Questions to ask the Candidates
in 2004 national election campaigns
Friends Committee on National
Advancing Budget Priorities for Human
The war in Iraq, the wasteful, run away
military budget are taking scarce resources away from addressing
other urgent national needs. What will you do to reduce wasteful
The unwise, unfair tax cuts enacted recently
are leaving the government without the resources it needs to meet
urgent national needs. The U.S. needs to invest more to assure
quality, affordable nutrition, health care, housing, education,
and child care; to provide living wage jobs and a healthy environment
for all; and to provide for our aging population in the years
ahead. What will you do to assure that the federal government
has sufficient resources to meet the long-term challenges ahead?
Promoting Arms Control and Disarmament
So many people are killed each year by small arms that these weapons
have been called the real weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile,
landmines continue to claim tens of thousands of victims around
the world each year. If elected, what would you do to spur concrete
actions by the U.S. to better control and reduce the proliferation
of small arms and to eliminate the scourge of landmines?
In 1992, Congress declared a moratorium
on nuclear testing, but the current administration has threatened
to reverse this stance. This could very well start another major
arms race. Would you stand by the testing moratorium and support
ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty?
What would you do to make sure that the
U.S. does not build any new nuclear weapons?
Promoting Peaceful Alternatives to the
War on Terror
I'd like you to address the doctrine of
"preemptive war." The invasion and occupation of Iraq
was based on this doctrine, which posits that the U.S. can unilaterally
attack any country or other entity that it deems a threat. What
prevents another country from claiming the same doctrine when
it decides to act aggressively against its enemy? Shouldn't the
U.S. be working to strengthen-not undermine-international norms
against the use of unilateral force?
Roughly half of the Army's 10 divisions
are currently deployed overseas. The military is over-stretched.
U.S. unilateralism has meant that neither our old nor our new
allies are much inclined to assist. Military spending is on the
rise and new bases are being opened across the globe. How will
you reduce these costly overseas deployments? What will you do
instead to promote cooperative approaches to peace and security?
The current administration says it is
keeping all options, including military options, open when it
comes to the North Korea nuclear issue. North Korea says it needs
nuclear weapons as deterrence against U.S. military threats, but
that it is willing to give up these weapons in exchange for a
non-aggression pact from the U.S. What would you do to ensure
a peaceful resolution of the current stand-off?
In world affairs, just as in medicine,
preventing harm is always better than treating it after the fact.
International organizations like the European Union, the United
Nations, the African Union, the World Bank and development agencies
like the U.S. Agency for International Development have made important
progress in developing early warning systems and conflict prevention
programs, increasing capacities for the peaceful resolution and
management of conflict, and addressing the causes of conflict
before violence erupts. If you are elected, what policies will
you support to help prevent future wars and address the root causes
of terrorism and violent conflict?
Protecting Civil Liberties and Human Rights
Under the USA PATRIOT Act, civil liberties
have been greatly curtailed and the U.S. Constitution undermined.
Please provide three concrete ways you would correct this problem.
Attorney General Ashcroft supports indefinite
secret detentions and an option for the death penalty for conviction
of any act that the Administration deems "terrorist."
These extreme views, if enacted into law, would undermine everyone's
constitutional rights. Do you support General Ashcroft's positions?
The United States has a long history of
using weapons sales to buy friends with abysmal human rights records-from
the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, the Taliban against
the USSR in Afghanistan, and now abusive, undemocratic regimes
in Uzbekistan and Pakistan. What exactly will you do to ensure
that U.S. weapons don't wind up in the hands of dictators or oppressive
The United States is increasing its involvement
with the Columbian government and that nation's civil war at a
time when ties between the Colombian military and right-wing paramilitaries
show no sign of loosening, and aerial fumigations are increasingly
destroying legitimate crops, thereby impoverishing farmers across
the country. What will you do to reverse the damaging course of
U.S. policy and promote human rights and development in Colombia?
Removing Oil as a Source of Conflict
The wasteful consumption of oil in the
U.S. has become a source of violent international conflict and
a threat to public health and the environment. If current trends
continue, these problems will grow worse. What will you do to
help reduce wasteful oil consumption in the U.S. and to help protect
and restore the environment?
The transportation sector uses two-thirds
of the oil consumed in the U.S. For the sake of the environment,
economic development at home and abroad, and international peace
and security, the U.S. must reduce its dependence on oil in the
transportation sector. What exactly will you do to promote expanded
public transportation, high-efficiency automobiles and trucks,
and alternative, renewable fuels?