National Security Quotes

VIDEO:  Joe Biden’s Speech at the Center for New American Security, June 20, 2016, in which he was very critical of Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy proposals

Obama’s Speech on National Security and the Fight against ISIS, June 14, 2016

I just met with my National Security Council as part of our regular effort to review and intensify our campaign to destroy the terrorist group ISIL. Our meeting was planned before the terrible attack in Orlando, but obviously that tragedy, the awful loss of life, shaped much of our work today.

In all of our efforts, foremost in our minds is the loss and the grief of the people of Orlando, those who died, those who are still recovering, the families who’ve seen their loved ones harmed, the friends of ours who are lesbian and gay and bisexual and transgender who were targeted.

I want to remind them that they are not alone. The American people and our allies and friends all over the world stand with you and are thinking about you and are praying for you.

As Director Comey has said, we currently do not have any information to indicate that a foreign terrorist group directed the attack in Orlando. It is increasingly clear, however, that the killer took in extremist information and propaganda over the internet. He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized.

As we know all too well, terrorist groups like ISIL have called on people around the world and here in the United States to attack innocent civilians. Their propaganda, their videos, their postings are pervasive and more easily accessible than we want.

This individual appears to have absorbed some of that and during his killing spree, the shooter in Orlando pledged allegiance to ISIL.

As I’ve said before, these lone actors or small cells of terrorists are very hard to detect and very hard to prevent.

But across our government at every level, federal, state and local, military and civilian, we are doing everything in our power to stop these kinds of attacks.

We work to succeed 100 percent of the time. An attacker, as we saw in Orlando, only has to succeed once.

Our extraordinary personnel, our intelligence, our military, our homeland security, our law enforcement have prevented many attacks and saved many lives and we can never thank them enough.

But we are all sobered by the fact that despite the extraordinary hard work, something like Orlando can occur.

In our meeting today, Director Comey updated us on the investigation in Orlando. Secretary Johnson reviewed the measures we continue to take on behalf of our homeland security.

Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford reviewed the military campaign against ISIL and I want to thank Secretary Lew and his team here at treasury for hosting us and for their tireless efforts to cut off the money that ISIL relies on to fund its terror network.

At the outset, I want to reiterate our objective in this fight. Our mission is to destroy ISIL. Since I last updated the American people on our campaign two months ago, we’ve seen that this continues to be a difficult fight, but we are making significant progress.

Over the past two months, I’ve authorized a series of steps to ratchet up our fight against ISIL. Additional U.S. personnel, including special forces in Syria to assist local forces battling ISIL there, additional advisers to work more closely with Iraqi security forces and additional assets, including attack helicopters and additional support for local forces in northern Iraq. Our aircraft continue to launch from the U.S.S. Harry Truman, now in the Mediterranean. Our B-52 bombers are hitting ISIL with precision strikes. Targets are being identified and hit even more quickly. So far, 13,000 airstrikes.

This campaign at this stage is firing on all cylinders and as a result, ISIL is under more pressure than ever before. ISIL continues to lose key leaders. This includes Salman Abu Shabib (ph), the senior military leader in Mosul, (inaudible), who plotted external attacks, Shaker Wahib, ISIL’s military leader in Iraq’s Anbar Province, and Maher al-Bilawi, the top ISIL commander in Fallujah.

So far we have taken out more than 120 top ISIL leaders and commanders. And our message is clear, that if you target American and our allies, you will not be safe. You will never be safe.

ISIL continues to lose ground in Iraq. In the past two months, local forces in Iraq with coalition support have liberated the western town of Rutba and have also pushed up the Euphrates River Valley, liberating the strategic town of Hiit and breaking the ISIL siege of Haditha.

Iraqis forces have surrounded Fallujah and begun to move into the city. Meanwhile in the north, Iraqi forces continue to push up the Tigris River Valley, making gains around (inaudible) and now preparing to tighten the noose around ISIL in Mosul.

(Inaudible) told ISIL has now lost nearly half of the populated territory that it once controlled in Iraq and it will lose more.

ISIL continues to lose ground in Syria as well. Assisted by our special operations forces, the coalition of local forces is now pressuring the key town of (inaudible), which means the noose is tightening around ISIL in Raqqah as well.

In short, our coalition continues to be on offense. ISIL is on defense and it has now been a full year since ISIL has been able to mount a major successful offensive operation on either Syria or Iraq.

As ISIL continues to lose territory, it also continues to lose the money that it is — that is its life blood.

As a result of our strikes against its oil infrastructure and supply lines, we believe that we’ve cut ISIL’s revenue from oil by millions of dollars per month. In destroying the storage sites where they keep their cash, we’ve deprived ISIL of many millions more.

Thanks with great work of Secretary Lew and many others here today and working with nations and financial institutions around the world, ISIL is now effectively cut off from the international financial system. Cutting off ISIL’s money may not be as dramatic as military strikes, but it is critically important and we’re seeing the results.

ISIL’s cash reserves are down, it has had to cut salaries for its fighters, it’s resorting to more extortion of those trapped in its grip. And by ISIL’s own admission, some of its own leaders have been caught stealing cash and gold. Once again, ISIL’s true nature has been revealed. These are not religious warriors, they are thugs and they are thieves.

In continuing to push on this front, I want to mention that it is critical for our friends in the Senate to confirm Adam Szubin, my nominee for under secretary of Terrorism and Financial intelligence. Adam has served in Democratic and Republican administrations. Everyone agrees he’s eminently qualified. He has been working on these kinds of issues for years.

It’s now been more than a year since I nominated him. More than 420 days and he still has not been given a full vote. There is no good reason for it. It is inexcusable. So it’s time for the Senate to do its job, put our national security first and have a vote on Adam Szubin that can lead our financial fight against ISIL and help keep our country safe.

ISIL’s ranks are shrinking as well. Their morale is sinking. As one defender — as one defector said, ISIL is not bringing Islam to the world and people need to know that. Thanks to international efforts, the flow of foreign fighters, including from America, to Syria and Iraq has plummeted. In fact, our intelligence community now assesses that the ranks of ISIL fighter has been reduced to the lowest levels in more than two and a half years.

Even as we continue to destroy ISIL militarily, we’re addressing larger forces that have allowed these terrorists to gain traction in parts of the world. With regard to Iraq, this means helping Iraqis stabilize liberated communities and promote inclusive governance so ISIL cannot return.

With regard to Syria, it means our continued support for the fragile cessation of hostilities there. The cessation of hostilities has not stopped all or even most of the hardship on the Syrian people, the hardship on civilians. And the Assad regime has been the principal culprit in violating the cessation of hostilities.

ISIL and al-Nusra, which is Al Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, also continue to terrorize Syrians. But as fragile and incomplete as the cessation is, it has saved lives and it has allowed the delivery of some life-saving aid to Syrians who are in desperate need. And as difficult as it is, we will continue to push for a political process that can end the civil war and result in a transition away from Assad.

Beyond Syria and Libya — beyond Syria and Iraq, ISIL is also losing ground in Libya. Forces of the Libyan Unity Government are going after ISIL in their stronghold in Sirte and we’ll continue to assist the new Libyan government as it works to secure its country.

Lastly, here at home, if we really want to help law enforcement protect Americans from home-grown extremists, the kind of tragedies that occurred at San Bernardino and that now have occurred in Orlando, there is a meaningful way to do that. We have to make it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on weapons of war that let them kill dozens of innocents.

It is absolutely true, we cannot prevent every tragedy. But we know that consistent with the Second Amendment, there are common sense steps that could reduce gun violence and could reduce the lethality of somebody who intends to do other people harm. We should give ATF the resources they need to enforce the gun laws that we already have.

People with possible ties to terrorism, who are not allowed on a plane should not be allowed to buy a gun. Enough talking about being tough on terrorism. Actually be tough on terrorism and stop making it easy as possible for terrorists to buy assault weapons.

Reinstate the assault weapons ban, make it harder for terrorists to use these weapons to kill us. Otherwise, despite extraordinary efforts across our government, by local law enforcement, by our intelligence agencies, by our military — despite all the sacrifices that folks make, these kinds of events are going to keep on happening. And the weapons are only going to get more powerful.

And let me make a final point. For a while now, the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize the administration and me for not using the phrase “radical Islam.” That’s the key, they tell us. We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them radical Islamists.

What exactly would using this label would accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?

The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.

Since before I was president, I have been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism. As president, I have called on our Muslim friends and allies at home and around the world to work with us to reject this twisted interpretation of one of the world’s great religions.

There has not been a moment in my 7.5 years as president where we have not able to pursue a strategy because we didn’t use the label “radical Islam.” Not once has an adviser of mine said, “Man, if we use that phrase, we are going to turn this whole thing around,” not once.

So someone seriously thinks that we don’t know who we are fighting?

If there is anyone out there who thinks we are confused about who our enemies are — that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists who we have taken off the battlefield.

If the implication is that those of us up here and the thousands of people around the country and around world who are working to defeat ISIL aren’t taking the fight seriously? That would come as a surprise to those who spent these last 7.5 years dismantling Al Qaida in the FATA, for example — including the men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk, and the special forces that I ordered to get bin Laden and are now on the ground in Iraq and in Syria.

They know full well who the enemy is. So do the intelligence and law enforcement officers who spend countless hours disrupting plots and protecting all Americans — including politicians who tweet and appears on cable news shows.

They know who the nature of the enemy is. So, there is no magic to the phrase “radical Islam.” It is a political talking point. It is not a strategy.

And the reason I am careful about how I describe this threat has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with actually defeating extremism.

Groups like ISIL and Al Qaida want to make this war a war between Islam and America, or between Islam and the West. They want to claim that they are the true leaders of over a billion of Muslims around the world who reject their crazy notions.

They want us to validate them by implying that they speak for those billion-plus people, that they speak for Islam. That’s their propaganda, that’s how they recruit. And if we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims as a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with the entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.

Now, up until this point, this argument of labels has mostly just been partisan rhetoric, and sadly, we have all become accustomed to that kind of partisanship, even when it involves the fight against these extremist groups.

That kind of yapping has not prevented folks across the government from doing their jobs, from sacrificing and working really hard to protect the American people.

But we are now seeing how dangerous this kind of mind set and this kind of thinking can be. We are starting to see where this kind of rhetoric and loose talk and sloppiness about who exactly we are fighting, where this can lead us.

We now have proposals from the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States to bar all Muslims from immigrating into America. And you hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests entire religious communities are complacent in violence.

Where does this stop? The Orlando killer, one of the San Bernardino killers, the Fort Hood killer — they were all U.S. citizens. Are we going to start treating all Muslim-Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to start discriminate them, because of their faith?

We heard these suggestions during the course of this campaign. Do Republican officials actually agree with this?

Because that’s not the America we want. It does not reflect our Democratic ideals. It won’t make us more safe, it will make us less safe, fueling ISIL’s notion that the West hates Muslims, making Muslims in this country and around the world feel like, no matter what they do, they’re going to be under suspicion and under attack.

It makes Muslim-Americans feel like their government is betraying them. It betrays the very values America stands for.

We have gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear, and we came to regret it. We have seen our government mistreat our fellow citizens, and it has been a shameful part of our history.

This is a country founded on basic freedoms, including freedom of religion. We don’t have religious tests here. Our founders, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, are clear about that.

And if we ever abandon those values, we would not only make it a lot easier to radicalize people here and around the world, but we would have betrayed the very things we are trying to protect.

The pluralism and the openness, our rule of law, our civil liberties, the very things that make this country great. The very things that make us exceptional. And then the terrorists would have won and we cannot let that happen. I will not let that happen.

You know, two weeks ago I was at the commencement ceremony of the Air Force Academy and it could not have been more inspiring to see these young people stepping up dedicated to serve and protect this country.

And part of what was inspiring was the incredible diversities of these cadets. We saw cadets who are straight applauding classmates who were openly gay.

We saw cadets born here in America applauding classmates who are immigrants and love this country so much they decided they wanted to be part of our armed forces.

We saw cadets and families of all religions applaud cadets who are proud, patriotic Muslim-Americans serving their country in uniform ready to lay their lives on the line to protect you and to protect me.

We saw male cadets applauding for female classmates who can now serve in combat positions. That’s the American military. That’s America. One team. One nation.

Those are the values that ISIL is trying to destroy and we should not help them do it. Our diversity and our respect for one another, our drawing on the talents of everybody in this country, our making sure that we are treating everybody fairly, that we are not judging people on the basis of what faith they are or what race they are or what ethnicity they are or what their sexual orientation is.

That’s what makes this country great. That’s the spirit we see in Orlando. That’s the unity and resolve that will allow us to defeat ISIL. That’s what will preserve our values and our ideals that define us as Americans. That’s how we are going to defend this nation and that’s how we are going to defend our way of life. Thank you very much.

Excerpt from Hillary Clinton’s Speech after the Orlando Terror Attack in Cleveland Ohio, June 13, 2016

You know, originally, I had intended to come to Cleveland under very different circumstances. We are heading into a general election that could be the most consequential of our lifetimes. But today is not a day for politics.

On Sunday, Americans woke up to a nightmare that’s become mind numbingly familiar. Another act of terrorism in a place no one expected. A madman filled with hate, with guns in his hands, and just a horrible sense of vengeance and vindictiveness in his heart, apparently consumed by rage against LGBT Americans, and by extension, the openness and diversity that defines our American way of life.

We will learn more about the killer in the days to come. We know that he pledged allegiance to ISIS, that they are now taking credit and that part of their strategy is to radicalize individuals and encourage attacks against the United States, even if they are not coordinated with ISIS leadership. But there’s a lot we still don’t know, including what other mix of motives drove him to kill.

The more we learn about what happened, the better we’ll be able to protect our people going forward. In the days ahead, we will also learn more about the many lives he viciously cut short, many of them young people, just starting out in their lives. They were travel agents and pharmacy techs, college students and amusement park workers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and they had one thing in common. They all had a lot more to give.

We should take a moment today amid our busy lives to think about them, to pray for everyone who was killed, for the wounded, those who are fighting to regain their lives and futures, for our first responders who walked into danger one more time. As a mother, I can’t imagine what those families are going through.

But let’s also remember the other scenes we saw on Sunday. We saw the faces of some of those first responders who rushed into danger and tried to save as many people as they could. We saw survivors like Chris Hansen who risked their lives to help others.

People gathering outside hospitals to comfort anxious family members, waiting for news of their loved ones and waiting, too, to learn more about what they could do to make sure this never happened again.

Religion leaders condemning hate and appealing for peace. People lining up to donate blood. Americans refusing to be intimidated or divided.

Yesterday I called Mayor Dyer of Orlando and offered my support and my appreciation for the leadership that he and the other officials have shown. This is a moment when all Americans need to stand together.

No matter how many times we endure attacks like this, the horror never fades. The murder of innocent people breaks our hearts, tears at our sense of security and makes us furious.

Now we have to steal our resolve to respond. And that’s what I want to talk to you about. How we respond.

The Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive. And we must attack it with clear eyes, steady hands, unwavering determination and pride in our country and our values.

I have no doubt — I have no doubt we can meet this challenge if we meet it together. Whatever we learn about this killer, his motives in the days ahead, we know already the barbarity that we face from radical jihadists is profound.

In the Middle East, ISIS is attempting a genocide of religious and ethnic minorities. They are slaughtering Muslims who refuse to accept their medieval ways. They are beheading civilians, including executing LGBT people. They are murdering Americans and Europeans, enslaving, torturing and raping women and girls.

In speeches like this one, after Paris, Brussels and San Bernardino, I have laid out a plan to defeat ISIS and the other radical jihadist groups in the region and beyond.

The attack in Orlando makes it even more clear, we cannot contain this threat. We must defeat it. And the good news is that the coalition effort in Syria and Iraq has made recent gains in the last months.

So we should keep the pressure on ramping up the air campaign, accelerating support for our friends fighting to take and hold ground and pushing our partners in the region to do even more.

We also need continued American leadership to help resolve the political conflicts that fuel ISIS recruitment efforts.

But as ISIS loses actual ground in Iraq and Syria, it will seek to stage more attacks and gain stronger footholds wherever it can, from Afghanistan, to Libya, to Europe.

The threat is metastasizing. We saw this in Paris. And we saw it in Brussels. We face a twisted ideology and poisoned psychology that inspires the so-called lone wolves, radicalized individuals who may or may not have contact and direction from any formal organization.

So, yes, efforts to defeat ISIS on the battlefield must succeed. But it will take more than that.

We have to be just as adaptable and versatile as our enemies. As president, I will make identifying and stopping lone wolves a top priority.

I will put a team together from across our government, the entire government, as well as the private sector and communities to get on top of this urgent challenge. And I will make sure our law enforcement and intelligence professionals have all the resources they need to get the job done.

As we do this, there are three areas that demand attention. First, we and our allies must work hand-in-hand to dismantle the networks that move money, and propaganda, and arms and fighters around the world.

We have to flow — we have to stem the flow of jihadists from Europe and Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and then back again. The only way to do this is by working closely with our partners, strengthening our alliances, not weakening them or walking away from them.

Second, here at home, we must harden our own defenses. We have to do more to support our first responders, law enforcement and intelligence officers who do incredible work every day at great personal risk to keep our country safe.

I have seen firsthand how hard their job is, and how well they do it.

In Orlando, at least one police officer was shot in the head. Thankfully, his life was saved by a Kevlar helmet, something folks here at Team Wendy know a lot about.

It has often been said that our law enforcement, our intelligence agencies, our first responders have to be right 100 percent of the time, but terrorists only have to be right once.

What a heavy responsibility. These men and women deserve both our respect and gratitude. And they deserve the right tools, and resources and training. Too often, state and local officials can’t get access to intelligence from the federal government that would help them do their jobs.

We need to change that. We also need to work…We also need to work with local law enforcement and business owners on ways to protect vulnerable, so-called soft targets, like nightclubs and shopping malls and hotels and movie theaters and schools and houses of worship.

Now, I know a lot of Americans are asking how it was possible that someone already on the FBI’s radar could have still been able to commit an attack like the one in Orlando, and what more we can do to stop this kind of thing from happening again.

Well, we have to see what the investigation uncovers. If there are things that can and should be done to improve our ability to prevent, we must do them. We already know we need more resources for this fight. The professionals who keep us safe would be the first to say we need better intelligence to discover and disrupt terrorist plots before they can be carried out.

That’s why I have proposed an intelligence surge to bolster our capabilities across the board with appropriate safeguards here at home.

Even as we make sure our security officials get the tools they need to prevent attacks, it’s essential that we stop terrorists from getting the tools they need to carry out the attack.

And that is especially true when it comes to assault weapons like those used in Orlando and San Bernardino.

I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets and we may have our disagreements about gun safety regulations, but we should all be able to agree on a few essential things.

If the FBI is watching you for a suspected terrorist link, you shouldn’t be able to just go buy a gun with no questions asked.

And you shouldn’t be able to exploit loopholes and evade criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun show.

And yes, if you’re too dangerous to get on a plane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun in America.

Now, I know some will say that assault weapons and background checks are totally separate issues having nothing to do with terrorism. Well, in Orlando and San Bernardino terrorists used assault weapons, the AR-15. And they used it to kill Americans. That was the same assault weapon used to kill those little children in Sandy Hook.

We have to make it harder for people who should not have those weapons of war. And that may not stop every shooting or every terrorist attack, but it will stop some and it will save lives and it will protect our first responders.

And I want you to know, I’m not going to stop fighting for these kinds of provisions.

Now, the third area that demands attention is preventing radicalization and countering efforts by ISIS and other international terrorist networks to recruit in the United States and Europe.

For starters, it is long past time for the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations. And they should stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism.

We also have to use all our capabilities to counter jihadist propaganda online. This is something that I spend a lot of time on at the State Department.

As president, I will work with our great tech companies from Silicon Valley to Boston to step up our game. We have to a better job intercepting ISIS’ communications, tracking and analyzing social media posts and mapping jihadist networks, as well as promoting credible voices who can provide alternatives to radicalization.

And there is more to do offline as well.

Since 9/11, law enforcement agencies have worked hard to build relationships with Muslim American communities. Millions of peace-loving Muslims live, work and raise their families across America. And they are the most likely to recognize the insidious effects of radicalization before it’s too late, and the best positioned to help us block it. So we should be intensifying contacts in those communities, not scapegoating or isolating them.

Last year, I visited a pilot program in Minneapolis that helps parents, teachers, imams, mental health professionals and others recognize signs of radicalization in young people and work with law enforcement to intervene before it’s too late.

I’ve also met with local leaders pursuing innovative approaches in Los Angeles and other places. And we need more efforts like that in more cities across America. And as the director of the FBI has pointed out, we should avoid eroding trust in that community, which will only make law enforcement’s job more difficult.

Inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the families and friends of Muslim Americans as well as millions of Muslim business people and tourists from entering our country hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror.

So does saying that we have to start special surveillance on our fellow Americans because of their religion. It’s no coincidence that hate crimes against American Muslims and mosques have tripled after Paris and San Bernardino. That’s wrong. And it’s also dangerous. It plays right into the terrorists’ hands.

Still, as I have said before, none of us can close our eyes to the fact that we do face enemies who use their distorted version of Islam to justify slaughtering $ innocent people. They’d take us all back to the Stone Age if they could, just as they have in parts of Iraq and Syria.

