Peace and Diplomacy

"Maintaining our global leadership throughout the world is essential to our national interests and our security."

SUMMARY OF STANCE

In a world of rapid modernization, global trade, and emerging threats, it is vital to our national interests that we continue to be a key player on the international stage. I have long believed that military action should remain a last resort. Our first response should always be diplomacy. Only through negotiations can we hope to maintain peace and expand freedom around the world.

RELATED ACTIONS AND LEGISLATION

Introducing legislation is just one action that a member of Congress can take to address a concern or issue that impacts constituents. House Members can also introduce Congressional resolutions calling on the House (or even the full Congress) as a body to recognize or support a certain event or position on an issue. Members can write letters to government leaders requesting they take certain action, hold hearings with expert panels to address issues, work with colleagues at the committee level on specific issues, or even make direct in-person appeals to other Members or officials in the government. Here are a few examples of how I have taken action on this issue.

Human Rights

Human rights must be an essential goal of United States foreign policy, and I believe our country should play a critical role in advancing the rights of all peoples across the globe.  To learn more about my work on human rights, click here.

Diplomatic Relations

The United States must continue to be at the forefront of progressive diplomatic efforts At the same time we must promote diplomacy and peaceful resolutions to international conflicts. When America and its allies are faced with violent adversity, we must always stand vigilant and continue our cooperative efforts abroad in the name of liberty and justice for all people.

North Korea

The situation with North Korea is fraught with danger. North Korea’s despotic leader, Kim Jong-un, has made clear that his ambition is to possess weapons, both nuclear and conventional, that can reach the U.S. mainland.

It is critically important that the United States demonstrate leadership. We must work with our allies, Japan and South Korea, to ensure that North Korea does not have the capability of attacking the U.S., Japan, or South Korea with nuclear weapons. We must work with China to diffuse the situation and pressure North Korea to step back from the nuclear precipice.
 

Few decisions are more needing of debate than a move to launch attacks, or declare war, on a nuclear-armed state such as North Korea. Military action against North Korea was considered by the Obama, Bush and Clinton Administrations, but all ultimately determined there was no military option that would not run the unacceptable risk of a severe and vicious counter-reaction from Pyongyang. This reaction could immediately threaten the lives of as many as a third of the South Korean population, put nearly 30,000 U.S. service members and over 100,000 other U.S. citizens residing in South Korea in grave danger, and also threaten other regional allies such as Japan.

To hammer home the point that military action must be a haven of last resort, I wrote to the President directly to remind him of constitutional responsibility to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force, which would include any military action against North Korea that is not in response to an attack by that country. The mandate requiring Congressional consultation and authorization is prescribed in both the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

The agreement has been successfully implemented and Iran continues to meet its obligations under the terms. But make no mistake: Iran must never be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. As we move forward, the basis of this agreement must remain verification, not trust. Iran must remain to be held to a rigid and rigorous scrutiny demanding their compliance with every word of the agreement. If they don't, it will be our duty to impose the full weight of the agreement's penalties and sanctions. In the case of violation, all options, including military action, must remain open.

Syrian Civil War

It is my desire to see a lasting peace established in the Middle East. I deplore the loss of life in Syria and I condemn the violence and human rights violations on all sides of the conflict.

Should diplomatic efforts fail in the case of international conflict, I support robust economic and political sanctions from the international community before deciding upon military action. I firmly believe that peace should always remain our primary goal, but we cannot back down to terrorism or human rights abuses abroad.

In August of 2013 and again in early 2017, the United Nations and the international community received information that Syrian President Bashar Assad used sarin nerve gas against his own people during the ongoing civil war. I have strongly condemned both attacks. While the murder of Syrian civilians by the Syrian government is an obscenity in and of itself, the use of chemical weapons is an affront to every rule, law, and convention that the United States and the international community hold sacrosanct. These flagrant violations of international conventions, along with numerous other attacks against Syrian civilians using other weapons banned by international treaty, make me believe that Assad is guilty of serious war crimes that he must be held accountable for by the international community.

The 2017 chemical attack is even more heinous because Syria had already agreed to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons following the international outcry over the 2013 attacks. It only further reinforces that Assad cannot be trusted.

Ultimately, the burden to resolve the Syrian situation must come from Syria’s neighbors and other nations in the Middle East. While I believe it is critical for the United States to play a role, it believe it should not be one that involves troops on the ground.

Even when it comes to the use of American air power to attack forces in Syria, I believe that the President must consult with and gain the approval of Congress as no Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) currently exists to allow the President to attack a nation that has not directly attacked the U.S.

