Redefining Leadership

Posted on October 09, 2020, 6:13 pm
78 mins

Democrats believe that we can only be strong in the world when we are strong and united at home. We believe that a healthy democracy, just society, and inclusive economy are essential prerequisites for effective American leadership abroad. And we believe that the ultimate measure —and purpose—of our foreign policy is whether it protects and advances America’s security, prosperity and values—and delivers results for all Americans.

President Trump promised he would put “America First”—but Trump’s America stands alone. Under his leadership, America’s reputation and influence are in tatters. Our country is less safe, our economy more fragile, and our democracy, values, and unity endangered.

Rather than advance our interests and values in a more competitive world, President Trump has retreated—allowing our adversaries to fill the void. He has attacked the sources of our strength, hollowed out American diplomacy, shredded international commitments, weakened our alliances, and tarnished our credibility.

Rather than make smart investments to keep our military’s competitive edge, President Trump has wasted billions on vanity projects, barred patriotic Americans from serving their country, denied military families the care and support they have earned, and tried to use our women and men in uniform to sow fear and division.

Rather than help Americans compete in the global economy, he’s launched reckless, politically-motivated tariff wars that have punished American workers, antagonized our allies, and benefited our adversaries.

Rather than end our forever wars, he’s brought us to the brink of new conflicts, and further militarized our foreign policy. Rather than reduce nuclear dangers, he’s amplified them, and brought the world closer to catastrophe.

Rather than stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and partners, he’s betrayed them.

Rather than defend democracy and human rights, he’s fawned over autocrats, sent love letters to despots, sided with dictators over peaceful protestors, and invited foreign interference in our elections. Rather than root out corruption, he’s made common cause with kleptocrats.

Rather than fight the existential threat of climate change, he’s denied science and accelerated the damage.

In every region and on every issue, American security and interests are at greater peril—and our rivals at greater advantage—than four years ago.

Democrats believe four more years of Donald Trump will damage our influence beyond repair. But closing the chapter on “America First” is just the beginning of the work ahead. We must meet the world as it is today, not as it was before President Trump’s destruction. That’s why we cannot simply aspire to restore American leadership. We must reinvent it for a new era.

We will revitalize the power and purpose of American diplomacy to compete in a more contested world. We will lead not just with the example of our power, but with the power of our example. We will place values at the center of our foreign policy. And we will reinvent alliances, partnerships, and international institutions to meet common challenges that no country can face on its own. The world today looks very different from the post-WWII period that gave birth to our alliance system. But these changes make our alliances more—not less—crucial to our success.

We will ensure that our military has no peer. We owe it to our men and women in uniform and to the American public to spend our defense dollars more wisely and strategically—focused on building a force that can deter and win the conflicts of the 21st century. And we will use force only when necessary, always as a last resort, and with the informed consent of the American people.

And, most importantly, Democrats will ensure that the reinvention of American leadership abroad prioritizes and accelerates our renewal at home. We will root a disciplined foreign policy in the needs and aspirations of the American middle class and the imperative of building a more dynamic, fair, and resilient society—the ultimate wellspring of our power.

Revitalizing American Diplomacy
Democrats will revitalize American diplomacy to ensure that the United States remains the world’s pivotal power and a principled force for peace and prosperity.

The United States should be at the head of the table whenever the safety and well-being of Americans is at stake, working in common cause with our allies and partners. Time and again, the Trump Administration has stormed out, leaving America’s seat at the table vacant and American interests on the menu. Americans deserve better.

Rebuilding America’s Tool of First Resort
Democrats believe that diplomacy should be our tool of first resort. The world’s greatest power deserves to have the world’s very best diplomatic corps. But today, American diplomacy is badly adrift and under resourced, and our diplomats are demoralized.

Democrats will support and invest in long overdue reforms to make the State Department more strategic, modern, agile, and effective. Rather than militarize our foreign policy, treat our diplomats with contempt, and call for reckless budget cuts, Democrats will put diplomacy back in the hands of professionals and ensure they are better prepared to advance American interests on the central issues of our time, like disruptive technology and climate change. We will recruit a new generation of Americans who want to serve their country abroad and ensure they have the training and tools they need. And we will expand and reform the Foreign Service so it reflects the diversity and richness of the country it represents.

Reinventing Alliances
Democrats believe America’s alliances are an irreplaceable cornerstone of our national security that should be cultivated, not cast away. Our allies offer an enormous strategic advantage that our rivals can’t match. They multiply our influence, spread our reach, lighten our burden, and advance our shared interests and priorities much farther than we could ever do on our own.

President Trump has undermined our alliances in ways that our adversaries could have only dreamed of—sowing doubts about our commitments to diplomatic agreements, mutual defense, democratic values, and strategic purpose. As a result, our alliance system today faces its biggest test since the end of the Cold War. He has pushed to bring Russia back into the G7 while lambasting our NATO partners and ignoring intelligence about Russian bounties for killing American troops and other coalition forces in Afghanistan. He has undermined confidence in America’s commitment to the alliance’s Article 5 mutual defense provision, and threatened to pull troops out of Germany without consultation. In the midst of a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, he tried to extort our South Korean allies to dramatically increase their share of alliance costs.

Democrats will not only repair our alliances, but reinvent them to advance mutual priorities and deal with new challenges. We believe our alliances are strongest when they are rooted in shared democratic values. That’s why we need to signal clearly our profound concerns about democratic backsliding in a number of ally states, and why we need to work with allied democracies to end democracy’s global recession.

