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Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

The United States has four coasts subject to the perils presented by climate change: the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Arctic. As a nation with land above the Arctic Circle, we belong to the Arctic Council.

When she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton participated regularly in Arctic Council summits hosted by a variety of the eight member nations. This was one. I have bolded the list of member states.

Lisa Murkowski  was nice enough to post this picture on her Facebook page along with this comment about an hour ago.

Lisa Murkowski

Heading home from the Arctic Council in Nuuk, Greenland. But wanted to share a picture: with the Ministers of the eight Arctic nations in attendance, as well as Secretary Clinton and Secretary Salazar.

Here is a fact sheet released by the State Department about the Arctic Council meeting results.

Secretary Clinton Signs the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement with Other Arctic Nations

Fact Sheet

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 12, 2011

On May 12, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined representatives of the other seven Member States of the Arctic Council (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, and Sweden) in signing an Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) in the Arctic (Agreement). The Agreement is the first legally-binding instrument negotiated under the auspices of the Arctic Council. It coordinates life-saving international maritime and aeronautical SAR coverage and response among the Arctic States across an area of about 13 million square miles in the Arctic.

As Arctic sea ice coverage decreases, ship-borne activities are increasing significantly in the Arctic. Flight traffic is also on the rise as new polar aviation routes cross the Arctic air space in several directions. As human presence and activities in the Arctic expand, the potential for accidents increases as well. Limited rescue resources, challenging weather conditions, and the remoteness of the area render SAR operations difficult in the Arctic, making coordination among the Arctic nations imperative. The SAR Agreement will improve search and rescue response in the Arctic by committing all Parties to coordinate appropriate assistance to those in distress and to cooperate with each other in undertaking SAR operations. For each Party, the Agreement defines an area of the Arctic in which it will have lead responsibility in organizing responses to SAR incidents, both large and small. Parties to the Agreement commit to provide SAR assistance regardless of the nationality or status of persons who may need it.

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It is immediately apparent why there is a need for this council. Russia is a player.

After Hillary left the State Department, she launched a series of  speaking engagements. One of these was in Canada.

Speaking to the Montreal Board of Trade last night, Hillary Clinton warned the audience of increased Russian activity in the Arctic and hung responsibility for another Cold War on Vladimir Putin’s doorknob.

As Secretary of State,  Hillary was an active participant in the Arctic Council and repeatedly echoed the message that we are an Arctic nation.  The concerns she voiced in Canada are as much an issue for the U.S. as they are for Canada.

Along with the disquiet she expressed regarding Russia’s activities in the north came further comments about recent activities in Europe.

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In light of the above, this is of some concern or should be to all the member nations including ours.

Russian servicemen of the Northern Fleet’s Arctic mechanised infantry brigade participate in a military drill on riding reindeer and dog sleds near the settlement of Lovozero outside Murmansk, Russia January 23, 2017. Picture taken January 23, 2017. Lev Fedoseyev/Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Handout via REUTERS
By Andrew Osborn | MURMANSK, Russia

The nuclear icebreaker Lenin, the pride and joy of the Soviet Union’s Arctic great game, lies at perpetual anchor in the frigid water here. A relic of the Cold War, it is now a museum.

But nearly three decades after the Lenin was taken out of service to be turned into a visitor attraction, Russia is again on the march in the Arctic and building new nuclear icebreakers.

It is part of a push to firm Moscow’s hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the United States, and Norway as well as newcomer China.

SNIP

Grigory Stratiy, deputy governor of the Murmansk Region, told Reuters there was strong interest in sea route from Asian nations however and that new icebreakers would allow for year-round navigation in the 2020s.

“Whatever the weather, the Northern Sea Route will be needed. Its use will definitely grow,” said Stratiy, who said Russia was keen to attract foreign investment to the Arctic.

When asked about his country’s military build-up, he smiled.

“There’s no reason to be afraid I can reassure you,” he said, saying it was driven only by a need to modernize.

“Russia has never had any aggressive aims and won’t have them. We are very friendly people.”

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Anyone thinking that Putin is playing nice friendly reindeer games up there is, of course, deluded despite the “peaceful and cooperative nature of the Arctic Region” as stated on the State Department page.  We should never trust Putin, as Hillary warned, especially when his military is involved. So this military build up is one thing to watch.

