policy views might disturb policymaking elites, intelligence chiefs, and military leaders. But as a process-oriented insider with deep policy experience, Warren would also work within the Washington system while seeking to change it.

Elizabeth Warren announces her candidacy.

Research: Daniel Ortiz

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Amy Klobuchar Supports European Alliances

Amy Klobuchar (Credit - Creative Commons)
Amy Klobuchar announces. (Credit Washington Post.)

On the Campaign Trail:

The “National Security” vertical of Klobuchar’s web site shows that the senior senator from Minnesota does not stray far from the Washington orthodoxy.

While her public statement on issues of war, peace and the secret agencies are not detailed, they indicate Klobuchar is a candidate of continuity, not change.

President Klobuchar would most likely pursue a foreign policy in the Obama tradition: global military intervention, preferably not with U.S. troops.

(Fun fact: Amy Klobuchar’s father Jim, whom she describes “as a newspaper man,” was the best-known sports columnist in the state of Minnesota for decades. She entered politics with name recognition.)

[Do you like Amy Klobuchar? Tell us why in the comments section. Or DM us @jeffersonmorley. We will publish your comments with minimal editing.]

On Venezuela: Supports Trump/Bolton

“I support the people of Venezuela standing up against Maduro, installing a new leader, and restoring democracy in Venezuela,” Klobuchar said in an email.

Where Democratic Presidential Contenders Stand On The Venezuelan Crisis — Huffington Post
Defense donations only make up 0.1% of all campaign donations

This statement doesn’t explicitly address the crucial issue of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. Sanctions are an interventionist strategy that seeks to bring down the Maduro government by making life increasingly difficult for the people of Venezuela. The anti-interventionist strategy is to pursue diplomatic solution without seeking to do further harm to the people of Venezuela.

On Hong Kong:

On Russia: Influenced by McCain and Graham

Klobuchar is hawkish on Russia.

… the United States must hold Russia accountable for its attack on the 2016 elections and its continued interference in our democracy.

Ahead of Today’s Election Security Meeting, Klobuchar leads letter Urging National Security Council to hold Russia Accountable, Improve Federal Coordination, and Support States

There is a lot to look at when you have, as I learned on my trip to the Baltics and Ukraine and Georgia with Senator McCain and Graham, Russia’s been doing this for a long, long time. And there is no question, 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have told us they attempted to influence our election.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar On Investigating Trump And Russia
Amy Klobuchar
2020 Democratic Party Candidate Amy Klobuchar (Credit: Wikipedia)

Klobuchar’s reliance on two Republican hawks for guidance on Russia is another measure of how conventional her geopolitical views are.

On Israel: AIPAC Speaker

Klobuchar has addressed the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the past, according to AIPAC.

On Iran: Get Tougher

Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is one of the most important objectives of our national security policy and I strongly advocated for and supported the economic sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table.  While the agreement is by no means perfect, I have concluded that it is our best available option to put the brakes on Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon and that is why I will support it.

Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Statement On Iran Nuclear Agreement

Klobuchar’s opinion of the Trump’s termination of the Iran nuclear deal: the United States should stay in the deal but get tougher with the Islamic Republic.

I also believe we should be negotiating a more comprehensive agreement moving forward that includes Iran’s ballistic missile tests and destabilizing activity that pose a direct threat to Israel, which we can do without withdrawing from the agreement.

Source: Twitter

This is the interventionist view, widely (but not universally) shared in the policymaking Blob: the United States need to coerce Iran.

The anti-interventionist view is: Iran’s military is tiny and weak, vastly inferior to Israel’s. Comprehensive arms control agreements in the Middle East are a good idea but is an illusion to think Iran will be bullied into them.

This is another indication that President Klobuchar would position herself to the right of President Obama, who pursued the nuclear deal and rejected the idea of including other issues as impractical.

On Bush: A Dishonest Administration

Whether it was their categorical (but false) assertions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or their repeated (but unsupported) claims of Iraq’s ties to Al Qaeda, or their frequent (but untrue) assurances that America would go to war only with broad international support, or their constant (but divisive) attempts to “spin” the war by going after those who disagreed with them, the Bush-Cheney administration did not give honest information to the American people. This conduct has not only damaged America’s credibility throughout the world, but also undermined the American people’s confidence in our own government.

Source: 2006 Senate campaign website,, “Issues”

On North Korea: the ‘Dictator Next Door’

On Election Security:

In the Eyes of ‘the Blob’ and the Secret Intelligence Agencies:

President Klobuchar would probably be acceptable to policymaking elites, intelligence chiefs, and military leaders disenchanted with Trump. At least she is a politician who works within the system.

Research: Daniel Ortiz

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Kirsten Gillibrand, Hawkish Critic of Endless Wars

Kirsten Gillibrand

On the Campaign Trail:

Sen. Gillibrand speaks Mandarin at town hall

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand opened her CNN town hall by speaking a little Mandarin and sharing a brief story about her college years.Gillibrand said she learned Chinese in college and traveled throughout the country.