We will make developing shared responses to non-military threats like disinformation, corruption, and economic coercion, priorities in our agenda. We will work with our partners to improve interoperability, and we will encourage them to build up their defense capabilities, take greater responsibility for regional security, and contribute their fair share. But we will never treat our alliances like protection rackets. Democrats will not only reinvent existing alliances but also work to strengthen and build new partnerships in regions of growing strategic importance, particularly in Africa and Latin America.

International Institutions
Democrats believe that American security and prosperity are enhanced when the United States leads in shaping the rules, forging the agreements, and steering the institutions that guide international relations. We believe the system of international institutions we built and led over the past seven decades has generated an enormous return on our investment. And in today’s more competitive world, its renovation is a critical diplomatic priority. Unfortunately, President Trump has orchestrated an American retreat from global bodies that weakens our influence, cedes ground to our adversaries, and puts global peace and prosperity in jeopardy.

Instead of walking away, Democrats believe the United States should lead the way and mobilize our partners to work in common cause. We will rejoin and reform the WHO, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the United Nations Population Fund, because in a global public health crisis and a global democratic recession, American leadership is needed more than ever. We will work to modernize international institutions to make sure they are fit for purpose in the 21st century and responsible stewards of both public funds and the world’s trust.

Foreign Assistance and Development
Democrats believe that foreign assistance and development programs are powerful tools for promoting American, and global, security and prosperity. With less than one percent of its annual budget, the United States gets an extraordinary return on its investments in the prevention and alleviation of poverty, hunger, disease, and conflict, the empowerment of vulnerable and marginalized populations, and the opening of global markets for American business and exports to thrive. That’s why we will ensure that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reclaims its position as the world’s premier development agency. And it’s why we reject the Trump Administration’s punitive and transactional approach to foreign aid and its use to advance domestic political errands at the expense of our national interests.

Democrats will devote the resources and implement the reforms necessary to further multiply the impact of foreign assistance. We will reaffirm America’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and promote data efforts and transparency measures that ensure accountability and help identify areas for strategic investment. We will incorporate local perspectives, including from civil society partners, into the design, execution, and evaluation of our programs to secure lasting impact. And we will provide the budgetary support and statutory authorities necessary to make sure our aid institutions, including the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, are successfully integrated into broader international and private-sector development efforts. Democrats will lead international efforts to help developing countries withstand and recover from debt crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will push for international standards that establish more transparency and sustainability in development financing.

Transforming Our Armed Forces for the 21st century
Democrats believe our military is—and must be—the most effective fighting force in the world. To keep it that way, we need to bring our forever wars to a responsible end, rationalize our defense budget, invest in the forces and technologies of the future, repair civil-military relations, and strengthen our covenant with service members, veterans, and military families.

Ending Forever Wars
Democrats know it’s time to bring nearly two decades of unceasing conflict to an end. Our military engagements, which have spanned from West Africa to Southeast Asia, have cost more than $5 trillion and claimed more than half a million lives. Our war in Afghanistan is the longest war in American history, with the youngest U.S. troops now fighting a war that was launched before they were even born. President Trump said he would get the United States out of these wars, but instead he deployed more combat forces, expanded their missions, and stoked regional tensions that unnecessarily endangered American lives and interests.

Democrats will deliver on this overdue commitment to end the forever wars, and we will do it responsibly—setting priorities, leading with diplomacy, protecting ourselves from terrorist threats, enabling local partners, and bringing our troops home.

Democrats are committed to a durable and inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan that ensures that al-Qaeda isn’t allowed to reconstitute, the Islamic State (ISIS) isn’t allowed to grow, and the international community can help Afghans safeguard hard-fought gains, especially for women and girls.

Democrats will end support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and help bring the war to an end. This war is responsible for the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and it amplifies threats to the region and to our interests. Democrats believe that the United States should support diplomatic efforts—not block them.

Democrats will not only end the wars that have cost so much American blood and treasure—we will apply their lessons. We will only use force when necessary to protect national security and when the objective is clear and achievable—with the informed consent of the American people, and where warranted, the approval of Congress. That is why we will work with Congress to repeal decades-old authorizations for the use of military force and replace them with a narrow and specific framework that will ensure we can protect Americans from terrorist threats while ending the forever wars.

Rather than occupy countries and overthrow regimes to prevent terrorist attacks, Democrats will prioritize more effective and less costly diplomatic, intelligence, and law enforcement tools. We will right-size our counterterrorism footprint, put it in service of broader regional and overarching foreign policy objectives, and ensure it never undermines the values we seek to uphold. And we will mobilize our partners to make sustained investments that can prevent conflict and help extinguish the flames on which extremists feed.

Securing our Competitive Edge
Democrats believe the United States military should be the best-trained, best-equipped, and most effective fighting force in the world. Ending the forever wars, reducing the enormous stress on our forces, and rationalizing our global military footprint are essential prerequisites to securing our competitive edge—but they’re not enough.

We will invest in technology and forces that meet the threats of the future—from cyber to space, and artificial intelligence to unmanned systems—and reinforce the alliances and partnerships that enhance our collective security. Rather than continuing to rely on legacy platforms that are increasingly exposed and vulnerable, Democrats support funding a more cost-effective, agile, flexible, and resilient force with modern transportation and logistics capabilities that can operate in more contested environments. Democrats will accelerate defense transformation in a responsible, ethical way, and with strong privacy protections. And we believe the implications of climate change for national security and the Department of Defense can no longer be an afterthought, but must be at the core of all policy and operational plans to secure our vital interests.