The terrorist in Orlando targeted LGBT Americans out of hatred and bigotry. And an attack on any American is an attack on all Americans.

And I want to say this to all the LGBT people grieving today in Florida and across our country. You have millions of allies who will always have your back.

And I am one of them.

From Stonewall to Laramie, and now Orlando, we’ve seen too many examples of how the struggle to live freely, openly and without fear has been met by violence. We have to stand together, be proud together. There is no better rebuke to the terrorists and all those who hate.

Our open, diverse society is an asset in the struggle against terrorism, not a liability. It makes us stronger and more resistant to radicalization. And this raises a larger point about the future of our country.

America is strongest when we all believe that we have a stake in our country and our future.

This vision has sustained us from the beginning. The belief that, yes, we are all created equal and the journey we have made to turn that into reality over the course of our history, that we are not a land of winners and losers, that we should all have the opportunity to live up to our God-given potential. And we have a responsibility to help others do so as well.

As I look at American history, I see that this has always been a country of “we” not “me.” We stand together because we are stronger together. E pluribus unum. One — out of many, one — has seen us through the darkest chapters of our history. Ever since 13 squabbling colonies put aside their disagreements and united because they realized they were going to rise together or fall separately, generation after generation has fought and marched and organized to widen the circle of dignity and opportunity. Ending slavery. Securing and expanding the right to vote. Throwing open the doors of education. Building the greatest middle class the world has ever seen.

And we are stronger when more people can participate in our democracy.

And we are stronger when everyone can share in the rewards of our economy and contribute to our communities, when we bridge our divides and lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. Now we have overcome a lot together and we will overcome the threats of terror and radicalization and all of our other challenges. Here in Ohio and across America, I’ve listened to people talk about the problems that keep you up at night.

The bonds that hold us together as communities, as one national community, are strained by an economy with too much inequality and too little upward mobility. By social and political divisions that have diminished our trust in each other and our confidence in our shared future. I have heard that, and I want you to know as your president I will work every day to break down all the barriers holding you back and keeping us apart. We’re gonna get an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top, we’re gonna forge a new sense of connection and shared responsibility to each other and our nation.

And finally, finally let me remind us all, I remember, I remember how it felt, on the day after 9/11, and I bet many of you do as well. Americans from all walks of life rallied together with a sense of common purpose on September the 12th and in the days and weeks and months that followed. We had each others’ backs. I was a senator from New York. There was a Republican president, a Republican governor, and a Republican mayor. We did not attack each other. We worked with each other to protect our country and to rebuild our city .

President Bush went to a Muslim community center just six days after the attacks to send a message of unity and solidarity. To anyone who wanted to take out their anger on our Muslim neighbors and fellow citizens, he said, “That should not, and that will not, stand in America.” It is time to get back to the spirit of those days, spirit of 9/12. Let’s make sure we keep looking to the best of our country, to the best within each of us. Democratic and Republican presidents have risen to the occasion in the face of tragedy. That is what we are called to do my friends and I am so confident and optimistic that is exactly what we will do.

Thank you all so much.

Full Text of Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech in Manchester, NH, June 13, 2016

This was going to be a speech on Hillary Clinton and how bad a President, especially in these times of Radical Islamic Terrorism, she would be.

Even her former Secret Service Agent, who has seen her under pressure and in times of stress, has stated that she lacks the temperament and integrity to be president.

There will be plenty of opportunity to discuss these important issues at a later time, and I will deliver that speech soon.

But today there is only one thing to discuss: the growing threat of terrorism inside of our borders.

The attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was the worst terrorist strike on our soil since September 11th, and the worst mass shooting in our country’s history.

So many people dead, so many people gravely injured, so much carnage, such a disgrace.

The horror is beyond description.

The families of these wonderful people are totally devastated. Likewise, our whole nation, and indeed the whole world, is devastated.

We express our deepest sympathies to the victims, the wounded, and their families.

We mourn, as one people, for our nation’s loss – and pledge our support to any and all who need it.

I would like to ask now that we all observe a moment of silence for the victims of the attack.

Our nation stands together in solidarity with the members of Orlando’s LGBT Community.

This is a very dark moment in America’s history.

A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub not only because he wanted to kill Americans, but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens because of their sexual orientation.

It is a strike at the heart and soul of who we are as a nation.

It is an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity.

It is an attack on the right of every single American to live in peace and safety in their own country.

We need to respond to this attack on America as one united people – with force, purpose and determination.

But the current politically correct response cripples our ability to talk and think and act clearly.

If we don’t get tough, and we don’t get smart – and fast – we’re not going to have a country anymore — there will be nothing left.

The killer, whose name I will not use, or ever say, was born to Afghan parents who immigrated to the United States. His father published support for the Afghan Taliban, a regime which murders those who don’t share its radical views. The father even said he was running for President of that country.

The bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here.

That is a fact, and it’s a fact we need to talk about.

We have a dysfunctional immigration system which does not permit us to know who we let into our country, and it does not permit us to protect our citizens.

We have an incompetent administration, and if I am not elected President, that will not change over the next four years — but it must change, and it must change now.

With fifty people dead, and dozens more wounded, we cannot afford to talk around the issue anymore — we have to address it head on.

I called for a ban after San Bernardino, and was met with great scorn and anger but now, many are saying I was right to do so — and although the pause is temporary, we must find out what is going on. The ban will be lifted when we as a nation are in a position to properly and perfectly screen those people coming into our country.

The immigration laws of the United States give the President the power to suspend entry into the country of any class of persons that the President deems detrimental to the interests or security of the United States, as he deems appropriate.

I will use this power to protect the American people. When I am elected, I will suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we understand how to end these threats.

After a full, impartial and long overdue security assessment, we will develop a responsible immigration policy that serves the interests and values of America.

We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country, many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer.

Many of the principles of Radical Islam are incompatible with Western values and institutions.

Radical Islam is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-American.

I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people, Christian people, and Jewish people, are the targets of persecution and intimidation by Radical Islamic preachers of hate and violence.

It’s not just a national security issue. It is a quality of life issue.

If we want to protect the quality of life for all Americans – women and children, gay and straight, Jews and Christians and all people – then we need to tell the truth about Radical Islam.

We need to tell the truth, also, about how Radical Islam is coming to our shores.

We are importing Radical Islamic Terrorism into the West through a failed immigration system — and through an intelligence community held back by our president.

Even our own FBI Director has admitted that we cannot effectively check the backgrounds of the people we are letting into America.

All of the September 11th hijackers were issued visas.

Large numbers of Somali refugees in Minnesota have tried to join ISIS.

The Boston Bombers came here through political asylum.

The male shooter in San Bernardino – again, whose name I won’t mention — was the child of immigrants from Pakistan, and he brought his wife – the other terrorist – from Saudi Arabia, through another one of our easily exploited visa programs.

Immigration from Afghanistan into the United States has increased nearly five-fold in just one year. According to Pew Research, 99% of people in Afghanistan support oppressive Sharia Law.

We admit many more from other countries in the region who share these same oppressive views.

If we want to remain a free and open society, then we have to control our borders.

Yet, Hillary Clinton – for months and despite so many attacks – repeatedly refused to even say the words “radical Islam,” until I challenged her yesterday to say the words or leave the race.

However, Hillary Clinton – who has been forced to say the words today after policies she supports have caused us so much damage – still has no clue what Radical Islam is, and won’t speak honestly about what it is.

She is in total denial, and her continuing reluctance to ever name the enemy broadcasts weakness across the world.

In fact, just a few weeks before the San Bernardino slaughter, Hillary Clinton explained her refusal to say the words Radical Islam. Here is what she said: “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people, and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”

Hillary Clinton says the solution is to ban guns. They tried that in France, which has among the toughest gun laws in the world, and 130 were brutally murdered by Islamic terrorists in cold blood. Her plan is to disarm law-abiding Americans, abolishing the 2nd amendment, and leaving only the bad guys and terrorists with guns. She wants to take away Americans’ guns, then admit the very people who want to slaughter us.

I will be meeting with the NRA, which has given me their earliest endorsement in a Presidential race, to discuss how to ensure Americans have the means to protect themselves in this age of terror.

The bottom line is that Hillary supports the policies that bring the threat of Radical Islam into America, and allow it to grow overseas.

In fact, Hillary Clinton’s catastrophic immigration plan will bring vastly more Radical Islamic immigration into this country, threatening not only our security but our way of life.

When it comes to Radical Islamic terrorism, ignorance is not bliss – it’s deadly.

The Obama Administration, with the support of Hillary Clinton and others, has also damaged our security by restraining our intelligence-gathering and failing to support law enforcement. They have put political correctness above common sense, above your safety, and above all else.

I refuse to be politically correct.

I will do the right thing–I want to straighten things out and to Make America Great Again.

The days of deadly ignorance will end, and they will end soon.

As President I will give our intelligence community, law enforcement and military the tools they need to prevent terrorist attacks.

We need an intelligence-gathering system second to none. That includes better cooperation between state, local and federal officials – and with our allies.

I will have an Attorney General, a Director of National Intelligence, and a Secretary of Defense who will know how to fight the war on Radical Islamic Terrorism – and who will have the support they require to get the job done.

We also must ensure the American people are provided the information they need to understand the threat.

The Senate Subcommittee on Immigration has already identified hundreds of immigrants charged with terrorist activities inside the United States since September 11th.

Nearly a year ago, the Senate Subcommittee asked President Obama’s Departments of Justice, State and Homeland Security to provide the immigration history of all terrorists inside the United States.

These Departments refused to comply.

President Obama must release the full and complete immigration histories of all individuals implicated in terrorist activity of any kind since 9/11.

The public has a right to know how these people got here.

We have to screen applicants to know whether they are affiliated with, or support, radical groups and beliefs.

We have to control the amount of future immigration into this country to prevent large pockets of radicalization from forming inside America.

Even a single individual can be devastating, just look at what happened in Orlando. Can you imagine large groups?

Truly, our President doesn’t know what he is doing. He has failed us, and failed us badly, and under his leadership, this situation will not get any better — it will only get worse.

Each year, the United States permanently admits more than 100,000 immigrants from the Middle East, and many more from Muslim countries outside the Middle East. Our government has been admitting ever-growing numbers, year after year, without any effective plan for our security.

In fact, Clinton’s State Department was in charge of the admissions process for people applying to enter from overseas.

Having learned nothing from these attacks, she now plans to massively increase admissions without a screening plan, including a 500% increase in Syrian refugees.

This could be a better, bigger version of the legendary Trojan Horse.

We can’t let this happen.

Altogether, under the Clinton plan, you’d be admitting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East with no system to vet them, or to prevent the radicalization of their children.

The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why she believes immigration from these dangerous countries should be increased without any effective system to screen who we are bringing in.

The burden is on Hillary Clinton to tell us why we should admit anyone into our country who supports violence of any kind against gay and lesbian Americans.

The burden is also on Hillary Clinton to tell us how she will pay for it. Her plan will cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars long-term.

Wouldn’t this money be better spent on rebuilding America for our current population, including the many poor people already living here?

We have to stop the tremendous flow of Syrian refugees into the United States – we don’t know who they are, they have no documentation, and we don’t know what they’re planning.

What I want is common sense. I want a mainstream immigration policy that promotes American values.

That is the choice I put before the American people: a mainstream immigration policy designed to benefit America, or Hillary Clinton’s radical immigration policy designed to benefit politically-correct special interests.

We’ve got to get smart, and tough, and vigilant, and we’ve got to do it now, because later is too late.

The media talks about “homegrown,” terrorism, but Islamic radicalism, and the networks that nurture it, are imports from overseas.

Yes, there are many radicalized people already inside our country as a result of the poor policies of the past. But the whole point is that it will be much, much easier to deal with our current problem if we don’t keep on bringing in people who add to the problem.

For instance, the controversial Mosque attended by the Boston Bombers had as its founder an immigrant from overseas charged in an assassination plot.

This shooter in Orlando was the child of an immigrant father who supported one of the most repressive regimes on Earth. Why would we admit people who support violent hatred?

Hillary Clinton can never claim to be a friend of the gay community as long as she continues to support immigration policies that bring Islamic extremists to our country who suppress women, gays and anyone who doesn’t share their views.

She can’t have it both ways. She can’t claim to be supportive of these communities while trying to increase the number of people coming in who want to oppress them.

How does this kind of immigration make our life better? How does this kind of immigration make our country better?

Why does Hillary Clinton want to bring people here—in vast numbers—who reject our values?

Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with his actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words? Clinton wants to allow Radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country—they enslave women, and murder gays.

I don’t want them in our country.

Immigration is a privilege, and we should not let anyone into this country who doesn’t support our communities – all of our communities.

America has already admitted four times more immigrants than any country on earth, and we continue to admit millions more with no real checks or scrutiny.

Not surprisingly, wages for our workers haven’t budged in many years.

So whether it’s matter of national security, or financial security, we can’t afford to keep on going like this. We owe $19 trillion in debt, and no longer have options.

All our communities, from all backgrounds, are ready for some relief. This is not an act of offense against anyone; it is an act of defense.

I want us all to work together, including in partnership with our Muslim communities. But Muslim communities must cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad – and they do know where they are.

I want to fix our schools, roads, bridges and job market. I want every American to succeed. Hillary Clinton wants to empty out the Treasury to bring people into the country that include individuals who preach hate against our own citizens.

I want to protect our citizens – all of our citizens.

The terrorist attack on the Pulse Night Club demands a full and complete investigation into every aspect of the assault.

In San Bernardino, as an example, people knew what was going on, but they used the excuse of racial profiling for not reporting it.

We need to know what the killer discussed with his relatives, parents, friends and associates.

We need to know if he was affiliated with any radical Mosques or radical activists and what, if any, is their immigration status.

We need to know if he travelled anywhere, and who he travelled with.

We need to make sure every single last person involved in this plan – including anyone who knew something but didn’t tell us – is brought to justice.

If it can be proven that somebody had information about any attack, and did not give this information to authorities, they must serve prison time .

America must do more – much more – to protect its citizens, especially people who are potential victims of crimes based on their backgrounds or sexual orientations.

It also means we must change our foreign policy.

The decision to overthrow the regime in Libya, then pushing for the overthrow of the regime in Syria, among other things, without plans for the day after, have created space for ISIS to expand and grow.

These actions, along with our disastrous Iran deal, have also reduced our ability to work in partnership with our Muslim allies in the region.

That is why our new goal must be to defeat Islamic terrorism, not nation-building.

For instance, the last major NATO mission was Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. That mission helped unleash ISIS on a new continent.

I’ve said NATO needs to change its focus to stopping terrorism. Since I’ve raised that criticism, NATO has since announced a new initiative focused on just that.

America must unite the whole civilized world in the fight against Islamic terrorism, just like we did against communism in the Cold War.

We’ve tried it President Obama’s way. He gave the world his apology tour, we got ISIS, and many other problems, in return.

I’d like to conclude my remarks today by again expressing our solidarity with the people of Orlando who have come under attack.

When I am President, I pledge to protect and defend all Americans who live inside of our borders. Wherever they come from, wherever they were born, all Americans living here and following our laws will be protected.

America will be a tolerant and open society.

America will also be a safe society.

We will protect our borders at home.

We will defeat ISIS overseas.

We will ensure every parent can raise their children in peace and safety.

We will make America rich again.

We will make America safe again.

We will make American Great Again.

 

Full Text of Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Speech in San Diego, CA, June 2, 2016

Thank you, thank you so much. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you San Diego for that warm, warm welcome and thanks to Ellen for those moving words, her introduction, and for reminding us it’s not only our men and women in uniform that serve our country, it’s their families, their spouses, their children, and we are grateful to each and every one of them. I want to recognize and thank Congressman Scott Peters for being here, thank you very much.

And all of the other electeds and service members, active duty and retired National Guard and Reservists, veterans, military spouses, family members, all who are with us today.

On Monday, we observed Memorial Day – a day that means a great deal to San Diego, home of so many active-duty and former military and their families. We honor the sacrifice of those who died for our country in many ways – by living our values, by making this a stronger and fairer nation, and by carrying out a smart and principled foreign policy.

That’s what I want to speak about today – the challenges we face in protecting our country, and the choice at stake in this election.

It’s a choice between a fearful America that’s less secure and less engaged with the world, and a strong, confident America that leads to keep our country safe and our economy growing.

As Secretary of State, Senator and First Lady, I had the honor of representing America abroad and helping shape our foreign policy at home. As a candidate for President, there’s nothing I take more seriously than our national security. I’ve offered clear strategies for how to defeat ISIS, strengthen our alliances, and make sure Iran never gets a nuclear weapon. And I’m going to keep America’s security at the heart of my campaign.

Because as you know so well, Americans aren’t just electing a President in November. We’re choosing our next commander-in-chief – the person we count on to decide questions of war and peace, life and death.

And like many across our country and around the world, I believe the person the Republicans have nominated for President cannot do the job.

Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different – they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas – just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies.

He is not just unprepared – he is temperamentally unfit to hold an office that requires knowledge, stability and immense responsibility.

This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes – because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.

We cannot put the security of our children and grandchildren in Donald Trump’s hands. We cannot let him roll the dice with America.

This is a man who said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.

This is someone who has threatened to abandon our allies in NATO – the countries that work with us to root out terrorists abroad before they strike us at home.

He believes we can treat the U.S. economy like one of his casinos and default on our debts to the rest of the world, which would cause an economic catastrophe far worse than anything we experienced in 2008.

He has said that he would order our military to carry out torture and the murder of civilians who are related to suspected terrorists – even though those are war crimes.

He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or our admirals, our ambassadors and other high officials, because he has – quote – “a very good brain.”

He also said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.” You know what? I don’t believe him.

He says climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, and he has the gall to say that prisoners of war like John McCain aren’t heroes.

Exactly.

He praises dictators like Vladimir Putin and picks fights with our friends – including the British prime minister, the mayor of London, the German chancellor, the president of Mexico and the Pope.

He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.

And to top it off, he believes America is weak. An embarrassment. He called our military a disaster. He said we are – and I quote – a “third-world country.” And he’s been saying things like that for decades.

Those are the words my friends of someone who doesn’t understand America or the world.

And they’re the words of someone who would lead us in the wrong direction. Because if you really believe America is weak – with our military, our values, our capabilities that no other country comes close to matching – then you don’t know America.

And you certainly don’t deserve to lead it.

That’s why – even if I weren’t in this race – I’d be doing everything I could to make sure Donald Trump never becomes President – because I believe he will take our country down a truly dangerous path.

Unlike him, I have some experience with the tough calls and the hard work of statecraft. I wrestled with the Chinese over a climate deal in Copenhagen, brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, negotiated the reduction of nuclear weapons with Russia, twisted arms to bring the world together in global sanctions against Iran, and stood up for the rights of women, religious minorities and LGBT people around the world.

And I have, I have sat in the Situation Room and advised the President on some of the toughest choices he faced.

So I’m not new to this work. And I’m proud to run on my record, because I think the choice before the American people in this election is clear.

I believe in strong alliances; clarity in dealing with our rivals; and a rock-solid commitment to the values that have always made America great. And I believe with all my heart that America is an exceptional country – that we’re still, in Lincoln’s words, the last, best hope of earth. We are not a country that cowers behind walls. We lead with purpose, and we prevail.

And if America doesn’t lead, we leave a vacuum – and that will either cause chaos, or other countries will rush in to fill the void. Then they’ll be the ones making the decisions about your lives and jobs and safety – and trust me, the choices they make will not be to our benefit.

That is not an outcome we can live with.

As I see it, there are some important things our next President must do to secure American leadership and keep us safe and our economy growing in the years ahead. These are all areas in which Donald Trump and I profoundly disagree. And they are all critical to our future.

First, we need to be strong at home.

That means investing in our infrastructure, education and innovation – the fundamentals of a strong economy. We need to reduce income inequality, because our country can’t lead effectively when so many are struggling to provide the basics for their families. And we need to break down the barriers that hold Americans back, including barriers of bigotry and discrimination.

Compare that with what Trump wants to do. His economic plans would add more than $30 trillion – that’s trillion with a “t” – $30 trillion to our national debt over the next 20 years. He has no ideas on education. No ideas on innovation. He has a lot of ideas about who to blame, but no clue about what to do.

None of what Donald Trump is offering will make America stronger at home. And that would make us weaker in the world.

Second, we need to stick with our allies.

America’s network of allies is part of what makes us exceptional. And our allies deliver for us every day.

Our armed forces fight terrorists together; our diplomats work side by side. Allies provide staging areas for our military, so we can respond quickly to events on the other side of the world. And they share intelligence that helps us identify and defuse potential threats.

Take the threat posed by North Korea – perhaps the most repressive regime on the planet, run by a sadistic dictator who wants to develop long-range missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon to the United States.

When I was Secretary of State, we worked closely with our allies Japan and South Korea to respond to this threat, including by creating a missile defense system that stands ready to shoot down a North Korean warhead, should its leaders ever be reckless enough to launch one at us. The technology is ours. Key parts of it are located on Japanese ships. All three countries contributed to it. And this month, all three of our militaries will run a joint drill to test it.

That’s the power of allies.

And it’s the legacy of American troops who fought and died to secure those bonds, because they knew we were safer with friends and partners.

Now Moscow and Beijing are deeply envious of our alliances around the world, because they have nothing to match them. They’d love for us to elect a President who would jeopardize that source of strength. If Donald gets his way, they’ll be celebrating in the Kremlin. We cannot let that happen.

