Foreign Relations & National Security
Today, more than ever, the impact of international developments are hitting home here in the U.S. Our national economy and national security are increasingly dependent on world events and people, places, and issues thousands of miles away from New Jersey.
As a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Menendez is working toward a robust American foreign policy that uses “smart power” to achieve our international objectives, maintains a level playing field for New Jersey companies doing business abroad, and supports basic human rights and freedoms for all people around the globe. He’s working to strengthen ties between the United States and like-minded democratic countries around the world to strengthen markets, to build strategic defense alliances, and to coordinate responses to global threats such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and drug trafficking.
Our country has long been a “beacon on the hill,” shining a light on human rights, religious freedom, and liberty for the entire world to see. Senator Menendez firmly believes that the commitment of the American people to the idea that all people are created equally and have the right to choose their own form of government is a source of inspiration to millions of people around the world. That’s why he has made promoting human rights, especially for women and children, a top priority.
As Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Senator Menendez takes a professional and personal interest in the affairs of, and our relationship with, our neighbors to the north and south, having held hearings on a range of topics concerning our Hemisphere, such as: building democracy; drug trafficking; securing borders; reconstruction in Haiti; and the threat posed by Iran’s growing influence in the hemisphere.
- Iran Sanctions. An architect of U.S. policy to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons poses a threat to the national security of the United States and our allies in the region. A nuclear Iran would fundamentally alter the strategic balance of the region and alter commitments to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In December 2011, Senator Menendez authored an amendment that passed the Senate 100-0 and became law, sanctioning the Central Bank of Iran and preventing any international financial institution that does business with the Central Bank of Iran from doing business in the United States. This new tool has substantially impacted the Iranian economy, causing the Iranian currency to fall by more than 50% and has reduced revenue from Iran’s petroleum export revenue by $45-$50 billion.
- Libya. Led a Senate investigation into the pre-mature release of Pan Am bomber Abdelbaset al_Megrahi in 2009 by the Scottish government. The 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland killed 270 people, including 34 New Jerseyans. Al-Megrahi was purportedly released on humanitarian grounds because he had less than 3 months to live (he lived for nearly 3 years after his release). The investigation determined that he was most likely released for political and commercial reasons. Senator Menendez has used his Senate office to press the new Libyan government to cooperate with ongoing U.S. Government investigations into the Pan Am 103 bombing and other terrorist attacks associated with the Qaddafi government against Americans. In March 2011, Senator Menendez sponsored the successful Senate resolution condemning gross and systematic violations of human rights in Libya and calling on the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from attacks by Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi.
- Israel. Strong advocate for the Jewish people’s right to live in peace and security in their homeland. The legitimacy of any peace process must be weighed against the assurances Israel requires for its security. A peace agreement must be sustainable and can be achieved only by the two parties negotiating with each other. In September 2011, Senators Menendez and Lieberman led a letter, signed by 14 Senators, to President Obama urging him to “make it clear that we will not tolerate continued threats to Israel…or attempts to delegitimize Israel at the UN or other forums” and that “violence and unilateralism against Israel will be met with the strongest U.S. opposition.”
- Iraq War. Voted against the 2003 resolution giving the president authority for the Iraq War and fully agreed with President Obama’s decision to bring our troops home from Iraq in 2011. Senator Menendez firmly believes that the war there was a war of choice, not a war of necessity. The United States lost too many of its brave fighting men and women, and suffered too many wounded to justify our more than 8 years of fighting in Iraq. We won’t forget their sacrifice and the promise we made to give them the help they need when they return. History will judge whether the Iraq war achieved its goals, but as a nation we honor those who served and offer our prayers to the families of those who gave their lives for their nation.
- Afghanistan and Pakistan. Strong advocate for bringing our troops home from Afghanistan as soon as possible. Senator Menendez believes that absent a very long and sustained commitment involving many troops on the ground that we cannot win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, or even of Afghan President Karzai, who has repeatedly berated the U.S. effort. The Senator applauded President Obama on his plan for drawing down American troops in Afghanistan, saying “This is welcome news for our troops and their families and a significant step in the right direction that reflects the progress we have made toward meeting our original goals of disrupting and dismantling the Al Qaeda terrorist threat to the United States.” Senator Menendez also has serious concerns about our relationship with the Pakistani government and believes we need to be very cautious in providing any assistance to ensure that it is both in the national security interests of the U.S., and will not affect the balance of power in the region. Following the discovery of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, Menendez led a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling for an assessment of Pakistan’s commitment to fight terrorism and cooperate with the U.S. before providing additional security assistance.
- Human Rights in Africa. Working to help prevent and respond to genocide and other mass atrocities worldwide, consistently supporting initiatives to advance human rights in Africa. In particular, Senator Menendez has cosponsored Senate resolutions commending the African Union for their ongoing efforts to find and arrest the Lord’s Resistance Army’s (LRA’s) Joseph Kony, as well as condemning the LRA, a group that terrorizes civilians in central Africa and has abducted tens of thousands of children in the past 25 years.
- Sudan and Darfur . Has long worked toward stability and peace in Sudan, as well as to provide humanitarian, development and diplomatic assistance to the region. Preceding Southern Sudan’s referendum on self-determination, Senator Menendez worked to ensure that the United States uphold the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) commitments for popular consultations; support the North and South in reaching a mutually acceptable accord on the border state of Abyei; maintain leverage to assist the people of Darfur; and provide adequate humanitarian, development, and diplomatic assistance to help both the north and new Southern Sudan succeed.
- India. Has worked to strengthen ties between the U.S. and India, most recently supporting President Obama’s November, 2010, endorsement of New Delhi’s long-standing call for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. In October 2011, Senator Menendez introduced a Diwali Resolution, (S.Res.291), which passed the Senate unanimously, recognizing the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights.
- Latin America. A leader in the Senate on Western Hemisphere affairs. As the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and a Latino, Senator Menendez cares passionately about the welfare of our hemisphere and its people. In the past year, the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee has held hearings on priorities for the region, including: U.S. Policy in Latin America; the State of Democracy in the Western Hemisphere; U.S. Aid to Haiti; Security in the Caribbean; and U.S. Counter-Narcotics Efforts in Central and Latin America. He has authored legislation to require the creation of a master plan for the hemisphere to address the supply and demand issue associated with the hemisphere’s narcotics problem.
- Trade. Supporter of fair trade while combating unfair trade practices. American companies deserve a level playing field when competing in the international marketplace, and countries like China should not be able to provide an unfair advantage to its businesses through intellectual piracy, unfair trade practices, and currency manipulation. Senator Menendez cosponsored legislation that would penalize China for its currency manipulation and provide a remedy for American companies injured by this practice. The measure passed the Senate, but was not taken up by the House.
- In 2011, the Senate passed implementing legislation for the Korea, Panama, and Colombia free trade agreements and sent them to the President for ratification. In total, the Administration estimates the creation of up to 70,000 domestic jobs from the ratification of the trade agreements. Senator Menendez supported the Korea and Panama agreements because he believes the agreements on the whole will benefit our nation and create jobs. He opposed the Colombia agreement because of continuing violence against labor leaders in Colombia and because the agreement failed to include binding language to address this issue.
- Senator Menendez has also sought to protect American manufacturing jobs from foreign imports by supporting President Obama’s initiative to enhance the United States Trade Representative’s efforts to fight unfair trade practices and by introducing legislation to help New Jersey cotton shirt manufacturers who are disadvantaged by foreign manufacturers’ ability to send finished shirts to the United States duty free, while New Jersey manufacturers pay high tariffs on their imports of fabrics used to make the same shirts.
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