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Lawmakers Introduce Foreign Policy Resolution

Jayapal and Lee lead lawmakers in calling for United States foreign policy to better focus on diplomacy, non-military tools, conflict resolution, global cooperation, and accountability instead of a constant over-reliance on military force and bloated Pentagon spending

WASHINGTON — United States Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) led lawmakers today in introducing a resolution that calls for United States foreign policy to focus on diplomacy, conflict resolution, global cooperation, accountability, and non-military tools of statecraft. The Foreign Policy for the 21st Century Resolution moves to cut defense spending and reduce militarism while addressing a set of emerging and developing national security challenges — from a pandemic and the climate crisis to threats to democracy and the proliferation of nuclear weapons — by centering impacted people and outlining steps to realign foreign policy with human rights and the values of justice, equality, and security for all. 

The resolution specifically calls for cutting waste, fraud, and abuse in defense spending and security assistance while returning the power of war-making to elected officials, implementing arms controls and nuclear nonproliferation, and ending the use of broad-based, sectoral sanctions. It also calls for investing in diplomacy, international justice and cooperation, peacebuilding, and green development while cutting security assistance and weapons sales to human rights abusers. Critically important, the resolution highlights the urgency of transforming the United States and global economies away from fossil fuels to mitigate climate change while building a more equitable economy, advancing global reproductive and gender justice, and better-promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the national security workforce.

“While President Biden showed incredible leadership by putting an end to America’s longest war that cost the lives of thousands of Americans and countless others over two decades, there is more that we must do to rethink our country’s foreign policy and finally prioritize diplomacy over defense spending,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “The Foreign Policy for the 21st Century Resolution puts us on the right track and addresses many of the national security challenges that we face by ensuring that we no longer favor militarism and war over diplomacy and peace.”

“It’s far past time we take our foreign policy into the 21st century.  We should be leading with diplomacy and human needs as the path to global security,” said Congresswoman Lee.  “The post 9/11 wars taught us that perpetual war takes countless lives, wastes trillions of dollars and does not make us any safer. To combat the challenges we face around the globe — like climate change, global health, and poverty — we should be investing our resources away from tanks and drones and towards the needs of people. I’m proud to be joining Rep. Jayapal and advocates from across the country to create a new framework for our foreign policy future.”

The Foreign Policy for the 21st Century Resolution specifically outlines a policy agenda for the United States that:

  • Centers human dignity, social justice, and cooperation in United States foreign policy
  • Supports the United Nations and other international institutions in responding to the most pressing needs of the global community 
  • Focuses domestic and international investments on equitable and inclusive solutions that empower individuals, workers, and communities while safeguarding human rights
  • Prioritizes mitigating and resolving the harms created by historical security challenges through locally informed, locally led solutions and investments in diplomacy, development, and conflict prevention
  • Puts forth a quick, bold, and effective response to the ongoing climate crisis that is threatening communities at home and abroad
  • Creates formal and informal processes to ensure that United States foreign policy is informed by poor people, racial, religious and ethnic minorities, indigenous people, women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals and youth.

The resolution seeks to address major global security challenges including renewed nuclear arms races and instability arising from the climate catastrophe, pandemics, and rising mass inequality. It also seeks to address violent conflict and instability spurred by United States military intervention and weapons sales to oppressive governments. Additionally, the resolution works to address broad-based sanctions that too often cause mass suffering.  

Today’s resolution is endorsed by more than 30 local, national, and international organizations including Win Without War, IfNotNow, People’s Action, Public Citizen, the Sunrise Movement, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND). 

“The foreign policy status quo has failed. Endless wars, sanctions, and arms sales have spread violence around the world, enriching a few powerful corporations, while doing nothing to make everyday people safe, here or abroad,” said Sara Haghdoosti, the Executive Director of Win Without War. “The greatest threats to our security today — pandemics, climate crisis, inequality — will not be solved by more of the same. We need a new approach to foreign policy — a foreign policy for the 21st century.”

“For decades, the military-industrial-think tank complex has succeeded in forging an American foreign policy based on military might, violence and defense of multinational corporate interests. This approach has been a miserable failure, for the United States and even more for the rest of the world,” said Robert Weissman, the President of Public Citizen. “The Foreign Policy for the 21st Century Resolution would – finally – redirect American foreign policy to meeting people’s needs, not those of military contractors and oil companies. Thank you, Rep. Jayapal, for focusing on what will make us truly safe: reducing insecurity worldwide by focusing on health care, justice and humanitarianism, along with prioritizing solutions to the greatest threat facing all of humanity, catastrophic climate change.”

“The long-term security of our country and our planet depend on confronting the urgent threats of a changing climate, nuclear weapons, and efforts to undermine democracy. If we address only one without the others, we will fail. It is crucial that US policy – foreign and domestic — prioritizes true human security by acting on the climate crisis, ending the nuclear threat, and shoring up our democracy,” said Johanna Chao Kreilick, the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “This bill lays out clear steps to do just that, and UCS is proud to support it.”  

The resolution is co-sponsored by U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee, Jamaal Bowman, Andre Carson, Raúl Grijalva, Sara Jacobs, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr., Alan Lowenthal, James McGovern, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Donald Payne Jr., Ayanna Pressley, Jan Schakowsky, Mark Takano, Rashida Tlaib, Nydia Velazquez, and Bonnie Watson Coleman. 

A copy of the resolution is available here