Senator Chris Dodd.
Special Dossier: Presidential Primaries
Remarks by Senator Chris Dodd
Sen. Chris Dodd was elected in the House of Representatives in 1974. Six years later, he was elected as a United States Senator where he has represent Connecticut for
the last 26 years. He is the chairman for the Senate Banking Committee, for the Foreign Relations Subcommittee, and for the Subcommittee of Education and of Early Childhood Development. Dodd announced his Candidacy for the Presidency for the 2008 election on January 11, 2007.
On April 24th, Yom Hazikaron 2007, Dodd spoke to the
National Jewish Democratic Council's
Washington Policy Conference.
introduced him as a person
"who embodies the ideals, not just of the democratic party, but the ideals of helping the unfortunate and helping those in need." Adler felt "that leadership, that commitment to the values of the Democratic Party, and I would add, Jewish values is what makes
me so proud to introduce my friend."
Israel: An island of hopefulness in a sea of despair.
I am glad to be before you this morning to share some thoughts on national policy and on issues affecting all of us in our country and in the world in which we live.
Today, Israel remains an island of openness in a sea of despair, obviously, as all of us know painfully. The success belongs to all of the Israeli people and is more lasting than anything that has happened on the battlefields, as many there had been over the years. Israel continues to show its goodness to the world. That its politics are open and vibrant, that its markets are free and fair, and that its laws hold for weak and strong, and that its might is only for its self-defense.
We also know how much of the world prefers ideology to fact, of course. How many choose to make themselves blind to Israel’s virtues because they prefer to identify someone as a "scapegoat" to advance their own political causes.
For six decades, America has been a good friend to Israel and I’m here today to claim my part in that friendship over the years, and deeply proud of it, 32 years in the United States Congress, 26 in the United States Senate.
I can not promise you easy answers on the dangers that Israel and the United States faces today, but I can promise one small and vital thing: I am a man who believes his own eyes. No one will ever have to persuade me of Israel’s goodness, of its deep meaning, its necessity that I already know, and I learned young in a very significant ways.
father Sen. Thomas J. Chris Dodd, executive
trial counsel for the Office of the United
States Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution of
Axis Criminality at Nuremberg, Germany
Father's commitment to the rule of law in Nuremberg
My connection with the State of Israel starts with my father,
Thomas Dodd, who served in the United States Senate, but at the age of 38, became an interrogator at the Nuremberg Trials in the summer of 1945; I was a year old at the time, one of five children. My father went off for a couple of weeks just to be an interrogator in the early stages of that effort, but over a period of days and weeks, his abilities and his talents were recognized by
Robert Jackson and others, and he became, by the end of 1945, the executive trial council at Nuremberg, basically ran the prosecution for the United States for the next year at those hearings for the 22 defendants of Nuremberg.
It was that experience that galvanized my father, his epiphany, if you will, in his political life. His life changed dramatically from that experience and those of his children were affected directly by it growing up. I knew far more about the Holocaust and the events in the 1950's and early 1960's than friends of mine who came from Jewish families. My father talked and taught his children, the six of us growing up, of what had happened and what should never happen again. It was that rule of law, his deep commitment to that, his determination to see to it that human rights and the issues of free peoples everywhere would be embraced and talked about
as a member of Congress, and as a member of the Senate. He made it a hallmark of his career.
My father wrote my mother every single day from Nuremberg, but I did not discover these letters until about ten years ago. First of all, I wondered who was this guy
talking about my mother this way, then I realized it was my father was writing these letters. It is nice to know parents. Today, of course, you will never know these things with all the technical equipment we have today; everyone e-mailing one another. You do not keep these letters that show up years and years later, but it is the first draft of history. He would be doing an interrogation of Gen. Heidle at two in the afternoon and writing my mother at five, so you were getting these very raw feelings about what he saw. In fact, I have edited these letters, and they will
coming out this fall, as a way for people to go back and
get a first draft of history from someone who was there at the beginning of this
in 1945 through the 300 letters.
Give to these defendants that which they never gave to their own victims.