Defense Spending
Democrats believe the measure of our security is not how much we spend on defense, but how we spend our defense dollars and in what proportion to other tools in our foreign policy toolbox and other urgent domestic investments. We believe we can and must ensure our security while restoring stability, predictability, and fiscal discipline in defense spending. We spend 13 times more on the military than we do on diplomacy. We spend five times more in Afghanistan each year than we do on global public health and preventing the next pandemic. We can maintain a strong defense and protect our safety and security for less. It’s past time to rebalance our investments, improve the efficiency and competitiveness of our defense industrial base, conduct rigorous annual audits of the Pentagon, and end waste and fraud.

Keeping Faith with Our Veterans and Military Families
Democrats believe that our force is stronger when it reflects the richness and diversity of American society, and when we treat our service members, veterans, and their families with the dignity they’ve earned. We will protect and enhance opportunities for anyone who can meet the standards to serve in combat roles, and we will fight the scourge of rape and sexual assault in our military, end retaliation and impunity, and take care of survivors. We will reverse the Trump Administration’s hateful transgender ban, discriminatory exclusions in military health care, and policies that stigmatize and discriminate against people living with HIV and AIDS, and ensure that LGBTQ+ service members and families enjoy equal respect, benefits, and care. We will root out systemic racism from our military justice system, where black service members are twice as likely as white ones to face court-martial. We will accelerate efforts to recruit and promote people of color in the officer corps. We believe that service members, veterans, and their spouses should never face deportation. We will create a parole process for veterans deported by the Trump Administration to reunite them with their families and compatriots. And we believe anyone who has served honorably in our military has earned a path to citizenship prior to discharge or retirement.

Democrats believe that the world’s best fighting force and its veterans deserve the world’s best health care. We will rebuild trust in, and accountability at, the VA—not privatize it. We will modernize VA facilities and bolster funding to the VA as part of a nationwide infrastructure plan, expand eligibility for VA benefits so that all veterans can access the VA, and work with Congress to eliminate VA cop-pays for preventive health care for veterans. We will ensure that VA benefits address the full needs of our women veterans, including reproductive services, and that every veteran receives comprehensive and culturally competent care and benefits regardless of their ethnicity, race, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and eliminate transgender exclusions. We will combat veteran homelessness, including by converting VA facilities into housing.

Twenty veterans and service members take their life every day. We will treat suicide as the public health crisis it is. Today, only half of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans have access to the mental health services they need. That’s why we will invest in mental health and suicide prevention services, and work with our military communities to encourage and support those seeking help, connecting them to critical services. Democrats will provide the hundreds of thousands of service members that transition to civilian life with the support they need. Democrats will not abide exploitation of our veterans, especially by for-profit colleges that raid benefits and burden veterans with debt.

Democrats believe that we can’t maintain the force we need unless we take care of military families—who have been asked to endure so much for so long, with far too little support. No military family should struggle to pay their bills, put food on the table, or access health care, quality housing, child care, or the workforce. We will ensure pay and compensation keep pace with the current economy. We will also increase time between deployments, improve educational outcomes for military children, and invest in career training, education, and entrepreneurship programs for military spouses, who face an unemployment rate twice the national average. We will expand tax credits to help family caregivers of our veterans, and ensure they receive the support they need from the VA and Department of Defense. And we will support efforts across the country to help veterans and military families thrive, enrich, and strengthen their communities and our nation.

Civil-Military Relations
Democrats believe that healthy civil-military relations are essential to our democracy and to the strength and effectiveness of our military. We will end the Trump Administration’s politicization of the armed forces and distortion of civilian and military roles in decision-making. We will reinstate national security policymaking processes that advance competent civilian control and appropriately incorporate military advice—not issue commands by tweet. We will safeguard the independence of the military justice system—not pardon war criminals.

Democrats will hold regular press briefings to explain the legal and policy justifications for military operations, because transparency and open debate with Congress and the American public are necessary for democratic accountability. Democrats will never use active duty soldiers as political props, and we will never send military forces to suppress Americans exercising their constitutional rights.

Mobilizing the World to Address Transnational Challenges
Global Health and Pandemics
The human and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the urgency of strengthening the global public health system—and the consequences of America’s disengagement from the world. The Trump Administration was warned about the clear and present danger of a global pandemic. The Administration not only ignored the threat but dismantled our early warning and response mechanisms and failed to act when the pandemic began. We owe it to all those whose lives have been shattered by this disease to learn from that fatal mistake.

Democrats will take overdue steps to ensure our government is not caught off guard by public health threats, at home or abroad. We will revitalize and expand the Obama-Biden Administration’s Global Health Security Agenda, and we will immediately restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense.

Democrats will also mobilize allies, partners, and international institutions to develop a more robust and effective global public health system. We will work to help the United Nations improve its facilitation efforts in public health crises, and we will establish a Global Health Emergency Board to harmonize crisis response for vulnerable communities.

