Photo of Deval Patrick

Patrick Campaign Press Release - Deval Patrick Releases Leadership Agenda on Foreign Policy

January 21, 2020

Proposal would rebuild America's stature and influence on the world stage

NEW YORK, NY - Today, former two-term Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick released the campaign's Leadership Agenda, one of the most robust and comprehensive foreign policy packages put forward in the Democratic primary election thus far. He will give remarks regarding the agenda at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Tuesday afternoon.

"American leadership should be steady, reliable, firm and consequential," said Governor Deval Patrick. "Ultimately our unique authority rises and falls with our ability to show the world that ‘we are who we say we are.'"

The Leadership Agenda lays out Governor Patrick's plan restore our nation's international influence by strengthening our bonds to traditional allies, and building new alliances with other nations in Latin America, Africa, and South Asia. Notably, Gov. Patrick calls for the creation of a new multilateral organization to coordinate and oversee global progress on addressing the climate crisis. Among the highlights of his plan:

  • Re-joining the Paris Agreement, elevating goals consistent with the urgency of the challenge, and designating a global body to hold nations accountable.
  • Advocating for human rights and the rights of globally oppressed minorities, and LGBTQ+ people all over the world.
  • Re-joining and updating arms control deals and multilateral agreements that make the world safer without sacrificing our ability to defend ourselves and deter future aggression.
  • Investing in election infrastructure, security and training to protect our elections.

With the release of his foreign policy platform, Gov. Patrick builds on his experiences abroad, which include leading ten trade missions as Governor of Massachusetts, working for the U.N. in Sudan, and helping to write the new South African Constitution and human rights laws.

The Leadership Agenda

Our Leadership Agenda is my plan to rebuild American stature and influence in the world on the strength of our diplomatic, economic, military and intelligence resources — and most importantly our values.

I believe American leadership should be steady, reliable, firm and consequential. Instead of bullying or demeaning other countries and peoples, instead of erratic and unpredictable international partnerships, instead of limitless war with only limited impact and objective, we will act deliberately and responsibly, in close consultation with our allies, and in service of American security and economic interests, and the world's interest in peace and justice.

Ultimately our unique authority rises and falls with our ability to show the world that "we are who we say we are."

The world faces many challenges — too many to address in this agenda. This agenda is meant to reflect the approach I intend to take, and to apply that approach to a few specific challenges and opportunities America faces in the world.

  • Strong Alliances
  • Security and Democracy
  • Leadership in a Climate Crisis
  • Investing in our Foreign Policy Capacity
  • Strategic, Equitable Trade
  • China
  • The Nations of Africa
  • South America
  • Israel and the Middle East
  • North Korea
  • Russia

Strong Alliances

In foreign policy, as in many things, relationships matter. Whether trying to reach a business deal or sign a treaty, I believe you start by making friends.

As President, I will renew our bonds with our traditional allies in Europe, North America, and Asia and cultivate bonds with other democracies. I believe it is also in the long-term interests of the United States to cultivate more robust economic, social and strategic relationships with other nations in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

  • Because some of the most pressing and vexing challenges facing America also face the whole world, I believe it is critical to strengthen ties with global allies and trading partners. Alliances makes us safer and more prosperous at home, and more effective abroad. Accordingly, I pledge to re-commit the United States to NATO and the World Trade Organization, and to invest time, ideas and resources to strengthen the United Nations and other multilateral bodies. In partnership with multilateral organizations or purpose-built coalitions, we will:
  • Solve the climate crisis, including by re-joining the Paris Agreement, elevating goals consistent with the urgency of the challenge, and designating a global body to hold nations accountable.
  • Confront aggressors like Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
  • Rebalance power, regionally and globally, with China.
  • Advocate for human rights and the rights of globally oppressed minorities, such as the Uighur people in China, the Rohingya in Burma, non-Hindu minorities in India, the Yazidi in Iraq, and LGBTQ+ people all over the world.
  • Modernize our own and the world's processes and readiness for the welcoming of refugees from war-torn, oppressive and climate-critical places.

