WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday joined MSNBC’s Morning Joe to discuss progressive foreign policy in the next Democratic administration.
In October, Murphy penned a piece for the Atlantic in which he makes the case that a new Democratic administration needs a new foreign policy toolkit to advance our values and interests abroad. Murphy also proposed this new framework in a speech where he discussed four concrete ideas for how progressives can close the perceived national security gap with Republicans and maintain America’s role in the world. In 2015, Murphy authored “Rethinking the Battlefield,” a comprehensive road map for rebuilding our foreign policy in order to keep pace with the global challenges we face.
On Defining a Progressive Foreign Policy:
MURPHY: “[A] progressive foreign policy is one that admits the mistakes of the past, right, understands the limits of American power when you try to project force and influence around the world just through military might, but also understands that America can still play a role for good in the world. And we’re going to have a lot of work to do after the Trump administration is done to try to reassert American influence when it comes to projecting human rights and democracy promotion around the world.”
Closing the National Security Gap:
MURPHY: “[T]here is an opportunity in the 2020 election to go straight at Trump on the issue of national security. He has made the United States a laughingstock, he has walked us away from our historic role in promoting democracies and human rights around the globe and that ultimately makes the United States less safe. And so I’m hoping that Democrats are going to run on national security.”
MURPHY: “Historically, it’s a big gap between Democrats and Republicans and this is an election in which we can close it. While telegraphing to the American public that we get that the way in which we’ve thrown our military weight around the world hasn’t worked, there’s other ways to project force and project influence.”
MURPHY: “I have supported the president’s efforts to try to get a deal with the Taliban and there are lots of conservative Republicans in Congress who would like to see us stay there for the next 40 years. But I think you need to use the tools that we have. We have leverage at this moment and the leverage is American forces. And the fact that he is disappearing our leverage, pulling our troops out at the very moment where he’s trying to get the Taliban to come to the table on a political deal is just basic foreign policy mismanagement.
“…I think progressive foreign policy also involves a dose of realism. And in Afghanistan, if you’re a realist, you have to use the troop presence today to try to get the Taliban to make concessions. But ultimately, I think we have proven without a doubt that the US occupation of Afghanistan is not going to make that country a functioning Western-style democracy. And so, we should stop having our bar for leaving Afghanistan be the end to corruption. We should make sure that Al-Qaeda doesn’t find a way to get back as using that country as a safe haven. And if we can get some basic guarantee on that, some assurance on that, I think that’s when we get troops back home.”
On Increasing U.S. Troop Size in the Middle East:
MURPHY: “…we were supposedly moving out of Syria, but we aren’t anymore. We now have 500 troops that are once again trying to set up a coalition with the SDF in country. And in fact, we have more troops in the Middle East today than we did at the beginning of the Trump presidency. Maybe he’s going to send a couple thousand more, but already, we have more US soldiers in CENTCOM, in theater, than we did at the outset. We just moved them from one place to the other. And don’t think that they’re safe in Saudi Arabia. The provocative behavior that the president is engaged in today with Iran could end up putting those troops in jeopardy as well.”
MURPHY: “Donald Trump is ultimately going to lose this trade war with China because China understands the leverage they have on him. As we get closer to the 2020 election it’s going to be Trump, who has a short-term view, that is desperate to get a deal. China who always has a long-term view is going to be able to sit back. And so, we’ll ultimately get a deal that’s good for China and bad for the United States.
“What we should be doing in these negotiations is involving our partners. A progressive foreign policy is a multilateral foreign policy and there are lots of willing potential partners in Europe that would love to be tough on China with us. Second, you have to understand what China is doing to export things like 5G all across the world. And if we don’t start coming up with alternatives to these Chinese technologies, that are going to lap American and Western technologies everywhere, then we can’t compete with them. So that’s about public investment in things like advanced battery technology and artificial intelligence, so that we don’t get caught with our pants down again, like we have on high speed internet connections.”
On Dealing with Countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey:
MURPHY: “I think we’ve got to push human rights and democracy, but it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. I think there are some countries that cross a line where there has to be consequences. Saudi Arabia would be on my list. I think you have to telegraph that there is a point at which you have so abused the relationship, in which you have so abused your own people, that you can’t be on the same terms as you used to be with the United States.
“And so, I don’t think a progressive foreign policy says if you’re not a western-style democracy, if you don’t have a spotless human rights record, you can’t do business with us. But it does set up a line in a way that this administration hasn’t. And if we had said to Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s murder, that there’s going to be a change in your relationship with the United States because of it, it would have been a notice to all sorts of other countries that they better get right or at least try to get moving in the right direction, or there were going to be consequences. So, it’s not an all or nothing proposition. But you have to draw a line somewhere.”
Click here to view the entirety of Murphy’s full interview.
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