1. Advocacy Resource

Foreign Policy: Questions for Candidates

Washington Newsletter No. 785, June 2018

June 5, 2018


Even when you disagree with a candidate, engaging in a civil dialogue can leave the door open for future conversation.

Cancel the Blank Check for War

Question: Will you vote for repeal of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force and require the president to seek congressional approval before taking our country into wars of choice?

FCNL Perspective: As a matter of faith, FCNL believes that war is not the answer to the threats our nation faces. As a matter of public policy, the decision to commit our country to military action should not be undertaken lightly. To avoid concentrating excessive power in the executive branch, Congress has the constitutional power to decide when our country goes to war. Yet Congress has largely abdicated this responsibility. Three presidents have used the 2001 Authorization to justify unrestrained military action in the Middle East, Africa, and Indonesia—at least 41 military engagements in 18 countries. Congress needs to cancel this blank check for war by repealing the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Sustain Diplomacy with North Korea

Question: Will you support sustained diplomacy with North Korea and oppose any preventive or preemptive military attack on North Korea without explicit congressional authorization?

FCNL Perspective: Even as the prospects for peace have improved on the Korean peninsula, the threat of war remains. Members of Congress have been silent or, even worse, criticized efforts to pursue diplomacy with North Korea. This needs to change. War with North Korea would impose disastrous costs on the United States and its allies. Congress must not allow the president to choose a war that could cost millions of Korean and U.S. lives. Congress should also back the search for diplomatic solutions. The United States has engaged in dialogue and diplomacy with North Korea in the past to avoid war while securing vital national interests—as it did with the Soviet Union before that. It must do so again.

Stop the Bombs in Yemen

Question: U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen is literally fueling the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today. U.S. pilots are re-fueling Saudi bomber jets as they drop U.S.-made bombs on Yemeni civilians. Will you work to end all U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen?

FCNL Perspective: Since March 2015, the U.S. has supported the Saudi-led military coalition to wage a devastating war in Yemen, plunging that country into humanitarian crisis. The coalition is bombing civilians and blocking humanitarian aid from getting into the country. The U.S. has backed the coalition at every stage in this war, from furnishing planes and bombs to sending U.S. pilots to refuel Saudi bomber jets in Yemen’s skies. Congress should end U.S. support for this war and stop all arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition.

Rein in Pentagon Spending

Question: Taxpayers are handing the Pentagon more than $1 million every minute—more, after inflation, than at the height of the Cold War. We don’t know what happens to that money, since the Pentagon’s finances have never passed an audit. Will you oppose any new Pentagon spending unless the Defense Department’s spending is thoroughly audited?

FCNL Perspective: FCNL does not support spending taxpayer money on war and violence. Yet even those who support some military spending can agree that Pentagon spending is out of control. Congress increased the agency’s budget to a whopping $716 billion—more than the next six largest military budgets combined—despite the fact that the Pentagon, unlike every other federal agency, has never passed a basic financial audit. The Pentagon’s own internal study identified $125 billion in potential savings over five years. After years of promises, the Pentagon this year finally started an audit, but it is unlikely to be completed soon. At the very least, Congress should put a moratorium on any new spending until the Pentagon can demonstrate where the money goes.

Revive the Iran Nuclear Deal

Question: President Trump’s decision to violate the Iran nuclear deal makes war with Iran more likely. Will you do everything you can to prevent such a war and to press the administration to reverse this decision?

FCNL Perspective: The Iran nuclear deal successfully closed off Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and made the world safer. U.S. and Israeli security officials have attested that the deal is working and that Tehran has upheld its commitments. The collapse of the deal would remove extensive monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program, making U.S. and Israeli military action more likely. Members of Congress should press the Trump administration to reverse course, demand emergency hearings to question administration officials, and reach out to the other diplomats involved in the deal to discuss how to avoid military conflict.

Ensure the U.S. Has Peacebuilding Tools

Question: Preventing genocide and mass atrocities protects national security, advances economic interests, avoids U.S. military interventions, and saves lives. Do you support the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, which makes sure the U.S. has the tools it needs to address the root causes of violent conflict?

FCNL Perspective: Before, during, and after a conflict, the U.S. can work to build peace—­­if our government invests in the institutions and personnel necessary for peacebuilding to succeed. Congress has a critical role to play in appropriating funds and establishing peacebuilding structures. The bipartisan Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act protects institutions that ensure effective coordination across the U.S. government, supports training for Foreign Service Officers in early warning signs, and prioritizes flexible funding to address unforeseen crises through mechanisms such as the Complex Crisis Fund. The bill would help the U.S. respond before mass violence starts.

Welcome Refugees

Question: Will you support full funding for the U.S. refugee resettlement program and call for increased admissions of refugees?

FCNL Perspective: FCNL supports openness to refugees, as well as victims of violence and human trafficking and those seeking asylum. We are disturbed by the Trump administration’s decision to scale back refugee resettlement, abandoning the U.S. leadership role in the international community and its moral duty to help those fleeing violence and persecution. The administration has increased vetting requirements, diverted funds from refugee resettlement, enacted bans on refugees from some Muslim-majority countries and reduced the refugee admissions goals to historic lows. Congress should fully fund the refugee resettlement program and call on the administration to increase resettlement.