Since taking office in January, President Obama has taken some important steps in reorienting US foreign policy, from agreeing to participate in group talks with Iran to giving a major speech committing to the elimination of nuclear weapons. At the same time, he is raising concerns by intensifying the military strategy in Afghanistan. There are reasons to be optimistic about the direction of US foreign policy, but a major question remains whether Congress will be a help or a hindrance in advancing a new and better foreign policy.
To help you see what role your representatives and senators have played in supporting positive changes in US foreign policy, Peace Action West has released our 2008 congressional scorecard. We graded representatives and senators on their votes on key issues like funding for the war in Iraq, nuclear weapons and nonproliferation, torture, and wasteful weapons spending.
One hundred seventeen members of Congress demonstrated an especially strong record of support for a strong peace and security strategy last year, scoring 90% or higher. Rep. Henry Waxman, who was one of 58 members with a perfect score for 2008, responded, “I am proud to have voted last year for stronger congressional oversight of the funding and war in Iraq, for nuclear non proliferation, against wasteful weapons systems and military spending, and against torture of detainees at Guantanamo. My votes reflect my longstanding principles and beliefs. I am also proud that this year we have a new President of the United States, who has reversed the policies and priorities of the Bush Administration’s policies. We will work closely together for more responsible and progressive foreign policy.”
Regardless of what President Obama does, the administration and Congress need to hear from constituents to support them when they’re on the right course and push them to do better when they’re not. As you can see in our Best and Worst of Congress 2008, we had some great successes last year because of the power of our grassroots organizing, and we have even greater opportunities to make significant strides toward a new foreign policy if we all remain engaged and vigilant. Click here to sign up for Peace Action West’s e-mail action alerts so we can send you urgent actions and keep you informed about how well your representatives are doing in promoting a new direction in US foreign policy.