My father and Robert Jackson and a few others,
Secretary of War Stimpson, were the ones who advocated for a trial. There were many who thought, and understandably so, why would you give these people a trial? Winston Churchill wanted to summarily execute every defendant at Nuremberg, the Soviets wanted a show-trial of a week or so and then just shoot them, but Secretary Stimpson argued, Roosevelt supported, Harry Truman, a bit more so, that generation
that believed in the rule of law. They thought that this was an important event and that there ought to be a demonstration of the difference between people, that we will give to these defendants that which they never gave to their own victims.
As a result, the Nuremberg trials laid out a body of evidence, most of which were produced by the defendants themselves, of their horrific acts that had taken place during the Nazi Regime. And the world is better of today because of that example and from that structure and architecture, created by those people at Nuremberg and thereafter, we built institutions, certainly far from perfect in many ways, but institutions that gave us the opportunity to manage events.
Isolationism contributed to the rise of Tojo, Mussolini and Hitler.
I can not tell you how many times I heard my father talk about the difference between the generations. That assumed the responsibility of leadership in World War I, and those who took the responsibility at the end of World War II. Putting aside whether or not you believed in the Treaty of Versailles and whether the League of Nations
was something we should have been involved in and supported, the idea that we walked away, shut our doors, turn down immigration, became isolated, failed to step forward and reorganize economic conditions around the world in many ways, my father believed, and I believed, contributing to the rise of the Tojos and Mussolinis and Hitlers.
The generation that came after World War II thought differently, and as a result, built these structures as a step forward, so we ended up with economic structures and orders at least contributed in the stability in the world economically. And while the IMF, NATO, the World Bank, and the United Nations have been anything but perfect over the years, they gave us a framework by which we could begin to deal with these issues.
The challenge for us in many ways is whether or not confronted by a similar choice, which direction will we move in as a people? Which direction will our leaders take in this country to determine what kind of century your children and your grandchildren are going to have?
Bold engagement in foreign policy.
I believe we must have a bold engagement in foreign policy. We have got to step forward and not retreat, as tempting as that will be, and we are only a fraction away, for those who would appeal to the worst instincts in us, from retreating and
closing the doors because of all the fears and all the problems that all of us know exist with allies like Israel and friends around the world who wonder today whether or not the United States can lead or not.
It is going to take leadership that’s going to know how to bring these experiences together here. This is not the time for on-the-job training when it comes to the Presidency of the United States. This is going to be a time when people who had been through the experience knows what needs to be done, and knows the individuals and people you bring together. So we do not miss any opportunity, as Democrats here, to get back on track both at home and abroad. To deal with policies that are manageable and sort of isolated instances, such as energy and foreign policy, but understand that these issues move back and forth with each other.
We have got to rebuild those institutions, reform them. We have got our people to assume the responsibilities of seeing if they can actually engage and what needs to be done, to move us in that direction. So it is important for us to begin to
understand how important our relationship is.
Israel cannot afford to lose one conflict.
As I have stated over the years, I am proud of the fact over my career, I have supported
the aid programs that assist Israel to get on its feet, to stay on its feet, to be supportive of the financial and military support over the years. Knowing how threatened Israel is, I believe Israel cannot afford to lose one conflict to it, or they will not be a second for them. In a sense, they have to sustain and defend themselves at every single instance, surrounding by growing nations of hostilities who are determined to destroy them. We only have to read the charters and the language of various organizations and how they feel to recognize what can happen.
And so it is going to be important to stay engaged and to be committed, and to understand at times we’re going to have to work closely to see if those opportunities presenting
themselves are not lost on us, to try and reconstruct the possibility of a lasting relationship and a lasting peace.
Iran went before the world and denied the work my father was engaged in Nuremberg.
None of us can forget what is going on with these.
- How could you when you realize you are looking at an organization like Hezbollah that has a private army that is dedicated to Israel’s destruction?
- In Iran, you have mad theocracy whose president went before the world and denied the work my father was engaged in Nuremberg.
- You have an organization like Hamas that kidnaps Israeli soldiers, whose founding charter declares, "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam obliterates it."
- How could I forget when the Arab League has been boycotting Jewish goods since 1945?
- How could I forget the ideological attacks on Israel’s right to exist reverberate from national parliaments and international assemblies?
- And how can I forget Israeli college professors are being shunned over the fact of being Israeli and Jewish in European Nations today?
How sad indeed it is, to see that kind of activity.