Rather than undercutting the WHO and undermining its work on the frontlines of global pandemic response, Democrats will ensure the United States remains its leading funder and technical partner. Democrats will fully resource the WHO, especially its Contingency Fund for Emergencies, while supporting fundamental reforms and mechanisms to enhance accountability and protect experts from political pressure. We support the development of a vaccine accelerator to ensure rapid, equitable, and affordable global access to vaccines, therapeutics, and supplies.

Democrats know that effective global health policy saves lives at home and around the world.
Beyond its immediate damage, the COVID-19 pandemic has badly disrupted routine, life-saving vaccinations, putting 80 million children around the world at greater risk of dying from preventable diseases. We will reaffirm our commitment to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and help realize the promise of an AIDS-free generation. And we will help the world eradicate tuberculosis, malaria, and polio, as well as preventable maternal and childhood deaths.

Climate Change
Democrats recognize that the United States does not stand alone in the fight against climate change and global environmental degradation. We will fully integrate climate change into our foreign policy and national security strategies, and we will restore U.S. global climate leadership.

Democrats will immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, commit the United States to doing its fair share and lead the world in the effort to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and convene a world summit aimed at new and more ambitious global targets to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. We will revive and expand climate-related foreign assistance including by recommitting to the Green Climate Fund. We will protect our oceans—vital buffers against the impacts of climate change—through fisheries management programs and additional designations of marine protected areas. We will seek collaborative, science-based approaches to be good stewards of the rapidly changing Arctic region, while protecting our strategic interests.

We will work to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and move expeditiously to phase out super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons in the United States. We will restore funding to the Global Environment Facility and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to support critical climate science research around the world. We will support the protection of species and wildlife habitats around the world, including by advancing the goals of the United Nations Framework Convention on Biological Diversity, and encourage other countries to join us in conserving 30 percent of the planet by 2030.

Democrats will also work with world leaders to catalyze increased global investments in clean energy solutions and climate resilience, including to help low-income countries move along a more sustainable development path. We will promote climate accountability and mobilize a united front to keep states like China from outsourcing pollution to other countries.

Democrats believe that executing a strategy of bold climate leadership will require sustained focus and increased expertise across our foreign policy institutions. We will incorporate climate issues as key priorities at the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and in the Intelligence Community. And we will ensure that America’s service missions abroad, including those executed through the Peace Corps and USAID, expand their calls to action to include reducing carbon pollution, safeguarding Indigenous peoples and vulnerable populations from climate impacts, and guaranteeing a more sustainable planet for all.

Technology
Democrats believe that American diplomatic leadership is critical to maximizing the benefits of technological innovation while minimizing its risks and dislocations. We have a stake in bridging the gap between the pace of innovation and the development of rules of the road governing the most consequential domains of technology, from cyberspace to artificial intelligence to synthetic biology. Democrats will avoid a race to the bottom, where countries hostile to democratic values shape our future. Instead, we will mobilize public and private actors to ensure that new products and new discoveries are bound by law, ethics, and civil liberties protections that enable democratic societies to thrive and prosperity to be shared broadly.

We will recommit the United States to the principles of an open internet, including net neutrality, and vigorously oppose efforts to digitally silo off countries and populations from the rest of the world. Democrats believe that algorithms and platforms should empower people instead of the surveillance state. We expect technology companies and social media platforms to take responsibility and do more to preserve the openness of democratic societies and identify foreign disinformation, especially including paid efforts to influence American elections through advertising or coordinated inauthentic behavior, and we will take steps to prevent the use of new technologies to facilitate repression, spread hate, or incite violence.

Democrats recognize that the security of data is only becoming more vital across all threads of technological progress. That’s why we will work with our allies and partners to develop secure 5G networks and address threats in cyberspace. Democrats will maintain American capabilities that can deter cyber threats, and we will work with other countries—and the private sector—to protect individuals’ data and defend critical infrastructure, including the global financial system.

We will also work to make sure that the revolution in biotechnology remains a force for global good. We will promote international efforts to responsibly and ethically manage research in areas like gene editing. We will sustain and improve international collaboration and data-sharing. And we will ensure equitable access to medical treatments and vaccines generated by new biotech discoveries. Democrats will partner with other countries and private companies to build up capacity and implement appropriate safety standards for any work that involves dangerous pathogens, and we remain staunchly committed to the international prohibition on the development or use of biological weapons.

Nonproliferation
Democrats believe the United States has a moral responsibility and national security imperative to prevent the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and eventually secure their elimination. Over the past four years, the Trump Administration has done precisely the opposite. Its brash nuclear threats, ill-considered withdrawals from critical arms control treaties and nuclear agreements, and reckless embrace of a new arms race have made the United States, and the world, less safe. Thanks to President Trump’s abdication of leadership, the nuclear dangers that Americans face are greater than they have been in decades.

Democrats reject a return to an old era of grave nuclear dangers.

Democrats believe that the sole purpose of our nuclear arsenal should be to deter—and, if necessary, retaliate against—a nuclear attack, and we will work to put that belief into practice, in consultation with our allies and military. We will work to maintain a strong, credible deterrent while reducing our overreliance and excessive expenditure on nuclear weapons. The Trump Administration’s proposal to build new nuclear weapons is unnecessary, wasteful, and indefensible.

Democrats commit to strengthening the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, maintaining the moratorium on explosive nuclear weapons testing, pushing for the ratification of the UN Arms Trade Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and extending New START. Just as was the case during the height of the Cold War, it’s in our interest to work with Russia to verifiably limit and reduce our nuclear stockpiles. We will build on this foundation to negotiate arms control agreements that reflect the emergence of new players like China, capture new technologies, and move the world back from the nuclear precipice.