That’s why it is no small thing when he talks about leaving NATO, or says he’ll stay neutral on Israel’s security.

It’s no small thing when he calls Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. We’re lucky to have two friendly neighbors on our land borders. Why would he want to make one of them an enemy?

And it’s no small thing when he suggests that America should withdraw our military support for Japan, encourage them to get nuclear weapons, and said this about a war between Japan and North Korea – and I quote – “If they do, they do. Good luck, enjoy yourself, folks.”

I wonder if he even realizes he’s talking about nuclear war.

Yes, our friends need to contribute their fair share. I made that point long before Donald Trump came onto the scene – and a number of them have increased their defense spending. The real debate here is whether we keep these alliances strong or cut them off. What he says would weaken our country.

Third, we need to embrace all the tools of American power, especially diplomacy and development, to be on the frontlines solving problems before they threaten us at home.

Diplomacy is often the only way to avoid a conflict that could end up exacting a much greater cost. It takes patience, persistence and an eye on the long game – but it’s worth it.

Take the nuclear agreement with Iran. When President Obama took office, Iran was racing toward a nuclear bomb. Some called for military action. But that could have ignited a broader war that could have mired our troops in another Middle Eastern conflict.

President Obama chose a different path. And I got to work leading the effort to impose crippling global sanctions. We brought Iran to the table. We began talks. And eventually, we reached an agreement that should block every path for Iran to get a nuclear weapon.

Now we must enforce that deal vigorously. And as I’ve said many times before, our approach must be “distrust and verify.” The world must understand that the United States will act decisively if necessary, including with military action, to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. In particular, Israel’s security is non-negotiable. They’re our closest ally in the region, and we have a moral obligation to defend them.

But there is no question that the world and the United States, we are safer now than we were before this agreement. And we accomplished it without firing a single shot, dropping a single bomb or putting a single American soldier in harm’s way.

Donald Trump says we shouldn’t have done the deal. We should have walked away. But that would have meant no more global sanctions, and Iran resuming their nuclear program and the world blaming us. So then what? War? Telling the world, good luck, you deal with Iran?

Of course Trump doesn’t have answers to those questions. Donald Trump doesn’t know the first thing about Iran or its nuclear program. Ask him. It’ll become very clear, very quickly.

There’s no risk of people losing their lives if you blow up a golf-course deal.

But it doesn’t work like that in world affairs. Just like being interviewed on the same episode of “60 Minutes” as Putin was, is not the same thing as actually dealing with Putin.

So the stakes in global statecraft are infinitely higher and more complex than in the world of luxury hotels. We all know the tools Donald Trump brings to the table – bragging, mocking, composing nasty tweets – I’m willing to bet he’s writing a few right now.

But those tools won’t do the trick. Rather than solving global crises, he would create new ones.

He has no sense of what it takes to deal with multiple countries with competing interests and reaching a solution that everyone can get behind. In fact, he is downright contemptuous of that work. And that means he’s much more likely to end up leading us into conflict.

Fourth, we need to be firm but wise with our rivals.

Countries like Russia and China often work against us. Beijing dumps cheap steel in our markets. That hurts American workers. Moscow has taken aggressive military action in Ukraine, right on NATO’s doorstep. Now I’ve gone toe-to-toe with Russia and China, and many other different leaders around the world. So I know we have to be able to both stand our ground when we must, and find common ground when we can.

That’s how I could work with Russia to conclude the New START treaty to reduce nuclear stockpiles, and with China to increase pressure on North Korea. It’s how our diplomats negotiated the landmark agreement on climate change, which Trump now wants to rip up.

The key was never forgetting who we were dealing with – not friends or allies, but countries that share some common interests with us amid many disagreements.

Donald doesn’t see the complexity. He wants to start a trade war with China. And I understand a lot of Americans have concerns about our trade agreements – I do too. But a trade war is something very different. We went down that road in the 1930s. It made the Great Depression longer and more painful. Combine that with his comments about defaulting on our debt, and it’s not hard to see how a Trump presidency could lead to a global economic crisis.

And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald’s bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America. He praised China for the Tiananmen Square massacre; he said it showed strength. He said, “You’ve got to give Kim Jong Un credit” for taking over North Korea – something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully, like he was recapping an action movie. And he said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he’d give him an A.

Now, I’ll leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants.

I just wonder how anyone could be so wrong about who America’s real friends are. Because it matters. If you don’t know exactly who you’re dealing with, men like Putin will eat your lunch.

Fifth, we need a real plan for confronting terrorists.

As we saw six months ago in San Bernardino, the threat is real and urgent. Over the past year, I’ve laid out my plans for defeating ISIS.

We need to take out their strongholds in Iraq and Syria by intensifying the air campaign and stepping up our support for Arab and Kurdish forces on the ground. We need to keep pursuing diplomacy to end Syria’s civil war and close Iraq’s sectarian divide, because those conflicts are keeping ISIS alive. We need to lash up with our allies, and ensure our intelligence services are working hand-in-hand to dismantle the global network that supplies money, arms, propaganda and fighters to the terrorists. We need to win the battle in cyberspace.

And of course we need to strengthen our defenses here at home.

That – in a nutshell – is my plan for defeating ISIS.

What’s Trump’s? Well he won’t say. He is literally keeping it a secret. The secret, of course, is he has no idea what he’d do to stop ISIS.

Just look at the few things he’s actually said on the subject.

He’s actually said – and I quote – “maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS.” Oh, okay – let a terrorist group have control of a major country in the Middle East.

Then he said we should send tens of thousands of American ground troops to the Middle East to fight ISIS.

He also refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against ISIS, which would mean mass civilian casualties.

It’s clear he doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. So we can’t be certain which of these things he would do. But we can be certain that he’s capable of doing any or all of them. Letting ISIS run wild. Launching a nuclear attack. Starting a ground war. These are all distinct possibilities with Donald Trump in charge.

And through all his loose talk, there’s one constant theme: demonizing Muslims and playing right into the hands of ISIS’. His proposal to ban 1.5 billion Muslims from even coming to our country doesn’t just violate the religious freedom our country was founded on. It’s also a huge propaganda victory for ISIS. And it alienates the very countries we need to actually help us in this fight.

A Trump Presidency would embolden ISIS. We cannot take that risk.

This isn’t reality television – this is actual reality.

And defeating global terrorist networks and protecting the homeland takes more than empty talk and a handful of slogans. It takes a real plan, real experience and real leadership. Donald Trump lacks all three.

And one more thing. A President has a sacred responsibility to send our troops into battle only if we absolutely must, and only with a clear and well-thought-out strategy. Our troops give their all. They deserve a commander-in-chief who knows that.

I’ve worked side-by-side with admirals and generals, and visited our troops in theaters of war. I’ve fought for better health care for our National Guard, better services for our veterans, and more support for our Gold Star families. We cannot put the lives of our young men and women in uniform in Donald Trump’s hands.

Sixth, we need to stay true to our values.

Trump says over and over again, “The world is laughing at us.” He’s been saying this for decades, he didn’t just start this year. He bought full-page ads in newspapers across the country back in 1987, when Ronald Reagan was President, saying that America lacked a backbone and the world was – you guessed it – laughing at us. He was wrong then, and he’s wrong now – and you’ve got to wonder why somebody who fundamentally has so little confidence in America, and has felt that way for at least 30 years, wants to be our President.

The truth is, there’s not a country in the world that can rival us. It’s not just that we have the greatest military, or that our economy is larger, more durable, more entrepreneurial than any in the world. It’s also that Americans work harder, dream bigger – and we never, ever stop trying to make our country and world a better place.

So it really matters that Donald Trump says things that go against our deepest-held values. It matters when he says he’ll order our military to murder the families of suspected terrorists. During the raid to kill bin Laden, when every second counted, our SEALs took the time to move the women and children in the compound to safety. Donald Trump may not get it, but that’s what honor looks like.

And it also matters when he makes fun of disabled people, calls women pigs, proposes banning an entire religion from our country, or plays coy with white supremacists. America stands up to countries that treat women like animals, or people of different races, religions or ethnicities as less human.

What happens to the moral example we set – for the world and for our own children – if our President engages in bigotry?

And by the way, Mr. Trump – every time you insult American Muslims or Mexican immigrants, remember that plenty of Muslims and immigrants serve and fight in our armed forces.

Donald Trump, Donald Trump could learn something from them.

That brings me to the final point I want to make today – the temperament it takes to be Commander-in-Chief.

Every President faces hard choices every day, with imperfect information and conflicting imperatives. That’s the job.

A revolution threatens to topple a government in a key region, an adversary reaches out for the first time in years – what do you do?

Making the right call takes a cool head and respect for the facts. It takes a willingness to listen to other people’s points of view with a truly open mind. It also takes humility – knowing you don’t know everything – because if you’re convinced you’re always right, you’ll never ask yourself the hard questions.

I remember being in the Situation Room with President Obama, debating the potential Bin Laden operation. The President’s advisors were divided. The intelligence was compelling but far from definitive. The risks of failure were daunting. The stakes were significant for our battle against al Qaeda and our relationship with Pakistan. Most of all, the lives of those brave SEALs and helicopter pilots hung in the balance.

It was a decision only the President could make. And when he did, it was as crisp and courageous a display of leadership as I’ve ever seen.

Now imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Situation Room, making life-or-death decisions on behalf of the United States. Imagine him deciding whether to send your spouses or children into battle. Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal.

Do we want him making those calls – someone thin-skinned and quick to anger, who lashes out at the smallest criticism? Do we want his finger anywhere near the button?

I have a lot of faith that the American people will make the right decision. This is a country with a deep reservoir of common sense and national pride. We’re all counting on that.

Because making Donald Trump our commander-in-chief would be a historic mistake. It would undo so much of the work that Republicans and Democrats alike have done over many decades to make America stronger and more secure. It would set back our standing in the world more than anything in recent memory. And it would fuel an ugly narrative about who we are – that we’re fearful, not confident; that we want to let others determine our future for us, instead of shaping our own destiny.

That’s not the America I know and love.

So yes, we have a lot of work to do to keep our country secure. And we need to do better by American families and American workers – and we will. But don’t let anyone tell you that America isn’t great. Donald Trump’s got America all wrong. We are a big-hearted, fair-minded country.

There is no challenge we can’t meet, no goal we can’t achieve when we each do our part and come together as one nation.

Every lesson from our history teaches us that we are stronger together. We remember that every Memorial Day.

This election is a choice between two very different visions of America.

One that’s angry, afraid, and based on the idea that America is fundamentally weak and in decline.

The other is hopeful, generous, and confident in the knowledge that America is great – just like we always have been.

Let’s resolve that we can be greater still. That is what I believe in my heart.

I went to 112 countries as your Secretary of State. And I never lost my sense of pride at seeing our blue-and-white plane lit up on some far-off runway, with “The United States of America” emblazoned on the side. That plane – those words – our country represents something special, not just to us, to the world. It represents freedom and hope and opportunity.

I love this country and I know you do too. It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve America and I’m going to do everything I can to protect our nation, and make sure we don’t lose sight of how strong we really are.

Thank you all very much.

Full Text of Obama’s Speech at Hiroshima, May 27, 2016

Seventy-one years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.

Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children, thousands of Koreans, a dozen Americans held prisoner.

Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.

It is not the fact of war that sets Hiroshima apart. Artifacts tell us that violent conflict appeared with the very first man. Our early ancestors having learned to make blades from flint and spears from wood used these tools not just for hunting but against their own kind. On every continent, the history of civilization is filled with war, whether driven by scarcity of grain or hunger for gold, compelled by nationalist fervor or religious zeal. Empires have risen and fallen. Peoples have been subjugated and liberated. And at each juncture, innocents have suffered, a countless toll, their names forgotten by time.

The world war that reached its brutal end in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was fought among the wealthiest and most powerful of nations. Their civilizations had given the world great cities and magnificent art. Their thinkers had advanced ideas of justice and harmony and truth. And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints.

In the span of a few years, some 60 million people would die. Men, women, children, no different than us. Shot, beaten, marched, bombed, jailed, starved, gassed to death. There are many sites around the world that chronicle this war, memorials that tell stories of courage and heroism, graves and empty camps that echo of unspeakable depravity

Yet in the image of a mushroom cloud that rose into these skies, we are most starkly reminded of humanity’s core contradiction. How the very spark that marks us as a species, our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our toolmaking, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will — those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction.

How often does material advancement or social innovation blind us to this truth? How easily we learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause.

Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill.

Nations arise telling a story that binds people together in sacrifice and cooperation, allowing for remarkable feats. But those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different.

Science allows us to communicate across the seas and fly above the clouds, to cure disease and understand the cosmos, but those same discoveries can be turned into ever more efficient killing machines.

The wars of the modern age teach us this truth. Hiroshima teaches this truth. Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well.

That is why we come to this place. We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry. We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war and the wars that came before and the wars that would follow.

Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.

Some day, the voices of the hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness. But the memory of the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change.

And since that fateful day, we have made choices that give us hope. The United States and Japan have forged not only an alliance but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war. The nations of Europe built a union that replaced battlefields with bonds of commerce and democracy. Oppressed people and nations won liberation. An international community established institutions and treaties that work to avoid war and aspire to restrict and roll back and ultimately eliminate the existence of nuclear weapons.

Still, every act of aggression between nations, every act of terror and corruption and cruelty and oppression that we see around the world shows our work is never done. We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations and the alliances that we form must possess the means to defend ourselves. But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.

We may not realize this goal in my lifetime, but persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe. We can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles. We can stop the spread to new nations and secure deadly materials from fanatics.

And yet that is not enough. For we see around the world today how even the crudest rifles and barrel bombs can serve up violence on a terrible scale. We must change our mind-set about war itself. To prevent conflict through diplomacy and strive to end conflicts after they’ve begun. To see our growing interdependence as a cause for peaceful cooperation and not violent competition. To define our nations not by our capacity to destroy but by what we build. And perhaps, above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race.

For this, too, is what makes our species unique. We’re not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can learn. We can choose. We can tell our children a different story, one that describes a common humanity, one that makes war less likely and cruelty less easily accepted.

We see these stories in the hibakusha. The woman who forgave a pilot who flew the plane that dropped the atomic bomb because she recognized that what she really hated was war itself. The man who sought out families of Americans killed here because he believed their loss was equal to his own.

My own nation’s story began with simple words: All men are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Realizing that ideal has never been easy, even within our own borders, even among our own citizens. But staying true to that story is worth the effort. It is an ideal to be strived for, an ideal that extends across continents and across oceans. The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious, the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family — that is the story that we all must tell.

That is why we come to Hiroshima. So that we might think of people we love. The first smile from our children in the morning. The gentle touch from a spouse over the kitchen table. The comforting embrace of a parent. We can think of those things and know that those same precious moments took place here, 71 years ago.

Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.

The world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.

Bernie Sanders’ ‘Families First’ Immigration Plan

“Millions of families are torn apart by our broken immigration policies. We cannot forget about the aspiring Americans who continue to live in the shadows. As the son of an immigrant, I can tell you that their story – my story, your story, our story – is the story of America: the story of hardworking families coming to the United States to create a brighter future for their kids. We have an obligation to enact policies that unite families, not tear them apart.”

If elected, Bernie Sanders’ plan would: 

  • Dismantle inhumane deportation programs and private detention centers.
  • Offer humane treatment and asylum to victims of domestic violence and minors fleeing from dangerous circumstances in Latin America.
  • End policies that discriminate against women and ensure that mothers and wives who come into the United States with their families have the same right to work as their partners.
  • Pave the way for a swift legislative path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.
  • Close loopholes that allow federal agencies to use racial and ethnic profiling at the border.
  • Ensure our border remains secure and protects local communities.
  • Make it easier for immigrants to access the judicial system.
  • Increase oversight of key Department of Homeland Security agencies to guard against waste, fraud and abuse.

Bernie Sanders, Sanders Introduces ‘Families First’ Immigration Plan, Berniesanders.com, November 24, 2015

Remarks by President Obama at the G20 Summit 

Terrorist Attacks in Paris, France/ISIL

Of course, much of our attention has focused on the heinous attacks that took place in Paris. Across the world, in the United States, American flags are at half-staff in solidarity with our French allies. We’re working closely with our French partners as they pursue their investigations and track down suspects.

France is already a strong counterterrorism partner, and today we’re announcing a new agreement. We’re streamlining the process by which we share intelligence and operational military information with France. This will allow our personnel to pass threat information, including on ISIL, to our French partners even more quickly and more often — because we need to be doing everything we can to protect against more attacks and protect our citizens.

Tragically, Paris is not alone. We’ve seen outrageous attacks by ISIL in Beirut, last month in Ankara, routinely in Iraq. Here at the G20, our nations have sent an unmistakable message that we are united against this threat. ISIL is the face of evil. Our goal, as I’ve said many times, is to degrade and ultimately destroy this barbaric terrorist organization.

As I outlined this fall at the United Nations, we have a comprehensive strategy

using all elements of our power — military, intelligence, economic, development, and the strength of our communities. With have always understood that this would be a long-term campaign. There will be setbacks and there will be successes. The terrible events in Paris were a terrible and sickening setback. Even as we grieve with our French friends, however, we can’t lose sight that there has been progress being made.

On the military front, our coalition is intensifying our airstrikes — more than 8,000 to date. We’re taking out ISIL leaders, commanders, their killers. We’ve seen that when we have an effective partner on the ground, ISIL can and is pushed back. So local forces in Iraq, backed by coalition airpower, recently liberated Sinjar. Iraqi forces are fighting to take back Ramadi. In Syria, ISIL has been pushed back from much of the border region with Turkey. We’ve stepped up our support of opposition forces who are working to cut off supply lines to ISIL’s strongholds in and around Raqqa. So, in short, both in Iraq and Syria, ISIL controls less territory than it did before.

I made the point to my fellow leaders that if we want this progress to be sustained, more nations need to step up with the resources that this fight demands.

Of course, the attacks in Paris remind us that it will not be enough to defeat ISIL in Syria and Iraq alone. Here in Antalya, our nations, therefore, committed to strengthening border controls, sharing more information, and stepping up our efforts to prevent the flow of foreign fighters in and out of Syria and Iraq. As the United States just showed in Libya, ISIL leaders will have no safe haven anywhere. And we’ll continue to stand with leaders in Muslim communities, including faith leaders, who are the best voices to discredit ISIL’s warped ideology.

Humanitarian Aid

On the humanitarian front, our nations agreed that we have to do even more, individually and collectively, to address the agony of the Syrian people. The United States is already the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people — some $4.5 billion in aid so far. As winter approaches, we’re donating additional supplies, including clothing and generators, through the United Nations. But the U.N. appeal for Syria still has less than half the funds needed. Today, I’m again calling on more nations to contribute the resources that this crisis demands.

Refugees

In terms of refugees, it’s clear that countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan — which are already bearing an extraordinary burden — cannot be expected to do so alone. At the same time, all of our countries have to ensure our security. And as President, my first priority is the safety of the American people. And that’s why, even as we accept more refugees — including Syrians — we do so only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks.

We also have to remember that many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves — that’s what they’re fleeing. Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.

Syria 

Finally, we’ve begun to see some modest progress on the diplomatic front, which is critical because a political solution is the only way to end the war in Syria and unite the Syrian people and the world against ISIL. The Vienna talks mark the first time that all the key countries have come together — as a result, I would add, of American leadership — and reached a common understanding. With this weekend’s talks, there’s a path forward — negotiations between the Syrian opposition and the Syrian regime under the auspices of the United Nations; a transition toward a more inclusive, representative government; a new constitution, followed by free elections; and, alongside this political process, a ceasefire in the civil war, even as we continue to fight against ISIL.

These are obviously ambitious goals. Hopes for diplomacy in Syria have been dashed before. There are any number of ways that this latest diplomatic push could falter. And there are still disagreements between the parties, including, most critically, over the fate of Bashar Assad, who we do not believe has a role in Syria’s future because of his brutal rule. His war against the Syrian people is the primary root cause of this crisis.

What is different this time, and what gives us some degree of hope, is that, as I said, for the first time, all the major countries on all sides of the Syrian conflict agree on a process that is needed to end this war. And so while we are very clear-eyed about the very, very difficult road still head, the United States, in partnership with our coalition, is going to remain relentless on all fronts — military, humanitarian and diplomatic. We have the right strategy, and we’re going to see it through.  

President Obama, President Obama’s remarks during a press conference at the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, November 16, 2015 

This is Not a Clash of Civilizations 

“And today, the entire world joins our family in heartbreak yet again. Don’t mistake what these attacks represent. This is not a clash of civilizations. These terrorists have declared war against all civilization. They kill Yezidis because they are Yezidis. They kill Christians because they are Christians. They kill Shia because they are Shia. And on. They rape and torture and pillage and call it the will of God. They are in fact psychopathic monsters, and there is nothing, nothing civilized about them.

So this is not a case of one civilization pitted against another. This is a battle between civilization itself and barbarism, between civilization and medieval and modern fascism both at the same time. And that is why every single nation-state in the region and around the world is opposed to Daesh.

