WASHINGTON—U.S Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Wednesday joined the Center for American Progress to make the case that there is no corner of the globe that has been made safer after nearly three years of the Trump administration’s foreign policy. In his speech, Murphy stepped back from the headline-grabbing crises in Syria and Ukraine to survey the damage Trump’s foreign policy has had on the world. CAP’s President, Neera Tanden, introduced the Senator. He then had a moderated conversation with Kelly Magsamen, CAP’s vice president for National Security and International Policy.
Excerpts of Murphy’s Q&A with Magsamen are below:
On Trump Putting Personal Politics Above National Interests & Bill Taylor’s Testimony:
MURPHY: “What I think is interesting is that the public support for impeachment moved pretty quickly as soon as folks got the opportunity to see this transcript of the phone call with President Zelensky…I think [Americans] recognize fundamental corruption when they see it. And when they saw this clear evidence of the president trying to trade away American national security interests in order for political help, you saw a 20 point immediate jump in the number of people who thought that the House had to move forward on removal. Frankly, a new Quinnipiac poll this morning shows those numbers continuing to move upwards.
“…The one thing a president cannot do is use America's national security as leverage to try to destroy his political opponents, the one thing you can't do is deliberately make our country less safe in order to get reelected…And I think that's why it's probably important that the House keep its inquiry focused on the story of corruption in Ukraine, because it is the simplest encapsulation for Americans as to how the president has put himself and his personal interests above the interests of the country…[A]s you have more and more testimony from people like Bill Taylor, it's just going to cement that view amongst folks who are even paying a modicum of attention to all of this.”
On Rebalancing Our Defensive Diplomacy Budget:
MURPHY: “We're delivering budget increases to the Department of Defense in the neighborhood of $50 to $70 to $80 billion a year. That represents the entirety of the non-defense, non-Intel foreign affairs budget. My long form piece on proposing increases to the non-military foreign affairs budget recommends doubling it over five years. That represents a one year increase to the Department of Defense. I just think there's so many places in the world in which our military is doing credible and laudable service, but you can make a clear argument that money spent a different way would be more impactful.
“Take the western edge of Russia as an example. We don't blink every budget year in reauthorizing $4 billion in funding for what's called the European Reassurance Initiative. $4 billion is a lot of money and it puts a lot of troops and a lot of equipment into Eastern Europe. And that's important. We probably do need to send a signal to Russia that NATO is strengthening; if he thinks about trying to mess with anybody who's in the Alliance there's going to be a price to be paid. But just query for a moment: if you took that $4 billion and you spent all of it on helping make countries in Russia's periphery energy independent and help them with renewable energy projects, connections away from Russia, or if you spent that money on building up real anti-propaganda capabilities. I mean $4 billion could rebuild the entirety of America's anti-propaganda efforts that are languishing right now.
“Just ask yourself whether Putin would feel more annoyed at not being able to sell his oil and gas to anybody on his periphery, or having actual counter propaganda work done by folks on his edges, rather than what exists today, which is just him sort of looking out and seeing an additional brigade in a NATO country that he frankly was not likely to march his army into to begin with. There’s just a better way to spend the money that we're spending today.”
On Human Rights in the Context of Foreign Policy:
MURPHY: “I just don't buy this dichotomy in which we put interests over here and values over here. I think when we're talking about the importance of human rights and democracy abroad, there is certainly an element of it which involves an altruistic belief that everybody should have access to self-determination and people shouldn't be killed or in prison for their political beliefs. It's okay to just do the right thing, but we also care about human rights and democracy promotion, because it's really important to U.S. national security interests for a number of reasons.”
“We weaken ourselves globally when we don't live these values abroad. China is developing the technological tools of repression that ultimately could be adopted by an American president or an American regime, if we don't put up a fight. The kind of exclusion and detainment and murder of people who practice different religions, or who have different skin colors or speak different languages, you're seeing the grass shoots of that in America today too.
“I think there's a creep that happens into the United States of democracy erosion and human rights abuse if we don't fight it in other places. I also think it weakens our ability to have influence in the world if people don’t see us pushing these things that we say matter to us outside of the United States.”
On the Foreign Policy-Domestic Priority Conflation:
MURPHY: “If you care about protecting democracy at home, then you do have to have some strategy to stop or abate the tools of repression and surveillance that are being developed around the world. If you care about the detention of kids on the border, then you should probably object to it when it happens other places as well. If you care about climate change, you can't solve that problem without not just rejoining the Paris accord, but actually engaging in you know, massive diplomatic efforts to get other nations to do more. If you care about the fairness of the economy here at home, then you can't ignore the fact that the economy is global.”