This week, Connecticut Sen. Christopher Murphy nailed his progressive foreign relations theses to the proverbial door. A newly launched website features and explains his eight principles for progressive foreign policy and, speculation on what this move is calculated to achieve aside, we decided to take a closer look at Murphy’s foreign policy chops.
But before we do, let me be the first to say that this feels like a move toward a campaign, though the chances that Murphy is gunning for a shot at the vice presidency seem slim to none. Murphy’s launch of an online progressive “hub” is a statement of progressive credentials, seemingly designed to counterbalance a hawk like Hillary, whose candidacy Murphy endorsed earlier this month.
In his press materials, Murphy even takes on current and former presidential candidates, arguing that “Foreign policy discussions in Congress shouldn’t start with John McCain and end with Rand Paul.”
Murphy has long been way out in the forefront on Ukraine, reaching across the aisle to provide arms in Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“He is attempting not just to try to break Ukraine, he is trying to break Europe, he is trying to break the transatlantic alliance, and if he is not stopped here then we have no idea what the end point will be,” Murphy said of Putin in March. “We believe that this is one of the greatest threats that the world order has ever faced in our lifetimes.”
That statement was made in front of a crowd of Ukrainian-Americans, alongside Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., with whom Murphy has traveled to the Eastern European nation.
At the time, McCain called Murphy a “worthy successor in my view to my friend Joe Lieberman,” and hinted that higher office could be in store for Connecticut’s junior senator.
“He’s not a bad looking guy,” McCain said. “I’ve said a couple times, if I looked like Chris Murphy I might be president of the United States.”
Earlier this year, egalitarianism was the name of the game when discussions on the Middle East got heated. Murphy did attend when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a contested speech before Congress, though he called Netanyahu’s plan for dealing with Iran unrealistic.
He also praised the use of compromise over heavy sanctions when the Iranian deal began to take form, calling it “remarkable.”
That being said, Murphy does not bring a large constituency to the table, and such a purely East Coast ticket seems unlikely.
When the National Defense Authorization Act came to the Senate, Murphy, a member of both the Senate’s foreign relations and appropriations committees, supported an amendment that would have prevented the United States from sending American ground troops to fight against ISIS in Iraq or Syria.
“We must do everything within our power to aid our allies in the fight against ISIS — including recognizing the fact that the presence of American ground troops cannot solve every problem,” Murphy said in a release.
Murphy went so far as to argue against President Barack Obama’s plan to put boots on the ground in an attempt to fight ISIS.
“We’ve got to be smart about this fight,” he told WNPR in February. “A smart strategy recognizes that combat troops, in the end, are just going to become bulletin board material for terrorists to bring even more forces to the fight in the Middle East, and across the globe.”
That amendment failed but Murphy ultimately voted to move the military spending bill out of the appropriations committee, hailing it as a victory for Connecticut, relying heavily as it does on big-ticket military items like the beleaguered F-35 fighter jet, submarines, and several types of helicopters, all of which were designed and built, at least in part, in Connecticut.
“I voted for the Defense Appropriations Bill because it will directly protect and grow Connecticut’s defense manufacturing industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports across our state,” Murphy said.
It should be noted that when the bill, H.R.1735, was put to the House for consideration, members of Connecticut’s delegation were by no means unanimous. Voting in favor of the bill were Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, and Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. Both Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, and Rep. James Himes, D-4th District, voted against.
Murphy’s website is ChanceForPeace.org, named, he said, in honor of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous “A Chance for Peace” speech, delivered in 1953.
Jordan Fenster is an award-winning freelance journalist. He lives with his family in Fairfield County. He can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.
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