And so the violence, the terror, the senseless murder of 132 people and injuring of hundreds more, including four Americans – this is an assault not just on France; but, coming on the heels of brutal attacks in Lebanon, Iraq, and elsewhere, it is an assault on our collective sense of reason and purpose, an attack on civility itself. And I want to thank the men and women who bravely reported to the scene of the attacks, and those who continue to work around the clock to heal the injured, restore calm, and provide relief.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, Remarks: Secretary of State John Kerry U.S. Embassy Paris, France, November 16, 2015

Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Meet to Talk About Recent Developments and Further Expansion 

  1. The Small Group of the Global Coalition to counter ISIL met today in Brussels at the invitation of the Belgian Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Didier Reynders, to take stock of recent developments on the ground, continue expanding Coalition efforts to degrade and defeat ISIL, and delineate our common understanding of ISIL’s operations in Syria and Iraq, as well as our shared approach to defend against its global ambitions.
  2. After liberating parts of Iraq and Syria from ISIL, constraining its freedom of movement, decreasing its finances, slowing its reinforcement of fighters and countering its messaging, we recognize the complexity of the task that still lies ahead, and reaffirm our commitment to work together against ISIL under a multifaceted, long-term strategy. ISIL is an uncompromising threat to the international community. Our Coalition is driven by our common desire to stop this scourge and we will bring to bear every tool available to that end, with strength, unity, and determination. We are committed to tackle ISIL globally by adapting our means and our response in light of the different needs on the ground.
  3. We recognize the dedication and steadfastness of the Iraqi Security Forces, Kurdish Peshmerga Forces, Popular Mobilization Forces, Sunni tribal forces, and Syrian moderate opposition forces, all of whom are critical to the success of this effort. We will continue our long-standing support for the Iraqi Security Forces as they reclaim areas held by ISIL. We will also support moderate Syrian forces allied with the Coalition, while seeking new opportunities to advance progress on the ground in both Syria and Iraq. We reaffirm our continuing support for the efforts of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government to address corruption, decentralize certain federal authorities, and reconcile ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq.
  4. In Syria, the Coalition stands with the Syrian people against ISIL and supports the discussions that have taken place in Vienna aimed at establishing a firm foundation for a political transition based on the principles of the Geneva Communiqué, with the goal of achieving a democratic, inclusive, and pluralistic government that represents the will of all Syrian people. We also appreciate the participation of the United Nations in these talks and the role they will play going forward.
  5. We have used today’s gathering of the Coalition to enhance our understanding of the likely opportunities and challenges that will arise over the coming year and to prepare for them accordingly. We have also identified priorities for coordinated actions with the military campaign and the Coalition Working Groups – foreign terrorist fighters, counter-finance, stabilization support, and counter-messaging – in the months ahead. We look forward to the next meeting of the Small Group of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL to take place in Rome in early 2016.

Department of State Office of the Spokesperson, Statement by Members of the Small Group of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, November 4, 2015

White House National Security Council Middle East Official on Lack of Progress on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal

“The president has said we have to reach a realistic assessment that there will not be a comprehensive final status agreement in the remainder of his term, and there likely may not be meaningful negotiations between the two sides.”

“Given that reality, which is a new one, how does the prime minister himself see Israel going forward?”

William Gallo, Obama Sees No Progress on Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal, VOA, November 6, 2015

Secretary Kerry Acceptance Speech after being named “Diplomat of the Year” by Foreign Policy magazine

“Now, I am genuinely bowled over by this award,” said Secretary Kerry, during his acceptance speech. “I am accepting this award on behalf of the entire United States State Department. … There is nothing that we do – not a phone call, not a meeting that I go to, not a decision that I reach that doesn’t depend to a great extent on the advice and support and input of colleagues at the State Department.”

“I am now well into my third year as the Secretary of State and everything that I have seen has reinforced my belief in the importance of diplomacy. And we all know, yes, the use of force is sometimes necessary – I’ve never shied away from that, I understand it. But diplomatic solutions are almost always preferable because war is the greatest example there is of a failure of diplomacy. And unforeseen consequences always flow from the fog of war.”

“I believe that what some pundits write today and what the daily headlines somehow signal to people that gives people cause to fear – and that is the notion that somehow the world is falling apart. Well, I say on the contrary; in many respects, it is coming together. And just consider a few examples.”

HIV/AIDS

“Twenty years ago, we faced the possibility that the HIV/AIDS epidemic would sweep across all of Africa and South Asia, and that whole generations would be decimated as more and more babies were brought into the world already dying from this deadly disease. Today, because of the public health community and medical researchers, and because of PEPFAR, which I am proud that we began in the United States Senate in the late 1990s, even with the help of Jesse Helms, we were able to find a capacity to have leaders who were not afraid to tell their citizens the truth about how HIV is spread and how it can be prevented. And today, as a result of that, we are on the threshold of the first AIDS-free generation in 30 years.”

Development Goals 

“In the year 2000, the world came together in New York to approve what we call the Millennium Development Goals. Some people scoffed, saying that the poor will always be with us and that many problems are just too big to solve. Well guess what? A child today is more likely than ever before in history to be born healthy, more likely to be adequately fed, more likely to get the necessary vaccinations, more likely to attend school, more likely to live a long life. The world’s goal was to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015; we did it by 2007. And now we have established a new set of goals – the 2030 agenda. And that’s because we know we still have a long way to go, we’re not about to stop until the job is done, but we also know we can get the job done because we’ve proven it.”

Ebola

“Last year, many experts predicted that the outbreak of Ebola would kill a million people or more by Christmas of last year. Remember that? Instead, President Obama had the courage to dispatch several thousand U.S. troops to aid in the construction of emergency facilities, and we built capacity where it didn’t exist. And help came from Europe, but it also came from countries in Asia and Latin America. And I can remember being at the UN where President Obama brought people together in a meeting and stood there and asked country after country to contribute, and they did. And the West Africans themselves, in the end, took courageous steps to isolate the stricken – even their own family members. In a matter of months, streets that had been deserted except for a collection of vehicles were once again alive with the sounds of laughter and commerce. And we have learned in recent weeks that the three critical countries are now Ebola-free.”

Last Remarks 

“None of us would be here tonight except for one simple fact: Diplomacy matters. It matters to our workers, to our businesses, to our farmers, our entrepreneurs, to our scientists, our teachers, to the men and women of our armed forces, because for diplomats the most searing challenge is not so much to make history as it is to quiet history, to create the largest possible periods of time about which no future war movies will be made, no epic battle diaries kept, no new cemeteries or genocide memorials dedicated.

“Tonight I ask everyone to step back and envision such an era, a time when good people can walk unafraid through the streets of Jerusalem and Hebron, Juba, Bangui, Aleppo, and Mosul, and each of the many other areas that have known conflict and grief for far too long.

“And it is for that purpose that the people of the United States State Department – your diplomats of the year every year, frankly – show up for work each morning. And it’s to that end that I respectfully summon our collective efforts going forward.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, Acceptance Speech, October 20, 2015


Doctors Without Borders Statement on Airstrikes that Hit Hospital in Kunduz October 6, 2015 

Statement by Dr Joanne Liu, President, MSF International

“For four years, the MSF trauma center in Kunduz was the only facility of its kind in northeastern Afghanistan, offering essential medical and surgical care. On Saturday, October 3, this came to an end when the hospital was deliberately bombed. Twelve MSF staff and 10 patients, including three children, were killed, and 37 people were injured, including 19 members of the MSF team. The attack was unacceptable.

The whole MSF Movement is in shock, and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those affected. Nothing can excuse violence against patients, medical workers and health facilities. Under International Humanitarian Law hospitals in conflict zones are protected spaces. Until proven otherwise, the events of last Saturday amount to an inexcusable violation of this law. We are working on the presumption of a war crime.

In the last week, as fighting swept through the city, 400 patients were treated at the hospital. Since its opening in 2011, tens of thousands of wounded civilians and combatants from all sides of the conflict have been triaged and treated by MSF. On the night of the bombing, MSF staff working in the hospital heard what was later confirmed to be a US army plane circle around multiple times, releasing its bombs on the same building within the hospital compound at each pass. The building targeted was the one housing the intensive care unit, emergency rooms and physiotherapy ward. Surrounding buildings in the compound were left largely untouched.

Despite MSF alerting both the Afghan and Coalition military leadership, the airstrike continued for at least another 30 minutes. The hospital was well-known and the GPS coordinates had been regularly shared with Coalition and Afghan military and civilian officials, as recently as Tuesday, September 29.

This attack cannot be brushed aside as a mere mistake or an inevitable consequence of war. Statements from the Afghanistan government have claimed that Taliban forces were using the hospital to fire on Coalition forces. These statements imply that Afghan and US forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital, which amounts to an admission of a war crime.

This attack does not just touch MSF, but it affects humanitarian work everywhere, and fundamentally undermines the core principles of humanitarian action. We need answers, not just for us but for all medical and humanitarian staff assisting victims of conflict, anywhere in the world. The preservation of health facilities as neutral, protected spaces depends on the outcome of a transparent, independent investigation.”

Joanne Liu, MSF Denounces Blatant Breach of International Humanitarian Law, October 6, 2015

Statement by Secretary of Defense on Kunduz Hospital Strike, October 6, 2015 

“Doctors Without Borders does important work all around the world, and the Department of Defense deeply regrets the loss of innocent lives that resulted from this tragic event.”

“The investigation into how this could have happened is continuing, and we are fully supporting NATO and Afghanistan’s concurrent investigations.”

“We will complete our investigation as soon as possible and provide the facts as they become available. The U.S. military takes the greatest care in our operations to prevent the loss of innocent life, and when we make mistakes, we own up to them. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now. Through a full and transparent investigation, we will do everything we can to understand this tragic incident, learn from it, and hold people accountable as necessary.”

Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, Statement on Kunduz Hospital Strike, October 6, 2015

White House Condolences to Doctors Without Borders Casualties in Kunduz October 3, 2015

“On behalf of the American people, I extend my deepest condolences to the medical professionals and other civilians killed and injured in the tragic incident at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz.  The Department of Defense has launched a full investigation, and we will await the results of that inquiry before making a definitive judgment as to the circumstances of this tragedy.  I have asked the Department of Defense to keep me apprised of the investigation and expect a full accounting of the facts and circumstances.  Michelle and I offer our thoughts and prayers to all of the civilians affected by this incident, their families, and loved ones.  We will continue to work closely with President Ghani, the Afghan government, and our international partners to support the Afghan National Defense and Security forces as they work to secure their country.”

President Obama, Statement by the President on the Casualties in Kunduz, October 3, 2015

NATO Response to Recent Russian Airstrikes in Syria October 5, 2015

“I just met with the Foreign Minister of Turkey Feridun Sinirlioğlu to discuss the recent military actions of the Russian Federation in and around Syria. Including the unacceptable violations of Turkish airspace by Russian combat aircraft.

I made clear that NATO remains strongly committed to Turkey’s security. I will convene a meeting of the North Atlantic Council later today to discuss the situation.

Russia’s actions are not contributing to the security and stability of the region.

I call on Russia to fully respect NATO airspace and to avoid escalating tensions with the Alliance.  I urge Russia to take the necessary steps to align its efforts with those of the international community in the fight against ISIL.”

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, October 5, 2015

 Remarks by World Leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, September 28, 2015

“I recognize that democracy is going to take different forms in different parts of the world. The very idea of a people governing themselves depends upon government giving expression to their unique culture, their unique history, their unique experiences. But some universal truths are self-evident. No person wants to be imprisoned for peaceful worship. No woman should ever be abused with impunity, or a girl barred from going to school. The freedom to peacefully petition those in power without fear of arbitrary laws — these are not ideas of one country or one culture. They are fundamental to human progress. They are a cornerstone of this institution.”– Barack Obama 

“Tens of thousands of militants are fighting under the banners of the so-called Islamic State. Its ranks include former Iraqi servicemen who were thrown out into the street after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many recruits also come from Libya, a country whose statehood was destroyed as a result of a gross violation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. And now, the ranks of radicals are being joined by the members of the so-called moderate Syrian opposition supported by the Western countries.”

“First, they continue their policy of expanding NATO. What for? If the Warsaw Bloc stopped its existence, the Soviet Union have collapsed (ph) and, nevertheless, the NATO continues expanding as well as its military infrastructure. Then they offered the poor Soviet countries a false choice: either to be with the West or with the East. Sooner or later, this logic of confrontation was bound to spark off a grave geopolitical crisis. This is exactly what happened in Ukraine, where the discontent of population with the current authorities was used and the military coup was orchestrated from outside — that triggered a civil war as a result.”

“We’re confident that only through full and faithful implementation of the Minsk agreements of February 12th, 2015, can we put an end to the bloodshed and find a way out of the deadlock. Ukraine’s territorial integrity cannot be ensured by threat of force and force of arms. What is needed is a genuine consideration for the interests and rights of the people in the Donbas region and respect for their choice. There is a need to coordinate with them as provided for by the Minsk agreements, the key elements of the country’s political structure. These steps will guarantee that Ukraine will develop as a civilized society, as an essential link and building a common space of security and economic cooperation, both in Europe and in Eurasia.”-Vladimir Putin 

“The key point regarding the success of dialogue is the fact that any actor in the international system who pursues maximalist demands and does not allow space for the other side cannot speak of peace, stability and development. As in commerce and economic activity, where the interests of both parties should be taken into account, in politics and international relations as well multilateralism and win-win solutions should be the basis of engagement.”

“The nuclear deal, which is a brilliant example of ‘victory over war’, has managed to disburse the clouds of hostility and perhaps even the specter of another war and extensive tensions from the Middle East. The deal can and should herald a new era and lead to positive outcomes regarding the establishment of sustainable peace and stability in the region. From our point of view, the agreed-upon deal is not the final objective but a development which can and should be the basis of further achievements to come. Considering the fact that this deal has created an objective basis and set an appropriate model, it can serve as a basis for foundational change in the region.”-Hassan Rouhani

Political Points Addressed by the Pope to Congress 

Immigration:

“We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners, I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.”

“Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children?”

Climate Change: 

“This common good also includes the earth. … I call for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps, and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States — and this Congress — have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”

Conflict and Arms Trade:

“Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”

Pope Francis, Joint Meeting of Congress, September 24, 2015

Why Senator Bob Casey is Backing Iran Nuclear Deal 

“I recently made one of the toughest decisions of my career in the Senate: I concluded that I will support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the agreement between the United States and five other world powers and Iran on the latter’s nuclear program.”

“My decision has elicited praise from some corners and disappointment from others. I welcome this spirited debate and respect the views of all of my constituents.”

“My review of the agreement and related issues took a long time because it was detailed and thorough. I asked tough questions of the Obama administration and sought the counsel of experts and constituents representing all viewpoints.”

“My previous work on these issues, coupled with this review led me to the conclusion that this agreement will substantially constrain the Iranian nuclear program, and compared with all realistic alternatives, it is the best option available to us at this time.”

“After considering all the factors, two issues resonated most strongly and guided my decision to support the JCPOA.”

“First: Iran is a threshold nuclear state today.  With approximately 19,000 centrifuges and a substantial low enriched uranium stockpile on hand, the Iranian regime could produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb in just two or three months.”

“Opponents of the agreement often gloss over this simple fact. Holding out for a “better deal” risks triggering an Iranian attempt to break out to a nuclear weapon.”

“Consider the trajectory of Iran’s nuclear program: Iran had 164 centrifuges when President George W. Bush took office. By the time President Obama stepped into the Oval Office, it had built up an arsenal of several thousand centrifuges.”

“And even as the international community levied powerful sanctions, Iran continued to produce centrifuges (eventually reaching 19,000 IR-1s) and continuing development on the Arak plutonium reactor.”

“To the opponents of this agreement, who argue that the deal leaves Iran on the cusp of a nuclear weapon in the later years, I say: that’s the reality staring us in the face today. The agreement will extend the breakout time to approximately one year for at least the first ten to fifteen years of the agreement.”

“This agreement presents the opportunity to stop the most dangerous elements of Iran’s nuclear program in their tracks and to gain unprecedented access to the inner workings of this secretive country’s nuclear infrastructure.”

“Second: None of the realistic alternatives to the JCPOA were likely to be as effective at keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”

“Some have suggested that the U.S. should ratchet up sanctions on Iran, turning the screws to demand a better deal than the JCPOA.:”

“This alternative lacks credibility. I have been a staunch supporter of tough economic sanctions as tools to respond to the Iranian regime’s illicit nuclear activity, its support for terrorism, and its human rights violations at home.”

“But I firmly believe that the economic sanctions that forced Iran to the negotiating table will not, under any circumstances, compel the regime to forego its intention to develop nuclear weapons.”

“Further, I believe the tough, multilateral sanctions on Iran, especially on its energy sector, would not survive an American refusal to follow through on the JCPOA.”

“I agree with the assessment of many experts who say that the sanctions would erode slowly but steadily, lessening their bite.  The United States would lose, not improve, its leverage.”

“Throughout the course of my evaluation, I consistently returned to one central fact: the most effective deterrent to ultimately prevent or destroy an Iranian nuclear threat today, tomorrow, or 15 years from now, is the credible threat of a U.S. military strike to destroy any Iranian nuclear weapons infrastructure completely.”

“Implementation of this agreement may be challenging and we need to be prepared for the possibility that Iran will violate the agreement.”

“As Congress returned to Washington this week, I have been working with my colleagues – those who support and oppose the agreement alike – on these issues where our views converge.”

“Those areas include bolstering Israel’s security, aggressively countering Iran’s activities in the region, and taking steps to address the many conflicts, some fueled by Iranian interference, that are destabilizing the Middle East.”

“The most effective strategy to fortify the JCPOA over time is to have in place a strong deterrent.”

“For years, the U.S. policy has been to keep “all options are on the table” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

“The Iranian regime should not doubt our capability and willingness to respond swiftly should they attempt to break out and develop a nuclear weapon.”

“I will be working with my colleagues and this and future Administrations to make a clear, unequivocal statement of this policy.”

“This agreement does not limit any of our options to respond in the event that Iran breaks out and dashes to a nuclear weapon. One day, if that scenario comes to pass, the United States may again need to lead the international community: this time in a military strike against Iran.”

“I believe that what must undergird the use of military force is not only technical capability and precise execution but also unquestioned legitimacy that can only be achieved when all non-military options have been pursued and exhausted.”

“Time and history will be the judge of whether my colleagues and I have made the right decision. I support the JCPOA because I believe it, along with a strong deterrence policy, will help protect our national security and that of our partners, especially Israel.”

“I support the JCPOA and am ready to begin the difficult work of overseeing its implementation and of pressing the Administration to aggressively counter Iran’s influence in the region.”

“I support the JCPOA because I believe it is the best available option to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

Senior United States Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), September 22, 2015

Cuba Embargo Efforts with Raul Castro 

“The United States announced new rules on Friday to further ease trade, travel and investment restrictions with Cuba, but Cuban President Raul Castro told President Barack Obama that Washington should go even further and lift its economic embargo on the Communist-ruled island.”

“The rare phone call between the two leaders followed the unveiling of changes that will allow certain U.S. companies to establish offices in Cuba, expand banking and Internet activities and eliminate limits on the amount of money that can be taken there, U.S. officials said.”

“Despite Castro’s appeal, the broader 53-year-old U.S. embargo will remain in place, and only Congress can remove it – something majority Republicans are considered highly unlikely to do anytime soon.”

“The changes, while significant, stop short of allowing across-the-board investment by U.S. companies or general U.S. tourism, activities banned under the embargo itself.”

“They come as Washington and Havana inch toward normal relations after more than half a century of hostility that followed Cuba’s 1959 revolution. The two countries restored diplomatic ties and reopened embassies earlier this summer.”

“Set to take effect on Monday, the new U.S. regulations build on others Obama announced in January to begin lowering economic barriers with Cuba.”

“A stronger, more open U.S.-Cuba relationship has the potential to create economic opportunities for both Americans and Cubans alike,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said.”

“The initial reaction from the American business community was cautious. U.S. companies have shown interest in exploring opportunities in Cuba, but many executives remain wary of the risks. The two countries’ outstanding legal claims against each other remain a key source of uncertainty.”

“Under the rules released by the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments, certain companies can establish subsidiaries or joint ventures as well as open offices, stores and warehouses in Cuba. They also allow for telecommunications and Internet services between the nations.”

“Although the regulations do not change who can travel to Cuba, the rules do ease movement of authorized travelers by licensing transportation providers.”

“The regulations also abolish the cap on remittances and allow the travelers to open and maintain bank accounts there. But it keeps in place prohibitions on any of those funds going to the Cuban government or Communist Party officials.”

Matt Spetalnick, Patricial Zengerle, Daniel Trotta, Obama chips away at Cuba embargo, discusses efforts with Raul Castro, Reuters, September 18, 2015

Ambassador Stephen Mull, Announced by Secretary Kerry, to be Lead Coordinator on Implementing Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of State John Kerry’s full announcement: 

“I have always said that, as important as it was to negotiate the nuclear deal with Iran, implementing it was going to be even more crucial in meeting our national security objectives. That’s why today I am so pleased to announce the appointment of Ambassador Stephen D. Mull as Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation. As we move past the 60-day Congressional review period, it is vitally important that we now have the right team with the right leader in place to ensure the successful implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which will make the United States, our friends and allies in the Middle East, and the entire world safer.”

