Foreign Affairs and National Security
“An America that inspires hope in its ideals is the best complement to an America that inspires awe in its strength. Integrity, generosity, and vision have always been essential cornerstones of our policy and prosperity. We are a more secure America when we rally the world to our side." - Congressman Adam Schiff
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Following the September 11 attacks, Schiff supported American military action against al Qaeda. But he has also pushed for a broader strategy that emphasizes diplomacy, improvements in homeland security, intelligence reform, and efforts to stabilize countries to prevent future failed states from becoming havens for terrorists.
Schiff has worked to reorient American aid to Pakistan in order to persuade Pakistani leaders to make the fight against Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda elements the centerpiece of their national security strategy, rather than the decades-long rivalry with India. As a member of the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS) of the House Committee on Appropriations, Rep. Schiff has pushed Pakistani officials to recognize that al Qaeda and extremism are a threat to both our countries. Schiff also believes that one of best ways to combat extremism is to work with the Pakistani government to bring economic opportunity and better schools to the volatile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and to help Pakistan to widen the circle of economic opportunity for its citizens.
At the same time, Schiff is deeply concerned about the discovery of Osama bin Laden, not in a cave along Pakistan’s lawless border with Afghanistan, but instead in a purpose built compound just a few hundred yards from the Pakistan Military Academy. Both in his capacity as an appropriator and also as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), Schiff believes that this casts our relationship with Pakistan in a new light – that while we must maintain our support for the civilian leadership and those elements of the military and intelligence services that are fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda, we must redouble our efforts to get Pakistan to stop its self-defeating and dangerous double dealing with jihadis.
Schiff also supports President Obama’s decision to refocus our efforts in Afghanistan. This is a war that the Afghans themselves must win, and that while Schiff believes that international forces still have a role to play in stabilizing the country in the coming months, sufficient Afghan forces must be trained and the Karzai government must engage in a broad national dialogue and commit to transparent and honest government so that NATO forces can begin a serious drawdown.
Schiff is also focusing on Yemen and Somalia, two countries racked by civil strife, limited economic opportunity and active extremist movements. Schiff is concerned that either country could become a new haven for al Qaeda, especially in the wake of bin Laden’s death.
Throughout his tenure in Congress, Congressman Schiff has made nonproliferation a centerpiece of his efforts to improve our nation’s security, as well as security around the world. Nuclear nonproliferation has been identified as the single most serious threat to our national security by leaders of both political parties. The threat is heightened by al Qaeda’s stated desire to use a nuclear weapon against the United States and by the nuclear weapons programs of Iran, Syria and North Korea.
Schiff is the author of the Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act, which authorized a National Technical Nuclear Forensics Center in the Department of Homeland Security. This center is strengthening our ability to identify the origin of nuclear material so that we can trace those who smuggle these materials and determine the source of a nuclear terrorist attack. With this capability, we can deter rogue nations from passing on weapons and material to terrorist groups, because they would be inextricably linked to the crime. Schiff’s bill was signed by the President in February 2010, and he continues to work with this agency and the entire intelligence community to ensure that we are doing all we can to fight the most deadly threat to America and the world as we know it.
Schiff has also introduced a bill called the Ending Nuclear Trafficking Act, which would take the first steps toward making trafficking in nuclear materials a crime against humanity and would strengthen U.S. laws against nuclear trafficking. By making such trafficking unacceptable in the eyes of every country, we can fight this threat at its root, and prevent other countries from harboring terrorists and proliferators.
While the use of military force should never be ruled out, Schiff believes that our nation’s diplomats are our first line of defense. Concerted efforts to seek diplomatic solutions to international crises can often produce better results for America than the use of force. Schiff has been consistent in urging the administration to seek peaceful resolutions to the nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran.
As a member of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, Schiff has pushed to increase the size of the State Department’s work force – Foreign Service, civil service and USAID. Our diplomats and development professionals are the first line of defense for America and we must support them. Their importance is highlighted by the strong support for a robust State Department / USAID by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who has emerged as diplomacy’s great champion.
Schiff also believes that American national security is enhanced by our leadership of multilateral institutions like the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF. Schiff recognizes these institutions, which were created in the aftermath of World War II, are not perfect and that the United Nations is especially in need of serious reform. Nevertheless, they have proven themselves as effective tools of American foreign policy and have been instrumental in helping the United States to work in concert with others on a wide variety of security, development, health, environmental and other issues.
Our troops in Iraq have done their duty with honor and courage and they have paid a terrible price in blood. Now, after eight years, we are well into the process of leaving Iraq and have transitioned to a counter-terrorism and training mission to support the continued evolution of Iraqi security forces. Schiff for years maintained that there could be no military solution to Iraq’s civil war in the middle part of the last decade and supports the return of American troop, with all American forces due to be redeployed by the end of 2011.
Schiff agrees with those who say that strengthening emerging democracies and helping other states to make the transition to democracy is the best antidote to extremism and the conditions that give rise to it. He also understands that building democracies is a long-term process and that democracy cannot be imposed from without.
In 2005, Schiff was appointed to serve on the newly-created House Democracy Partnership (HDP) by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. The mission of the House Democracy Assistance Commission is to promote responsive, effective government and strengthen democratic institutions by assisting legislatures in emerging democracies. Central to the Commission’s work is peer-to-peer cooperation to build technical expertise in partner legislatures that will enhance accountability, transparency, legislative independence, access to information, and government oversight.
Schiff served on the panel for three terms and engaged with fellow legislators in a number of important countries that are still relatively new to democracy, including Indonesia, East Timor, Kenya, and Pakistan.
Now, in the wake of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as the pro-democracy demonstrations throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Schiff is pushing for American assistance – technical, diplomatic and, where possible, economic. Schiff is all too aware of the gravity of our fiscal situation, but also believes that the “Arab Spring” represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity and that the United States cannot and must not fail to reach out to millions of young Arabs who have said “no” to bin Laden and “yes” to democracy and a better future. This is a moment of great hope, but that hope can turn to despair if action is not taken. Recently, Schiff introduced a bill to strengthen the private sector in Egypt and Tunisia by creating enterprise fund that will support economic prosperity through financial investment and technical assistance to small- and medium-sized businesses in both countries. A similar approach was used with great success in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism.
America’s reliance on foreign oil, especially oil from the volatile Middle East, is the most serious threat to our nation’s long-term security and economic independence. Stable, reliable and affordable sources of energy are critical to both our security and prosperity. To ensure such a supply, Schiff believes that developing cleaner sources of energy, coupled with encouraging energy efficiency and conservation, must be among our nation’s top priorities.
As a member of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, Schiff has long advocated for increased investments in the search for alternative fuels and the development of energy efficient technology. Today, European and Asian competitors are developing technologies that will reduce fuel consumption and lower emissions of greenhouse gases. Rather than American entrepreneurs, it is our competitors who are prospering from these developments. By marshalling America’s great strengths – our innovation, our technological prowess, and our entrepreneurial spirit – we could better secure our nation, save the environment, and become the world leader in a cutting edge industry.