Jim Webb Says Congress ‘Needs to Step Up’ on Foreign Policy

Jim Webb / AP
June 4, 2015

Jim Webb, the former Democratic senator from Virginia and potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, called for increased congressional input and presidential leadership in laying out coherent foreign policy values for dealing with other countries and potential threats.

"I think the Congress needs to step up," Webb said. "We need to rebuild the relationship with the congressmen and president, so that Congress has more accountability and participation. The president should be coming to Congress to ask to move forward and he should not establish long-term military agreements alone."

Webb laid out seven components of his foreign policy in a speech Thursday at George Mason University, stressing the need for the United States to state its national security objectives clearly, to develop relationships with allies it can trust, to work with countries that are not hostile to its citizens, to honor its treaty agreements, to maintain superiority in strategic systems and technology, and to preserve and exercise the national right of self-defense overseas.

"Our country is in need of a clearly articulated foreign policy statement. We haven’t had one in a long time," Webb said. "Something that states who we are. How do we connect with the rest of the world? What are the value systems we put in place when we articulate our foreign policy?"

Webb, a Marine combat veteran, mentioned to the crowd that it was the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and discussed the Chinese regime in the light of his seven points.

"When you go back to my points on a country you can trust, what we are dealing with in respect to our relations with China which is an authoritarian regime," Webb said. "When is the last time they had an election? It has been ranked near the bottom in regard to media openness; it has a defense budget now that is growing at double digits; it is working to produce a open sea navy and, in fact, China and Russia are holding joint navy operations in the Mediterranean sea this summer."

Webb, who formed a presidential exploratory committee for 2016 in November, also cited his diplomatic experience, his military service, and his work in the Reagan administration.

"When I think about how national security policy is created and implemented I go back to what I learned as secretary of the Navy," Webb said. "If you have a problem, put leaders on the problem. Ronald Reagan showed this better than any other leader I’ve seen in my lifetime. When he came in, he brought strong leaders into his the cabinet. If you get good leaders and run your cabinet properly you will have an effective government."