“From his position at the State Department, reporting directly to Deputy Secretary Blinken and me, Steve will lead the interagency effort to ensure that the nuclear steps Iran committed to in the JCPOA are fully implemented and verified, and that we and our partners are taking reciprocal action on sanctions, following the nuclear steps. His immediate team at the State Department will consist of experts with a variety of experience relevant to his task of coordinating inter-agency implementation of the JCPOA, and within State his team will rely on support from the bureaus with lead responsibilities in relevant policy areas, such as our support of the IAEA and sanctions issues. Interagency coordination will involve the Departments of State, Treasury, Energy, Homeland Security, Commerce, Justice, and Defense, as well as others in the intelligence and law enforcement communities.”

“Steve will draw on the entire range of his 33 years of government service for this critical task. Prior to his most recent position as our Ambassador to Poland, Steve served from 2010 to 2012 as Executive Secretary of the State Department, coordinating responses to a wide range of crises and managing the Department’s support for the Secretary of State. From 2008 to 2010, Steve served as Senior Advisor to then-Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, working on the range of issues related to Iran’s nuclear program and supporting Under Secretary Burns in his capacity as U.S. Political Director in the P5+1 negotiating process. In particular, Steve played a key role in designing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, which imposed additional nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, and marshalling support for its adoption by the Council. He also worked closely with the U.S. Mission to the IAEA in pressing for full accountability in Iran’s nuclear program. Steve traveled frequently to engage with foreign partners and worked across the U.S. government in support of our Iran-related efforts, an effort he takes up once again in his new role.”

“As we move forward with JCPOA implementation, the Department and the entire Administration will continue to work closely with our partners and allies in the region to deepen our security cooperation and to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior, including its support for terrorism. These concerns and others related to Iran will continue to have the attention of the highest levels of the Department and the U.S. government.”

“Finally, I again want to thank the countless number of dedicated employees from across the U.S. government who worked tirelessly for many months on the negotiation of this agreement. This impressive interagency effort to get the right outcome that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon demands an equally rigorous implementation effort. That’s why Steve Mull is absolutely the right person to lead this effort.”

Secretary of State Jonh Kerry, Appointment of Ambassador Stephen D. Mull as Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation, September 17, 2015

Important Points on Syrian Refugee Crises Addressed During Press Briefing by Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, September 10, 2015

What the U.S. has done so far in foreign aid in terms of Syrian refugee crisis:

“The United States, at the direction of the President of the United States, has played a leading role in addressing the dire humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and North Africa. And the best evidence I can direct you toward is the $4 billion in financial assistance that the United States has provided to relief agencies and others who are trying to meet the humanitarian needs of those who are fleeing violence in Syria.”

“That makes the United States the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian assistance in the world. And that’s an example of the United States leading the way. This kind of financial assistance is by far the most effective way for us to meet this urgent humanitarian need.”

Syrian refugees to enter the U.S.:

“And one thing that the United States can do is to begin to admit more Syrian refugees into the United States. This year, the fiscal year that will end at the end of this month, the United States is on track to take in about 1,500 Syrian refugees. The President has directed his team to scale up that number next year. And he’s informed his team that he would like them to accept — at least make preparations to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year.”

“The most urgent, immediate need of Syrian refugees is to make sure that we can provide basic medical care, basic shelter, basic food and water, and even some other things like internationally run schools in these refugee camps to try to provide for the basic needs of those Syrians that have been forced from their homes. That’s how we’re going to meet the urgent need.”

U.S. national security interest during this crisis:

“The other thing that’s important for people to recognize — and I mentioned this earlier this week, as well — the top concern or the top priority when evaluating these kinds of policy options is the safety and security of the United States and our citizens. And I can tell you that refugees go through the most robust security process of anybody who’s contemplating travel to the United States. Refugees have to be screened by the National Counterterrorism Center, by the FBI Terrorist Screening Center. They go through databases that are maintained by DHS, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. There is biographical and biometric information that is collected about these individuals. They have to submit to in-person interviews to discuss their case.”

“And that process typically takes 12 to 18 months. And the reason for that process is that the safety and security of the U.S. homeland comes first. That’s another reason why the best way to address this urgent need is to try to ramp up our humanitarian assistance in the region.”

U.S. and UN role in Syrian refugee crisis:

“My understanding is that the way that individuals can get the kind of refugee status that would allow them to qualify for a resettlement program like the one that I was describing earlier is something that is coordinated principally by the United Nations. And this is a program that, frankly, represents a rather small percentage of the large number of people who have been displaced by the violence. But this is a program that is in place to deal with migration crises around the globe. And when you take a look at that specific program, you get another illustration of American leadership.”

“Well, given the scale of the problem, I would acknowledge that the most effective response to this urgent humanitarian situation is for the international community to ramp up our humanitarian efforts in the region and even in Syria. The United States is the largest donor of those efforts, and we’re going to use our influence to continue to encourage countries in the region and around the world to scale up the amount of assistance that they’re providing to those ongoing humanitarian efforts.”

Acknowledging source of Syrian refugee crisis:

“It certainly does mean that the political failure that was caused by the failed leadership of Bashar al-Assad needs to be addressed. And the United States has been a leading advocate of the efforts led by the U.N. to try to facilitate a political transition inside of Syria. There have been a number of meetings, even a couple of high-profile meetings where the U.N. tried to broker a political settlement. Those efforts have thus far not yielded any fruit. But the United States continues to be strongly supportive of that ongoing effort.”

In response to Congress wanting to scale up amount of refugees entering the U.S.:

“The first is that to scale up to a degree that some members of Congress may have in mind would have some significant fiscal consequences. The kind of — the background check process that I described before is work-intensive and requires a lot of trained manpower. And so Congress would need to make a significant financial commitment to ramping up along those lines.

“At every step of the way, the President and his national security team will put the safety and security of the U.S. homeland at the top of the list.”

“And so I don’t at this point have any announcements to make about shortening that timeframe or shortening that process. But I do feel confident in telling you that the President will not sign off on a process that cuts corners when it comes to the basic safety and security of the American people and the U.S. homeland.”

“And what the President has done is to direct his team to do as much as we can to try to provide for the basic humanitarian needs of those individuals, whether or not they’re in Syria or in the region. And that’s why the United States is the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian assistance — we’re up to $4 billion at this point. And the United States continues to strongly encourage countries in the region and around the world to also contribute to that effort. And the United States has a certain amount of influence that we can bring to bear, and we certainly have set an important example for others to follow. That is the most effective way for us to meet the urgent need of those who have fled Syria.”

“At the same time, I think you could also interpret this policy directive to scale up the number of refugees that are brought to the United States as another example of the President hoping that the international community will follow the example of the United States — moving from 1,500 Syrian refugees one year to 10,000 in the next does represent a significant scaling up.”

“As I mentioned to Major, I would acknowledge readily that the scale of the problem is such that the problem will persist long after those 10,000 or more Syrians have made it into the United States by the end of the next fiscal year. That’s why we need to continue to redouble our humanitarian efforts that are underway inside of Syria and around the region.”

Josh Earnest, Press Briefing by Press Secretary, September 10, 2015

 Saudi King Meets With Obama to Discuss Iran Deal, September 4, 2015

“Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, said after the meetings that Mr. Obama had reassured the king that the Iran deal would prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon. ‘The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is satisfied with these assurances after having spent the last two months consulting with its allies in Europe and other places,’ he told reporters. ‘We believe this agreement will contribute to security and stability in the region by preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability.’”

“He added: ‘Now we have one less problem to deal with, with regard to Iran, and we can now focus more on their nefarious activities in the region.’ He said this was a chance for Iran to become a responsible member of the world community. ‘We hope that the Iranians will take advantage of this agreement, which allows for a removal gradually of their isolation.’”

“King Salman’s decision to come to Washington was a signal that the Saudis are now focused on making the best of the situation.”

“Addressing reporters in the Oval Office, Mr. Obama touched briefly on Yemen as well as on Syria, where the two sides cooperate against the Islamic State but have deep disagreements about how to handle the broader civil war. ‘This is obviously a challenging time in world affairs, particularly in the Middle East,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘So we expect this to be a substantive conversation across a wide range of issues.’”

“He added: ‘We share a concern about Yemen and the need to restore a functioning government that is inclusive and that can relieve the humanitarian situation there. We share concerns about the crisis in Syria, and we’ll have the opportunity to discuss how we can arrive at a political transition process within Syria that can finally end the horrific conflict there.’”

“King Salman made no mention of disagreements. ‘Once again, Mr. President, I’m happy to come to a friendly country to meet a friend, and we want to work together for world peace,’ he said. ‘Our region must achieve stability, which is essential for the prosperity of its people, and in our country, thank God, we are prosperous, but we want prosperity for the entire region. And we are willing to cooperate with you in order to achieve that.’”

Peter Baker, Obama and Saudi King Sidestep dispute Over Iran Nuclear Deal, New York Times September 4, 2015

Republicans in Congress Threaten Iran Deal 

“But Cruz, speaking on the Senate floor, assailed the accord, arguing that ‘this terrible deal will not stop a virulently anti-American and anti-Israeli regime from getting a nuclear bomb.’”

“‘Because the administration has not submitted the full agreement, the 60-day clock has not started, and if the 60-day clock has not started it is contrary to federal law for President Obama to lift the sanctions,’ Cruz said. ‘Republican leaders can simply follow the law and not facilitate President Obama’s yet again ignoring federal law.’”

Erica Werner, Deb Riechmann, House GOP divisions threaten plans on Iran deal, Washington Post, September 9, 2015

Atomic Energy Watchdog Response to Critics

“In an unusual rebuttal from his headquarters in Vienna, International Atomic Energy Agency ­Director General Yukiya Amano said he was ‘disturbed’ by suggestions ‘that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran.’”

“Under IAEA rules, the PMD document is confidential between the signing parties. While it technically is not part of the broader accord negotiated between Iran and world powers, that agreement cannot go into effect until the IAEA certifies it is satisfied with the PMD inspections.”

“The PMD issue, and indirect IAEA access to Parchin, has been raised repeatedly in congressional hearings since the larger agreement was completed July 14. Congress has until Sept. 17 to review the deal. A vote of disapproval, requiring a simple majority, is seen as assured, because virtually all Republicans are expected to oppose it.”

“The administration has said it believes it could sustain a veto of such legislation, with enough Democratic votes to prevent an override requiring two-thirds of both chambers.”

“In a statement Thursday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the IAEA’s ‘unorthodox agreements speak to how far’ U.S.-led negotiators ‘were willing to go to keep from offending the Ayatollah’ Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.”

“In his statement, IAEA head Amano said that he had a ‘legal obligation’ not to make public the PMD arrangements, which he described as ‘technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our safeguards standards in any way.’”

Karen DeYoung, Atomic energy watchdog says critics ‘misrepresent’ Iran nuclear agreement, The Washington Post, August 20, 2015

Robert Mendez Against Iran Nuclear Deal

“WASHINGTON — Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said Tuesday that he would vote against the nuclear accord with Iran, contending the agreement did not go far enough to limit Tehran’s potential to pursue a weapons program.”

“‘At the end of the day, what we appear to have is a rollback of sanctions and Iran only limiting its capability, but not dismantling or rolling it back,’ Mr. Menendez said in a speech at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.”

“‘If Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it,’ he added. ‘I will vote to disapprove the agreement and, if called upon, would vote to override a veto.’”

“In his speech at American University this month, Mr. Obama sought to portray his critics as having a preference for military action over diplomacy. ‘Many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal,’ he said.”

“But Mr. Menendez challenged that characterization, noting that he had voted against going to war in Iraq. In contrast, he pointed out, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Secretary of State John Kerry, who were serving in the Senate at the time, voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq.”

“‘Whether or not the supporters of the agreement admit it, this deal is based on hope — hope that when the nuclear sunset clause expires, Iran will have succumbed to the benefits of commerce and global integration, hope that the hard-liners will have lost their power,’ Mr. Menendez said. ‘Hope is part of human nature, but unfortunately it is not a national security strategy.’”

New York Times Editorial Board on the Iran Deal, August 1, 2015

“The exaggerations and half-truths that some Republicans are using to derail President Obama‘s important and necessary nuclear deal with Iran are beyond ugly. Invoking the Holocaust, Mike Huckabee, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, has accused Mr. Obama of marching Israelis “to the door of the oven.” Tom Cotton, a senator from Arkansas, has compared Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped negotiate the deal, to Pontius Pilate.”

“What should be a thoughtful debate has been turned into a vicious battle against Mr. Obama, involving not just the Republicans but Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The unseemly spectacle of lawmakers siding with a foreign leader against their own commander in chief has widened an already dangerous breach between two old allies.”

“Policy considerations aside, what is most striking about the demagoguery is how ahistorical, if not downright hypocritical, it is. Negotiating with adversaries to advance a more stable world has long been a necessity, and Republican presidents have been among its most eager practitioners.”

“America is stronger when important national security decisions have bipartisan consensus. None of that seems to matter to the accord’s opponents, many of whom never intended to vote for the deal and made clear during congressional hearings last week that facts will not change their minds.”

President Obama’s Statement on Republican opposition to Iran Deal, July 27, 2015

“With respect to Iran, I won’t give a grade to our lobbying efforts.  In fact, I’m not even sure I’d characterize it as lobbying.  What we’re doing is presenting facts about an international agreement that 99 percent of the world thinks solves a vital problem in a way that will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and does so diplomatically.

And essentially what we’ve been seeing is Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz — who is an expert on nuclear issues — just providing the facts, laying out exactly what the deal is, explaining how it cuts off all the pathways for Iran to get a nuclear weapon; explaining how it puts in place unprecedented verification and inspection mechanisms; explaining how we have snapback provisions so that if they cheat, we immediately re-impose sanctions; explaining also how we will continue to address other aspects of Iranian behavior that are of deep concern to us and our allies — like providing arms to terrorist organizations.

So the good news, I guess, is that I have not yet heard a factual argument on the other side that holds up to scrutiny.  There’s a reason why 99 percent of the world thinks that this is a good deal — it’s because it’s a good deal.  There’s a reason why the overwhelming majority of nuclear scientists and nonproliferation experts think it’s a good deal — it’s because it’s a good deal.  It accomplishes our goal, which is making sure Iran does not have a nuclear weapon.  In fact, it accomplishes that goal better than any alternative that has been suggested.

And you’ve heard me, Darlene, stand up in front of the press corps and try to get a good argument on the other side that’s based in fact as opposed to rhetoric.  And I haven’t gotten one yet.  So if you’re asking me, how do you think our argument is going, it’s going great.  Now, if you’re asking me about the politics of Washington and the rhetoric that takes place there, that doesn’t always go great.  

The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are, I think, part of just a general pattern that we’ve seen that is — would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.  We’ve had a sitting senator call John Kerry Pontius Pilate.  We’ve had a sitting senator who also happens to be running for President suggest that I’m the leading state sponsor of terrorism.  These are leaders in the Republican Party.  And part of what historically has made America great is, particularly when it comes to foreign policy, there’s been a recognition that these issues are too serious, that issues of war and peace are of such grave concern and consequence that we don’t play fast and loose that way.  We have robust debates, we look at the facts, there are going to be disagreements.  But we just don’t fling out ad hominem attacks like that, because it doesn’t help inform the American people.

I mean, this is a deal that has been endorsed by people like Brent Scowcroft and Sam Nunn — right? — historic Democratic and Republican leaders on arms control and on keeping America safe.  And so when you get rhetoric like this, maybe it gets attention and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Donald “I’m starting to wonder myself whether he was born in this country” Trump out of the headlines, but it’s not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now.  And I don’t think that’s what anybody — Democratic, Republican, or independent — is looking for out of their political leaders.  

In fact, it’s been interesting when you look at what’s happened with Mr. Donald “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created” Trump, when he’s made some of the remarks that, for example, challenged the heroism of Mr. McCain, somebody who endured torture and conducted himself with exemplary patriotism, the Republican Party is shocked.  And yet, that arises out of a culture where those kinds of outrageous attacks have become far too commonplace and get circulated nonstop through the Internet and talk radio and news outlets.  And I recognize when outrageous statements like that are made about me, that a lot of the same people who were outraged when they were made about Mr. McCain were pretty quiet.

The point is we’re creating a culture that is not conducive to good policy or good politics.  The American people deserve better.  Certainly, presidential debates deserve better.  In 18 months, I’m turning over the keys — I want to make sure I’m turning over the keys to somebody who is serious about the serious problems the country faces and the world faces.  And that requires on both sides, Democrat and Republican, a sense of seriousness and decorum and honesty.  And I think that’s what the voters expect, as well.”

Hillary Clinton’s speech on Roosevelt Island, June 13, 2015

“I’ve stood up to adversaries like Putin and reinforced allies like Israel. I was in the Situation Room on the day we got bin Laden.”

“But, I know — I know we have to be smart as well as strong.”

“Meeting today’s global challenges requires every element of America’s power, including skillful diplomacy, economic influence, and building partnerships to improve lives around the world with people, not just their governments.”

President Obama’s interview with Israeli TV on the agreement with Iran, June 1, 2015

“I can, I think, demonstrate, not based on any hope but on facts and evidence and analysis, that the best way to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon is a verifiable, tough agreement.”

“A military solution will not fix it. Even if the United States participates, it would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program but it will not eliminate it.”

President Obama’s Weekly Remarks at the White House for the celebration of Earth Day, April 18, 2015.

“So climate change can no longer be denied – or ignored. The world is looking to the United States – to us – to lead. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re using more clean energy than ever before. America is number one in wind power, and every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. We’re taking steps to waste less energy, with more fuel-efficient cars that save us money at the pump, and more energy-efficient buildings that save us money on our electricity bills.

So thanks in part to these actions, our carbon pollution has fallen by 10 percent since 2007, even as we’ve grown our economy and seen the longest streak of private-sector job growth on record. We’ve committed to doubling the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China has committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, there’s new hope that, with American leadership, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to prevent the worst impacts of climate change before it’s too late.

This is an issue that’s bigger and longer-lasting than my presidency. It’s about protecting our God-given natural wonders, and the good jobs that rely on them. It’s about shielding our cities and our families from disaster and harm. It’s about keeping our kids healthy and safe. This is the only planet we’ve got. And years from now, I want to be able to look our children and grandchildren in the eye and tell them that we did everything we could to protect it.”

President Obama’s Reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech in Congress on March 3, 2015

“I’ve said since  before I became president that one of my primary goals in foreign policy would be preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and with the help of Congress and our international partners, we constructed as extraordinarily effective sanctions regime that pressure Iran to come to the table to negotiate in a serious fashion. They have now been negotiating over the last year, and during that period, Iran has, in fact, frozen its program, rolled back some of its most dangerous highly enriched uranium and subjected itself to the kinds of verification and inspections that we had not previously seen. Keep in mind that we shaped that interim deal, Prime Minister Netanyahu made almost the precise same speech about how dangerous that deal was going to be. And yet, over a year later, even Israeli intelligence officers and in some cases members of the Israeli government have to acknowledge that, in fact, it has kept Iran from further pursuing its nuclear program.

Now, the deal that we are trying to negotiate that is not yet completed would cut off the different pathways for Iran to advance its nuclear capabilities. It would roll back some elements of its program. It would ensure that it did not have what we call a breakout capacity that was shorter than a year’s time. And it would subject Iran to the most vigorous inspections and verification regimes that we have ever put in place.

The alternative that the prime minister offers is no deal, in which case Iran will immediately begin once again pursuing its nuclear program, accelerate its nuclear program, without us having any insight into what they’re doing. And without constraint.

And his essential argument is if we just double down on sanctions, Iran won’t want to do that. Well, we have evidence from the past decade that sanctions are not sufficient to prevent Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions. And if, in fact, does not have some sense that sanctions will not be removed, it will not have an interest in avoiding the path that it’s currently on.

But if we’re successful in negotiating, then, in fact, this will be the best deal possible to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Nothing else comes close. Sanctions won’t do it. Even military action would be as successful as the deal that we have put forward.

We’re staying focused on the central issue here. How do we prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon? The path that we proposed, if successful, by far is the best way to do that. That’s demonstrable.

And Prime Minister Netanyahu has not offered any kind of viable alternative that would achieve the same verifiable mechanisms to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Its very important for all of us Americans to realize that we have a system of government in which foreign policy runs through the executive branch and the president, not through other channels.

So what I’m focused on right now is solving this problem. I’m not focused on the politics of it. I’m not focused on the theater of it. And my strong suggestion would be that members of Congress as they evaluate it stay similarly focused.”


Secretary Kerry and UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond’s Remarks at Press Availability after meeting on February 21st, 2015 at the U.S Embassy in London.

On the Fight Against ISIS/ISIL:

“The foreign secretary [Philip Hammond] and I reviewed the progress in degrading and ultimately defeating Daesh. Throughout our history, we have faced significant threats together — genocide, aggression, chaos, dictatorship, the battle against fascism and tyranny. Today we’re asked away to a new campaign against a new kind of enemy. The battlefield is very different and weapons are different, so the strategies that we employ have to be different too in order to overcome that enemy.”

“….So we have started this great enterprise. We’re engaged and we’re coordinating. But obviously, there is a lot more to be done. We understand that, and that’s what we talked about today…in this effort, frankly, we decided — and I think everybody agreed on this yesterday and they day before — there’s a role for every country. There’s something for everybody to be able to do this.”

“We also committed to work hard to create greater opportunity of positive role models for young people everywhere, and we committed to teach skills and work to improve the economies of many countries where there is a ready pool for the potential of terrorism in order to reduce the numbers of people who might be attracted to the misguided appeals that have brought, frankly, too many people to the battlefield.”