Security and Democracy

The first priority of any President is ensuring the security of the United States and our citizens against an increasingly complicated series of threats. Longstanding threats, such as terrorism or nuclear proliferation, require new thinking and serious attention, not publicity stunts. New threats, like cyber and election security, call on us to respond with speed and agility. My administration will be prepared to respond to these threats with the full range of tools at our disposal.

Our priorities will include:

Arms Control
Rejoin and update arms control deals and multilateral agreements that make the world safer without sacrificing our ability to defend ourselves and deter future aggression. We will also take steps to limit the spread and use of new systems like hypersonic and autonomous weapons. While I will invest in the relevant research and development to maintain our security edge, I will also prioritize agreements to keep the world safe.

Cyber Defense
As President, I will aggressively support our defensive and offensive cyber capabilities, many of which are classified. We will be fully committed to defending our cyber infrastructure against all hostile intrusions and developing our offensive capability to meet any threat.

Election Security
Russia and its proxies interfered in the 2016 election and continue to threaten our democratic process to this day. We have already seen other authoritarian powers follow this playbook in attempting to influence the fair democratic elections of other countries. As referenced in my Democracy Agenda, I will use the full power of our government to update, secure and restore confidence in our democratic process.

  • This means, among other things, ensuring that states and municipalities are using secure equipment, investing in election infrastructure, security and training, conducting audits and risk assessments, and taking more deliberate steps to prevent election interference.

Leadership in a Climate Crisis

Addressing the threat to humankind calls on the United States to lead the rest of the world towards a carbon-free future. Alongside our forthcoming comprehensive plan to address the climate crisis, my administration will lead a global effort to limit emissions, adapt to a changing planet, and reduce our global reliance on fossil fuels. We will immediately rejoin the Paris Agreement and bring climate change and clean energy into all aspects of American foreign and trade policy, as well as domestic and industrial policy.

As President, I will:

Set the Standard on Climate
We will commit to American leadership to advance a climate change agenda, working with and alongside both developed and developing countries to set stretch goals to reduce emissions and move promptly to a clean green future. We will immediately reestablish America's commitments under the Paris Agreement, reinstating policies intended to achieve the United States' 2025 Nationally Determined Commitment and fulfilling the United States' 2020 reporting requirement. We will reestablish the United States' contributions to the Green Climate Fund and actively collaborate on best practices.

Global Climate Accountability
In keeping with the global emergency we are facing, I will propose international oversight to hold ourselves and other nations to account for meeting our objectives, as well as to serve as a clearinghouse for the best ideas, practices, and strategies to share among nations. I will propose before the United Nations a new permanent multilateral body to create, monitor, and support national commitments to combat climate change. The purpose of such an organization would be to help us raise our own game on climate, challenge the rest of the world to meet theirs, and resolve disputes between developed and emerging countries over emissions targets. An international climate body would coordinate a response to the refugee crisis that our collective failure to act on climate change will aggravate.

Lead by Example
To effectively persuade, we need to model that behavior by jump-starting the clean-energy economy here at home. We will lead by example by promoting the green economy in the United States by decreasing our energy consumption while increasing our capacity for clean energy with the goal of an entirely carbon-neutral economy by 2040. We will re-invest in the American economy to improve and create new technologies and millions of good-paying jobs, with an emphasis on job creation in communities and regions most affected by the transition. As we develop groundbreaking technology, we will be able to market this abroad, once again taking advantage of our Nation's place as the world's leader in innovation.

Investing in our Foreign Policy Capacity

As President, I will work to rebuild the respect commanded by the office of the Presidency, which has been eroded and degraded under the current administration. We must invest in building a professional, extensive and talented diplomatic corps, with a special focus on attracting talent from across the country to service. We must restore a respectful relationship between the executive and the intelligence community, and invest in strengthening our intelligence human capital.

Our administration will assess our military capabilities across the board to determine its preparedness to address future threats, looking for room to innovate, enhancing our cyber capacity, and ensuring that we are prepared for "swarm" warfare.

Strategic, Equitable Trade

I understand the skepticism we have of trade deals. Too often, trade arrangements negotiated behind closed doors have disproportionately benefited corporations to the detriment of workers and the environment. As President, I will not commit to a trade deal of any nature without being convinced that it would raise American wages, create American jobs, protect the environment, and empower workers at home and abroad. We should use trade policy to raise the global bar on labor conditions and environmental regulations, and to ensure fair competition and respect for rules of the commercial road.

