An integrated national security budget?

The idea is daring and daunting - in Washington, budgets are the sinews of power.  The details of the CAP plan are here: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/06/less_is_more.html
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The Center for American Progress (CAP) has proposed a "unified national security budget encompassing defense, diplomacy, and development." The unified budget would compile funding across various federal departments so that priorities could better be compared and resources better allocated by taking funds from the Department of Defense budget and putting them into under-funded services like the Coast Guard and agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The report is mostly about USAID, CAP stating that -- "the additional provision of $10 billion in USAID’s budget alongside a $40 billion reduction in defense spending would allow for major improvements in three key areas:
Restoring a professional workforce
Strengthening its “fundamental” development assistance capacity
Improving the agency’s ability to prevent and respond to disasters


The Official US National Security Strategy

Just released by the Obama Administration and available via The Cable


Pentagon lobbies for more State/USAID funding

Via Josh Rogin at Politico:

Mullen goes to bat for State Department budget

"The Pentagon is actively lobbying for the State Department and USAID as next year's budgets get formed, and now we can add Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the list of Defense Department leaders who are going out on a limb to support money for diplomacy and development.

In separate letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, Mullen criticized the $4 billion cut that Sen. Kent Conrad, D-ND, proposed for the fiscal 2011 budget request in his budget resolution. That cut has already been criticized by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the entire development community.

"We are living in times that require an integrated national security program with budgets that fund the full spectrum of national security efforts, including vitally important pre-conflict and post-conflict civilian stabilization programs," Mullen wrote. "Diplomatic programs are critical to our long-term security."

But the Pentagon isn't just writing letters. Hill sources say that Pentagon officials of various stripes are actually lobbying foreign affairs appropriators while making the rounds on Capitol Hill. Traditionally, the Pentagon guys talk to the defense appropriators, leaving the foreign affairs lobbying to the State Department.

There's also new traction on Gates's idea for a $2 billion jointly managed fund to handle issues that overlap the security and diplomatic spheres. The Pentagon is actively pushing the idea, Hill sources say, while the pushback is actually come from the State Department, which is still skeptical the funds could be jointly managed in a fair and uncomplicated way.

Regardless, Gates's push to actually take money from his own department and giving it to State is real, despite some bureaucratic wrangling over the assistance. And the Pentagon's lobbying will no doubt have an effect if and when Conrad's budget resolution makes it to the Senate floor. We're hearing that a bipartisan effort led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, D-MA, is preparing to try to roll back Conrad's cuts. Then again, Congress might not even tackle the issue directly this year."

A New Grand Strategy: Watch Obama's 2010 graduation address at West Point

A preview of a new grand strategy?


FP Mag: Five Primaries where the World Matters

From Foreign Policy Magazine:
It's political season once again in the United States of America, with midterm elections due in the fall and a series of fierce primary battles already underway this spring. Most voters are clearly concerned with the state of the U.S. economy above all, but in a few key races, foreign policy is making a showing. And it's appearing in often surprising ways.
Read more here.

VA's Jim Moran new to Foreign Operations Appropriations

via Politico, see the original here.

For all you readers who love to follow (or need to follow) the appropriators who dole out the foreign operations funding, this is big news: Virginia Democrat Jim Moran is now a member of the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee.

The outgoing chairman of the full committee, David Obey, D-WI, announced the changing musical chairs on the committee last night and put out a press release. Moran replaces Betty McCollum, D-MN, who is no longer on the subcommittee.

Although Moran will technically be the lowest-ranking member of the subcommittee, as a long-time appropriator with other top subcommittee postings, he's sure to have influence. In March he was named chairman of the interior and environment subcommittee and he is the third ranking Democrat on the ultra-powerful defense subcommittee as well.

Importantly, Moran is close to defense subcommittee chairman Norm Dicks, D-WA, who is widely expected to take over the chairmanship of the full committee next year when Obey retires. In fact, it was Dicks who handed over the interior subcommittee gavel to Moran.

