Policies By Region

As Chairman or Ranking Member of the Department of State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee for more than two decades, Senator Leahy has been one of the Senate's leading proponents of exerting U.S. leadership and resources to address a wide range of global issues, from protecting civilian victims of war to fighting infectious diseases, reducing global warming and improving the lives of the world’s poorest people.


Senator Leahy supports the aspirations of citizens throughout the Middle East and North Africa who are seeking to establish inclusive and democratic governments through peaceful means.  He knows that one of the best ways the U.S. can assist these efforts is by continuing to work with our regional and international partners to support efforts that strengthen civil society and the rule of law.

Senator Leahy knows that Israel faces grave threats from its neighbors, particularly Iran, and the United States has been and will continue to be a strong supporter and friend of Israel.  Senator Leahy has supported Israel's right to self-defense, condemned Hamas' indiscriminate rocket attacks, and supported sanctions against Iran.  However, he disagrees with restrictions on imports of goods into Gaza as it amounts to collective punishment, with Israel's use of excessive force in Gaza which has caused the deaths of hundreds of civilians, and with home demolitions and settlement construction in the West Bank.  Like President Obama, Senator Leahy believes that the dire situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable and contributes to Israel's insecurity.  He has long maintained that the Palestinians' fundamental rights must be respected.  Senator Leahy has discussed the Middle East peace process with the President and Secretary of State Kerry and continues to believe that a solution can be achieved that respects the rights of both peoples if their leaders show the necessary vision and political will.  


Senator Leahy is proud and supportive of the past performance of Vermont’s 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan. Vermont troops fought bravely and at great sacrifice to themselves and their families. Some of these courageous Vermonters even gave their lives and many others were wounded.

The United States has been engaged in this costly war at a time when investment in our own country should be a national imperative. The U.S. economy is still crawling out of the “Great Recession,” and millions of Americans are unemployed.  Meanwhile, U.S. civilian infrastructure has deteriorated and our science and technology sectors are falling behind those of our competitors.  Every dollar spent in Afghanistan is one less dollar we can invest in our own economic recovery, which is fundamental to our national security.

Senator Leahy believes that we must continue shifting our focus and military resources to a limited strategy against international terrorist groups, and he supports the Obama administration’s shift to this policy through the drawdown of the U.S. military presence wherever possible. He believes we must formulate unambiguous goals for security and democratic development that are realistic and pertinent to securing the U.S. homeland.


While sub-Saharan Africa has made important strides in recent decades it remains plagued by poverty, conflict, hunger and disease.  Nearly half of its people live on less than $1.25 per day and over 200 million go hungry every day.  Every year, millions of Africans, the majority of them young children, die of malaria, AIDS, and malnutrition.

U.S. aid can help build the capacity of these countries to address critical humanitarian needs such as clean water, food security, basic health care and education.  These are long term challenges, but Senator Leahy has continually provided increased funding for these purposes in a manner aimed at creating sustainable solutions for these countries.   


From India and Indonesia to China and Japan, Asia is a vast continent that poses immense challenges and opportunities for the United States.  In the 21st Century many Asian nations are experiencing dramatic changes in their political, military, and economic systems.  

In a relatively short period, Asia has experienced explosive population growth, rapid urbanization, and growing demands for food, jobs, and energy.  They also struggle with political instability resulting from pervasive corruption, weak governmental institutions, and repression of civil society.  Senator Leahy has sought to use his subcommittee to encourage greater engagement with these countries in a manner that is consistent with U.S. values.


Latin America is a region of rich biological and cultural diversity, yet tens of millions of people live in miserable conditions on less than $3 per day.  Many become illegal immigrants in the U.S.  Others struggle daily with unemployment, discrimination, violent crime and injustice.

The U.S. and Latin America have many mutual interests from trade and tourism to human rights and the environment.  But despite sharing deep cultural and ethnic ties, the U.S. has not focused the sustained attention on the region that Senator Leahy believes is needed.  He has long sought to help these countries address the impunity, poverty and weak institutions that have hindered their development.