NSN Update

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AfghanistanAshraf GhaniWednesday, March 25, 2015

Afghanistan at a Crossroads: Troop Extension the Right Call

Afghanistan at a Crossroads: Troop Extension the Right Call March 25, 2015 President Obama announced yesterday that he would adjust the timeline for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, keeping 9,800 troops in the country through the end of the year. The troops will train and assist Afghan National Security Forces and “continue to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations,” President Obama said. Speaking before a joint session of Congress this morning, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stated his gratitude for the ongoing U.S. support to Afghanistan. The continuation of the troop presence was supported in a letter authored by the Alliance in Support of the Afghan People (ASAP) signed by NSN Advisory Board Chair Sandy Berger, NSN Executive Director John Bradshaw, and a host of Afghanistan experts and… Read More ›

Border SecurityIranIslamic StateIsraelP5+1 TalksPoliticsMonday, March 23, 2015

Senator Ted Cruz’s Imaginary Foreign Policy

Senator Ted Cruz’s Imaginary Foreign Policy March 23, 2015 Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced his candidacy this morning at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. His speech was long on rhetoric and short on policy, especially foreign policy. Sen. Cruz stressed goals for U.S. policy, asking his audience to “imagine a president who says ‘I will honor the Constitution, and under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon,’” to “imagine a president who says ‘We will stand up and defeat radical Islamic terrorism,’” to “imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel,” and to “imagine a president that finally, finally, finally secures the borders.” But this isn’t an imaginary foreign policy: these are the actual goals of current U.S.… Read More ›

AUMFIraqIslamic StateSyriaFriday, March 13, 2015

A Dangerously Confused AUMF Discussion in Congress as Escalation Looms

A Dangerously Confused AUMF Discussion in Congress as Escalation Looms March 13, 2015 Earlier this week, top officials appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss the Obama Administration’s proposed authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey took part in a conversation that highlighted several areas of concern for which additional focus is warranted going forward. In particular, the hearing added confusion to the proposed definition of “associated forces” and how it is currently interpreted or could be interpreted in the future. The hearing also confirmed the proposed language that would prohibit “enduring offensive ground combat operations” lacks significant meaning.… Read More ›

FY16 BudgetMedicareOCO BudgetWednesday, March 18, 2015

Republican Pentagon Proposal: Gimmicks Inside Gimmicks

Yesterday, House Republicans released a budget that included a massive increase in Pentagon spending to $613 billion for Fiscal Year 2016. The core of the proposal is a $39 billion plus-up to the Department of Defense by funding Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) accounts at artificially high levels so that OCO money can be spent on what should really be base-budget functions. Because OCO is not covered by the Budget Control Act spending caps, the proposal amounts to a massive budget gimmick that would skirt the budget caps on the Department of Defense by playing a budgetary shell game with funds roughly the size of the GDP of Lebanon. In fact, the gimmick is so brazen that it has been harshly criticized by top Republicans themselves.… Read More ›

CongressConservativesIranP5+1 TalkssanctionsMonday, March 16, 2015

Republicans Continue Politicizing Iran Negotiations, Offer No Constructive Alternative

Republicans Continue Politicizing Iran Negotiations, Offer No Constructive Alternative March 16, 2015 Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) letter, signed by 46 of his Senate Republican colleagues and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), continued to roil the debate over the Iran nuclear negotiations this weekend. The letter, which was addressed to Iran’s leadership and condescendingly (and inaccurately) described the U.S. system of government, has been condemned as a reckless and juvenile political stunt. It has further politicized the already partisan debate at a critical moment, as P5+1 diplomats resume talks this week with Iranian negotiators in the hopes of reaching a political framework agreement. Sen. Cotton has stated that his goal is to collapse the talks, but even those who have said that they would like to play… Read More ›

Benjamin NetanyahuGuantanamoIranIsraelP5+1 TalksWednesday, March 11, 2015

Partisan Republican Actions Damaging U.S. National Security

Partisan Republican Actions Damaging U.S. National Security March 11, 2015 The letter on the Iran negotiations by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), signed by 46 of his Senate Republican colleagues, is the latest and most blatant example of what is becoming an emerging pattern of Republican partisanship that expressly works to undermine U.S. foreign policy and national security. More than just an embarrassing political stunt, Sen. Cotton’s unprecedented letter will damage U.S. international credibility and weaken the United States’ ability to conclude a deal that would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This willingness to put short-term political goals ahead of U.S. interests has been on display with other Republican initiatives in recent weeks, particularly Speaker of the House John Boehner’s (R-OH) efforts to circumvent… Read More ›

CongressConservativesIranP5+1 TalksMonday, March 9, 2015

Sen. Cotton’s Reckless Iran Letter: Wrong on Facts, Disingenuous in Intent

Sen. Cotton’s Reckless Iran Letter: Wrong on Facts, Disingenuous in Intent March 9, 2015 While U.S. negotiators and their P5+1 colleagues prepare to enter a new round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program in Switzerland next weekend, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) released today the text of an open letter to the Iranian government signed by himself and 46 Republican senators. The pedantic letter begins by noting that Iran’s leadership “may not fully understand our constitutional system” before a discussion of treaty ratification and term limits. “[W]e will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke… Read More ›

NATORussiasanctionsUkraineVladimir PutinFriday, March 6, 2015

Why the U.S. Should Not Arm Ukraine Right Now

Why the U.S. Should Not Arm Ukraine Right Now March 6, 2015 Today, members of Congress and outside voices are continuing the push to send lethal aid to Kiev. These calls are ill-timed, especially while a tenuous ceasefire seems to have taken hold pursuant to the Minsk II agreement reached last month between European powers, Ukraine, and Russia. While the future of the ceasefire remains very much in doubt, a decision to send arms to Kiev now would carry more cost than benefits, undermining rather than protecting U.S. and European interests. Top costs include inducing Russian escalation, giving Putin political cover to violate the ceasefire, and undermining transatlantic unity in confronting Moscow’s aggression. Despite these costs, American arms will not empower Kiev to successfully resist… Read More ›

Benjamin NetanyahuCongressConservativesIranIsraelP5+1 TalksWednesday, March 4, 2015

Conservatives Rush to Derail Iran Talks After Netanyahu’s Misleading Speech

Conservatives Rush to Derail Iran Talks After Netanyahu’s Misleading Speech March 4, 2015 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech laid out Israel’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program – a concern shared by Congress and the Obama Administration. But while it succeeded in cynically pandering to his home constituency – after the speech, members of Congress called it a “campaign pep rally” and “straight out of the Dick Cheney playbook” – it failed to present a feasible alternative to the Administration’s diplomatic initiative. Instead, the Prime Minister made clear that he misunderstands what sanctions and negotiations can achieve, and what the consequences of these talks could be. Now, Congress is fast-tracking a bill that could scuttle the talks. As this increasingly partisan legislation is rushed to… Read More ›

Benjamin NetanyahuCongressIranIsraelP5+1 TalkssanctionsTuesday, March 3, 2015

Why Netanyahu Is Still Wrong on Iran

Why Netanyahu Is Still Wrong on Iran March 3, 2015 This morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will give a contentious address before Congress. Due to the politicization of the speech – Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) did not consult the Obama Administration in inviting Netanyahu, and invited the Prime Minister in the middle of an Israeli election campaign – a quarter of congressional Democrats have announced they will not be attending. But members of Congress don’t need to attend Netanyahu’s speech to know the message he’ll deliver – the Prime Minister has made clear his opposition to any agreement with Iran which would allow it to maintain an enrichment capability. This belief that the international community could negotiate a deal in which Iran would give… Read More ›

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