And now, as both a defense and foreign ops appropriator, Moran sits at the intersection of the congressional debate over how to rebalance the tools of national statecraft from the military to the diplomatic core, which is raging inside the government now. The foreign ops community will be watching to see if he ends up siding with those who support the president's requested budget increase (Gates, Clinton, Bono, etc.) or those who want to cut foreign ops funding to pay for domestic needs (Kent Conrad).


Big news! Leaked NSC doc suggests AID become independent of State

White House proposed taking development role away from State

Posted By Josh Rogin  


The White House is moving closer to finishing a sweeping review of U.S. development strategy that aims to put development on par with diplomacy and defense as a "central pillar" of U.S. national security, according to sources familiar with the issue.

The Cable has obtained a draft copy (pdf) of the review, which is titled "A New Way Forward on Global Development" and is known internally as the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development or PSD-7.
"The Obama Administration recognizes that the successful pursuit of development is essential to our security, prosperity, and values," the draft document reads. It promises a "new approach to global development that focuses our government on the critical task of helping to create a world with more prosperous and democratic states."

Sources cautioned that the draft document was presented at a deputies committee meeting two weeks ago and has been updated since. But they said that certain key passages have already exacerbated tensions between the National Security Council and the State Department, which is finalizing the interim report for its own wholesale policy review, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). The NSC declined to comment.

One important section of the seven-page document would establish an interagency "development policy committee"  -- moving the responsibility for coordinating U.S. policy on development out of the State Department.

At issue is whether Foggy Bottom should have the ultimate authority over development policy or whether oversight should be done by the new interagency body, which reports up to the president.

The draft document also calls for an overall review of U.S. development strategy every four years (separate from the QDDR), and the design of country and/or regional strategies to "organize U.S. engagement and inform resource allocation."

The idea of a government-wide, independent committee to oversee development is one that Senate Foreign Relations Committee heads John Kerry, D-MA, and Richard Lugar, R-IN, also support.

The draft also outlines of how the relationship between State and USAID should work  -- and those outlines don't jive with how we hear the QDDR is shaping up. For example, the document says that USAID should have "responsibility and accountability for a core development and humanitarian assistance budget," as well as a robust policy planning staff, a leadership role in setting strategies and the "mandate, where appropriate, to lead U.S. government development efforts in the field."

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah would "be included in NSC meetings where  appropriate" if this draft document's recommendations were adopted, but he would also still report up to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, not directly to the White House as some might hope.

Officials have indicated that in State's QDDR, USAID would also get its own policy planning staff but would probably not control its own budget. State Department officials argue that by keeping control over USAID's budget, they would be in a stronger position to advocate for it.

"You can see many things here that try to establish more balance and reorient the authority over  development back toward the NSC and the White House," said one development leader closely observing the process. "Each of those things could invite some pushback from State."

Overall, the document is a good draft, this observer said, noting that it could go through several revisions before being finalized. "We're not hugely supportive of the USAID administrator reporting to the secretary of state, but a lot of this is largely positive in terms of strategy and overall direction."

The QDDR is led by Shah and Deputy Secretary Jack Lew, with heavy input from Policy Planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter. The PSD-7 is led by top NSC aides Gayle Smith, Michael Froman, and Jeremy Weinstein.

The interim report of the QDDR is expected to be released soon. There has never been a promise from the White House that the PSD-7 would be released publicly.


Poll: Americans Now Less Anxious about Foreign Policy, But Party Matters

According to a new poll, Americans are less worried about US foreign policy and feeling better about how the world views the US. Good news, right?

However, being "less anxious" doesn't mean that a majority are confident in the direction of the US in the world.  Then there are the partisan differences:
"When the Anxiety Indicator is calculated by party, Republican worries have soared from a relatively low level of 108 in 2008 to 134 today. By contrast, Democratic anxiety -- which was 142 in 2008 -- has now fallen to relatively calm 104. Independents were at 140 in 2008 and are still fairly anxious at 128, but that's a notable decline."
 The differences hold about the general direction of the country:
 "In 2008, only 20 percent of Democrats said the country was going in the right direction, compared with 45 percent of Republicans.
Now the Democrats’ view has shifted a staggering 41 points, to 61 percent who think the country is going in the right direction, while Republicans’ rating has dropped to only one-quarter (26 percent). Independents are far less enthusiastic than Democrats are, but their "right direction" number has doubled from 16 percent to 32 percent."

