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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Print Story: Alex Rossmiller: Model for Democratic Foreign Policy, Elections, and Activism on Yahoo! News - Alex Rossmiller

This past weekend I had the honor of participating in the YearlyKos panel, "War, Foreign Policy & Activism." It was a pleasure to discuss a variety of foreign policy issues with an informed panel and audience, and Ms. Huffington was kind enough to ask me to post my opening remarks on this site. It's not quite the same in pixels as with an audience, but I hope this helps explain why the Democratic Party is the one to trust with our nation's foreign policy.
 
Good morning. My name is Alex Rossmiller, and I am a former Intelligence Officer for the Department of Defense. I left government service because I became convinced that the policies of this administration, and in fact the very grounding of many conservative foreign policy ideals, harm American security and impair American interests.
 
So far this morning you've heard about what U.S. foreign policy is, and what it is not. You've also heard how Democrats can work to expose the unsuccessful administration efforts, both in strategy and tactics. I would like to briefly articulate the Democratic alternative that is both practical and popular.
 
The central foreign policy issue for Americans in at least the next two elections is clearly the war in Iraq. I spent over six months in Iraq last year, and many more months working the issue at the Pentagon, and it is beyond my comprehension how a reasonable observer could believe anything but the fact that the Iraq war has made the U.S. less safe. It has overstretched our forces, created a lawless area for terrorists to learn their deadly craft, established a constant source of recruiting for militant Islamists across the globe, and destabilized a region on which we depend for economic well-being. Stay the course is a ridiculous notion when the course is wrong. All real Democrats can embrace a single message on Iraq: Change the course. Change the course.
 
Iraq is an issue that resonates very powerfully at both national and local levels. Further, the broad foreign policy campaign message is a simple one: Do you want this administration to screw up anything else like it's screwed up Iraq? We cannot trust these deciders on Iran. We cannot trust them on North Korea. We cannot trust them on trade, or intelligence, or defense. In 2006 we can establish oversight in Congress, and in 2008 we can elect a president who understands that freedom isn't on the march if you're marching in combat boots.
 
The fundamental goal of foreign policy is to use international relations to advance American interests. These interests are primarily twofold: security, and economic, or business. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was no overarching framework in U.S. foreign policy, and for a while we were mostly reactive, relying on pragmatism to advance our interests. After 9/11, however, anti-democratic forces were once again viewed as a significant threat, and the so-called global war on terror began. The idea was to combine democracy promotion with forceful defense and aggressive action against transnational terrorists. The Bush administration, however, has betrayed this ideal - and this nation - by pursuing bad policy after bad policy, including the epic mistake of Iraq.
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