I would never think in my lifetime that I would ever see that activity by allies of ours that have claimed to have raised the same moral values and principles that we do. That allow in their own countries, policies which discriminate against people and the seeking of jobs.
Existential threat to Israel.
Make no mistake about it. These attacks on Israel: military, economic, and ideological, show an existential threat that is serious.
- That is why I supported Israel financial aid.
- That is why I co-sponsored the Syrian Accountability Act.
- That is why I am a strong supporter of the Iranian Sanctions Act.
As the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, after 26 years of sitting in that committee, I will see to it that we pass the Iranian Sanctions Bill.
I was stunned to learn, as we have hearings on the Iranian Sanctions Bill a few weeks ago, that Iran had received over $26 billion in contracts from nations and companies around the world, and the United States has failed under the Bush Administration,
on a single occasion, to object to those contracts. We have got to do everything we can to bolster our allies’ commitments and cooperation to implementing meaningful sanctions against Iran. Some have talked about dealing with terrorism accounts, in a sense, to be able to look worldwide on industries, businesses, and countries that support growth activities in these nations that have been identified as supporting terrorist activities. I support and endorse that idea: the idea of having some possibility of reminding people that this is not a process that we are going to tolerate to go on indefinitely, and we will be able to step up and hold those accountable.
Pentagon burning after September 11, 2001.
The Pentagon Burning.
I come before you today as a father and as a U.S. state Senator to candidate the president. I actually have very young children, a five-year-old and a two-year-old, and I am the only candidate at the age of 62 that gets mail from AARP and
services. I am proud to tell you they are doing well, although I’m learning, painfully and early, that daughters pose some difficulties for their fathers along the way.
My daughter Grace was born two days after 9/11 in Arlington, Virginia. From the hospital, you could see the Pentagon burning on September 13. So she is a special child for going through that roller coaster ride of emotions, watching the first one arrive in this world and knowing that maybe the world she is going to be growing
up in is far less secure than you would like to see.
Anyway, these challenges are going to be difficult for us. America, Israel, and the world are not as secure as they ought to be and not as prosperous as we could be, in terms of the opportunities that are offered here. Never in my lifetime has there ever been an election we are about to enter into where there is more at stake for our country, and for the world, and indeed for all the common values of all humanity.
For all the uncertainties in the world today, what is clear is that six years of the Bush Administration has made the world far less secure, not more secure, and our place in the world far less certain. Today we face the immediate and unfolding civil war in Iraq, the growing threat of civil stateless terrorist organizations across the globe, a dangerously confident Iran, an a reinstated Taliban. We face a continuing crisis of HIV AIDS, malaria, and other diseases uplifting whole continents, the rising economic disparities in the United States and around the globe, and a clear and present danger of our planet in the form of global warming. We face this and more and we do so with fewer allies today than ever before. With the hour late, it is time to put our country on a far more secure path. How can we do that without bold engagement abroad and with an energy policy here at home that addresses our challenges with honesty and courage?
I believe the 21st century can be a century of optimism in confidence of our country. Indeed, positive, bold engagement, that restores America’s reputation, has a secure, reliable, and responsible leader, who would form the bedrock a national security doctrine in my presidency. A national security policy rooted will strengthen national alliances, and policies that would strengthen America’s security to the very long term. In a way, that was the America George Bush inherited on January 1, 2001: a
strong America to look to for leadership.
Bush divided our allies by taking America to war with Iraq.
We all recall the immediate aftermath of 9/11, our allies standing with America’s decisions to destroy the Al Qaeda network and topple the Taliban, the papers in Latin America saying "All American across the globe." We had a wonderful opportunity at that moment. America was poised to lead in the 21st century as we had the latter part of the last, but instead of uniting the world against global terrorism, President Bush divided our allies by taking America to war with Iraq.
Of the UN, NATO, and the Geneva Conventions that killed the protocols: no agreement, no framework, was too significant to belittle, irregardless of how important America’s
security is in the role we must play in reforming and making them stronger and more compliant to the challenges we face in the 21st century.