Terrorism
So long as violent extremists continue to plot attacks on our homeland and our interests, Democrats will maintain a vigilant focus on counterterrorism.

Democrats recognize that the threat landscape has evolved dramatically since September 11. Our counterterrorism priorities, strategies, footprint, and tools should shift accordingly, including to respond to the growing threat from white supremacist and other right-wing terrorist groups

Democrats will sustain the global effort to defeat ISIS, al-Qaeda, and their affiliates. We will ensure that the world is equally committed to the difficult task that follows military success: dealing with the underlying conditions that allowed violent extremism to flourish in the first place. We will work with our partners to prioritize diplomatic, law enforcement, and intelligence tools, to reinforce our objectives instead of distorting them.

Democrats believe that our rhetoric, policies, and tactics—and those of our counterterrorism partners—should never serve as terrorist recruiting tools. We will always work to avoid civilian casualties, and we will not weaponize counterterrorism for anti-immigrant purposes. We will reject the targeting of Muslim, Arab, and other racial and ethnic communities based on their faith and backgrounds at home and abroad. We will close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, enhance transparency, oversight, and accountability in counterterrorism programs and operations, and safeguard civil liberties and the rule of law.

Democracy and Human Rights
Around the world, democracy and human rights are under greater assault than they have been in a generation. Under President Trump, the United States has too often been part of the assault and too rarely engaged in the defense and promotion of universal values. Democrats believe that the fight for universal values should start at home, but it can’t end there. Global democratic backsliding and the erosion of human rights put our interests and values at risk. That’s why the reinvention of American leadership demands we put democratic values at the core of our foreign policy, with renewed strategies and tools for a new era.

Democrats will make gender equality a key foreign policy priority and work to achieve gender parity across our national security team. We will implement the Women, Peace, and Security Act because advancing gender equality enhances stability and economic prosperity around the world. Along with our diplomatic partners, we will incorporate more women into peace processes—where their participation can improve the odds of a peace agreement holding—and ensure women’s leadership in peace and security processes globally. Democrats will lead international efforts to address the scourge of gender-based violence, and we will work to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. We will push for greater participation by women in the global workforce, which studies show can boost global GDP by 25 percent.

Democrats will always protect sexual and reproductive health and rights. We believe that comprehensive health services, including access to reproductive care and abortion services, are vital to the empowerment of women and girls. We will support the repeal of the global gag rule (also known as the Mexico City Policy) and measures like the Helms Amendment, which limit safe access to abortion. We will also restore and expand American contributions to the United Nations Population Fund to help guarantee access to health care for women and children around the world and eliminate child, early, and forced marriage.

Democrats will advance the ability of all persons to live with dignity, security, and respect, regardless of who they are or who they love. We will restore the United States’ position of leadership on LGBTQ+ issues by passing the GLOBE Act and appointing senior leaders directly responsible for driving and coordinating LGBTQ+ issues at the State Department, USAID, and the National Security Council. We will ensure that our immigration policies account for the needs of LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers, and that we use the full slate of human rights promotion and accountability tools to defend the universal rights of LGBTQ+ people. We will amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ persons around the world and counter violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons wherever it appears.

Democrats will stand up for and support civil society around the world. Crackdowns on civic space in recent years have undermined democracy, the rule of law, and the vibrancy and health of societies. As autocrats leverage technology and employ arbitrary legal measures to shrink civic space, the United States should lead the world in adapting and bolstering support for civic activism.

Democrats believe that the United States should defend freedom of the press. Independent media is not the enemy of the people, but the guardian of democracy. We will push back against erosion of press freedom wherever it occurs and in whatever form—whether through direct intimidation of, and violence against, journalists or legal, regulatory, and financial pressures that smother free speech.

We will fight human trafficking and strive to end the practice of modern-day slavery around the world. We will aggressively leverage U.S. law enforcement and strengthen diplomatic efforts to combat forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. And we will increase visas for victims of human trafficking at a time when mass migration has affected so many vulnerable communities.

Democrats believe that improving labor standards around the world protects human rights and promotes broad-based prosperity. We will ensure that America’s diplomatic and trade agreements include enforcement provisions for workers’ rights, and we will fight to end the evils of poverty-wage, child, and slave labor. We believe that American workers should not be undercut by foreign competition that relies on the abuse of workers, and we will support the rights of unions and workers abroad to organize, including International Labor Organization Conventions supporting freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Democrats believe that America should be a world leader when it comes to disability rights. We will work to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and we will appoint a Special Envoy for International Disability Rights. Across American diplomatic and development efforts, we will ensure that programs are disability-inclusive, and we will encourage partner countries and international organizations to address the needs of persons with disabilities.

Democrats believe that freedom of religion and the right to believe—or not to
believe—are fundamental human rights. We will never use protection of that right as a cover for discrimination. We reject the politicization of religious freedom in American foreign policy, and we condemn atrocities against religious minorities around the world—from ISIS’ genocide of Christians and Yezidis, to China’s mass internment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, to Burma’s persecution of the Rohingya, to attacks on religious minorities in Northeast Syria.

Democrats believe that the United States should serve as a model for countries around the world when it comes to safeguarding and promoting the rights of Indigenous peoples. We will reaffirm the Obama-Biden Administration’s support for, and strive to advance the principles of, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Consistent with the Declaration, the United States should urge the United Nations and the Organization of American States to create mechanisms that include the formal participation of Tribal nations.