International Development

The United States is a force for good throughout the world, and I believe it is imperative that we continue to expand our positive impact which can only, in turn, strengthen our relationship with our international friends. Working with intergovernmental agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of State, and the private sector, I believe we can help promote development, democracy, and a thriving economy both at home and abroad.

It is both disappointing and discouraging to see the proposed budgetary decimation of our nation’s foreign aid by the Trump Administration. It is in our best interest as a nation to provide this type of aid as it helps promotes international stability and engenders good will toward the U.S.


CAUCUSES OR MEMBERSHIPS RELATED TO ISSUE

Congressional Caucus on Vietnam

I am proud to serve as the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam which is dedicated to fighting for civil, political, and religious freedom for the citizens of Vietnam.

Congressional Cambodia Caucus
I am the co-founder and serve as the Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Cambodia Caucus which brings together Members of Congress interested in both Cambodia’s difficult political situation and the broader U.S. relationship with the Southeast Asian nation.

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
The mission of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is to promote, defend and advocate internationally recognized human rights norms in a nonpartisan manner, both within and outside of Congress, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights instruments.

Humpty Dumpty Institute -- Congressional Advisory Board
The Humpty Dumpty Institute is a unique non-profit organization that serves people in the developing world through the implementation of large-scale humanitarian projects and through its work with the United Nations.

Connecting the Americas Caucus
The Connecting the Americas Caucus focuses on deepening our relationship with Latin America and discussing new approaches to U.S. policy toward the region.  The caucus encourages small and medium-sized businesses to collaborate to create jobs, promote innovation, and, ultimately, improve security. The caucus highlights investment opportunities in the U.S. banking and transportation sectors for Latin American businesses, connects U.S. businesses with Members of Congress, identifies market access obstacles and opportunities, and ensures that rule of law and human rights are respected.

Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans
The Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans is a bi-partisan caucus that champions strong ties between the United States and India, as well as the growing Indian-American community in the U.S.

Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus
This caucus as an informational and advocacy entity in the House for besieged religious minorities who are central to a pluralistic, multi-cultural Middle East.

For more information concerning my work and views on peace and foreign affairs, please contact me.

Related Files

More on Peace and Diplomacy

December 23, 2016 Speech and Floor Statement
Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today issued the following statement regarding an expected United Nations Security Council vote calling for an end to Israeli settlements.

December 8, 2016 Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today issued the following statement on the selection by President-elect Trump of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency:

"Now, more than ever, Americans understand that the consequences for our families will be severe if the Environmental Protection Agency walks away from its role of upholding our fundamental U.S. environmental laws that protect the health and safety of our communities. 

"This is why I oppose the appointment of Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator.

October 27, 2016 Press Release

Congressmen Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Steve Chabot (OH-01) today issued the following joint bipartisan statement on the formal exile of Mr. Sam Rainsy by the Cambodian government:

October 5, 2016 Press Release

Congressmen Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Ed Royce (CA-39) today urged Secretary of State John Kerry to exercise his authority under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to return Vietnam to the list of "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPC) because of government moves to restrict religious freedom.

In a letter, Congressmen Lowenthal and Royce point out that Vietnam was removed from this list in November 2006 because of supposed government progress on increasing religious freedom for the Vietnamese people.

September 30, 2016 Speech and Floor Statement
Congressman Alan Lowenthal released the following statement on the passing of former President and Prime Minister of Israel Shimon Peres:

August 10, 2016 Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today, along with 68 of his House colleagues, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging the State Department to put strengthening the rule of law and defense of human rights at the top of the U.S. bilateral agenda with Mexico.

The letter expresses concern over the 27,000 unresolved cases of people who have disappeared in Mexico since 2007, and the slow pace of reform in the Mexican military, law enforcement, and justice sectors.

March 22, 2016 Press Release
Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Congressman Steve Chabot (OH-01) today announced the creation of a bipartisan Congressional Cambodia Caucus to bring together Members of Congress interested in both Cambodia's difficult political situation and the broader U.S. relationship with the Southeast Asian nation. Congressmen Lowenthal and Chabot will serve as the co-chairs of the new Cambodia Caucus.

February 12, 2016 Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on the recent Syrian cease-fire agreement:

December 10, 2015 Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal today introduced a House Resolution honoring Human Rights Day and the 67th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

December 8, 2015 Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal is calling on the Prime Minister of Cambodia to revoke the arrest warrant of opposition leader Sam Rainsy, renounce all forms of political violence, and end the systemic harassment and intimidation of political opposition to the current Cambodian government.

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