AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
To build a better world, we
need to think globally and act locally. To this end, I have sponsored
an International Day Symposium in the Fourth District to allow voters
in the community to voice their opinions and get answers to questions.
Two fundamental principals guide my approach to United States foreign
policy. First, human rights must be respected. Second, democracy
can only work when ordinary working people have a real voice in
the political process. Sadly, America’s international reputation
has been severely compromised by the actions of the current administration.
United States Must Respect Human Rights
including launching an illegal invasion of Iraq based on lies told
to the American public, supporting a military coup to oust the democratically
elected President of Haiti and torturing detainees at Camp X-Ray
in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in secret
detention centers around the globe. It will take decades to restore
the damage the current administration has done.
Responsibility for these policies rests fundamentally on the policy-makers
in Washington, DC. The buck stops here. It is from Washington that
our men and women in uniform take their orders. I never lose sight
of their courage and dedication. This is why I supported H.
Res. 302, recognizing and commending the continuing dedication
and commitment of National Guard units mobilized to fight in Afghanistan
and Iraq. I also voted in favor of H.
Res. 266, supporting the goals of Peace Officers Memorial Day
to honor federal, state, and local peace officers killed or disabled
in the line of duty.
The United States cannot be a leader on the road to respecting international
human rights if it is our policy to engage in explicit violations
of those same human rights. Revelations and photographs continue
to surface about our government’s use of kidnapping, torture techniques
and denial of basic legal rights to detainees around the globe.
The United States can only be a leader in human rights by rigorously
observing all international conventions for the protection of human
rights. In Congress, I have co-sponsored H.R.
3003, which would establish and independent Commission to investigate
the abuse of detainees by U.S. personnel, and H.R.
2901, the Detainee Treatment Accountability Act, which would
demand that the Pentagon share confidential information from foreign
sources about detainees with the Congress. There is an urgent need
for Congress to provide oversight and make policy to eliminate the
use of torture and other abuse of detainees in U.S. custody.
The War on Terrorism Traps Us in a Cycle of Violence
The so-called “War on Terrorism” we are involved in, an open-ended
war that we are told will not end in our lifetimes, will make war
profiteers obscenely rich, but has already create a cycle of under-funding
vital social program such as health care and education. Since this
is a war of retribution, it establishes a cycle of violence, and
until that cycle is broken this war will also mean the deaths of
thousands more of our precious young men and women.
Over 2,500 Coalition troops have now died in Iraq. I have co-sponsored
Con. Res. 35 and H.
J. Res. 55 (“Homeward Bound”), two bills calling for the President
to develop and implement a plan for immediate withdrawal of U.S.
Armed Forces from Iraq providing for international and Iraqi civilian
population in the plan, and continued U.S. support for Iraqi reconstruction
efforts. I supported rep. John Murtha’s bill (H.J.
Res. 73) calling for a partial withdrawal and redeployment of
American troops in Iraq. I was also one of only 3 Members to vote
for the Republicans’ insult to Rep. Murtha, which changed Murtha’s
language to call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. I published
on the altered Murtha Resolution explaining my reasons
for voting ‘yes’ to this amendment that the Republicans introduced
and then voted down.
I have opposed the war in Iraq because it was based on lies, was
illegal under international law and is the most ill-conceived foreign
policy agenda in our nation’s history. Terrorism is a tactic not
an enemy, it cannot be ended or defeated by military means. Terrorism
is the continuation of war by other means. If we want peace we must
pursue peace. But our foreign policy agenda has been hijacked by
war profiteers whose primary concern is profit, not patriotism.
All Nations Must Respect Human Rights
I believe that the bar must be raised on the standard for human
rights in all countries on the planet. Recently, I have co-sponsored
three bills calling for higher human rights standards.
Con. Res. 195 urges the Government of Turkey to acknowledge
the culpability of its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire, in the Armenian
Genocide of 1915-1923, in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians
were killed, and to seek a rapprochement with the Republic of Armenia.
H.Con. Res. 90 conveys the sympathies of Congress to the families
of more than 370 young women who have been abducted, sexually assaulted
or brutally murdered in the Mexican cities of Ciudad Juarez and
Chihuahua since 1993, and encourages the Mexican government to conduct
investigations and provide fair trials.
H. Res. 458 commemorates
the lives and work of four Maryknoll sisters brutally murdered by
the armed forces of El Salvador on December 2, 1980. I also voted
in favor of H. Res. 333 supporting the idea of a National Weekend
of Prayer and Reflection for the people in Darfur, Sudan where war
and widespread killings have run rampant.