Democrats will work to secure a better future for younger generations. Roughly 40 percent of the world’s population is under 25, and the proportion of young people is even higher in the developing world. Democrats will ensure that our policies, and those of our partners and development institutions, work to increase economic opportunities, expand education, and improve health care for young people around the world. And we will pay special attention to protecting the rights of youth and nurturing young leaders from vulnerable or underrepresented communities.

Democrats believe that the United States has an urgent, moral obligation and strategic interest to help alleviate suffering around the globe. Entrenched conflicts and unprecedented levels of forced migration have pushed the world into an acute humanitarian crisis that spills across borders. This year, almost 170 million people are going to need humanitarian assistance. By 2022 that figure could top 200 million, and need is poised to continue outstripping growth in humanitarian funding and capacity. Democrats will reassert America’s humanitarian example and leadership. We will contribute not just more aid, but better aid. The United States ought to drive the international community in providing more strategic, coordinated, proactive, predictable, and cost-effective funding—and in implementing programs that both reflect the realities of today’s increasingly complex and protracted humanitarian emergencies, and deliver on the health, education, and protection needs of populations devastated by conflict and displacement.

In the midst of the worst forced displacement crisis since WWII, the Trump Administration launched a campaign to undermine the global system that provides crucial assistance to refugees and the countries that give them safe harbor.

Democrats will end the Trump Administration’s shameful efforts to close doors to the world’s most vulnerable. We will reverse discriminatory bans and policies that deny protection to groups based on their religion, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We will significantly raise the annual global refugee admissions target, and work with Congress to create a minimum annual number for refugee admissions, while expanding and identifying new pathways for refugees to seek safe havens.

Admitting refugees is not only the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing to do. Bringing in those seeking a better life helps preserve the stability of America’s partners abroad, strengthens our hand in getting other countries to uphold their obligations, grows our own economy, and enriches our society.

Democrats believe that torture is immoral and ineffective. President Trump’s fondness for torture and other war crimes only gives fodder to America’s enemies. Democrats will immediately reaffirm the Obama-Biden Administration’s ban on torture and commit to upholding American values at home and abroad. We will condemn the mistreatment of imprisoned individuals wherever it occurs, and we will hold to account those who perpetrate human rights abuses.

Advancing American Interests’
Global Economy and Trade
Democrats will fight for every American job and will make sure American workers have a fair shot in the global economy.

For too long, the global trading system has failed to keep its promises to American workers. Too many corporations have rushed to outsource jobs, and too many countries have reneged on commitments to be honest and transparent partners.

We will not negotiate any new trade deals before first investing in American competitiveness at home. We will aggressively enforce existing trade laws and agreements. And we will insist on strong and enforceable standards for labor, human rights, and the environment in any future trade agreements, so that they build the American middle class, create jobs, raise wages, and strengthen our communities. We will use all tools at our disposal to take action against countries that steal American intellectual property or manipulate their currencies to get an unfair advantage in international markets.

Democrats believe that if the United States does not work with its allies and partners to shape the terms of global trade, China will shape them for us—and American working families and the middle class will pay the price. That’s why we will work with our allies to mobilize more than half the world’s economy to stand up to China and negotiate from the strongest possible position.

Democrats believe that fighting for American workers also means pushing back against global corruption, and we will make anti-corruption a priority in our foreign policy. The Trump Administration’s own shady dealings and its enthusiasm for authoritarianism abroad have only emboldened the world’s autocrats and kleptocrats. Democrats will implement new transparency measures aimed at preventing illicit money from flowing through the American financial system, including a ban on anonymous shell companies, expansions of anti-money laundering requirements, disclosure of beneficial ownership, and greater oversight of cross-border transactions. We will combat bribery abroad by expanding on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and we will deploy the full range of America’s diplomatic and economic tools to target kleptocrats—including targeted sanctions and visa bans.

When used strategically—as one of the tools employed, alongside our allies, to achieve clear policy objectives—financial and economic sanctions are an effective way to advance many core U.S. national security objectives. But when misused and overused, sanctions not only undermine our interests, they threaten one of the United States’ greatest strategic assets: the importance of the American financial system. Democrats will guard against the improper application of economic and financial sanctions that incentivize foreign businesses to bypass our financial system, corrode the power and potential of sanctions, undercut the potential of our diplomacy, hurt our economy, and threaten the key role of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

Africa
Democrats will revitalize our partnerships across Africa to unleash enormous potential for growth and innovation and address together challenges and stresses across the continent. Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Its population will roughly double to more than two billion by the middle of this century, and Nigeria is projected to have the third largest population in the world. American diplomacy can play a critical role in helping ensure that the region’s vulnerabilities to climate change and pandemic disease—and persistent challenges of regional conflict, illicit financial flows, poor governance, and food, water, and health insecurity—do not overwhelm its enormous opportunities.