On the discussion of “atrocious Russian Separatist violations of the February 12th Minsk agreements”:

“One of the most egregious violations is obviously the assault, the full-scale assault on the city of Debaltseve and the violations of the cease-fire in the resupply of the separatists by Russia. Let me be clear: We know to a certainty what  has been providing, and no amount of propaganda is capable of hiding these actions…The Minsk implementation agreement is not open to interpretation…It’s called for a complete cease-fire that was to take effect on the night of February 15th with full OSCE access to the conflict zone, and the pullback of all heavy weapons from the line of contact.

So far, Russian and the Separatists are only complying in a few areas selectively, not in Debaltseve, not outside Mariopol, and not in other key strategic areas…If this failure continues, make no mistake: There will be further consequences, including consequences that would place added strains on Russia’s already troubled economy. We’re not going to sit back and allow this kind of cynical, craven behavior to continue at the expense of the sovereignty and integrity of another nation.”

Iran and Nuclear Negotiations:

“Our governments remain in lockstep with our international partners on the importance of cutting off Iran’s pathways to the potential of a nuclear weapon. And will travel to Geneva tomorrow [February 27th] to meet with Foreign Minister Zarif to see if we can make progress in these talks. A unified P5+1 has put on the table creative ideas to achieve our objective, and now we will find out whether or not Iran is able to match its words about its willingness to show that its program is fully peaceful wit the verifiable actions and verifiable decisions that are necessary to accomplish this goal.”

Syria and the Assad Regime:

“The challenge of the Assad regime, which continues to drop barrel bombs on innocent civilians, the challenge of a country that is continuing to be torn apart by this violence. The jihadis who are attracted to Syria because of Assad’s presence and the extraordinary spillover of impact on Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, the region, as a consequence of the numbers of refugees that continue to be created by this violence…It is our hope that with good effort over the course of the next weeks and months, we might be able to find a way to have a greater impact on finding the negotiated path, which is the only ultimate path which will resolve the question of violence and restore stability and integrity to a potentially unified, secular and stable Syria.”


“I think both Angela [Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany] and I have emphasized that the prospect for military solution to this problem has always been low. But what we have said is that the international community, working together, can ratchet up the costs for the violation of the core principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity. And that’s exactly what we’ve done. My hope is that through these diplomatic efforts, those costs have become high enough that Mr. Putin’s preferred option is for a diplomatic resolution. If they are successful, it will be in part because of the extraordinary patience and effort of Chancellor Merkel and her team. If they are not, then will continue to raise those costs. And we will not relent in that. And one of those things I’m very encouraged about is the degree to which we’ve been able to maintain U.S.-European unity on this issue.”

President Barack Obama’s answer to a question about sending lethal arms to Ukraine in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after a meeting at the White House, February 9, 2015.

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“The international community is united in condemning the violence that has led to so much needless suffering in Ukraine, but the violence continues. Regrettably, Russia continues to supply new weapons and increase support for armed separatists. In doing so, it fails to meet its international and OSCE obligations and to live up to an agreement that it actually negotiated and signed. The result is damage to its credibility, and its own citizens wind up paying a steep economic and human price, including the price of hundreds of Russian soldiers who fight and die in a country where they had and have no right to be.”

Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks at the OSCE Ministerial Plenary Session, December 4, 2014

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“The key to success for a defense secretary today is the ability to manage not White House aides but rather the Pentagon, which is the world’s most complicated and most dysfunctional bureaucracy. Ashton Carter, the president’s presumed choice as the next secretary, is a brilliant man and perhaps has made some friends at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But by far the best quality he has going for him is that he seems to understand the need to rein in a Pentagon now so out of control that it is difficult to fully comprehend or explain.”

Fareed Zakaria, “Can Ashton Carter rein in a Pentagon out of control?” Washington Post, December 4, 2014

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“Today, the United States of America can proudly claim the strongest military the world has ever known. That’s the result of investments made over many decades, the blood and treasure and sacrifices of generations. It’s the result of the character and wisdom those who lead them, as well — including a young Army sergeant in Vietnam who our rose to serve as our nation’s 24th Secretary of Defense. So on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you Chuck.”

President Obama during the announcement of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s resignation, November 24, 2014

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“This takes time, the stakes are high are the issues are complicated and technical. And each decision affects other decisions and each decision deeply affects international security and national interests. It also takes time to do this because we don’t want any agreement — we want the right agreement.”

Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks on the extension of the Iran nuclear talks, November 21, 2014

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“The real question, then, is how we’re going to treat them. Will we continue our current regime of malign neglect, denying them ordinary rights and leaving them under the constant threat of deportation? Or will we treat them as the fellow Americans they already are?

The truth is that sheer self-interest says that we should do the humane thing. Today’s immigrant children are tomorrow’s workers, taxpayers and neighbors. Condemning them to life in the shadows means that they will have less stable home lives than they should, be denied the opportunity to acquire skills and education, contribute less to the economy, and play a less positive role in society. Failure to act is just self-destructive.”

Paul Krugman, “Suffering Little Children,” New York Times, November 20, 2014

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“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together; they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives. That is not how American democracy works. Not long ago, President Obama said the unilateral action he just announced was ‘not an option’ and claimed he’d already ‘done everything that I can on my own.’ He said it would lead to a ‘surge in more illegal immigration.’ He said he was ‘not a king’ and ‘not the emperor’ and that he was ‘bound by the Constitution.’ He said an action like this would exceed his authority and be ‘difficult to justify legally.’ He may have changed his position, but that doesn’t change the Constitution.”

Speaker of the House John Boehner’s response to President Obama’s announced actions on immigration, November 20, 2014

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“For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities –- people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.”

President Obama’s remarks on immigration, November 20, 2014

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“I think the president’s wrong in saying that under no circumstances will he consider ground troops. No one wants to see our own ground troops there, but if you’re going to defeat something you don’t tell the enemy exactly what you plan on doing or what you won’t do, you say, ‘We’re going to defeat you regardless of the consequence'”

2012 GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” November 16, 2014

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“They are afraid to congregate in any sizable formation, because they know that if we can see them, we’re going to engage them, and we’re going to get what we’re aiming at.”

CENTCOM Commander General Lloyd Austin III, speaking about the progress in the fight against the Islamic State, November 6, 2014

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“The isolation starts with the fact that from the beginning, for the president and his campaign team, it was never about the Democratic Party. It was never about the rest of their team in the administration. It was never about a network of international relationships. It was always about one man who was the product, the messenger, the mission, and the raison d’être all wrapped into one. And for the next two years, it seems highly likely that any brave post-election faces they try to put on this to the contrary, Obama will reap the results of his political and policy narcissism in a way that will not only be difficult for him personally but will be bad for America and its role in the world.”

David Rothkopf, “This Man is an Island,” Foreign Policy, November 5, 2014

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“To those of you who voted, I hear you. To those who didn’t vote, I hear you too.”

President Obama’s remarks after 2014 Midterm Elections, November 5, 2014

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“For all the end-of-the-world clamor around this year’s elections, you’d never guess that the economy is growing at 3.5 percent, unemployment is below 6 percent and gas prices are way, way down. Even Halloween candy was cheap this year. But good news, schmood news. This year, we’ve decided to be miserable and afraid…. For all the politicking on the threat posed by the Islamic State, Congress decided to neither debate nor vote on the U.S. military fight against the group in Iraq or Syria. As the president announced expanded military deployments in the region, Congress canceled its remaining workdays in October and November, until after the election. Congress thinks it’s more advantageous to run ads about how scary the Islamic State is than to face the real threat of actually taking a vote on what to do about that threat.”

Rachel Maddow (MSNBC Host), “Republicans bank on fear in this election,” Washington Post, November 3, 2014

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“They are afraid to congregate in any sizable formation, because they know that if we can see them, we’re going to engage them, and we’re going to get what we’re aiming at.”

CENTCOM Commander General Lloyd Austin III, speaking about the progress in the fight against the Islamic State, November 6, 2014

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“The isolation starts with the fact that from the beginning, for the president and his campaign team, it was never about the Democratic Party. It was never about the rest of their team in the administration. It was never about a network of international relationships. It was always about one man who was the product, the messenger, the mission, and the raison d’être all wrapped into one. And for the next two years, it seems highly likely that any brave post-election faces they try to put on this to the contrary, Obama will reap the results of his political and policy narcissism in a way that will not only be difficult for him personally but will be bad for America and its role in the world.”

David Rothkopf, “This Man is an Island,” Foreign Policy, November 5, 2014

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“To those of you who voted, I hear you. To those who didn’t vote, I hear you too.”

President Obama’s remarks after 2014 Midterm Elections, November 5, 2014

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“For all the end-of-the-world clamor around this year’s elections, you’d never guess that the economy is growing at 3.5 percent, unemployment is below 6 percent and gas prices are way, way down. Even Halloween candy was cheap this year. But good news, schmood news. This year, we’ve decided to be miserable and afraid…. For all the politicking on the threat posed by the Islamic State, Congress decided to neither debate nor vote on the U.S. military fight against the group in Iraq or Syria. As the president announced expanded military deployments in the region, Congress canceled its remaining workdays in October and November, until after the election. Congress thinks it’s more advantageous to run ads about how scary the Islamic State is than to face the real threat of actually taking a vote on what to do about that threat.”

Rachel Maddow (MSNBC Host), “Republicans bank on fear in this election,” Washington Post, November 3, 2014

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“But like it or not, Obama remains the steward of the aspirations he awakened. His final act must be dedicated to reengaging Americans, particularly the young he once so inspired, in the business of self-government. Exhaustion, frustration, impatience with Washington, legitimate anger over the obstacles put in his way – none of these should lead him to shirk the obligations he took on when he preached the priority of hope. After all, he’s the one telling us that cynicism is a choice.”

E. J. Dionne Jr., “Hope’s in need of hope today,” Washington Post, November 3, 2014.

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“And so just understand — the folks on the other side, they’re counting on you being cynical. They’re figuring you won’t think you can make a difference. They figure you won’t organize. They figure you won’t vote. You will just go along with the status quo…. Don’t buy it. Don’t be cynical. Be hopeful…. Cynicism didn’t put anybody on the moon. Cynicism has never ended a war. It has never cured a disease. It did not build a business. It did not feed a young mind. Cynicism is a choice. And hope is a better choice. ”

President Obama while campaigning for Mary Burke in Wisconsin, October 28, 2014

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“We can’t hermetically seal ourselves off. The nature of international travel and movement means that the only way to assure that we are safe is to make sure that we have dealt with the disease where it — right now, it is most acute.”

President Obama responding to critics of his Ebola response, October 29, 2014

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“We know that the best way to protect Americans ultimately is going to stop this outbreak at the source. And I just had the privilege of speaking with some of the men and women who are working to do just that — our Disaster Assistance Response Team on the ground in West Africa.

First and foremost, I thanked them for their incredible dedication and compassion. These are the folks that, from the minute that we saw this Ebola outbreak growing larger than we had seen traditionally, were deployed, were on the ground, and were helping to coordinate the countries where the outbreak is happening to make sure that the response was effective.”

President Obama’s remarks regarding the American response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, October 28, 2014

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“It looked very incompetent to begin with, and that fueled fears that may not be justified…. And now you have states that are legitimately acting on their concerns, creating a lot more confusion than is necessary.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on Obama’s response to the Ebola crisis, October 28, 2014

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“Over the last dozen years, the United States has poured $7.6 billion into combating Afghanistan’s opium production, and the results are now clear: The program failed.”

New York Times editorial board on Afghanistan and its opium problem, October 26, 2014

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“The new measures surely make unnecessary a harmful ban on all travelers who have been in the three countries. Federal health officials say most travelers returning from those countries are either American citizens or longtime legal residents. They include volunteers who have been battling the epidemic, journalists and federal health experts, among others. Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who visited West Africa recently, would presumably have been prevented from returning if there had been a travel ban.

A ban would discourage volunteers from joining the fight against Ebola and make it harder to bring the epidemic under control, the surest way to protect this country from imported cases.”

New York Times Editorial Board on the American response to the Ebola crisis abroad and at home, October 23, 2014

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“We support the Administration’s decision to resupply Kurdish forces in Kobani with arms, ammunition, and other supplies. This is a good step in a recent series of actions to increase U.S. efforts to prevent ISIS from taking Kobani. At the same time, this tactical adjustment should not be confused for an effective strategy, which is still lacking. As U.S. efforts increase to help secure Kobani, ISIS continues advancing in Anbar province as well as on Baghdad and other strategically significant cities. We continue to urge the Administration to quickly adopt a comprehensive strategy and avoid the perils of gradual escalation – in Kobani and in the broader fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. This will only lead to an unnecessary loss of life and reduce our chances of success, as we have learned in other conflicts.”

Joint statement by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), October 20, 2014

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“Degrading and ultimately destroying ISIS will require additional actions that we have long advocated, such as the deployment of U.S. Special Forces and military advisers on the ground to direct airstrikes and advise our local partners; the expansion of assistance for moderate Syrian forces, and the establishment of safe zones protected by no fly zones in Syria. Rather than preemptively ruling-out steps such as these for policy reasons, the President should take them now as appropriate to change the momentum on the ground against both ISIS and the Assad regime and to create conditions for a political transition and an end of the conflict in Syria. That is ultimately what it will take to destroy ISIS and keep America safe, and we cannot afford to delay any longer.”

Joint statement by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), October 20, 2014

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“At the end of the day election-year posturing about a travel ban wastes precious time that should be spent mobilizing to attack this disease at its source — in Africa — so it does not continue to end up on our shores.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in regards to Republican demands for a travel ban on direct flights from Africa (note: there are no direct flights from Africa to the U.S.), October 20, 2014

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“We may be able to ‘contain,’ but to actually defeat ISIS is going to require more boots on the ground, more vigorous strikes, more special forces, further arming the Kurdish peshmerga forces and creating a no-fly zone and buffer zone in Syria”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) at the Pacific Council on International Policy, October 18, 2014

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“As I’ve said before, and I’m going to keep on repeating until we start seeing more progress, the world as a whole is not doing enough. There are a number of countries that have capacity that have not yet stepped up.”

President Obama in regards to the international response to the Ebola crisis, October 14, 2014

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“While scientists are converging toward consensus on future climate projections, uncertainty remains. But this cannot be an excuse for delaying action.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the forward to the 2014 Department of Defense Climate Change
Adaptation Roadmap (October 13, 2014)

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“The impacts of climate change may cause instability in other countries by impairing access to food and water, damaging infrastructure, spreading disease, uprooting and displacing large numbers of people, compelling mass migration, interrupting commercial activity, or restricting electricity availability. These developments could undermine already-fragile governments that are unable to respond effectively or challenge currently-stable governments, as well as increasing competition and tension between countries vying for limited resources. These gaps in governance can create an avenue for extremist ideologies and conditions that foster terrorism.”

Pentagon Report on Climate Change, October 13, 2014

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“With two months now of airstrikes, the president’s strategy clearly isn’t working. ISIL continues to grow, gobble up more territory from Baghdad to Kobani,”

House Armed Services Committee ChairmanBuck McKeon (R-CA), October 9, 2014

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“Americans must realize this is not an old-fashioned fight between forces of freedom and tyranny, good and evil. Obama appears to recognize that there are no good on-the-ground options in Syria for the United States. Staying in the air seems to be the right way to play our limited leadership role.”

Walter Pincus, “A lesson before the fighting,” Washington Post, October 7, 2014

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“As I’ve said from the start of this outbreak, I consider this a top national security priority. This is not just a matter of charity — although obviously the humanitarian toll in countries that are affected in West Africa is extraordinarily significant. This is an issue about our safety. It is also an issue with respect to the political stability and the economic stability in this region.

And so it is very important for us to make sure that we are treating this the same way that we would treat any other significant national security threat. And that’s why we’ve got an all-hands-on-deck approach — from DOD to public health to our development assistance, our science teams — everybody is putting in time and effort to make sure that we are addressing this as aggressively as possible.”

President Obama’s remarks after meeting with his team of senior officials and staff on the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, October 6, 2014

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“My fear, as I voiced to the President and others, was that if the country split apart or slid back into the violence that we’d seen in the years immediately following the U.S. invasion, it could become a new haven for terrorists to plot attacks against the U.S. Iraq’s stability was not only in Iraq’s interest but also in ours. I privately and publicly advocated for a residual force that could provide training and security for Iraq’s military.”

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. This was taken from an excerpt of his forthcoming book that was published in Time Magazine this week, October 2, 2014

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“This was not an intelligence community failure, but a failure by policy makers to confront the threat”

Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Congressman Mike Rogers (R) in regards to President Obama’s statements blaming the intelligence community for underestimating ISIS’s strength, September 29, 2014

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“Each of these problems demands urgent attention. But they are also symptoms of a broader problem — the failure of our international system to keep pace with an interconnected world. We, collectively, have not invested adequately in the public health capacity of developing countries. Too often, we have failed to enforce international norms when it’s inconvenient to do so. And we have not confronted forcefully enough the intolerance, sectarianism, and hopelessness that feeds violent extremism in too many parts of the globe.”

President Obama’s Address to the UN General Assembly, September 24, 2014

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“Earlier this month, I outlined for the American people our strategy to confront the threat posed by the terrorist group known as ISIL. I made clear that as part of this campaign the United States would take action against targets in both Iraq and Syria so that these terrorists can’t find safe haven anywhere. I also made clear that America would act as part of a broad coalition. And that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

President Obama’s Statements on the Airstrikes in Syria, White House South Lawn, September 23, 2014

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“We were joined in this action by our friends and partners — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar. America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security. ”

President Obama’s Statements on the Airstrikes in Syria, White House South Lawn, September 23, 2014

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“Last night, we also took strikes to disrupt plotting against the United States and our allies by seasoned al Qaeda operatives in Syria who are known as the Khorosan Group. And once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people.”

President Obama’s Statements on the Airstrikes in Syria, White House South Lawn, September 23, 2014

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“I want to emphasize – when we say ‘global coalition,’ we mean it. This is not a threat that a single country or region can take on alone. And there is a critical role for nearly every country to play.”

Secretary of State John Kerry on the Islamic State during a hearing with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, September 17, 2014

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“Only a holistic campaign can accomplish our objectives. That is why we are focused on multiple lines of effort.”

Secretary of State John Kerry on the Islamic State during a hearing with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, September 17, 2014

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“To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the President”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey during an Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, September 16, 2014

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“I’m just saying our past performance for 13 years in that region hasn’t given us the results. We took out Saddam [Hussein]; we thought that would change; Iraq’s in worse shape. We take out [Moammar] Gadhafi; we thought that would change; things got so bad in Libya we had to pull out our own embassy and our people in the embassy…. It makes no sense to me. And I can’t sell it. You can’t sell this stuff. And no one believes the outcome will be different.”

Senator Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, in regards to aspects of Obama’s ISIS strategy during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey, September 16, 2014

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“Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

President Obama addressing the nation in regards to American actions against ISIS, September 10, 2014

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“That is the difference we make in the world. And our own safety, our own security, depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation and uphold the values that we stand for –- timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.”

President Obama addressing the nation in regards to American actions against ISIS, September 10, 2014

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“…our Alliance is fully united in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and its right to defend itself. To back up this commitment, all 28 NATO Allies will now provide security assistance to Ukraine. This includes non-lethal support to the Ukrainian military — like body armor, fuel and medical care for wounded Ukrainian troops — as well as assistance to help modernize Ukrainian forces, including logistics and command and control.”

President Obama’s remarks during the NATO Summit in Wales, September 5, 2014

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“The path for Russia to rejoin the community of nations that respects international law is still there, and we encourage President Putin to take it. But the unity and the firmness that we’ve seen in the Transatlantic Alliance in supporting Ukraine and applying sanctions has been I think a testimony to how seriously people take the basic principle that big countries can just stomp on little countries, or force them to change their policies and give up their sovereignty.”

President Obama’s remarks during the NATO Summit in Wales, September 5, 2014

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“We, the Heads of State and Government of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, stand united in our support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.”

Joint Statement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, September 4, 2014

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“They’re an ambitious, avowed, genocidal, territorial-grabbing, caliphate-desiring quasi state with an irregular army, and leaving them in some capacity intact anywhere would leave a cancer in place that will ultimately come back to haunt us.”

Secretary of State John Kerry in regards to ISIS, NATO Summit 2014 Wales, September 5, 2014

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“When NATO last met in Britain in 1990 the Cold War was ending. As Margaret Thatcher and President George H.W. Bush pledged to continue to stand together, many might have thought – even hoped – that a new era of peace and prosperity would make this great security alliance less relevant and less needed. But the truth is that today NATO is as vital to our future as it has ever been in our past.”

President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron in joint piece written for The Times, September 4, 2014

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“…Whatever these murderers think they’ll achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed. They have failed because, like people around the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists. And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”

President Obama while visiting Estonia, September 3, 2014

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“NATO must make concrete commitments to help Ukraine modernize and strengthen its security forces. We must do more to help other NATO partners, including Georgia and Moldova, strengthen their defenses as well.”

President Obama during a speech in Tallinn, Estonia, September 3, 2014.