The United States should actively pursue trade arrangements in markets where we have historically been under-represented, such as in Africa and Latin America, for the benefit of all partners. Such trade agreements can have strategic value and advance American interests in the world. This is particularly true in Asia, where the United States must use our substantial leverage in trade negotiations as the world's largest economy to build alternative, more constructive trade partnerships in the Pacific rim as China expands its trading influence across the same region.

Reassess and Renegotiate All Trade Deals As Needed
I will direct my United States Trade Representative to critically assess every active trade agreement for its current and expected impact on workers, the environment, and other stakeholders, and we will be prepared to renegotiate every agreement as required to ensure that our entire trade policy serves our interests.

Fully Fund Trade Support for Workers
We must expand and fully fund U.S. programs to transition workers who have been impacted by global trade.


The United States should respect China as a global power. But, at the same time, we should work with our allies, old and new, in the region and beyond, to form a collective counterweight to China's global influence.

China's human rights violations must not be overlooked. The desirability of access to Chinese markets is not a reason to excuse abuses of her people. Accordingly, China should be accountable to the global community for its repression of the members of the Uighur ethnic minority. That accountability may extend to sanctions against the individuals and corporations that enable these appalling acts, and my administration would elevate the treatment of the Uighur minority to the agenda in any trade negotiations.

We will also make clear that the United States and its allies stand in solidarity with advocates of democracy in Hong Kong, including through the implementation of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Our support for Hong Kong's democratic aspirations will align with our re-commitment to strengthening relationships with the world's democracies.

The Nations of Africa

As someone who has lived and worked in Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa in various capacities over many years, the nations of Africa have always struck me as among the most fertile, yet under-appreciated environments for economic, social, educational and security relationships with the United States in the world today. My administration will develop these relationships into the robust opportunities for sharing prosperity and spreading justice they should have been all along.

We must start now to build strong commercial partnerships with Africa's emerging economies. My administration, working with allies, will lead development investments in infrastructure, education, healthcare and governance. We will also strengthen African countries' access to global markets through regional trade agreements in the spirit of partnership, and expand efforts to counterbalance China's growing economic and political influence across the continent. Terrorist activity in African hot spots, such as northern Nigeria, must be checked. I will also leverage our influence in international institutions to reflect the realities of Africa's growth, such as by promoting more inclusive decision-making in the United Nations and international financial institutions.

South America

Alongside our vital and longstanding alliance with Canada and Mexico, we will look to strengthen partnerships with allies in our hemisphere who have been overlooked by successive administrations. Our administration will work with regional allies to address the refugee crisis and the illegal transport of goods and people across borders. We must work in concert with our allies to support the people of Cuba, to invest in broad regional development in countries like Haiti, protect critical climate assets in Brazil, and support the institutions of the burgeoning democracies across the Caribbean, Central and South America.

The United States' response to the calamity in Venezuela under Maduro suffers from the failure over many years to build stronger alliances with countries throughout the region. Under our administration that will change. Diplomacy is essential to isolating the Maduro regime and securing lasting peace. I will work to build a regional coalition including Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay — plus interested foreign partners like Norway and the Vatican — to provide international backing in favor of restoring Venezuelans' democratic sovereignty over their own affairs. That coalition will press for free and fair elections in Venezuela, and hold out the prospect that a freely and fairly elected democratic leader will enjoy meaningful partnership with the United States and its allies in helping to rebuild a prosperous and fair democratic society for all Venezuelans.

Israel and the Middle East

My administration will approach the Middle East with a comprehensive strategy that involves defending Israel, promoting independent Israeli and Palestinian sovereignty, countering violent extremism, and promoting economic development and collaboration. We will work with partners in Iraq and beyond. To mend the Sunni-Shia rift, we must also counter the threat of a nuclear Iran and ease tensions around the Gulf. We will rebuild strategic alliances to win back the ground we have lost against regional adversaries, including ISIS, after President Trump's damaging decision to withdraw from Syria. I will also work with Congress to pursue a regional development package to strengthen cross-border ties through new, incentive-driven investment in technology, energy and infrastructure.