It’s nice to have ice breakers available when you need them, and the Russians were very helpful the time the whales were trapped under the ice as portrayed in that Drew Barrymore movie. Those missile installations, though. No wonder we sent troops to Norway.

The North Sea Route concept, characterized in the article as a mini Suez Canal, is an obvious business venture, but of course the real target is oil. Drilling in the Arctic is an enterprise popular with Republicans.

Lastly, how the hell did “newcomer China” get into this competition? It has no land above the Arctic Circle. Or does it?  Is it building synthetic islands up there, too?

The new administration has a dangerously narrow view of China’s adversarial scope. It goes beyond trans-Pacific trade and artificial islands to expand its continental limit in the South China Sea and East China Sea. China has invested in significant “development” enterprises in Africa centered largely on resource extraction with tandem infrastructure upgrades benefiting their ability to move products for shipment and not benefiting local residents or their farms or businesses in any way. I don’t think I have ever heard Donald Trump say the word “Africa.”  At the very least, China’s presence in the Arctic deserves a question.

As for Russia, and its military push, we always do well to heed the warnings of Hillary Clinton.

 

 

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Hillary, contrary to popular Trumpesque memes, has neither been hiding/sleeping nor spending every waking minute of every day prepping to face her opponent tonight.  Sunday, Hillary dropped in on, “Apple Seeds,”  a kids’ center in the NYC Flatiron district, paid a visit to Chelsea and family, and met with Netanyahu who is in town for UNGA.

Campaign 2016 Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves as she arrives for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Campaign 2016 Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves as she arrives for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

09-25-16-y-0209-25-16-y-01

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Today, some pundits on the Sunday morning circuits were saying that, in the debate tomorrow, Hillary should concentrate on her policies and ignore Trump’s temperament and policies – such as they are.  That’s like trying to pry Lincoln off a penny.

One thing Hillary has to do is make clear the contrast between her proposed policies and Trump’s sketchy plans.  Trump tends to introduce his agenda explosively. His unstable temperament is part and parcel of his proposals. It shapes and conveys all at once. The ideas burst forth in spurts and tweets, long on angry force and short on details.

If Hillary’s campaign is any indication of how she intends to go at Trump, she will not be ignoring his shady side, and why should she? There is a lot of blank space in Trump’s plans. Here is the campaign’s latest volley.

New HFA Ad On Trump’s Failure to Release Tax Returns, Hiding His Russian Business Dealings

Hillary for America is airing a new television ad which links Donald Trump’s unprecedented refusal to release his tax returns to the growing concerns about his financial conflicts of interests especially with Russia. Trump has failed to disclose the most basic information expected from presidential candidates and the latest revelations about his connections to Russia make it all the more pressing that he disclose the extent of his financial network and how he will divest from it.

HFA Russian Dealings Ad

The ad highlights new revelations this week that Trump’s financial ties to Russia are far more extensive than previously understood. Trump has apparently profited from “hundreds of millions of dollars” invested by Russian business interests which could impact his national security decisions as president. ABC News reported this week that Trump profited from hundreds of millions of dollars in Russian business deals, potentially giving motive to his Pro-Kremlin policies. In addition, Yahoo News discovered that one of Trump’s foreign policy advisors is being investigated by U.S. intelligence officials for ties to the Kremlin. Sure enough, a recent op-ed by the Chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush and the chief White House ethics lawyer for President Obama argued that “A Trump presidency would be ethically compromised” because of conflicts of interests like these.

The details of his conflicts remain a mystery. While every major party nominee in the last 40 years has released their tax returns, Trump has refused. Recently, Donald Trump, Jr., admitted the real reason Trump won’t release his tax returns is because it would “distract” from his message. Recently, GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said Trump should release his tax returns as did GOP Chairman of the Government Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz. In comparison, Hillary Clinton released her 2015 personal tax return – meaning all returns have been public back to 1977 – and Senator Tim Kaine and his wife Anne Holton released 10 years of their returns.

Here is a somewhat longer and more specific version.

The implications for foreign policy under a Trump administration are beyond disturbing.  In polar opposition to his slogans, Trump’s hidden deals threaten to put America last and diminish the United States as a world power.  Trump’s supporters may be in the mood for a strongman, but history teaches us that strongmen rarely give much of a damn for the populace except to the degree the people serve their purposes, and it is difficult to be a strongman when you are beholden to foreign powers and money.

