POLITICS

These 3 Senators Want To Change How You Think About U.S. Foreign Policy

Fresh to the Senate and vocal about their beliefs, they're done with the current foreign policy conversation.

Whether they are talking about a crisis in Europe or the Middle East, the South China Sea or Latin America, U.S. foreign policy pundits often tell Americans there are only a few ways Washington can respond. Ramp up military deployment. Maybe try to talk to important players before that and make vague statements about pursuing a political solution. See if you can bring up trade in that conversation. And if things look really rough, just authorize secretive kill missions of dubious legality and point to precedent. 

If these arguments seem mind-numbingly familiar, that's because they often come from familiar voices and faces -- note, for instance, the nicely synchronized chorus of Bush administration officials who came out of the woodwork last December to tell us once more why torture is kind of, sort of OK.

Three first-term lawmakers are sick of that hackneyed wisdom.

Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) put forth their own philosophy of foreign policy in a joint essay for Foreign Affairs this summer. Like it or not, it's a clear, coherent approach that is markedly different from the current conversation about the U.S.'s role in the world. They call for much greater U.S. foreign aid, an idea that seems revolutionary but was the touchstone of Washington-assured stability in the years following World War II. They note that military force will remain critical but demand that all foreign escapades involving U.S. troops be measured against clearly stated goals and expectations. To them, prioritizing human rights in the long run is smarter than using force to pummel problems in the short run. Their vision therefore elevates a global priority that Washington says it's fighting to protect by combating groups like the Islamic State but then undermines by sparing its own dubious rights violations from accountability.

The members of the trio among them have experience on the Senate's high-profile Intelligence, Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Appropriations Committees.

The three don’t necessarily agree on every issue, despite being in the same party. But each lawmaker’s tendency to think before he speaks -- combined with a willingness to listen to his colleagues -- gives him the potential to restore Americans' strikingly low confidence that Congress can deal with the world.

The Huffington Post sat down with the three lawmakers last month. We've already run separate items on some of the most newsy elements of our extended chat -- the segments covering the nuclear agreement with Iran, the complicated fight against the Islamic State group, a certain freshman senator from the Republican party and, of course, SexyCongress.net. Above, you can find the whole interview, complete with the senators' views on other issues that may not be on your radar but could well shape your future -- security in the Pacific Ocean, for instance. Take a look.

Adriana Usero and Michael McAuliff contributed to this video report.

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