SEATTLE, Washington — Georgia’s 2020 Senate race was a highly competitive contest between Republican incumbent, Senator David Perdue, and Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, resulting in a runoff which will be held on January 5, 2021. Perdue, receiving 49.7% of the vote, fell just short of the 50% threshold necessary for victory. Ossoff has garnered attention from the Democratic party for the potential to flip a Republican seat and gain control of the Senate. There are large implications for not just domestic policy but also foreign policy in Georgia’s Senate race.
Senator Perdue and Senator Ossoff
Perdue is a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and sits on four out of its seven subcommittees, including the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy and Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic Energy and Environmental Policy.
Ossoff’s involvement with foreign policy in Georgia’s Senate race comes from his experience working as an investigative journalist with his company, Insight TWI, which examined political corruption and the effectiveness of foreign aid abroad.
Perdue co-sponsored the Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017, a bipartisan bill that highlighted the importance of fighting corruption abroad. The legislation called for increased transparency in foreign aid and accountability for foreign countries that do not take the necessary steps to address corruption in their institutions. A modified form of the bill was introduced in 2019 and passed in the Senate.
Ossoff has not made funding a major topic of his campaign but he has analyzed the successes and failures of U.S. foreign aid in his work with Insight TWI. Under his leadership, Insight TWI examined corruption abroad and unearthed foreign officials who were taking advantage of food and medical aid. The investigative work also examined the pervasive trend of human trafficking and sexual slavery.
In a collaboration with Al Jazeera, Ossoff and Insight TWI also filmed a series documenting the Ebola crisis in Liberia, spotlighting missteps by local leadership.
Discussions of foreign policy in Georgia’s Senate race have been largely concentrated around foreign military intervention. Perdue has repeatedly voiced concern over the U.S. potentially having its smallest army since before World War II and highlighted the importance of increasing foreign military presence. He believes that ground forces are necessary to support U.S. allies and mitigate the influence of Iran, terrorists and rebel groups and has called for an increase in military spending.
Ossoff has been an open critic of the Iraq War and led multiple documentaries and investigative pieces on U.S. military conduct and war crimes abroad.
Despite highlighting the importance of combating Hezbollah and other terrorist groups in the Middle East and North Africa, Ossoff opposes military intervention that would use ground troops. Instead of deploying ground forces and potentially forcing the U.S. into another war, Ossoff supports the use of airpower.
The Bigger Picture
Issues of foreign policy in Georgia’s Senate race will likely carry large-scale implications for the 117th Congress. Depending on the result of the runoff, the Senate’s future actions on foreign aid and U.S. foreign military presence could change substantially. These issues are not just matters of concern for U.S. leadership but also the wider international community which relies on cooperation with the U.S. to fight against corruption, poverty and human rights abuses worldwide.
– Neval Mulaomerovic