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Hillary for America Statement on Bombshell Report About Trump Aide’s Chilling Ties To Kremlin

Friday, HFA senior national spokesperson Glen Caplin released the following statement in response to the new bombshell report that Trump’s foreign policy adviser is being probed for suspected meetings with senior Russian officials:

“It’s chilling to learn that U.S. intelligence officials are conducting a probe into suspected meetings between Trump’s foreign policy adviser Carter Page and members of Putin’s inner circle while in Moscow. You have to ask why he would meet with Igor Diveykin, who is believed by U.S. officials ‘to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election.’ This comes as Russian hackers continue their attempts to influence the outcome of our elections, something Trump openly invited. This is serious business and voters deserve the facts before election day.

“Just one day after we learned about Trump’s hundreds of millions of dollars in undisclosed Russian business interests, this report suggests Page met with a sanctioned top Russian official to discuss the possibility of ending U.S. sanctions against Russia under a Trump presidency – an action that could directly enrich both Trump and Page while undermining American interests. This is precisely what more than fifty national security experts warned against when they called on Trump to disclose and divest his conflict-laden foreign assets that could endanger our national security.

“We’ve never seen anything like this in American politics. Every day seems to cast new doubts on what’s truly driving Donald Trump’s decision-making: the interests of the American people or his own bottom line. He needs to immediately disclose the full extent of his business relationships and foreign assets so the voters can make that determination for themselves.”

Full story is below. 

U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin

Yahoo News

By Michael Isikoff

September 23, 2016

U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials — including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.

The activities of Trump adviser Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. After one of those briefings, Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Director James Comey, citing reports of meetings between a Trump adviser (a reference to Page) and “high ranking sanctioned individuals” in Moscow over the summer as evidence of “significant and disturbing ties” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin that needed to be investigated by the bureau.

Some of those briefed were “taken aback” when they learned about Page’s contacts in Moscow, viewing them as a possible back channel to the Russians that could undercut U.S. foreign policy, said a congressional source familiar with the briefings but who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. The source added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser’s talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being “actively monitored and investigated.”

A senior U.S. law enforcement official did not dispute that characterization when asked for comment by Yahoo News. “It’s on our radar screen,” said the official about Page’s contacts with Russian officials. “It’s being looked at.”

Page is a former Merrill Lynch investment banker in Moscow who now runs a New York consulting firm, Global Energy Capital, located around the corner from Trump Tower, that specializes in oil and gas deals in Russia and other Central Asian countries. He declined repeated requests to comment for this story.

Trump first mentioned Page’s name when asked to identify his “foreign policy team” during an interview with the Washington Post editorial team last March. Describing him then only as a “PhD,” Trump named Page as among five advisers “that we are dealing with.” But his precise role in the campaign remains unclear; Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks last month called him an “informal foreign adviser” who “does not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign.” Asked this week by Yahoo News, Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said Page “has no role” and added: “We are not aware of any of his activities, past or present.” Miller did not respond when asked why Trump had previously described Page as one of his advisers.

The questions about Page come amid mounting concerns within the U.S. intelligence community about Russian cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and state election databases in Arizona and Illinois. In a rare public talk this week, former undersecretary of defense for intelligence Mike Vickers said that the Russian cyberattacks constituted meddling in the U.S. election and were “beyond the pale.” Also, this week, two senior Democrats — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking minority member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee — released a joint statement that went further then what U.S. officials had publicly said about the matter.

“Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,” they said. “At the least, this effort is intended to sow doubt about the security of our election and may well be intended to influence the outcomes of the election.” They added that “orders for the Russian intelligence agencies to conduct such actions could come only from very senior levels of the Russian government.”

Page came to the attention of officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow several years ago when he showed up in the Russian capital during several business trips and made provocative public comments critical of U.S. policy and sympathetic to Putin. “He was pretty much a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did,” said one U.S. official who served in Russia at the time.

He hasn’t been shy about expressing those views in the U.S. as well. Last March, shorty after he was named by Trump as one of his advisers, Page told Bloomberg News he had been an adviser to, and investor in, Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas company. He then blamed Obama administration sanctions — imposed as a response to the Russian annexation of Crimea — for driving down the company’s stock. “So many people who I know and have worked with have been so adversely affected by the sanctions policy,” Page said in the interview. “There’s a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities for creating a better situation.”

Page showed up again in Moscow in early July, just two weeks before the Republican National Convention formally nominated Trump for president, and once again criticized U.S. policy. Speaking at a commencement address for the New Economic School, an institution funded in part by major Russian oligarchs close to Putin, Page asserted that “Washington and other West capitals” had impeded progress in Russia “through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.”

At the time, Page declined to say whether he was meeting with Russian officials during his trip, according to a Reuters report.

But U.S. officials have since received intelligence reports that during that same three-day trip, Page met with Igor Sechin, a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy prime minister who is now the executive chairman of Rosneft, Russian’s leading oil company, a well-placed Western intelligence source tells Yahoo News. That meeting, if confirmed, is viewed as especially problematic by U.S. officials because the Treasury Department in August 2014 named Sechin to a list of Russian officials and businessmen sanctioned over Russia’s “illegitimate and unlawful actions in the Ukraine.” (The Treasury announcement described Sechin as “utterly loyal to Vladimir Putin — a key component to his current standing.” At their alleged meeting, Sechin raised the issue of the lifting of sanctions with Page,” the Western intelligence source said.

U.S. intelligence agencies have also received reports that Page met with another top Putin aide while in Moscow — Igor Diveykin. A former Russian security official, Diveykin now serves as deputy chief for internal policy and is believed by U.S. officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election, the Western intelligence source said.

Statements-Fact-sheets

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In an afternoon reminiscent of her days as secretary of state, Hillary spent her afternoon in New York meeting with foreign dignitaries in town for the U.N. General Assembly.

Campaign 2016 Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shakes hands with with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in New York, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Abe, Clinton affirm importance of U.S.-Japan alliance

U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands in New York on Sept. 19, 2016. They affirmed the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance for stability in Asia. (Kyodo via AP Images) ==Kyodo

Campaign 2016 Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, right, in New York, Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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Hillary will be back on the trail today, but while she was taking sick time at home she was keeping busy.  Like the rest of us, she spent some time reading Kurt Eichenwald’s article in Newsweek.

How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security

Not only did Hillary read this article, she also set to work responding to it using Trump’s medium of choice: Twitter.

20 questions Donald Trump needs to answer about his business—and the national security risk it poses

Donald Trump: Can you answer Hillary’s tweets?

See Hillary’s tweets here >>>>

Looks like Hillary took advantage of the article to do some debate prep!

Here is another reaction to the article from Hillary’s website.

5 disturbing ways Donald Trump’s business dealings would jeopardize U.S. national security

“Never before has an American candidate for president had so many financial ties with American allies and enemies.”

This all demonstrates a quality of Hillary’s that we admire and love.  She is assiduous. She perseveres.  She persists.  She is relentless.  It is awesome to behold! You give her a piece of information like Eichenwald’s exhaustively researched, dense article, and she does not simply digest it, as many of us did yesterday, she employs it.  She manipulates the material. She turns it into a tool, reorganizes the information, and reworks it into something of her own – a most effective study technique.  She might have been sick at home, but she sure used her time efficiently to sharpen up her debate darts. Way to go, Hillary!

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There is no dearth of kennel imagery at the Republican National Convention.  There are plenty of “dog-whistle” remarks. Last night, in the post mortem of Ted Cruz’s speech, a commentator said, “Its not like he killed a puppy!” Cruz himself, in refusing to endorse Trump,  has said he will not be a ‘servile puppy dog.’

safe_image.fluffy-puppies

If you have the general impression that the Grand Old Party is going to the dogs, however, you need look no further than the nominee himself whose running mate told the convention last night that we do not abandon our friends just before the candidate himself told the New York Times, well … not exactly.

In an interview with David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman, Trump said he might, as president, not honor NATO commitments if nations have not ‘fulfilled their obligations to us.’  Foreign policy experts and even members of his own party are reeling.

Jeffrey Goldberg, in The Atlantic, takes the issue one step beyond, likening Trump to Vladimir Putin.

It’s Official: Hillary Clinton Is Running Against Vladimir Putin

Fulfilling what might be the Russian autocrat’s dearest wish, Trump has openly questioned whether the U.S. should keep its commitments to NATO.

Jeffrey Goldberg

The Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, has chosen this week to unmask himself as a de facto agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a KGB-trained dictator who seeks to rebuild the Soviet empire by undermining the free nations of Europe, marginalizing NATO, and ending America’s reign as the world’s sole superpower.