At a moment when U.S.-Africa ties are increasingly important to our interests and our economy, and when our friends and rivals are investing more resources and diplomatic attention across the continent, the Trump Administration has treated Africa and its people with neglect and contempt. We will repair our relationships with African partners and publics, renewing our commitment to fight for democracy and human rights; advance peace and security; bolster economic growth and public health; and promote clean energy, sustainable agriculture, environmental protection, and decent work for all with special regard for youth and women. Democrats will recommit to the Obama-Biden Administration’s National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking and ban importation into the United States of hunting trophies from Africa’s iconic and endangered big cats. Democrats will seize opportunities to strengthen fragile political transitions in Sudan and Ethiopia while deepening relations with key partners. We will not shirk from our longstanding pledge to assist countries in Central Africa, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa to counter extremism and address root causes of insecurity. We will support the implementation of the African Union’s African Continental Free Trade Agreement and its Agenda 2063 and promote a multi-faceted economic engagement focused on increasing two-way and regional trade, promoting investment and partnership in key industries. And we will assist in Africa’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while expanding efforts to improve the resiliency of health systems across the continent. Moreover, we will stand in solidarity with our African counterparts against structural racism in the United States and abroad, and commit to elevate African voices in multilateral forums to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Americas
Democrats believe the Western Hemisphere is America’s strategic home base—a region bound together by common values, history, and vision of a more prosperous, democratic, and secure future. When the United States hosts the region’s leaders at next year’s Summit of the Americas—the first to be held here since the 1994 inaugural meeting in Miami—we will turn the page on the Trump Administration’s denigration and extortion of our neighbors, and we will chart a new era of cooperation based on partnership and shared responsibility for the region we all call home.

Democrats will reaffirm the importance of North America to U.S. global economic competitiveness. We will ensure the USMCA lives up to its commitment to create prosperity for American workers, and we will strictly enforce compliance with its labor and environmental provisions. We will reinvigorate and build upon the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza launched under the Obama-Biden Administration and work with our partners to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused the biggest economic decline in history across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Rather than coerce our neighbors into supporting cruel migration policies, we will work with our regional and international partners to address the root causes of migration—violence and insecurity, weak rule of law, lack of educational and economic opportunity, pervasive corruption, and environmental degradation. Rather than encourage climate denial and environmental devastation, we will rally the world to protect the Amazon from deforestation, protect Indigenous peoples, and help vulnerable nations in the Caribbean and Central America adapt to the impacts of climate change. And rather than imitate populist demagogues, we will link arms with our neighbors to realize our shared aspirations for the region’s future.

We will reject President Trump’s failed Venezuela policy, which has only served to entrench Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorial regime and exacerbate a human rights and humanitarian crisis. To rise to the occasion of the world’s worst refugee crisis and worst humanitarian crisis outside a warzone in decades, the United States will mobilize its partners across the region and around the world to meet the urgent needs of the people of Venezuela, and grant Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans in the United States. Democrats believe that the best opportunity to rescue Venezuela’s democracy is through smart pressure and effective diplomacy, not empty, bellicose threats untethered to realistic policy goals and motivated by domestic partisan objectives.

Democrats will also move swiftly to reverse Trump Administration policies that have undermined U.S. national interests and harmed the Cuban people and their families in the United States, including its efforts to curtail travel and remittances. Rather than strengthening the regime, we will promote human rights and people-to-people exchanges, and empower the Cuban people to write their own future.

Asia-Pacific
As a Pacific power, the United States should work closely with its allies and partners to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values—and shape the unfolding Pacific Century.

Democrats’ approach to China will be guided by America’s national interests and the interests of our allies, and draw on the sources of American strength—the openness of our society, the dynamism of our economy, and the power of our alliances to shape and enforce international norms that reflect our values. Undermining those strengths will not make us “tough on China.” It would be a gift to the Chinese Communist Party.

Democrats will be clear, strong, and consistent in pushing back where we have profound economic, security, and human rights concerns about the actions of China’s government.

Democrats will protect the American worker from unfair trade practices by the Chinese government, including currency manipulation and benefiting from a misaligned exchange rate with the dollar, illegal subsidies, and theft of intellectual property. We will rally friends and allies across the world to push back against China or any other country’s attempts to undermine international norms.

Democrats believe the China challenge is not primarily a military one, but we will deter and respond to aggression. We will underscore our global commitment to freedom of navigation and resist the Chinese military’s intimidation in the South China Sea. Democrats are committed to the Taiwan Relations Act and will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan.

Rather than stand with President Xi Jinping as he cracks down on Hong Kong’s autonomy, Democrats will stand for the democratic rights of its citizens. We will fully enforce the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, including by sanctioning officials, financial institutions, companies, and individuals responsible for undercutting Hong Kong’s autonomy. And we will bring the world together to condemn the internment of more than one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in concentration camps in China, using the tools provided by the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.

Democrats will pursue this strategy without resorting to self-defeating, unilateral tariff wars or falling into the trap of a new Cold War. Those mistakes would only serve to exaggerate China’s weight, over-militarize our policy, and hurt American workers.

America must approach our relationship with China with confidence—the confidence to lead international efforts to push back on malign behavior while also pursuing cooperation on issues of mutual interest like climate change and nonproliferation and ensuring that the U.S.-China rivalry does not put global stability at risk.

Rather than denigrate our partners and encourage tensions between our allies, the United States will work to strengthen ties with and between our key allies in the region, including Japan, South Korea, and Australia, and we will work to ensure that our alliances with Thailand and the Philippines live up to the values that our peoples share.

Together with our allies—and through diplomacy with North Korea — we will constrain and contain the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program and its regional belligerence. We will build a sustained, coordinated diplomatic campaign to advance the longer-term goal of denuclearization. And we will not forget the people of North Korea—Democrats will support humanitarian aid and pressure the regime to cease its gross human rights abuses.

