On Tuesday, November 8, Americans will go to the polls and elect the next president.
Some of the most daunting tasks facing the next president come in the realm of foreign policy.
The next president will have to negotiate with a rising China, a newly resurgent Russia, a defiant North Korea, and a drawn out civil war in Syria, among other issues.
We looked into where Hillary Clinton stands on some of the most pressing foreign-policy questions facing the US today.
The Iran Deal
The nuclear pact between the US and Iran offers Iran about $100 billion in relief from international sanctions in exchange for halting its nuclear program for the next 10 years.
The pact represents a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s foreign-policy legacy as he prepares to leave office. But it has been viciously attacked by conservative hardliners both in the US and Iran.
Clinton supports the Iran deal. As secretary of state, Clinton helped to impose sanctions on Iran that in part lead to the deal. Clinton holds that the Iran deal offered a diplomatic solution to an issue that could have become a war.
Clinton talked about the Iran deal in San Diego, California, earlier this year:
“When President Obama took office, Iran was racing toward a nuclear bomb. Some called for military action. But that could have ignited a broader war that could have mired our troops in another Middle Eastern conflict.
“President Obama chose a different path. And I got to work leading the effort to impose crippling global sanctions. We brought Iran to the table. We began talks. And eventually, we reached an agreement that should block every path for Iran to get a nuclear weapon.
“Now we must enforce that deal vigorously.”
Syria, Iraq, and ISIS
After the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that deposed Saddam Hussein, the US has maintained a constant presence in the country as it struggles to establish new, credible leadership.
Meanwhile, Syria descended into chaos after its president, Bashar Assad, violently suppressed pro-democracy demonstrators in 2011. In both nations, the Islamic State has risen as a powerful and brutal military force in direct opposition to the West. In 2014, the US intervened in the conflict by offering funding, training, and airstrikes to support moderate opposition to Assad’s regime.
In the same year, ISIS, an offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq, filled the power vacuum in the desert along the borders of the two adjacent, troubled nations. By almost all measures, ISIS has lost ground militarily since its peak. But it has continued to carry out or inspire attacks overseas.
Clinton has expressed a three-point strategy to take out ISIS in Iraq and Syria in concert with our allies and the global community, paraphrased below:
1. Take out ISIS’ Syrian and Iraqi capitals of Raqqa and Mosul, respectively, with increased airstrikes and support for local Arab and Kurdish forces, while pursuing a diplomatic strategy aimed at Syria and Iraq’s leadership.
2. Disrupt ISIS’ supply lines of money, weapons, fighters, and their ability to distribute propaganda. This extends beyond Iraq and Syria into Afghanistan, Libya, and other ISIS strongholds. And it includes combating their cyber and social-media presence, as well as rebutting their interpretation of Islam.
3. Harden US domestic defences to a point where they deter attacks and discover plots before bad actors can execute.
Getty Images/Defne Karadeniz
A boy looks out from a window of his home in the border town of Jarablus, August 31, 2016, Syria.
There have been multiple lone-wolf-style attacks on US soil in in the last year. Mass shootings last year, according to one definition of the term, happened more than once daily on average.
In at least one case — the shooting in Orlando that left nearly 50 people dead — the shooters have expressed support for overseas terror groups.
Hillary Clinton says ISIS’ shrinking power and influence in Iraq and Syria has made the group desperate. Therefore, she says, it lashes out internationally and at the West. In the aftermath of the ISIS-led attack on the Brussels airport, Clinton offered the following three-point strategy to combat terrorism:
“First, we face an adversary that is constantly adapting and operating across multiple theatres, so our response must be just as nimble and far-reaching.
“Second, to defeat this transnational threat, we need to reinforce the alliances that have been core pillars of American power for decades.”
“And third, we need to rely on what actually works — not bluster that alienates our partners and doesn’t make us any safer.”
NATO and Russia
Founded in 1949 by democratic nations in Europe and North America to defend against the spread of communism, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is the most powerful military alliance the world has ever known.
Though the Soviet Union has collapsed, Russia, under President Vladimir Putin’s rule, has risen again to become a world power and a military threat.
Putin runs Russia with near total autonomy and violated international law with the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Putin has been accused of having dissenters killed, war crimes, weaponizing the Syrian refugee crisis to fracture unity within the European Union, and multiple cyber attacks on the US.
Despite NATO’s size and strength, the migrant crisis, anxieties about terrorism, and strained economies present real weaknesses that experts say Putin has deftly exploited. Militarily, US generals concede that Russia poses real threats to the US.
Furthermore, Russia supports Syria’s Bashar Assad, while the US supports opposition forces. In Syria, Eastern Europe, and even the Pacific, Russia promotes causes contrary to the interests of the US and the democratic West.
Hillary Clinton presided over Obama’s “reset” in relations with Russia back in 2009 but has since come around to depicting Putin as a “bully.”
Speaking about Putin at a debate, Clinton said:
“Well, my relationship, it’s — it’s interesting. It’s one, I think, of respect. We’ve had some very tough dealings with one another. And I know that he’s someone that you have to continually stand up to because, like many bullies, he is somebody who will take as much as he possibly can unless you do.”
Since Trump began publicly praising Putin, Clinton’s campaign has portrayed him as potentially dangerous to US interests.
“It is beyond one’s imagination to have a candidate for president praising a Russian autocrat like Vladimir Putin,” she has said.
Israel is one of the US’s most reliable allies, and one of the biggest clients for foreign military sales.
Israel has been accused of wrongdoing in pushing out Palestinians from areas like the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Many Middle Eastern states, most prominently Iran, have come to resent the US for the alliance.
Peace between Israel and Palestinians remains one of the most elusive and sought-after solutions on the world stage.
Clinton helped broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas during her tenure as secretary of state, one of her more-touted achievements. She remains resolutely in support of Israel and hopeful about an eventual two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Clinton has questioned Trump’s dedication to the cause, especially him claiming he’d try to remain neutral in talks between Israel and Palestine.
“America can’t ever be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security and survival,” Clinton told the American-Israeli Political Action Conference in March. “Anyone who doesn’t understand that has no business being our president.”
Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, North Korea has been a stronghold of communism and totalitarianism under the Kim dynasty. Recently, Kim Jong Un has made startling progress in developing nuclear warheads and advanced, long-range missiles to launch them.
Perhaps no regime on earth is as openly antagonistic toward the US as North Korea. Only China has any modicum of influence over the Hermit Kingdom.
Clinton’s strategy of containment via sanctions toward North Korea makes no large departures from Obama’s, though she has come out hard against the country’s recent nuclear testing, saying: “We will not allow North Korea to have a deliverable nuclear weapon” to US territory.
Clinton has also criticised Trump for saying that he would host Kim Jong Un should he visit the US.
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