I am honored to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee for the 115th Congress, and on the Western Hemisphere and Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats Subcommittees.
As a former U.S. Ambassador, I have witnessed first-hand the impact our foreign policy has across the globe. During the last eight years under President Obama, our country has seen a steady deterioration of our credibility around the world. In simple terms, the United States is no longer respected by our enemies and our allies are unsure of our intentions. President Obama's foreign policy short-comings were most apparent in his Administration’s relationship with our ally, Israel.
United States foreign policy should focus on the strategic importance of Latin America. Closer ties with our allies in the region are necessary to prompt further economic growth, to promote human rights by defeating the causes of the Western Hemisphere’s refugee crisis, to combat drug trafficking, and to promote regional stability.
There are currently two divergent blocs which comprise most of the countries in Latin America. The first bloc, which includes Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Peru, is committed to the rule of law, free markets and political freedom. The second group is one of authoritarian, populist governments which maintain their power through suppression of the opposition and corruption. Cuba and Venezuela are the worst offenders of this second style of governance. It is important to the United States that the second bloc to reverse course and become more ideologically aligned with the first.
The current situation in Venezuela is particularly alarming. The Maduro regime in Venezuela routinely jails political opponents while depriving its citizens of basic human necessities through its failed socialist policies. The newly appointed vice-president has ties to both drug cartels and radical Islamic groups. Strong actions are needed to end the crisis in Venezuela and bring stability to the region.
A new plan of action is needed to respond to one of our greatest geopolitical threats, Russia. Too often, the past Administration focused their Russia strategy on making empty statements and on seeking to deploy the pressure of sanctions in an attempt to “reset” United States-Russian relations, a position of weakness instead of strength. A strategy based on actions which are firm and clear, rather than words, is all that will deter Russia from further aggression.
We need to undertake a careful assessment of our interests in the region and the threat to them posed by an aggressive Russia. Then we can articulate a strategy based on protecting these strategic interests. First, the United States needs to make clear that we stand behind NATO and in unison with our allies in Central and Eastern Europe. This could be accomplished by following through on recent proposals to hold NATO exercises in the Baltic states and Poland, as well as by discussing reinstating the missile shield removed by President Obama. Second, we need to narrowly but clearly define the areas where there is alignment with Russian actions. While we do not agree with Russia’s support for the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, we are allied in seeking the extermination of ISIS.
Too often Latin America’s strategic importance has been overlooked by United States policy makers, which is a mistake because instability in the region undermines security in the entire western hemisphere. The corrupt socialist regime in Venezuela, which has links to terrorist groups in the Middle East, is a prime example of why instability in Latin America should be a major focus of U.S. policy makers.
Read More about my thoughts on Venezuela in my Op-Ed Here
Iran’s quest for hegemony in the Middle East has changed the political landscape in the region. The unintended consequence of these actions is that Saudi Arabia, the Sunni rival to Shia Iran, is taking on a more prominent role in regional diplomacy and outreach to moderate Muslims. Iranian mischief in the Arab world has created the potential for a Saudi Arabia-Israel security partnership, as both nations are drawn together around the common goal of stopping Iranian aggression, including its nuclear ambitions. Saudi Arabia is also adding its voice to the fight against Islamic extremism.
Read more about my thoughts on Saudi Arabia in my Op-Ed Here
Reactions to President Trump’s recent executive order reversing President Obama’s misguided Cuba policy have missed the point. The focus on the tourism aspects of the deal are misplaced, as the real issue with our relationship with Cuba is capitalism and free enterprise versus communist socialism. Specifically, the Obama policy sought no commercial reforms and favored the Cuban regime over the Cuban people. President Trump’s changes are meant to avoid commercially supporting the Cuban dictatorship by preventing transactions with GAESA, the military run enterprise that controls much of the Cuban economy. American capitalism should never support Cuban communism, and going forward it won’t.
Read more about my thoughts on Cuba in my Op-Ed Here
United Nations Human Rights Council
Claiming to be a champion of human rights, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) continues to act in complete contradiction of its mandate to protect human rights and reflects the cronyism and corruption of many of its member governments. The Council devotes far too much time attacking Israel, one of its top agenda items, while ignoring serious and pervasive human rights violations around the world. Worse, the UNHRC routinely attracts as its members many of the world’s most notorious human rights abusers and authoritarian regimes, including Venezuela.
Read more about my thoughts on the UN Human Rights Council in my Op-Ed Here
United Nation Reforms
As a former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, I have worked with a uniquely non-hegemonic sovereign that utilizes moral persuasion and "soft power" diplomacy to combat crises around the world. Whether Islamic-inspired terrorism, medical epidemics, corrupt regimes, or human rights violations, this form of diplomacy can produce positive outcomes and avoid armed conflict.
And this is why the unaccountable and underperforming United Nations needs serious reform. Read more about my thoughts on the UN in my Op-Ed Here
Catalonia and Kurdish Iraq
Catalonia and Iraqi Kurdistan are engulfed in identity crises. While the two independence movements are the subject of frequent comparison, their situations differ because of historical, cultural, and economic ties with their respective mother countries. Read more about my thoughs in my Op-Ed Here