Israel's right to exist is beyond question. Israel is also a vital democratic ally in the Middle East. At the same time, the Palestinians' right to self-determination within a democratic framework must be acknowledged and addressed. For that reason, I support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, and would press for that with all of the diplomatic, educational, economic and social leverage available to the United States. Pressing for a two-state arrangement is essential to securing Israel's future as a Jewish, democratic state as well as the Palestinians' right to nationhood and an end to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The United States should be prepared, in coalition with our allies, to guarantee the security of Israel. We should also be prepared to guarantee the integrity of the negotiated borders of a democratic Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.

As recent reporting has indicated, longstanding U.S. policy in Afghanistan is broken. President Trump's incoherent approach to negotiations with the Taliban and the Afghan government have made the situation worse. I will restart these talks with the goal of full withdrawal, but not without credible guarantees for the prosperity of the Afghan people and the security of the United States.
A prompt and orderly troop withdrawal would be my objective within my first term. Without receiving expert insight from our military, intelligence and foreign policy professionals, I cannot responsibly commit in advance to a specific timeframe.

The regime in control of Iran is a threat to the security of Israel, the region, and beyond. Iran's nuclear capability must be checked, and can be contained without regime change. The right way to do so is as part of a coalition with our allies and others in the region and beyond. I remain convinced that there is a diplomatic solution to our disagreements with Iran.

De-escalating the current crisis means bringing the Iranian regime back to the negotiating table and making real progress to address both the nuclear program and Iranian support for terrorist proxies in the region. The Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign failed because there was no credible pathway for the Iranians to meet American demands and seek relief from sanctions. Working with our regional and global allies, my administration would provide a path for de-escalation by establishing benchmarks and a progressive step-down from the current tense environment to a nuclear-free future and sanctions relief in the form of a new Iran Deal — a so-called JCPOA 2.0. Any process must ultimately address and degrade Iran's support for terrorist groups and proxies in the region, including in Iraq.

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has been a longstanding and important historical ally. The United States has significant military and economic relationships with Saudi Arabia, which I will respect as President. Nevertheless, we cannot, consistent with the values stated above, accept Saudi misconduct on the world stage. Saudi Arabia's official complicity in the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and the Kingdom's war in Yemen, with its indiscriminate targeting of civilians, are appalling and risk disqualifying the Kingdom from membership among civilized nations.

We must reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia. My administration will cease supplying Saudi Arabia with arms and support for the Yemen campaign. We will engage in a strategic re-assessment of our relationships in the Gulf to better align those relationships with our historic commitment to democracies. My administration will deploy the power of the United States selectively and thoughtfully to protect our national interests and project our values in the region.

North Korea

Instead of publicity stunts, North Korea and the world should expect meaningful and serious diplomacy from my administration with the objective of accomplishing meaningful and serious goals. Working with allies, we must denuclearize the Korean peninsula and end the Korean conflict. We can work toward that goal while remaining clear-eyed about the hurdles we will face along the way. In my administration, we would consider partial sanctions relief only in exchange for North Korea's credible, verifiable progress in drawing down its nuclear program on the way to complete denuclearization.


Russia is an important country in the region and the world. But we must address the broader issue of Russian aggression, including its continuing interference in our own democracy. There are economic, social, educational and military actions we can and should take alongside our allies to contain Russian efforts to destabilize democracies. Enhancing our cyber defense capabilities is a critical piece of that strategy.

A necessary dimension of our Russia policy relates to Ukraine. The success of Ukraine's developing democracy is important. The United States should continue to deliver essential military and intelligence assistance to Ukraine without conditions, should explore and develop trade relationships with Ukraine and should maintain our policy that the occupation of Crimea and Donbas are flagrant violations of international law. My administration will work with allies in NATO to strengthen ties between Ukraine and NATO countries through meaningful cooperation in agriculture, cybersecurity, anti-corruption and, critically, energy. We must also work with existing NATO allies to bolster security in other regions within striking distance of Russia to deter Russian aggression and protect NATO countries' sovereignty.

Deval Patrick, Patrick Campaign Press Release - Deval Patrick Releases Leadership Agenda on Foreign Policy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives