John Edwards: Foreign Policy Profile

John Edwards (D)

Before running for political office, John Edwards was one of the top injury trial attorneys in the US, specializing in representing people who were alleged victims of corporate negligence and/or medical malpractice in North Carolina. On the basis of his popular victories, he ran for a Senate seat of North Carolina in 1998, and as early as 2000 began to look at running for President. In 2004, his stock had grown so much that John Kerry chose him as his running mate. In his post-Senate career, Edwards was co-chair of a Council on Foreign Relations task force on United States-Russia relations alongside Republican Jack Kemp, a former congressman, Cabinet official, and vice presidential nominee.

John Edwards

Click here for John Edward’s Presidential Candidate site.

'Reengaging with the World' in Foreign Affairs, Sep/Oct 2007


John Edwards admits to having voted for the war in 2003 while serving as a Senator for North Carolina, but now insists that it was a mistake based on faulty intelligence and that the US needs to regain its moral standing by admitting that mistake. In 2006, he called for a withdrawal from Iraq within a 12-18 month time span. He had spoken of a multilateral attempt to handle the withdrawal, using the UN to handle civilian administration, while NATO handles security.


His views on China are positive and deal with full engagement with China on a number of issues, including energy, environment, and security. He has suggested a hotline between the US and China to prevent misunderstandings and called for greater openness on Chinese military spending. He has also called on China to take a more responsible approach to international issues such as Darfur. He believes that China and the West are natural partners in the war against Islamic fundamentalism.


While running for as Kerry’s running mate in 2004, he advocated better coordination between NATO member states, and increased US troop commitments outside of Kabul. He is committed to staying the course in Afghanistan, and maintaining the multilateral approach.


Edwards supports Israel’s right to defend itself, though stating that the 2006 war with Hizbollah showed the necessity for the international force on the Israel/Lebanon border. He has shown through his voting and speeches to be one of Israel’s most consistent and strongest supporters.

The UN

He is supportive of UN reform and backs India’s aspirations for a permanent seat on the Security Council. While supporting an enhanced ability of the UN to perform peacekeeping missions, he continues to believe that US forces should fall under US command.


John Edwards believes that there is a real danger that terrorists will get WMD. He has made suggestions that existing plans that ensure nuclear scientists are employed for peaceful purposes are strengthened. And we can provide safety and security to those scientists who are working on weapons programs in rogue nations to come clean.


Edwards has a positive view of the alliance and has often spoken of involving it in US projects abroad. During the 2004, he advocated using NATO to take over the security element in Iraq, leaving behind the "Coalition of the Willing".


Of all the presidential candidates, Edwards has taken the most nuanced line against Bush’s policies, calling the war on terror 'a bumper sticker', and saying that the US must use smart power as well as hard, and fight the reasons that terrorism draws in new recruits. He has proposed establishing a volunteer corps to help fight poverty worldwide, and to spread American values and counter anti-American sentiment.

Research: John Hemmings and  Aleksander Pruitt

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