Posted by CNN on Tuesday, April 9, 2019


Foreign Policy Vision: ‘Strong and Strategic’

The junior senator from New York says “America needs a strong and strategic foreign policy, not endless wars.

Gillibrand combines opposition to U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria with hawkish positions on Venezuela and Iran.

[Do you like Kirsten Gillibrand? Tell us why in the comments section. Or DM us @jeffersonmorley. We will publish your comments with minimal editing.]

Defense donations only make up 0.7% of all campaign donations

On Venezuela: Supports Trump’s Sanctions

Gillibrand supports the Trump administration’s sanctions on Venezuela.

“Senator [Kirsten] Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) supports working with our allies to recognize Juan Guaidó – who was legitimately elected – as the interim president under the Constitution until Venezuela can hold new elections,” said Meredith Kelly, communications director for Sen. Gillibrand’s presidential exploratory committee. “And while she believes economic sanctions are the appropriate response to achieve this, she does not support sending troops to Venezuela.”

Where Democratic Presidential Contenders Stand On The Venezuelan Crisis — Huffington Post

I want to see free and fair elections in Venezuela – monitored by international experts so that the will of the Venezuelan people is reflected in their government. But more than that, I want to see a fair judiciary, an open press, and other aspects of a truly thriving democracy. So I support the efforts of the international community to impose a combination of sanctions and humanitarian aid and diplomatic pressure on President Maduro, and to take steps to lessen the humanitarian disaster ordinary Venezuelans are suffering. Almost 4 million Venezuelan refugees have fled and we must provide humanitarian and refugee assistance.Venezuelans, like other asylum seekers who reach our shores, deserve our protection. But I do not support military intervention. We cannot allow Trump’s warmonger advisors get us into yet another war. It would not be good for the American people,Venezuelans or our other friends in the region.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Iran: Trump’s ‘Shortsighted, Dangerous Mistake’

While she opposed the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, she co-sponsored a bill introduced by opponents of the deal.

By walking away from the Iran Deal, President Trump has made a shortsighted, dangerous mistake. The deal gave us the ability to aggressively monitor and verify Iran’s behavior. This move only opens the door to Iran going back to developing a nuclear weapons program.


She was a co-sponsor for the Iran Sanctions Loophole Elimination Act which sought to deny the Iranian government access to its foreign exchange reserves.

On Afghanistan: Bring Troops Home

She favors U.S. withdrawal.

“America cannot afford an endless war in Afghanistan,” Gillibrand said. “After nearly a decade at war, with still no equal commitment from the Karzai government, and after all the lives we’ve sacrificed and the billions we’ve spent on this war, it’s time to start bringing our troops home.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Presses Administration For Clear Withdrawal Plan From Afghanistan — Huffington Post

On Yemen: ‘End This Humanitarian Crisis’

Saudi Arabia is using American-made bombs to terrorize Yemeni civilians with airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians – and millions are without food and access to medical care. The Senate must do everything it can to end this humanitarian crisis.


On North Korea:

When it comes to North Korea, we must base our actions on a clear understanding of what has and has not worked in the past, and make a commitment to peace on the Korean Peninsula. I would come to an arms control summit prepared with facts based on seasoned policy and intelligence advice. I would strategically leverage diplomatic steps to curb aggression. And I would carefully articulate our national security goals, rather than send mixed signals. I would work together with our allies, including through incremental measurable steps designed to limit the North Korean threat, with the ultimate goal of a nuclear-free and peaceful Korean Peninsula.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Syria: Don’t Arm Rebels

Unlike Hillary Clinton and many in the foreign policy establishment, Gillibrand opposed arming the anti-government rebels.

I don’t think arming the [Syrian] rebels in this instance is necessarily going to be productive.

CBS News

On Arms Control: Back Towards Stability

Gillibrand is not a Russia hawk. She was one of 26 senators who opposed Trump’s decision to leave the INF Treaty. The letter (which was also signed Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar) stated:

A collapse of the INF Treaty and failure to renew New START would lead to the absence of verifiable limits on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces for the first time since the early 1970s. We ask you to reverse the recent course set by your administration and instead point our nation back towards stability.

Kirsten Gillibrand’s Senate Website; Press Release — 12.13.2018

On Israel: Careful of First Amendment

‘Yes. In my trips to Israel and through conversations with U.S. experts and Israeli leaders, I have learned that Israel’s security and the prosperity of both Israelis and Palestinians is best achieved through a peace based on two nations living side by side. But that lasting peace and security can only be achieved by those on the ground, and the U.S. must remain engaged, but balanced, in order to foster direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The Trump administration has dangerously undermined U.S. ability to foster such negotiations. As president, I would seek to restore it by continuing America’s strong relationship with our ally, Israel, ensuring its meaningful military edge allows Israel to defend its people, while at the same time reversing the Trump administration’s damaging policies toward the Palestinians. This means reopening the diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, restoring our USAID presence in the West Bank and restarting USAID programs that President Trump has cut.’