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“Obama should tell the nation, in plain language, what he believes we must do. Congress should debate the issue rather than duck it. After all, no decision by our elected leaders is more fateful: This is war. As far as I can tell. ‘We don’t have a strategy yet,’ Obama said Thursday. Which is the one thing we already knew.”

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post columnist, “Are we at war?” – August 29, 2014

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“But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.”

President Obama referring to American strategy in dealing with ISIS in Syria during a White House press conference – August 28, 2014

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“This is an organization that has an apocalyptic end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey referring to ISIS during a press briefing at the Department of Defense – August 21, 2014

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“Oh, this is beyond anything that we’ve seen. So we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is that you take a cold, steely, hard look at it and– and — and get ready.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel referring to ISIS during a press briefing at the Department of Defense – August 21, 2014

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“Today, the American people will all say a prayer for those who loved Jim. All of us feel the ache of his absence. All of us mourn his loss. We keep in our prayers those other Americans who are separated from their families. We will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for.”

President Obama’s statement on the murder of journalist James Foley by ISIS – August 20, 2014

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I’ll give you an example of a lesson I had to learn that still has ramifications to this day…and that is our participation in the coalition that overthrew Qaddafi in Libya. I absolutely believed that it was the right thing to do…Then it’s the day after Qaddafi is gone, when everyone is feeling good and everyone is holding up posters saying, ‘Thank you, America.’ At that moment, there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuilt societies…So that’s a lesson that I now apply every time I ask the question, ‘Should we intervene, militarily? Do we have an answer [for] the day after?’

President Obama in a talk with Thomas L. Friedman about how the US can be a benevolent force as well as a superpower. Published in the NYT on August 8, 2014.

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Our politics are dysfunctional…societies don’t work if political factions take maximalist positions. And the more diverse the country is, the less it can afford to take maximalist positions…Increasingly [American] politicians are rewarded for taking the most extreme maximalist positions, and sooner or later, that catches up with you.

President Obama to Thomas L. Friedman – NYT on August 8, 2014

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The science is screaming at us. Ask any kid in school. They understand what a greenhouse is, how it works, why we call it the greenhouse effect. They get it…Climate change is here now. It’s happening, happening all over the world. It’s not a challenge that’s somehow remote and that people can’t grab onto.

Secretary of State John Kerry during a speech at the Honolulu-based think tank the East-West Center – August 13, 2014.

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Apparently, people have forgotten that America, as the most powerful country on Earth, still does not control everything around the world. And so our diplomatic efforts often take time. They often will see progress and then a step backwards. That’s been true in the Middle East. That’s been true in Europe. That’s been true in Asia. That’s the nature of world affairs. It’s not neat and it’s not smooth….

If you look at the 20th century and the early part of this century, there are a lot of conflicts that America doesn’t resolve. That’s always been true. That doesn’t mean we stop trying. And it’s not a measure of American influence on any given day or at any given moment that there are conflicts around the world that are difficult. Conflict in Northern Ireland raged for a very, very long time until finally something broke, where the party decided that it wasn’t worth killing each other. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been going on even longer than you’ve been reporting.

President Obama at a press conference, Friday 1 August 2014

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The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which at least ten more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed. The coordinates of the school, like all UN facilities in Gaza, have been repeatedly communicated to the Israeli Defense Forces…The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.

US State Department response to the shelling of a UNRWA school in Gaza, 3 August 2014

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As President Obama has said, “Africa is a new center of global growth.” Since 2000, banking assets have more than doubled. The telecommunications market has doubled since 2004 alone. And we know that Africa will have a larger workforce than India or China by 2040. So it’s time simply to get ahead of the curve, to invest in education above all for the vast numbers of young people, and the increasing numbers of people who because of today’s interconnectedness are demanding their part of the future. That is much of what has been happening in places where we’ve seen tremendous upheaval of recent days, whether it’s been Tunisia or Egypt or Syria, elsewhere. It’s young people who motivated and energized those initiatives initially because of their sense of desire, frustration for the possibilities of the future.

Secretary Kerry’s remarks at the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Ministerial, 4 August 2014

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Kerry has been slammed as naive for pressing Israel to end its attack, which as of this writing has cost the lives of more than 1,300 Palestinians and 59 Israelis. The contention of Kerry’s critics – essentially that more killing of innocent civilians is justified if, in the end, Hamas is defanged and discredited – strikes me as morally untenable. Israel’s undeniable right to self-defense does not extend to shelling a school crowded with unarmed refugees.

Eugene Robinson, “Give Kerry a break,” Washington Post, August 1, 2014

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There is no military solution to this conflict. The status quo brings only continued pain, suffering and war. Promoting economic development and social interaction in Gaza is in the longterm security interest of Israel and the rest of the region. The relative calm that existed during Secretary of State John Kerry’s extended diplomatic talks between Israel and the Palestinians during 2013-14 shows that engaging in dialogue is the first step toward stopping the violence.

Keith Ellison, “Why Israel’s blockade must end,” Washington Post, August 1, 2014

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Each year, under presidents Republican and Democrat, the United States of America issues a report card on human rights to the rest of the world where we grade other nations as to their record on human rights. That’s pretty bold of us, isn’t it? To hold ourselves out in judgment of other nations? And one of the things we ask is how those nations treat refugees and children…When you look at the state of the world with 2.3 million refugees coming out of Syria and fewer than 200 coming to the United States we are kind of on the periphery of this issue until now. Now we get to face our backyard, our border.

Senator Durbin during a July 2014 hearing on Emergency Funding for Unaccompanied Immigrant Children.

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We can’t turn our back on these kids. We can’t hold ourselves up, as Senator Durbin said, as some paradigm – paradigm – of human rights protections…and then say round ’em up and ship ’em back. Should they say that to the Syrians that are escaping? Or other refugees around the world? “Round ’em up and ship ’em back”? We’re better than that.

Senator Harkin during a July 2014 hearing on Emergency Funding for Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

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While it may take us some time to firmly establish who shot down a plane filled with innocents, most Council members and most members of the international community have been warning for months about the devastation that would come if Russia did not stop what it started, if it did not reign in what it unleashed.

Amb. Power at U.N. Security Council Meeting on the Plane Downing in Ukraine, 18 July 2014

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We have a duty to each and every one of those individuals, their families and their countries to determine why that jet fell out of the sky and to hold the perpetrators accountable. We must stop at nothing to bring those responsible to justice. This appalling attack occurred in the contact of a crisis and has been fueled by Russian support for separatists — through arms, weapons, and training — and by the Russian failure to follow through on its commitments and by its failure to adhere to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter…This war can be ended. Russia can end this war. Russia must end this war.

Amb. Power at U.N. Security Council Meeting on the Plane Downing in Ukraine, 18 July 2014

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The United States continues to operate without a complete diplomatic toolbox to exert our leadership and advance our security and economic interests across the globe, because a broken Senate confirmation process has left us without permanent ambassadors in 40 countries.

Secretary Kerry in a POLITICO Magazine article entitled “Why Is the Senate Hobbling American Diplomacy?” (July 18, 2014)

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Despite six months of negotiations, it seems unlikely that Iran and the major nuclear powers will complete an agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program by a self-imposed July 20 deadline. But they have left open the possibility of extending talks for up to six more months.

They should not hesitate to do so. The whole point of this exercise is to ensure that Iran cannot produce a nuclear weapon. That goal is within reach, and it would be irresponsible not to make the maximum effort to bridge the final gaps.

…if talks are allowed to collapse on Sunday, the interim agreement reached in November, with which Iran has complied, would dissolve. That would free Iran from temporary restraints on its nuclear activities and allow the United States and European to reimpose the limited sanctions that are now suspended.

Keep Negotiating on Iran’s Nukes” (New York Times editorial, July 17)

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“As we hear more and more about the situation with these young people coming across the border, you know what my ears are hearing? ‘Round ’em up and ship ’em back.’ Sounds like we’re dealing with cattle! Or some kind of livestock! Just round ’em up and ship ’em back! Senator Murkowski had it right: this is a humanitarian crisis.”

Senator Harkin, at a meeting addressing emergency funding for unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America. July 10, 2014.

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“There’s a request for $15 million in this multi-billion dollar appropriation for ‘direct legal representation to contract with lawyers to represent approximately 10,000 children in immigration proceedings’ … I think we’re dealing with 50-90,000 children, and it strikes me that this number is grossly inadequate to make sure that these children have someone standing next to ’em, to protect them, maybe to explain this to them. That’s the first thing that crosses my mind.”

Senator Durbin at that same meeting addressing emergency funding for unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America. July 10, 2014.

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“July 20, the deadline to negotiate a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, is fast approaching. All along, these negotiations have been about a choice for Iran’s leaders…In this troubled world, the chance does not often arise to reach an agreement peacefully that will meet the essential and publicly expressed needs of all sides, make the world safer, ease regional tensions and enable greater prosperity. We have such an opportunity, and a historic breakthrough is possible. It’s a matter of political will and proving intentions, not of capacity. It’s a matter of choices. Let us all choose wisely.”

-Secretary of State John Kerry in a Washington Post piece entitled “Time is running out for Iran to choose its future,” July 1, 2014

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“The United States commends the Ukrainian Government for reaching out to separatists and to the Russian Government. And now we believe it is critical for President Putin to prove by his actions, not just his words, that he is indeed fully committed to peace. It is critical for him to stop the flow of weapons and fighters across the border, to call publicly for the separatists to lay down their arms, to pull Russian forces and equipment back, and to help get OSCE hostages released.

Until Russia fully makes that kind of commitment to the peace process and to the stability of Ukraine, the United States and Europe are compelled to continue to prepare greater costs, including tough economic sanctions, with the hopes that they will not have to be used. But that is dependent on the choices that Russia and its president make in the next days and weeks.”

-Secretary Kerry in his remarks at NATO Headquarters, June 25, 2014

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American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region and American interests as well.

President Obama in his June 19 remarks on the crisis in Iraq

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Human activity threatens the world’s ocean. Often illegal international fishing practices are decimating fisheries. A garbage patch twice the size of Texas floats in the Pacific Ocean, evidence of the trash we cast into our waterways. Rising carbon dioxide levels from emissions increase ocean acidity, endangering coral reefs and other marine life.

The warning could not be starker: Unless these trends are reversed, the effects across the planet will be profound.”

Secretary of State John Kerry in an op-ed in the Huffington Post, June 9, 2014

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“At this summit, we were clear about three things. First, the status quo is unacceptable; the continuing destabilization of eastern Ukraine must stop. Second, there are a set of things that need to happen. President Putin must recognize the legitimate election of President Poroshenko. He must stop arms crossing the border into Ukraine. He must cease Russian support for separatist groups. And third, if these things don’t happen, then sectoral sanctions will follow. The next month will be vital in judging if President Putin has taken these steps, and that is what I will urge President Putin to do when I meet him later today.”

Prime Minister David Cameron at a joint press conference with President Obama following G7 talks in Brussels, June 5, 2014.

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“The situation in Ukraine has also highlighted the need for greater energy security. At the G7, we agreed to help Ukraine reduce its energy risks to include diversifying its supplies. We’re going to help countries in Central and Eastern Europe strengthen their energy security as well. And following the review I called for in the United States earlier this year, every G7 country will conduct an energy assessment to identify the possible impact of any potential disruptions and to offer ways we can better prevent disruptions and recover from them more quickly.”

-President Obama at a joint press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron following G7 talks in Brussels, June 5, 2014.

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“The administration has fought al-Qaeda and its allies ferociously. But it has been disciplined about the use of force, and understandably so. An American that exaggerates threats, overreacts to problems and intervenes unilaterally would produce the very damage to its credibility that people are worried about…Obama is battling a knee-jerk sentiment in Washington in which the only kind of international leadership that means anything is the use of military force.”

Fareed Zakaria in an op-ed in the Washington Post, May 30, 2014

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Obama seems unaware of how far his country has fallen. He attributes claims of American decline to either misreading history or partisan politics. Problem is: Most of the complaints are coming from abroad, from U.S. allies with no stake whatsoever in U.S. partisan politics. Their concern is their own security as they watch this president undertake multiple abdications from Warsaw to Kabul.”

Charles Krauthammer in an op-ed in the Washington Post, May 30, 2014

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I am an alumnus of the armed forces and fiercely proud of what they have done and what they can do.  I am distressed by the recent reductions in the defense budget.  That said, however, there is an imbalance between our large armed forces and the other elements of American power, particularly our starved and parched American diplomacy…In money, then, our nation provides more than 12 times the amount for military power as for diplomacy and development.  In people, the disproportion is 24 times.”

Donald M. Bishop in his piece “President Obama at West Point” for the Public Diplomacy Council

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“[Obama] is anything but an isolationist; to the contrary, he has showed that he will use military force whenever necessary and feasible. But he made it clear at West Point that his preference will be to send drones, not divisions – and that he will have to be convinced that the use of force will ‘not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.'”

Eugene Robinson in an op-ed in the Washington Post, May 30, 2014

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“Since World War II, some of our most costly mistakes came not from our restraint, but from our willingness to rush into military adventures – without thinking through the consequences; without building international support and legitimacy for our action, or leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required. Tough talk draws headlines, but war rarely conforms to slogans.”

President Obama in a commencement address to West Point graduates – May 28, 2014

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I think Americans have learned that it’s harder to end wars than it is to begin them. Yet this is how wars end in the 21st century, not through signing ceremonies but through decisive blows against our adversaries, transitions to elected governments, security forces who are trained to take the lead and ultimately full responsibility…We have to recognize Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, and it is not America’s responsibility to make it one. The future of Afghanistan must be decided by Afghans.

President Obama’s statement on U.S. troops level in Afghanistan – May 27, 2014

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“[It] was my privilege to stand here 48 years ago at Class Day. Before coming here, I did re-read that speech. A lot of it was about Vietnam, but one line jumped out at me. In 1966 I suggested, “an excess of isolation had led to an excess of interventionism.” Today we hear a different tune from some in Congress and even on some campuses and we face the opposite concern. We cannot allow a hangover from the excessive interventionism of the last decade to lead now to an excess of isolationism in this decade.

Secretary of State John Kerry in his 2014 Yale Commencement address.

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“Russia has a choice: to work with the international community to help build an independent Ukraine that could be a bridge between the East and West – not the object of a tug of war – that could meet the hopes and aspirations of all Ukrainians, or they could face greater isolation and pay the cost for their failure to see that the world is not a zero-sum game…

This is not the bipolar, straightforward choice of the Cold War. We’re living in an incredibly challenging time where some of the things that the East-West order took for granted most of my life are suddenly finding a world in which American engagement is more critical. And in many ways it’s more complicated because of nation-state interests, balance of power, are the kinds of issues that are on the table.”

Secretary of State John Kerry’s Opening Statement Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

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“The United States and our allies will not hesitate to use 21st-century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th-century behavior. We have stated again and again that our preference – and the preference of our friends and allies – is de-escalation and a diplomatic solution. But Russia should not for a single solitary second mistake the expression of that preference as an unwillingness to do what is necessary to stop any violation of the international order.”

– Secretary of State John Kerry’s Opening Statement Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

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“This is the first time in 13 years we will be presenting a budget to the Congress of the United States that’s not a war-footing budget… It is a different time. It is a different situation.”

“We are repositioning to focus on the strategic challenges and opportunities that will define our future: new technologies, new centers of power and a world that is growing more volatile, more unpredictable and in some instances more threatening to the United States,”

-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on the defense budget for FY 2015

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PRIME MINISTER CAMERON: “we discussed the brutal conflict in Syria — 80,000 dead; 5 million people forced from their homes.  Syria’s history is being written in the blood of her people, and it is happening on our watch.  The world urgently needs to come together to bring the killing to an end.  None of us have any interest in seeing more lives lost, in seeing chemical weapons used, or extremist violence spreading even further.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “If, in fact, we can broker a peaceful political transition that leads to Assad’s departure but a state in Syria that is still intact; that accommodates the interests of all the ethnic groups, all the religious groups inside of Syria; and that ends the bloodshed, stabilizes the situation — that’s not just going to be good for us; that will be good for everybody.  And we’re going to be very persistent in trying to make that happen.”

President Barack Obama’s and Prime Minister Cameron’s remarks in a joint press conference

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Stephen Collinson of AFP: …President Park, President Obama’s critics have warned that failing to act on perceived violations of U.S. red lines in Syria could embolden U.S. enemies elsewhere, including in North Korea.  Are you convinced that Kim Jong-un has taken the U.S. and South Korean warnings seriously, and do you see the withdrawal of two missiles from a test site as a sign that he’s willing to deescalate the situation?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I would note — not to answer the question that you lobbed over to President Park — that you suggested even in your question a perceived crossing of a red line.  The operative word there, I guess, Stephen, is “perceived.”  And what I’ve said is that we have evidence that there has been the use of chemical weapons inside of Syria, but I don’t make decisions based on “perceived.”  And I can’t organize international coalitions around “perceived.”  We’ve tried that in the past, by the way, and it didn’t work out well.

-President Barack Obama’s remarks in a joint press conference with President Park of South Korea

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“One of the things that I’ve tried to do over these last four years and will continue to do over the next four years is to make sure that we are promoting the integrity of our scientific process; that not just in the physical and life sciences, but also in fields like psychology and anthropology and economics and political science — all of which are sciences because scholars develop and test hypotheses and subject them to peer review — but in all the sciences, we’ve got to make sure that we are supporting the idea that they’re not subject to politics, that they’re not skewed by an agenda, that, as I said before, we make sure that we go where the evidence leads us.  And that’s why we’ve got to keep investing in these sciences … And I’m absolutely convinced that if this Academy and the successors who become members of this Academy are there at the center and the heart of our public debate, that we’ll be able to continue to use the innovation that powers our economy and improves our health, protects our environment and security, that makes us the envy of the world. “

President Barack Obama’s remarks to the National Academy of Sciences

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“We cannot confirm the origin of these weapons, but we do believe that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have been originated with the Assad regime.  As the letter states, the president has made it clear that the use of chemical weapons or the transfer of such weapons to terrorist groups would be unacceptable.  The United States has an obligation to fully investigate, including with all key partners and allies and through the United Nations, evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria.”

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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“So peace is necessary.  But peace is also just.  Peace is also just.  There is no question that Israel has faced Palestinian factions who turned to terror, leaders who missed historic opportunities.  That is all true.  And that’s why security must be at the center of any agreement.  And there is no question that the only path to peace is through negotiations — which is why, despite the criticism we’ve received, the United States will oppose unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations through the United Nations.  It has to be done by the parties. But the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, their right to justice, must also be recognized.” 

-President Barack Obama’s Remarks to the People of Israel

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“During the Cold War, the leaders of the two superpowers sought to reduce the risk of nuclear war. What was possible among declared enemies is imperative in a world of increasing nuclear stockpiles in some nations, multiple nuclear military powers and growing diffusion of nuclear energy. A global effort is needed to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, prevent their spread, and ultimately end them as a threat to the world. It will take leadership, creative approaches and thoughtful understanding of the perils of inaction. Near-term results would lay the foundation for transforming global security policies over the medium and long term.”

-Wall Street Journal: “Next Steps in Reducing Nuclear Risks” – by George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn

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“There are a lot of nations working at this. And so I think President Assad needs to read the tea leaves correctly, which is Rome signified a restatement of unity, a conviction that no nation is going to stand by while he slaughters his people with SCUD missiles and his jets dropping bombs. And we’ve ratcheted up yet another level with the hope of convincing him and his allies that the time has come to really negotiate with the transitional government that was created in the Geneva communiqué.”

Secretary Kerry’s Interview With James Rosen of Fox News

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“We value security and stability in other parts of the world, knowing that failed states are among our greatest security threats, and new partners our greatest assets. The investments we make support our efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism wherever it flourishes. We’ll continue to help countries provide for their own security, use diplomacy where possible, and support those allies who take the fight to the terrorists. And remember: deploying diplomats today is much cheaper than deploying troops tomorrow. As Senator Lindsay Graham has said, “it’s national security insurance that we’re buying.”

Secretary Kerry’s Remarks at the University of Virginia

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“The regime in North Korea must know that they will only achieve security and prosperity by meeting their international obligations.  Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense, and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats.  Likewise, the leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. At the same time, we will engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals, and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands – because our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead.”

Secretary Kerry’s remarks during his first foreign policy speech at the University of Virginia

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“America will continue to lead the effort to prevent the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons. The regime in North Korea must know they will only achieve security and prosperity by meeting their international obligations. Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only further isolate them, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats. Likewise, the leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. At the same time, we’ll engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals, and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands — because our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead and meet our obligations.”

President Obama during his State of the Union address, on nuclear proliferation, arms  control and negotiations with Russians on arms reduction

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“Tonight, we stand united in saluting the troops and civilians who sacrifice every day to protect us. Because of them, we can say with confidence that America will complete its mission in Afghanistan and achieve our objective of defeating the core of al Qaeda. Already, we have brought home 33,000 of our brave servicemen and women. This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead. Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue and by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over. Beyond 2014, America’s commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change. We’re negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions — training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counterterrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.”

President Obama during his State of the Union Address, on withdraw of troops from Afghanistan

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“North Korea announced today that it conducted a third nuclear test.  This is a highly provocative act that, following its December 12 ballistic missile launch, undermines regional stability, violates North Korea’s obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation.  North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region. These provocations do not make North Korea more secure.  Far from achieving its stated goal of becoming a strong and prosperous nation, North Korea has instead increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community.  The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies. We will strengthen close coordination with allies and partners and work with our Six-Party partners, the United Nations Security Council, and other UN member states to pursue firm action.”