Much more info on the Public Agenda home page and the high points on Laura Rozen's blog.


Reading List: How Enemies Become Friends - The Sources of Stable Pace

For those of you interested in keeping up with the latest in "high politics," check out Charlie Kupchan's How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace out in March 2010.  As those of you who visit this page might suspect, Kupchan argues that diplomacy is key to converting enemies into friends.

Available through the Council on Foreign Relations, Steve Clemons gives it a positive first impression.

The publisher's write up is here:

"Is the world destined to suffer endless cycles of conflict and war? Can rival nations become partners and establish a lasting and stable peace? How Enemies Become Friends provides a bold and innovative account of how nations escape geopolitical competition and replace hostility with friendship. Through compelling analysis and rich historical examples that span the globe and range from the thirteenth century through the present, foreign policy expert Charles Kupchan explores how adversaries can transform enmity into amity—and he exposes prevalent myths about the causes of peace.

Kupchan contends that diplomatic engagement with rivals, far from being appeasement, is critical to rapprochement between adversaries. Diplomacy, not economic interdependence, is the currency of peace; concessions and strategic accommodation promote the mutual trust needed to build an international society. The nature of regimes matters much less than commonly thought: countries, including the United States, should deal with other states based on their foreign policy behavior rather than on whether they are democracies. Kupchan demonstrates that similar social orders and similar ethnicities, races, or religions help nations achieve stable peace. He considers many historical successes and failures, including the onset of friendship between the United States and Great Britain in the early twentieth century, the Concert of Europe, which preserved peace after 1815 but collapsed following revolutions in 1848, and the remarkably close partnership of the Soviet Union and China in the 1950s, which descended into open rivalry by the 1960s."


April 7: Celebrate passage of health reform

As you may have read here and here, last week's passage of health reform victory is also a victory for US foreign policy.  It's time to celebrate!

America’s Impact is joining with the DC Democratic Party, DC for Democracy, DC for Obama, DC Latino caucus, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, Montgomery County Young Democrats, Organizing for America, South Asians for Opportunity, Young Lawyers for Obama, and others for the party of the Spring:

Wednesday, April 7
6:30pm - until we drop

LOCAL 16   
1602 U Street, NW, Washington, DC  (16th and U Streets NW)
U Street Metro Stop (Green/Yellow line)

Expect happy hour specials, music, invited health care reform leaders, and lots of appreciation for all of the hard work put in to achieve a tremendous legislative victory.


State's Global Pulse 2010 - online NOW through March 31!

Want more input in US foreign policy?  Check out the Global Pulse initiative at USAID - it's a legit initiative to involve the public and interested professionals in the shaping the future of US foreign policy.  

More info here:   www.globalpulse2010.gov

“There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from one another; and to seek common ground.“  ~ President Barack Obama

What is the value of Global Pulse 2010?

Global Pulse 2010 will provide an opportunity to voice opinions, share ideas, and create innovative solutions to social issues facing the global community within the fields of science and technology, entrepreneurship, and human development. This is a unique opportunity to influence a global conversation that will build partnerships across borders, strengthen understanding among cultures, and unite the human race in an effort to create innovative solutions to the most pressing social issues of our time.


Health care win good for US foreign policy

Link to original article

Obama's Health care win could boost foreign policy
Jeff Mason, Friday, March 26, 2010

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama's domestic success on healthcare reform may pay dividends abroad as the strengthened U.S. leader taps his momentum to take on international issues with allies and adversaries.

More than a dozen foreign leaders have congratulated Obama on the new healthcare law in letters and phone calls, a sign of how much attention the fight for his top domestic policy priority received in capitals around the world.

Analysts and administration officials were cautious about the bump Obama could get from such a win: Iran is not going to rethink its nuclear program and North Korea is not going to return to the negotiating table simply because more Americans will get health insurance in the coming years, they said.

But the perception of increased clout, after a rocky first year that produced few major domestic or foreign policy victories, could generate momentum for Obama's agenda at home and in his talks on a host of issues abroad.