Council on Foreign Relations interview

Senator Gillibrand withdrew as a co-sponsor from the Senate Israel Anti-Boycott Act on August 1, 2017 for 1st Amendment concerns.

On Human Rights in China:

I am deeply troubled by the alarming reports of widespread human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim Chinese citizens. I have called on U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to update U.S. export controls on American technology to ensure that neither China nor other repressive regimes can use American technology to commit human rights violations. I have further supported targeted sanctions against those responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture and other abuses of human rights, and have cosponsored the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. America must pursue a variety of goals in the bilateral relationship with China, including holding them accountable for currency cheating, unfair trade practices, and cyber theft of American technology and Americans’ data. But history has taught us that we never ultimately advance our interests when we ignore human rights abuses. I believe we can support human rights in the context of addressing our country’s vital national security and economic interests.

Council on Foreign Relations interview

On Russia:

‘Russian aggression toward Ukraine – whether in the Crimean Peninsula, Eastern Ukraine or in the Kerch Strait – is dangerous, not only toward Ukraine, but broadly, because it emboldens Russian aggression elsewhere. Russia’s cyber hacks of Ukrainian infrastructure gave it a testbed, and its lessons could be used to target the U.S. We must be very clear with President Putin that Russia’s illegal attempts at annexation are not acceptable. That is why rather than warmly greet Putin in confidential conversations, or weigh his assertions above U.S. intelligence assessments, I would continue a policy of sanctions aimed at the group of Russian leaders who have undermined Ukraine’s democracy, security and territorial integrity, and closely coordinate our policy with our European allies to deepen their impact. And I would once again deepen our NATO ties because this alliance presents one of the strongest bulwarks against Russian aggression.
And because Russia has demonstrated its willingness to invade its neighbors, it is all the more reason that we must ensure we have arms control agreements in place to limit Russia’s nuclear and strategic forces. I had opposed President Trump’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement because its absence opens the door to a new and dangerous arms race. It is all the more critical that we extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to limit Russian nuclear weapons and provide information to the U.S. intelligence community.’

Council on Foreign Relations interview

In the Eyes of ‘the Blob’ and the Secret Intelligence Agencies:

President Gillibrand would probably be acceptable to policymaking elites, intelligence chiefs, and military leaders in the same way Obama was. Like Obama, she resists calls to use U.S. military force but otherwise does not advocate fundamental change in the national security system.

Research: Daniel Ortiz

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Introducing the Deep State Guide to the 2020 Democrats

Donkey - Democrats
2020 Dems
The Democratic contenders

No matter how it turns out, the 2020 election will be a turning point for the United States’ position in the world.

President Trump has broken with decades of U.S. foreign policy based on multilateral alliances, free trade agreements, and military intervention. He has scorned the intelligence agencies and largely jettisoned the inter-agency process that has guided U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.

[Insider’s Guide to the 2020 Democrats on War, Peace and Security.]

A key question for Democratic candidates is how would they deal with the national security policymaking elite in Washington, dubbed ‘The Blob’ by former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes. The Blob abhors Trump’s ad hoc, transactional approach to geopolitics and favors a return to the status quo of the Bush-Obama years.

(See 2020 Democrats Face the Challenge of ‘the Blob’)

Donkey - Democrats
Which direction in 2021?

The Blob is not a conspiracy theory. It is useful shorthand for a recognizable and powerful class of people in Washington: the former officials, analysts, diplomats, writers and military officers who develop and espouse U.S. foreign policy options.

They are the intelligentsia of the national security sector. They do not run the secret military and intelligence agencies that wage war around the world. Rather they write the policies for the leaders of those agencies and the president.

[Background: See The Blob, by David Klion in The Nation.]

They are an exclusive group, but they are not a secret cabal. They work at Washington think tanks (eg Atlantic Council, Center for New American Security or Brookings) and elite institutions (Harvard, Fletcher School, National Defense University) and consulting firms. They talk to each other and to reporters. They opine on cable TV talk shows. And until Trump came along they rotated in and out of government positions.

Politically, the membership in The Blob ranges from the center-left to the far right, from multilateral liberals to “realists” to hawkish neoconservatives. While they have had deep differences, they (and their sometimes secretive funders) have collectively promoted a consistent, if not wise, set of policies that have defined the United States in the world over the last 30 years. To the man and woman, they abhor Trump because he abhors the policy process that is their profession.

Trump has shown that a radical break with the national security elite is acceptable, or at least not disqualifying, to about 40 percent of voters.

His successor among the 2020 Democrats will face the choice of returning to status quo ante before Trump took office or charting a new direction.

Click below for


2020 Dems