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Arab SpringdiplomacyEgyptMonday, July 29, 2013

Navigating the Crisis in Egypt

With at least 74 people killed and hundreds more injured in conflicts between Egyptian security forces and supporters of the ousted former President Morsi, and reports the interim government has assumed emergency powers, the time has come for a full review of how the U.S. can constructively engage the Egyptian government, military and civil society to serve its long-term interests. In the near-term, however, these events call into question the foreign assistance the U.S. provides to Egypt – virtually all of which is military – on the heels of the administration’s decision to withhold the delivery of four F-16s to the country. Violence, emergency powers in Egypt heighten concerns.  The Wall Street Journal reports, “At least 74 people were killed and 748 injured in early morning… Read More ›

appropsCongressDepartment of DefenseGuantanamoHouseMilitaryNewSTARTNukesThursday, July 25, 2013

More Self-inflicted Wounds on National Security

With sequester talks stalemated and the military sounding the alarm, it was surprising to see the Defense Appropriations bill passed yesterday add to those challenges rather than alleviate them by increasing the risks of the Pentagon being forced to fire civilian workers, blocking moves to address the festering wounds of Guantanamo Prison, investing in systems the military doesn’t want and undermining nuclear security. However, not all the news was bad as forward-looking members of Congress took steps to allow for reducing the bloat of senior officers in the military and saved billions of dollars of waste. Boxing the military into a corner on key policy and budget issues undermines U.S. interests and security.  Blocking DoD civilian employee furloughs may lead to layoffs. CQ reports that “The House-passed… Read More ›

GuantanamoHuman RightsTerrorismWednesday, July 24, 2013

Moving Forward on Guantanamo Bay

Today the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights is holding a hearing titled, “Closing Guantanamo: The National Security, Fiscal, and Human Rights Implications.” The hearing is part of an important discussion on the next steps towards closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. While the detention facility has been on the back of many people’s minds for the past few years, the hunger strike that began there earlier this year is a stark reminder of the damage that Guantanamo has had on America’s image and interests in the world. Going forward there are real and concrete steps America can make to reduce the prison population and moving towards closure. Guantanamo Bay detention facility has had, and continues to have, serious implications… Read More ›

appropsCongressDepartment of StatediplomacyTuesday, July 23, 2013

Funding America’s Security

Both House and Senate appropriations subcommittees have now marked up their FY 2014 budgets for the State Department and foreign operations, cutting between 6-14% from last year’s level, on top of cuts the previous 4 years. More than 100 retired senior military officers remind us that U.S. foreign policy needs a balance of defense, diplomacy and development. The long-term defunding of diplomacy and development represents a misunderstanding of American power. With just over one percent of the federal budget, the State Department/USAID budget leads in advancing U.S. national interests. The choice to de-emphasize diplomacy and development represents a misunderstanding of American power. As 115 retired generals and admirals wrote to Congress earlier this year, “Our nation’s military strength is not sufficient on its own to defend… Read More ›

CongressdiplomacyIranMonday, July 22, 2013

Shifting Tide in Iran Debate

The past week has seen a flood of signals on the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program: from Tehran, influential leaders calling for change, and U.S.-educated Iranians taking key positions in the new government; and from Washington, Congress slowing the debate on new sanctions and one-fourth of the House asking the President to intensify efforts toward a diplomatic solution. These developments move toward a bipartisan expert consensus that emerged over the last year, with numerous high-level reports calling for a negotiated solution. Signals from Iran: influential calls for change, U.S.-educated leaders tapped. NBC News reported over the weekend, “Several U.S.-educated Iranians are expected to be tapped for key posts in President Hassan Rowhani’s new administration, hinting at a break from the antagonistic rhetoric of predecessor Mahmoud… Read More ›

diplomacyHeather HurlburtIsraelJohn KerryPalestineFriday, July 19, 2013

Mustering Optimism for Kerry’s Middle East Peace Talks | Heather Hurlburt

By Heather Hurlburt July 19, 2013 | US News I’m having trouble summoning the requisite inside-the-Beltway cynicism at Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement today that Israelis and Palestinians have agreed on the outline of renewed peace talks, and that he will be inviting Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat to open talks in Washington. Sure, I know all the reasons, and thanks, Twitter, for reminding me: there’s “nothing new” in Kerry’s approach; “neither side is hurting enough to make a deal“; the status quo is “stable,” while peace talks will bring “spoiler attempts to gin up violence.” Most of this analysis I even agree with. But it is answering the wrong question. Here’s where I start, instead: Political establishments… Read More ›

ChinaIndiaJoe BidenThursday, July 18, 2013

The Indo-Pacific and Strategic Rebalancing

Today, Vice President Biden is giving an address on India’s significance to the future of strategic rebalancing to Asia ahead of his trip to the Middle East, India and Singapore. As Biden draws attention to U.S.-Indian trade and economic ties, as well as India’s growing regional security role, experts urge that U.S. strategy think in “Indo-Pacific” in addition to the “Asia-Pacific” terms  as U.S. interests in India, India’s role in the region and East Asia’s interdependence with India all expand. With the Indian Ocean now the world’s biggest trade corridor, sustaining strategic rebalancing will increasingly depend upon U.S. relations with India. For strategic reasons, think beyond Asia-Pacific to “Indo-Pacific” Rory Medcalf of Australia’s Lowy Institute and non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution explains: “Indo-Pacific… Read More ›

diplomacyT-TIPTPPtradeWednesday, July 17, 2013

Economic Statecraft in the 21st Century

  Recently, there have been two significant developments on U.S. trade agenda. Last month President Obama, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy officially launched the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union. And earlier this week, the latest round of negotiations on the Transpacific Partnership agreement (TPP), were launched in Malaysia. These two agreements signify an ambitious trade agenda for the U.S. in light of the long-stalled Doha rounds. However, it also marks an ambitious strategic agenda. If twentieth century strategy and America’s role in the world were dominated by military engagement, then twenty-first century strategy will face an increasing importance on economic engagement, what has… Read More ›

diplomacyIranMaliPersonnelSamantha PowerSyriaUNGAUnited NationsTuesday, July 16, 2013

The United Nations and American Interests

Tomorrow the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will review the nomination of Samantha Powers to be Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations. As the U.S. looks to the UN to legitimize, support and share the burden of our national interests, having experienced and highly-qualified representation at this vital but imperfect institution is too important to consign to domestic politics. U.S. interests are served by engaging and shaping the institution. UN provides vital support, legitimacy and burden-sharing for American interests and goals: Rallying international support: As the Council on Foreign Relations’ Kara C. McDonald and Stewart M. Patrick explain, “The United States regularly resorts to the UNSC to gain political backing and legal authority for multilateral initiatives that advance U.S. objectives. Over the… Read More ›

IranIsraelMonday, July 15, 2013

Clarifying Positions on Iran

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu re-opened the debate over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program this weekend. As negotiators from the P5+1 meet to establish a strategy for talks with the government of new President Hassan Rouhani, we offer a primer on how the administration and national security experts view the fundamental questions at stake. What is the U.S. position? All options are on the table, America and Israel are on the same page and working together. As the Congressional Research Service summarizes, the “Obama Administration says the option of U.S. military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities remains open, but he has asserted that there is still time—although increasingly limited—for diplomacy. He reiterated this position during his March 2013 visit to Israel.” CNN reported… Read More ›

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