Barack Obama: Foreign Policy Profile

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL)

Obama is the Junior Senator of Illinois. Raised in Hawaii and Indonesia, Obama is the son of a Kenyan goat herder and a white woman from Kansas. After going to Columbia University (International Relations) and Harvard Law School he became a civil rights lawyer and community organiser. He entered politics in 1997 by entering the Illinois Senate and in 2005 he became the 5th US Senator in history. He is a member of the Senate committees on Foreign Relations; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and Veterans' Affairs; and the Congressional Black Caucus. His meteoric rise to national celebrity status began after publishing two books Dreams from My Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006), and after he presented a widely acclaimed keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston calling for national unity.

Barack Obama

Click here for an article by Senator Obama on Foreign Policy.

'Renewing American Leadership' in Foreign Affairs, Jul/Aug 2007


Before the war in Iraq ever started, Senator Obama opposed the war (PDF) in its conception. In 2002, then Illinois State Senator Obama said Saddam Hussein posed no imminent threat to the United States and that invasion would lead to an occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. Since then, Senator Obama has laid out a plan on the way forward in Iraq that has largely been affirmed by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group led by James Baker and Lee Hamilton. In January, Senator Obama proposed the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007, which would stop the "surge" and redeploy U.S. troops to places like Afghanistan. He favors keeping the military in good equipment.


Senator Obama believes that China has a constructive role to play in the world and that the US should continue to work close with China on a host of issues, particularly on issues like North Korea within the framework of the 6 Party Talks.


The Senator supports operations in Afghanistan and would seek to bolster troops there from Iraq deployments. He has written about stepping up US efforts and presence in the region generally. (See NATO for more)


Senator Obama established strong links with the American Jewish community early on and is strongly supportive of Israel visiting there in January 2006. He reiterated US support for Israel on that visit, which coincided with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke.

The UN

The Senator supports UN Security Council reform, and hints that he would support the permanent memberships of the following countries: Brazil, India, Nigeria, and South Africa. He would also bolster the UN’s peacekeeping abilities and reform institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council.


The strengthening of the alliance is necessary in the context of the war on terror and collective security, and the Senator would seek to redress the imbalances between NATO mission and NATO capabilities by pressing allies to contribute more troops and more stabilization teams. Interestingly, he would also push for a security alliance in North East Asia.


The Senator helped create a strong Bill on keeping WMD secure, the Lugar-Obama Bill. America must not rush to produce a new generation of nuclear warheads. He also believes that there should be bipartisan consensus behind ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. He would provide $50 million to create an International Atomic Energy Agency-controlled nuclear fuel bank and work to update the NPT.


He believes that the war on terror has been diluted by efforts in Iraq. The Senator would press for a more active Central Asian policy: he would press US allies to help in the capture of Osama Bin Ladin, while at the same time pushing for a peaceful settlement between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. He would also create strong alliances across the globe in a concerted effort to combat it on all fronts.


Research: John Hemmingsand Aleksander Pruitt

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