Today, we are less prepared to face growing threats. In the Middle East, our involvement in Iraq is inflamed with region-wide war breaking out between Shia and Sunni, elevating the dangerous nuclear posture in Iran, and the actions of Hamas and Hezbollah. This strengthens the course of Israel’s security on a daily, now hourly, basis, and in Latin America, where we are losing a public relations battle of Hugo Chavez. That is why in the interconnected world of the 21st century, restored American leadership is absolutely critical, but let me be clear, hope is not going to wash away the damage to America’s moral authority lost these last six years.
Hope alone will not bring our allies back to our side.
Hope alone is not going to restore America’s leadership.
Like never before, I believe we need national leadership that is actually ready to lead from day one.
Restoring our leadership begins with getting our Iraq policy right. Not with a military build-up there, but with drawing down our forces. Iraq must assume the responsibility of policing and governing itself. I am the only candidate I know of that is supporting the Feingold-Reed Legislation calling for affirmed timetable to end the war by March 31, 2008, and I call on other candidates to do the same. After more than 3,200 lives lost, tens of thousands wounded, $400 billion being spent, $2 billion a week, $8 billion a month, it is time to bring an end to a war that at every turn has failed to make America safer.
I say this respectfully to you, and every audience I speak to, I ask you, whatever
you feel about Iraqi policy, to express our gratitude to the gentlemen and women who everyday who have to face a difficult set of circumstances. Everyone needs to understand what they go through. I spent time with troops from Connecticut and young soldiers and what they are going through. My views on this are not isolated views; these are the views of those who paid a great deal of time and attention to what needs to be done in Iraq, from Baker and Hamilton, to major military leaders, to
Casey and Dempsey, to junior officers and non-coms that I met and talked with over significant visits to the region.
I also think it is important for us to remember it is not just our own losses and
too often when we talk about this we neglect to talk about what has happened with the Iraqi people themselves in all of this. That literally, millions have been displaced,
two million have left their country, a million more have lost their homes within their own country, and thousands have lost their lives.
To suggest that diplomacy is a sign of weakness is frightening.
A new strategy is necessary here.
I have never taken military options off the table, but I also believe we should use the tools we been given by as great nation, and to suggest that diplomacy is a sign of weakness is frightening to me. In all the years I have served in public life, Democratic and Republic Administrations, I have never seen an Administration that treats diplomacy and the ability to treat results for those vehicles, treated so poorly than this Administration has. The idea that we consider diplomacy to be a gift to your opponents are ones we do not engage in because we don not talk to
people we do not like is a frightening prospect.
- Even Ronald Regan, in his most difficult days, understood. Even calling the Soviet Union "the Evil Empire," Reagan sat down in Reykjavik to work on arms control agreements.
Richard Nixon, who was as strident an anti-communists as anyone ever knew in our lifetime, would open a door to
Mao Tse-tung in the People’s Republic of China.
American President Richard M. Nixon and Chinese Chairman
Mao Tse-tung, February 21, 1972 (China News Agency).
They did this not because they liked them, not because they wanted to have dinner with them, but because they understood that leadership required that you had to reach out and begin to find some means that which you could achieve the stability and security that we all desire.
That does not eliminate the possibility of responding to those threats through other means, but you do not draw that arrow out of your quiver until you have exhausted at least the opportunities to achieve your results by other means. That is what leadership requires in the 21st century. Those are the kind of institutions and relationships we are going to have to build. We cannot achieve the success we all desire by doing this alone. Terrorism is a tactic; it is not a philosophy. It requires cooperation; it requires building relationships and associations that would allow us to achieve that success. I believe if we continue much longer on the path we
are following here, that job, no matter who assumes whose responsibility, will become almost impossible. The window is closing; the door of opportunity for us to build those relationships is available to us. It is not going to be there permanently.
There is a generation coming along that does not remember the good things that we used to be associated with. And if that generation assumes the leadership’s responsibilities without having an opportunity to understand what we can do constructively, the job will be far more difficult for us to build those relationships. We need a change of policy in Iraq and there is an opportunity for stability and a far-more secure future by following a very different path than the one we are on.
As President, I would immediately begin to deploy our combat troops within and out of Iraq, urban areas, and into bases in Kuwait and Qatar. To all our forces in Afghanistan, I would double our efforts to capture Bin-Laden, dismantle Al-Qaeda, and neutralize the Taliban. I would strengthen national alliances to better fight terrorism.
