Foreign Policy Wisdom for the Next Four Years

"We believe that 'We're all in this together' is a far better philosophy than 'You're on your own'.'' That's how Bill Clinton summed up the philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans when he nominated President Barack Obama to run and eventually win a second term. It's also the philosophy that underpins the work of the Connect U.S. Fund.

For the last eight years they have brought together a community of advocacy and grassroots groups, philanthropic foundations, and think tanks to push for farsighted American leadership in efforts to create a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.

They have just released a letter to President Obama and his transition team signed by over 180 foreign policy leaders, who represent millions of Americans, and came together to develop proposals to enhance U.S. global leadership and cooperation in this new presidential term. As one of its signatories, I'm excited by the detailed recommendations which lay out a blueprint for constructive and achievable U.S. actions across four key areas: human rights, climate change, nuclear weapons, and development.

The letter urges the President to take action to:
  • Promote international human rights and humanitarian law, and prevent and mitigate deadly conflict;
  • Establish U.S. leadership on international efforts to address climate change;
  • Accelerate efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear war and prevent proliferation by state and non-state actors; and
  • Dramatically strengthen U.S. domestic and international policies to promote development.

The effort was spearheaded by Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, President of the Connect U.S. Fund and should be required reading for anyone serious about prioritizing foreign policy actions over the next four years. Particularly if they are part of the President's transition team.

While the recommendations span a huge range of issues, here's a sampling of Administration todo's:

  • Address the legacy of human rights abuses at Guantanamo
  • Engage constructively with international human rights institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court
  • Assert U.S. leadership to ensure global emissions peak and begin to decline by 2015, and to ensure adoption of a binding global climate agreement
  • Pursue an international treaty to ban the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons
  • Work with Congress to protect the international affairs budget from further cuts.

On Tuesday night during his acceptance speech, President Obama said, "We want our children to live in an America ...that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet....We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world... But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being."

If he's serious about this vision, than I hope he reads, listens to and respects the collective wisdom of the incredible community of foreign policy experts brought together by the good folks at the Connect U.S. Fund.