(This week – The Democrats, next week The Republicans)

Early in the race it is hard to tell who to champion, we all have our bias for the hometown candidate, the one who is ahead in the polls and makes us think we should be in favor of him/her because he/she is in the lead, not to mention the underdog who truly inspired us when we saw the debates.

As a politically informed person, with an interest in what the candidates should (or say they would do) abroad, the following is a foreign policy analysis of presidential hopefuls. While Americans for Informed Democracy is a bipartisan organization, with the U.S. changing if the guard only a little more than a year away, it is important to examine what the candidates would do to advance AID’s mission. With part of AID’s mission being “to build a new generation of globally conscious leaders who can shape an American foreign policy appropriate for our increasingly interdependent world.” We must ask ourselves, who do we want to work with?

I have chosen who I see as the three frontrunners for both the democrat and republic party with a wildcard thrown in on each side.

In Alphabetical order —

Hillary Clinton
With a desire to restore America’s standing in the world, Clinton supports a strong America leading the world through alliances and a foreign policy based on “a strong foundation of bipartisan consensus.” While I am in favor of consensus, don’t get me wrong, her statement brings back thoughts of the failed League of Nations, and its own foundation upon consensus which proved to be ineffectual for the most part. Clinton also says she will lead by the words of the Declaration of Independence, which pledged “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” Which, as a feminist I might alter slightly to humankind, but that’s beside the point.

Clinton is aware of the need for global coalitions to take on problems with wider reach, such as climate change, poverty, AIDS, and terrorism and as a former first-lady her experience of traveling to 80 countries may prove beneficial. She advocates for an “aggressive plan to support public schools in developing countries in an effort to achieve universal primary education for the 77 million children around the world who aren’t in school because they are too poor.” This is the first I have heard of the plan, but it sounds like a good idea to me. Apparently, Clinton has also “been a forceful and consistent advocate for a more robust response to the violence in Darfur since May 2004.” However, one of her staffers has also yelled at Claremont Consortium students for calling in and questioning her on her stance on Sudan.

John Edwards
The Southern charmer, Edwards has stances on his website on Iraq, Iran, Global Poverty, Military, Homeland Security, terrorism, Darfur and Uganda with hopes of restoring America’s Leadership in the World. Edwards has placed the issue of poverty front and center, as he says, ” There is no better opportunity than the challenge of poverty – the great moral issue of our time.” But I didn’t realize until in the process of writing that when Edwards speaks of poverty he mainly means U.S. poverty, not global poverty. Perhaps he should consider working with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (UNMDG’s).

John Edwards has a comprehensive plan in order to work with NATO to end genocide in Darfur, bringing up the success of NATO in Kosovo operation to support this action. He also believes Bush should reverse his decision of delaying sanctions against specific companies in Sudan. His proposal includes American airlift capabilities, logistical support and intelligence operations deployed to assist U.N. and African Union peacekeeping efforts in Darfur as well as NATO support of U.N. troops with a no-fly zone over the region and NATO member sanctions on the government of Sudan as well as individuals complicit to genocide. Unlike any of the other candidates, he recognizes conflict in Uganda and outlines steps to support the peace process in Uganda.

Barack Obama

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama feels that “America must neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission.” His plan is for leadership in five specific ways: 1) “Bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq and refocus on the critical challenges in the broader region.” 2) “Rebuild and transform the military to meet 21st-century threats.” 3) “Marshal a global effort to secure, destroy, and stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.” 4) “Renew the alliances and partnerships necessary to meet common challenges, such as terrorism and climate change,” and 5) “Strengthen impoverished, weak and ungoverned countries” which have become breeding grounds for terrorism.

Obama’s campaign website discusses what steps he has already taken, as a senator to put his beliefs into practice. His foreign policy subheadings include: Stopping Nuclear Terrorism, Preventing an Avian Flu Pandemic, Ending the Conflict in Congo, Stopping the Genocide in Darfur and bringing a brutal warlord to justice (Charles Taylor, former Liberian President). As a senator, Obama also worked on U.S. policy in the Congo to rebuild and develop political infrastructure. I commend Obama for his work to end genocide in Sudan, working across the bipartisan divide. However, while Obama’s foreign policy focused on the problems and what he had already done about them, it was not clear what would be done in the future. However, in a recent address to “Women for Obama” in San Francisco, Obama did say he plans on closing Guantanamo Bay, and he is not afraid to talk to U.S. adversaries.

Samantha Power as Obama’s Foreign Policy Advisor

*Dennis Kucinich
I saw a campaign poster for Kucinich for the first time when I was in Portland, OR not too long ago. As perhaps the most left of the Democrats, Kucinich advocates for Strength through Peace. According to his campaign site, he “understands that the path to a safe, strong America is through peace, tolerance and committing our nation to eradicating the root causes of global poverty.” He plans on using diplomacy and a return to statesmanship as the path to international leadership and, like Edwards, is committed to decreasing poverty. He focuses more on worldwide poverty, which “manifests itself in war, terror and genocide over scarce resources, hopelessness and intolerance.” In hopes of “saving capitalism” Kucinich plans on ending America’s participation in NAFTA and the WTO and instilling ethics, accountability and fairness in global trade and big business.

*denotes my pick as the wild card