We will reinvigorate our commitment to robust engagement with regional multilateral institutions like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which will help us promote the rule of law and sustainable, inclusive economic growth on both sides of the Pacific. And we will continue to invest in our strategic partnership with India—the world’s largest democracy, a nation of great diversity, and a growing Asia-Pacific power.

Europe
In the 30 years since the fall of the Berlin wall, the United States and Europe have strived to build a transatlantic community of free and democratic societies that works together to bring peace, prosperity, and dignity to all our citizens. The Trump Administration has put that dream in grave danger. Donald Trump either does not know or has forgotten who America’s friends are. He sees Europe as a foe—not a friend—of the United States. He sees Vladimir Putin’s Russia as a strategic partner—not a strategic rival. He sees anti-European Union, far-right nationalists as political allies—not destructive antagonists.

Democrats, on the other hand, believe a united, democratic, and prosperous Europe is vital to the United States. We believe the transatlantic alliance is the ballast of our global influence. Ours is the largest economic relationship in the world, making up nearly half of global GDP. NATO is the world’s most formidable military alliance. And together, we stand as champions of universal rights and freedoms around the world. Transatlantic cooperation is crucial to addressing almost every global challenge we face.

Democrats will reinvigorate the transatlantic partnership to repair the damage of the Trump era and preempt the risks of broader structural divergence between the U.S. and Europe. We will work together with individual European countries and the European Union to counter threats to our democracies and enhance shared resilience against corruption and kleptocracy. We will support greater European integration, stronger defense capabilities, and greater energy security. We will enhance our coordination and joint standard setting on technology, trade, and investment, and we will work to boost our post-COVID-19 economic recovery and reduce inequality.

Democrats will join our European partners in standing up to a revanchist Russia. We will not allow Moscow to interfere in our democracies or chip away at our resolve. We will reaffirm America’s commitment to NATO and defending our allies. We will maintain transatlantic support for Ukraine’s reform efforts and its territorial integrity. Democrats will lower regional—and global—threats by reinforcing nuclear arms control.

We believe Europe is our natural partner in managing areas of competition with China and will work to establish common priorities, strategies, and tools. And just as we came together to stand up to communism and respond to global terrorism, we will come together with Europe to confront the existential challenge of climate change.

Middle East
Turning the page on two decades of large-scale military deployments and open-ended wars in the Middle East does not mean the United States will abandon a region where we and our partners still have enduring interests. Democrats believe it’s past time, however, to rebalance our tools, engagement, and relationships in the Middle East away from military intervention—leading with pragmatic diplomacy to lay the groundwork for a more peaceful, stable, and free region.

Democrats will call off the Trump Administration’s race to war with Iran and prioritize nuclear diplomacy, de-escalation, and regional dialogue. Democrats believe the United States should not impose regime change on other countries and reject that as the goal of U.S. policy toward Iran. We believe the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) remains the best means to verifiably cut off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear bomb. The Trump Administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA isolated us from our allies and opened the door for Iran to resume its march toward a nuclear weapons capacity that the JCPOA had stopped. That’s why returning to mutual compliance with the agreement is so urgent. The nuclear deal was always meant to be the beginning, not the end, of our diplomacy with Iran. Democrats support a comprehensive diplomatic effort to extend constraints on Iran’s nuclear program and address Iran’s other threatening activities, including its regional aggression, ballistic missile program, and domestic repression.

Democrats also believe we need to reset our relations with our Gulf partners to better advance our interests and values. The United States has an interest in helping our partners contend with legitimate security threats; we will support their political and economic modernization and encourage efforts to reduce regional tensions. But we have no interest in continuing the blank-check era of the Trump Administration, or indulging authoritarian impulses, internal rivalries, catastrophic proxy wars, or efforts to roll back political openings across the region.

Effective relations with the Gulf will help us reconnect Iraq to its neighbors and protect the country’s stability, security, and sovereignty. Democrats support a small, finite, and focused military presence to train our Iraqi partners so they can ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS. We also support keeping up the offensive against ISIS in Syria to prevent it from regaining a foothold, and will stand by Kurdish and other critical partners in that fight. We will work to repatriate foreign fighter detainees, and reinvigorate diplomacy to protect the humanitarian needs and human and civil rights of all Syrians and find a political resolution for this horrific war. Democrats are deeply concerned by the deepening crisis in Lebanon and are committed to work with the Lebanese people to promote political and economic reform, financial stability, and security.

Democrats believe a strong, secure, and democratic Israel is vital to the interests of the United States. Our commitment to Israel’s security, its qualitative military edge, its right to defend itself, and the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding is ironclad.

Democrats recognize the worth of every Israeli and every Palestinian. That’s why we will work to help bring to an end a conflict that has brought so much pain to so many. We support a negotiated two-state solution that ensures Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state with recognized borders and upholds the right of Palestinians to live in freedom and security in a viable state of their own.

Democrats oppose any unilateral steps by either side—including annexation—that undermine prospects for two states. Democrats will continue to stand against incitement and terror. We oppose settlement expansion. We believe that while Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths. Democrats will restore U.S.-Palestinian diplomatic ties and critical assistance to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza, consistent with U.S. law. We oppose any effort to unfairly single out and delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement, while protecting the Constitutional right of our citizens to free speech.

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