Obama pledges to double U.S. foreign aid if elected president

Mike Dorning
Chicago Tribune (MCT)

CHICAGO - Sen. Barack Obama accused President Bush Monday of weakening America's global leadership with a "squandered" response to terrorism as the Democratic presidential candidate committed himself to repair relations with allies and the nation's standing around the world.

The Illinois senator pledged to double U.S. foreign aid if elected president, arguing that improvements in stability and living conditions in poor nations would reduce the appeal of terrorism abroad and bolster the security of Americans at home.

Delivering his presidential campaign's first major address on foreign policy to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Obama said the U.S. must resist the temptation to turn to isolationism in response to the losses the nation has suffered in Iraq. And he declared "The American moment is here.

"America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America," Obama said. "We must neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission."

Obama presented the challenges of terrorism, nuclear weapons and global warming as an opportunity to enhance America's influence over the world by stressing moral leadership, strengthened alliances and a vigorous U.S. engagement around the globe.

His address provided a withering critique of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq and response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as "based on old ideologies and outdated strategies." He said the Bush administration's uneasy relations with allies and public scandals over mistreatment of prisoners have done long-term damage to the nation's ability to counter the terrorist threat.

"The president may occupy the White House, but for the last six years the position of leader of the free world has remained open. And it's time to fill that role once more," Obama said.

Responding to the criticism of Bush, Chris Taylor, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee said, "Voters want a leader, not someone who continues to throw around criticism and empty rhetoric."

Obama offered a spirited defense of the value of strong ties with foreign allies and international institutions such as the United Nations, arguing they magnify American power more than they constrain it. And he said the United States should counter the challenge of Islamist terrorism with a greater emphasis on winning the support of the public in developing nations.

That vision echoes the foreign policy ideas of past Democratic presidents who helped shape the U.S. response to the Soviet challenge during the Cold War. President Harry Truman constructed an alliance system that includes NATO to contain the Soviet Union. The Truman Administration's Marshall Plan provided aid to post-World War II Europe to blunt Soviet influence and President John F. Kennedy expanded U.S. aid to the developing world to compete against communist influence there.

Obama added a subtle but clear suggestion that his own life story as the son of an African immigrant who had spent part of his childhood in the Muslim developing nation of Indonesia would give him added credibility as a messenger to the global public.

"It's time we had a president ... who can speak directly to the world, and send a message to all those men and women beyond our shores who long for lives of dignity and security that says `You matter to us. Your future is our future,'" Obama said.

Still, Obama offered assurance that he would not shrink from using military force to protect the United States.

Obama called for an expansion of U.S. ground forces, pledging an enlargement of the Army by 60,000 and of the Marines by 27,000.

Obama repeated his past support for a withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops in Iraq by March 31, 2008, leaving a limited number of American troops in Iraq to fight terrorist groups.

He said that he would double current foreign aid spending to $50 billion by 2012, which would be the final year of his first term if he is elected.

"A relatively small investment in these fragile states up front can be one of the most effective ways to prevent the terror and strife that is far more costly," Obama said.

He called for the U.S. to "lead by example" to combat global warming by capping and reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the economy.

Obama said he would stress diplomatic measures and economic sanctions but use military force "if necessary" to stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons and eliminate North Korea's nuclear program.




Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.


Alastair Sim: A Very English Character Actor Genius

Alastair Sim belongs to those character actors sometimes accused of "hamming it up" because they work at such a high level of internal and external technique that they can't help standing out.


Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's New LP Is Lacking in Songcraft but Rich in Texture

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's The Mosaic of Transformation is a slightly uneven listen. It generally transcends the tropes of its genre, but occasionally substitutes substance for style.


Buzzcocks' 1996 Album 'All Set' Sees the Veteran Band Stretching Out and Gaining Confidence

After the straightforward and workmanlike Trade Test Transmissions, Buzzcocks continued to hone their fresh identity in the studio, as exhibited on the All Set reissue contained on the new box-set Sell You Everything.


Patrick Madden's 'Disparates' Makes Sense in These Crazy Times

There's no social distancing with Patrick Madden's hilarious Disparates. While reading these essays, you'll feel like he's in the room with you.


Perfume Genius Purges Himself and It's Contagious

You need to care so much about your art to pack this much meaning into not only the words, but the tones that adorn and deliver them. Perfume Genius cares so much it hurts on Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation

Emma Donoghue's Room and E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.


Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump White House -- and then drags it all to Hell.


Folk's Jason Wilber Examines the World Through a Futurist Lens in 'Time Traveler' (album stream)

John Prine's former guitarist and musical director, Jason Wilber steps out with a new album, Time Traveler, featuring irreverent, pensive, and worldly folk music.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.