Saudi Arabia and Russia continue to oppress freedom and democracy.
The fact is the real challenges in these areas lie not alone with our enemies, we know who they are. Our challenges also lie with those we call our friends, or strategic allies. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia, who continue to oppress freedom and democracy and to permit conditions that allow terrorism and hate to thrive. What America needs is a president who understands that the choice between coddling tyrannical leaders or going to war with them is a false choice that America is no longer acting alone. When America is once again leading, a strong moral voice in the world, it will be the terrorists and tyrants who will be isolated, not the United States of America.
Making America more secure and less captive to the unstable parts in the world is one of the reasons why last week I introduced energy policies to layout what we ought to do in this area. I believe energy is an issue with so many implications that with the right leadership has the potential to create a new generation of middle-class prosperity and transform on the world on which we live.
Our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels is one of our biggest problems.
I do not need to convince anyone that global warming is real and a great consequence to our planet and to our people. When everyone from Al Gore to President Bush is acknowledging its effects, when ten of the ten warmest years on record where the 1990's, I believe the debate has been put to rest. I do not need to convince anyone in this room, either, that America’s security is at risk because of our dependence on Middle East oil, now that we’re fighting terrorist organizations on the one hand, and financing their supporters on the other, importing our oil for $200 to $300 billion a year. But I am here to tell you what is possible to act on these challenges.
Our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels is one of our biggest problems. A problem that impacts our national security, our health, our planet, and our competitiveness, but breaking that competitiveness is one of the greatest opportunities for a brighter, greener, more prosperous, and more secure future.
And that is why I think we need an energy plan that sets the ambitious goals that say it will reduce 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050, liberate ourselves from Middle East oil by 2015, and has a leader who has the courage to tell the people how we are going to get there.
Eliminate the last incentive to pollute... because it is cheap.
Some say America can’t do it, I could not disagree more. In addition to mandating tough cap and trade rules, I would enact a corporate carbon tax that eliminates the last incentives to pollute, and that is that it is cheaper. When America taxes big polluters, we will have less pollution, more motivation, more freedom. It is
In the Dodd Administration, if the price for dirty energy increases slightly, the cost of clean efficient energy will decrease dramatically. That is because in my administration every penny of this corporate carbon tax, over $50 billion at least annually, will help us to solve our energy problems funding renewable energy research and development, bringing new technologies to market, from lighting to appliance to automobiles, and deploying them as quickly as possible.
As president, I will do what we should have done a long time ago: I’ll increase car mileage standards to fifty miles per gallon and increase the number of hybrids on the market, not to punish the auto industry, but possibly to save them from themselves. That starts with providing tax breaks and rebates so that if you can afford a car, you can afford a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid or any other fuel-efficient vehicle. In my administration, being wealthy will not be a prerequisite to being green by insisting on sharing the same renewable energy technologies that will make America energy independent. Never again will nations have to be dependent on the oil bribes of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. That is why in 2008, some
say we need experience; others say we need hope. I say we need both in our country.
Recently, my daughter Grace was getting ready for school. She turned to me and asked me two questions. The first was, "Daddy, What sort of a day do you think I’m going to have?" I gave her a wonderful answer about her day. The second question she asked me was "What sort of a life do you think I am going to have?" Since the day she
was born, I have been asking myself the same question as I am sure all of you have
of your own families. "What kind of lives are they going to have?" That is our collective
responsibility: yours and mine.
It is not just the person at this podium; all of us bare this responsibility to do everything we possibly can to get this right for this generation coming along.
To create the opportunities here at home as well as create possibilities around the globe. I know all of you feel as strongly as I do that we can do this. It is
going to take collective efforts. It is going to take real leadership, and it takes experience of knowing how to bring people together to resolve these issues. Nothing less than the very success of our nation and the safety of the world lies in the choices we’ll make in the coming weeks and months. This is a difficult job to get out there and do this, but I feel very strongly on how important it is.
I did not harbor the ambition, for many years, of seeking this office. I am 62 years of age; this is not a warm up for some future run. I know what I believe, I know what my convictions are, and I know what I have stood for. Most of you in this room will know them as well, over 26 years in the Senate and working on these issues. And so I look forward into working with you these coming months to ask for your help and support.
Question and Answer Session