I am not suggesting that Donald Trump is employed by Putin—though his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was for many years on the payroll of the Putin-backed former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. I am arguing that Trump’s understanding of America’s role in the world aligns with Russia’s geostrategic interests; that his critique of American democracy is in accord with the Kremlin’s critique of American democracy; and that he shares numerous ideological and dispositional proclivities with Putin—for one thing, an obsession with the sort of “strength” often associated with dictators. Trump is making it clear that, as president, he would allow Russia to advance its hegemonic interests across Europe and the Middle East. His election would immediately trigger a wave of global instability—much worse than anything we are seeing today—because America’s allies understand that Trump would likely dismantle the post-World War II U.S.-created international order. Many of these countries, feeling abandoned, would likely pursue nuclear weapons programs on their own, leading to a nightmare of proliferation.

Trump’s sympathy for Putin has not been a secret. Trump said he would “get along very well” with Putin, and he has pleased Putin by expressing a comprehensive lack of interest in the future of Ukraine, the domination of which is a core Putinist principle. The Trump movement also agrees with Putin that U.S. democracy is fatally flawed. A Trump adviser, Carter Page, recently denounced—to a Moscow audience—America’s “often-hypocritical focus on democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.” Earlier this week, Trump’s operatives watered down the Republican Party’s national-security platform position on Ukraine, removing a promise to help the Ukrainians receive lethal aid in their battle to remain free of Russian control.

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When your only character witnesses are your own kids and the rest of the support speeches at the convention must rely on demonizing your opponent rather than advancing your image, you have a problem.  When foreign policy experts align you with our arch adversary, one for whom you have expressed a certain admiration, it should render you radioactive.

It is high time for the media to start holding a magnifying glass over Donald Trump.  There has been a lot of screaming about Hillary: three emails with little embedded (c)s and a server that was more secure that the government servers, persistent lies about what she did and said during and after the attacks in Benghazi.

When Donald Trump entertains the notion of compromising NATO, the golden fleece of the 20th century, an alliance that kept the world safe in the wake of two  world wars, he endangers national security.  When he says something is going on and we need to find out what, he is correct.  Something is going on … with him.  We may not know what, exactly, but it is very clear that he is in no way qualified or predisposed to lead the free world.

It should not be difficult to figure out what to do.

We put Hillary Clinton’s resume side by side with Donald Trump’s. The contrast couldn’t be starker.

1997: Trump ponders Miss Universe swimsuit sizes. Hillary gets health insurance for 8 million kids.

Statement From Jake Sullivan On Trump’s NATO Comments

HFA Senior Policy Adviser Jake Sullivan released the following statement on Donald Trump’s latest comments about NATO and his view of America’s role in the world:

“Tonight, Mike Pence said Donald Trump would stand with our allies. Tonight, Donald Trump flatly contradicted him.

For decades, the United States has given an ironclad guarantee to our NATO allies: we will come to their defense if they are attacked, just as they came to our defense after 9/11. Donald Trump was asked if he would honor that guarantee. He said… maybe, maybe not.

Ronald Reagan would be ashamed. Harry Truman would be ashamed. Republicans, Democrats and Independents who help build NATO into the most successful military alliance in history would all come to the same conclusion: Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit and fundamentally ill-prepared to be our Commander in Chief.

The President is supposed to be the leader of the free world. Donald Trump apparently doesn’t even believe in the free world.

Over the course of this campaign, Trump has displayed a bizarre and occasionally obsequious fascination with Russia’s strongman, Vladimir Putin. And he has the policy positions – and advisors – to match. Just this week, we learned that the Trump campaign went to great lengths to remove a plank from the GOP platform about aid to Ukraine that would have offended Putin, bucking a strongly held position within his own party. Previously, he celebrated the Brexit vote, and in turn, casually predicted the disintegration of Europe. And now, he won’t even commit to protecting our NATO allies against a Russian invasion. It is fair to assume that Vladimir Putin is rooting for a Trump presidency.

More broadly, Trump has apparently decided that America lacks the moral authority to advance our interests and values around the world. He has adopted the logic and positions of China, Russia, and Iran. And there will be plenty of time in the days ahead to address his strategy to strengthen our coalition against ISIS, which apparently can be summed up in one word, ‘meetings.’

The choice in this election is clear. Hillary Clinton will defend our allies. She will protect our people. And she will uphold a bipartisan tradition of American foreign policy that has made us the greatest force for peace, progress, and prosperity the world has ever known.”

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