President Obama’s statement on North Korean announcement of nuclear test

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“In the Middle East, we will stand with citizens as they demand their universal rights, and support stable transitions to democracy. The process will be messy, and we cannot presume to dictate the course of change in countries like Egypt; but we can – and will – insist on respect for the fundamental rights of all people.  We will keep the pressure on a Syrian regime that has murdered its own people, and support opposition leaders that respect the rights of every Syrian.  And we will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace.  These are the messages I will deliver when I travel to the Middle East next month.”

President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address, on Peace in the Middle East

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“I am proud to take on this job because I want to work for peace  and because the values and the ideals of our nation are really what represents the best of the possibilities of life here on earth. But I make clear today to those listening, while my preference is for a peaceful resolution to conflict, my journey has also taught me that when remedies are exhausted, we must be prepared to defend our cause and do what is necessary to stand up to extremism, terrorism, chaos and evil, and we will continue to do so.”

John F. Kerry remarks during swearing-in ceremony as Secretary of State

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“We have the character of an island nation – independent, forthright, passionate in defence of our sovereignty. We can no more change this British sensibility than we can drain the English Channel. And because of this sensibility, we come to the European Union with a frame of mind that is more practical than emotional.”

David Cameron on EU Membership

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“Our position is no: we don’t want an in-out referendum. My position is precisely the same as his position when we voted together in October 2011 against an in-out referendum. My position hasn’t changed. It is his position that has changed.”

Miliband said Cameron was taking a “huge gamble” on the economy and could put Britain through “years of uncertainty.”

“He is running scared of UKIP [the anti-EU UK Independence Party], he has given in to his party and he can’t deliver for Britain.”

Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, on EU Membership referendum

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We’ve obviously been following this very closely and have for a long time. Obviously this is a question for the British people and the British Government to define their relationship with the European Union. All we can say from an American perspective is what we’ve said before which is that we value a strong European Union. As I indicated in my opening remarks, Europe in general and the EU in particular is such a critical partner for the United States on all of these global issues, and therefore, we also value a strong U.K. voice in that European Union. Britain is such a special partner of the United States that shares our values, shares our interests, has significant resources to bring to the table, more than most others. Its voice within the European Union is essential and critical for the United States, … but as a broad and general thing we value a strong U.K. voice in a strong European Union.”

Philip H. Gordon, Assistant Secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs, on Britain’s EU Membership referendum

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“The European Treaty commits the Member States to ‘lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe’. This has been consistently interpreted as applying not to the peoples but rather to the states and institutions compounded by a European Court of Justice that has consistently supported greater centralisation. We understand and respect the right of others to maintain their commitment to this goal. But for Britain – and perhaps for others – it is not the objective.”

David Cameron on EU Membership

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“Britain needs a Prime Minister who is making change happen now in Europe, ensuring that we put jobs and growth ahead of austerity and unemployment.”

Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, on EU Membership referendum

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“Of course Britain could make her own way in the world, outside the EU, if we chose to do so. So could any other Member State.”

David Cameron on EU Membership

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“Tomorrow’s speech by David Cameron will define him as a weak Prime Minister, being driven by his party, not by the national economic interest. In October 2011, he opposed committing to an in/out referendum because of the uncertainty it would create for the country. The only thing that has changed since then is he has lost control of his party and is too weak to do what is right for the country. We have had warning after warning from British business about the dangers of creating years of uncertainty for Britain.”

Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, on EU Membership referendum

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“I wouldn’t underestimate the increasing weight of the EU in the world. Again, this is a long-evolving and gradual process, and nobody ever expects that national foreign policies will disappear or bilateral relationships, foreign policy relationships with the United States will disappear, but it is nonetheless the case that over time the European Union as an institution has gained an increasing voice — you’ve seen the way that Secretary Clinton and High Representative Ashton work together, including most recently a joint trip they took together to the Balkans. But well beyond the Europe issues, they coordinate closely on all of the issues I mentioned — Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Middle East, Israel, Egypt, and so on. And when Europeans put their resources together and have a collective decision-making function they end up playing a major role in the world. But I think that is just a reality in the world in which we live, and for the U.K. to be a part of that stronger, more important voice in the world is something I know a lot of British people welcome, and from an American perspective we certainly welcome the British voice in that EU.”

Philip H. Gordon, Assistant Secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs, on Britain’s EU Membership referendum

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“If you confirm me, I would take office as Secretary proud that the Senate is in my blood – but equally proud that so too is the Foreign Service. My Dad’s work under Presidents, both Democratic and Republican, took me and my siblings around the world for a personal journey that brought home the sacrifices and commitment the men and women of the Foreign Service make every day on behalf of America. I wish everyone in the country could see and understand first-hand the devotion, loyalty and amazingly hard, often dangerous work that our diplomats on the front lines do. Theirs is service which earns our country an enormous return on our investment. I will be proud and honored to represent them and I will work hard to augment our public diplomacy so that the story is told at home and abroad.”

Secretary-designate John Kerry in his opening statement at his nomination hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

———-

“We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends — and we must carry those lessons into this time as well. We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully — not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.”

President Barack Obama in his Inaugural Address

———-

“We simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worst weapons of the 20th century. And that’s why, over the past four years, we’ve continued to make critical investments in our threat reduction programs -— not just at DOD, but at Energy and at State. In fact, we’ve been increasing funding, and sustaining it. And even as we make some very tough fiscal choices, we’re going to keep investing in these programs —- because our national security depends on it.”

President Barack Obama

———-

“We have made our views very clear: This is a red line for the United States. I’m not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people. But suffice it to say, we are certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur. We once again issue a very strong warning to the Assad regime that their behavior is reprehensible; their actions against their own people have been tragic. But there is no doubt that there’s a line between even the horrors that they’ve already inflicted on the Syrian people and moving to what would be an internationally condemned step of utilizing their chemical weapons.”

President Barack Obama, responding to Syria’s readiness to use chemical weapons on its people

———-

“Let’s understand what the precipitating event here that’s causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there’s no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders…So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.”

President Barack Obama, responding to missile attacks on Israel (November 18, 2012)

———-

“Look, we have made progress in Afghanistan because there are men and women in uniform who have been willing to fight and die for Afghanistan’s sovereignty…Those lives were lost fighting the right enemy not the wrong enemy, and I think it would be helpful if…president [Karzai], every once in a while, expressed his thanks for the sacrifices that have been made by those who have fought and died for Afghanistan, rather than criticizing them.”

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, in response to President Karzai’s criticism of the U.S. “not doing enough” in Pakistan (October 6, 2012)

———-

“President Reagan was once criticized and accused of having no foreign policy. He replied that it wasn’t that he had no foreign policy it was that he didn’t care to share his potential responses to every hypothetical situation that might arise. In other words, foreign policy is an ever shifting landscape and a certain strategic ambiguity is wise.  Announcing to the world, as this resolution does, that containment will never be our policy is unwise and a recipe for perpetual war. A country that vows to never contain an enemy is a country that vows always to pre-emptively strike…I hope every Senator will think long and hard about this reality before committing this nation down a path to war.”

Senator Rand Paul, in a letter to the Senate opposing S.J. Res. 41  (September 20, 2012)

———-

“The fact is, look, presidents of the United States, prime ministers of Israel or any other country — leaders of these countries don’t have, you know, a bunch of little red lines that determine their decisions…What [leaders] have are facts that are presented to them about what a country is up to, and then they weigh what kind of action is needed to be taken in order to deal with that situation…I mean, that’s the real world. Red lines are kind of political arguments that are used to try to put people in a corner.”

Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, in an interview with Foreign Policy (September 19, 2012)

———-

“We will not engage in an endless process of negotiations that fail to produce any results. We must therefore remain clear and united in seeking resolution of the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Time is wasting.”

Ambassador Susan Rice, in an United Nations Security Council Meeting on nuclear sanctions against Iran (September 20,2012)

———-

“Yes, we have to focus our force protection to the Pacific and the Middle East. Yes, we have to develop a new presence in dealing with the rest of the world that is innovative. But at the same time we’re going to have to invest in the future. What is it that we have to invest in that will make us agile, that will make us flexible, that will make us capable of dealing with the myriad of threats that we’re going to face as a nation. I think we did that in the defense strategy. I think that we at least got the right elements. It’s a work in progress, but I think we have set a foundation for what the defense of this country needs to look like as we confront these challenges that I’ve just described.”

Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense in an interview with Foreign Policy (September 17,2012)

———-

“I realize that there are a lot of other things going on around this country that can draw our attention, from the Olympics, to political campaigns to droughts, to some of the tragedies we’ve seen in communities around the country…I thought it was important to remind the American people that there is a war going on.”

Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense in a press briefing (August 14, 2012)

———-

“It is a racist statement and this man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation…It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people”

Senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, in response to Governor Romney’s comments at a fundraiser in Jerusalem

———-

“And the United States, the only thing the world hates more than unilateral American leadership is an absence of American leadership, because the international system is a system. It has certain rules, power relationships, and people respond to those. If the United States is not setting that agenda, then, someone else will, and that might be a country that doesn’t believe in free markets and free peoples.

Condoleezza Rice on Fox News (June 26, 2012)

———-

“With respect to missile defense, the discussion was — again, it was important for President Putin to hear our set of arguments about what we’re seeking to do and what we’re not seeking to do with respect to missile defense.  And from the Russian point of view, it was important for them to be able to articulate why this is a — we have to think strategically and long term, and not just about the — what we do in the coming weeks or months.  And we agreed we can do this.  This is an issue that we can manage.  That was the impression I came out of the meeting with.

US Ambassador to Russia McFaul. White House Press Briefing (June 18, 2012)

———-

The “Palestinians understand that not everything which was happening in the Arab Spring is necessarily bringing them time, because one of the important thing about the Arab Spring is the Arab youngsters understand that their situation is not a result of the conflict between us and the Palestinians. They know that reform begins at home. What’s happening in Syria has nothing to do with Israel. What happened in Tunisia has nothing to do with Israel, or Libya. And I think we should let the Arabs reform their lives and stop using the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as an excuse.”

Shimon Peres, President of Israel. Joint Discussion with Hilary Clinton, June 12, 2012

———-

“The political process—which is so crucial to the success of any transition, which is the purpose of the Annan plan—is thwarted by the ongoing, escalating, expanding violence perpetrated by the government and the reality that the opposition cannot possibly be expected to come to the table while the violence is intensifying, escalating, and the government is lying about it.”

– Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations. Security Council Stakeout on May 30, 2012

———-

“And yet we still face significant challenges and risks:   we continue to face the threat of violent extremism, those who continue to threaten attacks on our homeland;  we’re still at war; we confront proliferation of weapons of mass destruction;  the destabilizing behavior of Iran and North Korea;  military modernization across the Asia-Pacific;  turmoil in the Middle East;  piracy on the high seas;  and increasing and creative attacks, cyberattacks, here in our country and elsewhere.   All of this coming at a time of increasing budget challenges here at home.”

Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense at US Naval Academy Commencement (May 29, 2012)

———-

“The world needs to know that we still have a fight on our hands. We’re still dealing with the Taliban. Although they’ve been weakened, they are resilient. They’ll continue to conduct attacks. We’ll continue to see IED attacks taking place. We have the concern about the safe haven in Pakistan, the fact that they can seek refuge in that safe haven, that’s a concern. And we have continuing concerns about the level of corruption in Afghan society. All of those things are continuing challenges. The United States is not going to be there forever. We shouldn’t be there forever. Neither should ISAF be there forever. But what we should do is be able to do everything possible to ensure that the Afghan country has the sovereignty to secure and govern itself. That’s going to be the key to success in the future, and that’s what we’re putting in place today.”

– Leon Panetta on Afghanistan, May 27, 2012

———-

“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms yesterday’s massacre in the Syrian village of Haoula. United Nations observers have confirmed that dozens of men, women, and children were killed and hundreds more wounded in a vicious assault that involved a regime artillery and tank barrage on a residential neighborhood. Those who perpetrated this atrocity must be identified and held to account. And the United States will work with the international community to intensify our pressure on Assad and his cronies, whose rule by murder and fear must come to an end.

We stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and the peaceful marchers in cities across Syria who have taken to the streets to denounce the massacre in Haoula.”

———-

– Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on the Haoula Massacre, May 26 2012

“They don’t have to exercise it, but I’m not so sure that they want the authority removed to arrest or to capture, because we’re talking about war here — somebody who’s declared war against the United States, just because we capture them on U.S. soil…We can hold them on U.S. soil, but I don’t think we want to eliminate the authority of the Executive Branch to hold someone who’s declared war on the United States as an enemy combatant”

———-

Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on the NDAA (May 16, 2012)

“Let me say that we at the Defense Department have gone through an effort to develop a defense strategy not only for now but into the future as well.  It emphasizes the strategically vital arc that extends from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean region and South Asia on to the Middle East.  By not acceding, we potentially undercut our credibility in a number of Asia-focused multilateral venues that involve that arc I just defined – we’re pushing, for example, for a rules-based order in the region and the peaceful resolution of maritime and territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the Strait of Hormuz and elsewhere.”

———-

– Leon Panetta on Law of the Sea Convention, May 23, 2012

“In my judgment, NATO is – and I think this is a shared judgment – a fundamental element of our national security, and its organization demands critical analysis in order to meet the evolving threats of our national security.

The signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement by President Obama last week signaled the gradual transition from a war-fighting posture to a supportive role.  And NATO’s commitment to the people of Libya in the past year has shown that the Alliance – properly leveraged – is still a very highly responsive, capable, and legitimate tool when it really matters.”

Senator John Kerry  on the importance of NATO, May 10, 2012

———-

“But, I will say, definitively– that in the end our gains are going to mean nothing if we lose sight of three major challenges that remain.

One, is the continued challenge of governance – the challenge of corruption – within the government process in the delivery of services – that is paramount.
Two, is the question of the continued danger of a sanctuary war being prosecuted against the forces there.  I am a veteran of a sanctuary war and I know how insidious it can be, and I personally think that it is unacceptable to have a zone of immunity for acts of war against armed forces and against the collective community that is trying accomplish what it is trying to accomplish.  That means Pakistan has to become more assertive and more cooperative, and we may have to resort to other kinds of self-help depending on what they decide to do.
The final point that I think everything hangs on – and again – I underscored this as powerfully as I could in having been involved in sort of trying to dig our way out of the problems of 2009’s election.  We must prepare now for the election process – not later – but now.  It is imperative that the Afghan government – through an independent election commission – put out the rules of the road for that election.  The lists have to be prepared, the registration has to take place, there has to be openness, transparency, accountability – free and fair elections are mandatory to any chance to go forward after 2014 with any possibility of success.”

– Senator John Kerry on Afghanistan and NATO, May 10 2012

———-

“I do think that we need to do a better job of beginning to prepare our allies in the world for the reality that, at the end of the day, if negotiations and sanctions don’t work, there will be a need for military action, because what we cannot tolerate, and I think the world would agree, what we cannot tolerate is a nuclear Iran.”

Senator Marco Rubio in an interview on Fox

———-

“Look, I think it’s fair to say when it comes to Russia, based on only what we know he’s said so far, Governor Romney is mired in a Cold War mindset.”

Vice President Joe Biden during a speech about foreign policy at NYU

———-

“Well, in this new century more than ever before, America should work with our capable allies in finding solutions to global problems, not because America’s gotten weaker, but because our partners have grown stronger.”

Senator Marco Rubio in an address at Brookings

———-

“Now, America has acted unilaterally in the past, and I believe it should continue to do so in the future when necessity requires, but our preferred option, since the U.S. became a global leader, has been to work with others to achieve our goals.”

Senator Marco Rubio in an address at Brookings

———-

“So, yes, global problems do require international coalitions and on that point, this Administration is correct, but effective international coalitions don’t form themselves; they need to be instigated and led, and more often than not, they can only be instigated and led by the United States.”

Senator Marco Rubio in an address at Brookings

———-

“And we have a host of willing partners in every region of the world who share our concerns and are relying on our leadership to compel Iran to abandon its ambitions. Now, preferably, we can succeed through coercive means short of military force. We should be open to negotiations with Iran, but always remember that they should not be deemed a success when they only lead to further negotiations… The goal of preventing a dominant Iran is so important that every regional policy we adopt should be crafted with that overriding goal in mind. The current situation in Syria is an example of such an approach. The fall of Assad would be a significant blow to Iran’s ambitions. On those grounds alone, we should be seeking to help the people of Syria bring him down.”

Senator Marco Rubio in an address at Brookings

———-

“Mitt Romney’s overheated commentary about Iran’s nuclear weapons program runs counter to the assessments of our military leaders and the intelligence community. The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is one of the most pressing national security issues facing our nation and our close ally Israel. The truth is, President Obama, with bipartisan support from Congress, is committed to preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capacity and he is using all of the tools of American power — political, economic, and military — to do so. Distorting the president’s position and needlessly dividing Americans on a critical national security question may score political points with some, but it doesn’t serve the national interest.”

Senator Jack Reed in a statement

———-

“You know, those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities. They’re not commander in chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war. I’m reminded that the decision that I have to make in terms of sending our young men and women into battle and the impact that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy. This is not a game. And there’s nothing casual about it. And, you know, when I see some of these folks who have a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk, but when you actually ask them specifically what they would do, it turns out they repeat the things that we’ve been doing over the last three years, it indicates to me that that’s more about politics than actually trying to solve a difficult problem.

President Obama during a news conference

———-

“If you look at the Security Council resolution that [Russia] vetoed, there were no arms going into Syria under it, no foreign intervention of any kind, no basis for foreign military action, not even sanctions. What we were trying to do is to have the international community behind the Arab League’s leadership, which was to negotiate that kind of handover that proved successful with Yemen. And that is something that the Russians wouldn’t go for, so we, of course, would invite, welcome, encourage Russian and Chinese intervention that could lead to the end of the bloodshed.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview

———-

“It’s quite distressing to see two permanent members of the Security Council using their veto while people are being murdered — women, children, brave young men — houses are being destroyed. It is just despicable and I ask whose side are they on? They are clearly not on the side of the Syrian people.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a Friends of Syria conference

———-

“It is time to stop the killing of Syrian citizens by their own government. It is absolutely imperative for the international community to rally and send a clear message to President Assad that it is time for a transition. It is time for that regime to move on.”

President Obama on the situation in Syria

———-

“The transition to Afghan lead will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so that it is never again a source of attacks against America.”

President Obama, State of the Union 2012 Address

———-

“From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease; from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies; to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back.”

President Obama, State of the Union 2012 Address

———-

“Yes, the world is changing; no, we can’t control every event. But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs – and as long as I’m President, I intend to keep it that way.”

President Obama, State of the Union 2012 Address

———-

“But this moment represents more than an accomplishment for the President. It marks a monumental change of focus for our military and a fundamental shift in the way that the our nation will engage in the world.”

Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications

———-

“We now stand at a crossroads in our history — a pivot point from which our relations with friends and foes could be transformed for the better, or events could spiral out of our control and plunge the nation into a period of fractious relations, intensified anti-Americanism, and a prolonged period during which our very way of life could be threatened. The stakes are as high as they come for this question and the next.”

Michele Flournoy

———-

“We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

Barack Obama

———-

“After America’s withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan and the constraint to our strategic reach produced by the revolution in Egypt, a new definition of American leadership and America’s national interest is inescapable. A sustainable regional settlement in Afghanistan would be a worthy start.”

Henry Kissinger

———-

“If current trends in the decline of European defence capabilities are not halted and reversed, future US political leaders — those for whom the cold war was not the formative experience that it was for me — may not consider the return on America’s investment in NATO worth the cost.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates

———-

“The climate crisis, in reality, is a struggle for the soul of America. It is about whether or not we are still capable — given the ill health of our democracy and the current dominance of wealth over reason — of perceiving important and complex realities clearly enough to promote and protect the sustainable well-being of the many. What hangs in the balance is the future of civilization as we know it.”

Al Gore

———-

“We spend $10 billion a month on our war in Afghanistan while we lay off teachers and firemen, deny food stamps to the poor and turn our eyes away from 30 million countrymen who cannot afford health care. Is that faithful to the constitutional imperative to promote the general welfare? But we’re broke, the answer goes; we can’t do anything until we bring the federal debt under control. Sorry, but yes we can; we can so walk and chew gum at the same time. One place to start is with serious cuts in our defense spending.”

Dick Virden

———-

“One of the things that I’ve tried to do over these last four years and will continue to do over the next four years is to make sure that we are promoting the integrity of our scientific process; that not just in the physical and life sciences, but also in fields like psychology and anthropology and economics and political science — all of which are sciences because scholars develop and test hypotheses and subject them to peer review — but in all the sciences, we’ve got to make sure that we are supporting the idea that they’re not subject to politics, that they’re not skewed by an agenda, that, as I said before, we make sure that we go where the evidence leads us.  And that’s why we’ve got to keep investing in these sciences … And I’m absolutely convinced that if this Academy and the successors who become members of this Academy are there at the center and the heart of our public debate, that we’ll be able to continue to use the innovation that powers our economy and improves our health, protects our environment and security, that makes us the envy of the world. “

-President Barack Obama’s remarks to the National Academy of Sciences

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