"It helps him domestically and I also think it helps him internationally that he was able to win and get through a major piece of legislation," said Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to Republican President George W. Bush.

"It shows political strength, and that counts when dealing with foreign leaders."

Obama's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the Democratic president's persistence in the long healthcare battle added credibility to his rhetoric on climate change, nuclear nonproliferation and other foreign policy goals.

"It sends a very important message about President Obama as a leader," Rhodes told Reuters during an interview in his West Wing office.

"The criticism has been: (He) sets big goals but doesn't close the deal. So, there's no more affirmative answer to that criticism than closing the biggest deal you have going."

Foreign policy dividends have been minimal in the short amount of time since he signed the healthcare bill into law on Tuesday.

Exhibit A: a one-on-one meeting this week between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, a country that closely tracks U.S. domestic policy, yielded little sign of a breakthrough in a dispute over Jewish housing construction on occupied land in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.


Still, some specific foreign policy successes are looming.

U.S. and Russian officials say Washington and Moscow are close to announcing an agreement on a nuclear arms reduction treaty, which would require a two-thirds majority in the U.S. Senate for ratification.

Some analysts said Russia was watching Obama's domestic successes and failures throughout the process.

"I think there were some in the Kremlin saying, 'how strong is he? If he can't get some of these things through, does that give us more leverage to push him on arms control?'" said Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and now a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

Administration officials played down a connection between healthcare and talks with Russia on the START nuclear arms treaty, though Rhodes said the processes that led to success on both issues were similar.
"Like healthcare, the START treaty has been a negotiation where at times we seemed very close to getting a deal done and then there were huge roadblocks," Rhodes said, crediting Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for sticking it out.

"So, it was a similar narrative of persistence, of refusing to throw in the towel at times when he could have."
Foreign leaders have noted the persistence.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown were among the leaders who congratulated Obama, and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said the healthcare win would have a positive impact abroad, according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Analysts said the bill's passage showed Obama could deliver votes for domestic legislation with foreign policy components, such as rules to fight climate change, currently stalled in the Senate, which European leaders are eager to see advance.

James Lindsay, senior vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, who was skeptical that Obama's healthcare win would have a huge foreign policy benefit, said the law did free up the president to focus less on purely domestic issues.

"If the president had lost on healthcare, it would have further sapped his popularity as president, requiring him to spend even more time on domestic affairs and left him with less time to devote to foreign policy," he said.
"That's not the same as saying that because the healthcare bill has passed that the Iranians are going to be more pliable in their nuclear program, that the Israelis are going to rethink their settlement policy or the Chinese are going to become more agreeable on currency issues."


Neocons no longer welcome in the GOP?

Politico article here.

Republicans scold Liz Cheney
By: Ben Smith
March 8, 2010 06:19 AM EST
A group that includes leading conservative lawyers and policy experts, former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and several senior officials of the last Bush administration is denouncing as “shameful” Republican attacks on lawyers who came to the Obama Justice Department after representing suspected terrorists.

Senate Republicans have demanded details of the lawyers' past work and Liz Cheney’s group “Keep America Safe” has questioned their “values." A drumbeat of Republican criticism forced the Justice Department reluctantly to identify seven of them last week. But the harshness of the criticism – Keep America Safe labeled a group of them the “Al Qaeda Seven” — has provoked a backlash from across the legal establishment.

“We consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications,” wrote the 19 lawyers whose names were attached to the statement as of early Monday.

The statement cited John Adams’s defense of British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre to argue that “zealous representation of unpopular clients” is an important American tradition.

The attacks on the lawyers “undermine the Justice system more broadly,” they wrote, by “delegitimizing” any system in which accused terrorists have lawyers, whether civilian courts of military tribunals.

The letter’s signers include some of the top officials of a Bush Justice Department that wrestled at length with the legal questions surrounding terrorist detentions.

The Bush officials clashed repeatedly with some of the detainee lawyers, such as the current deputy Solicitor General, Neal Katyal, whom they are now defending. The signers include former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, John Ashcroft’s No. 2, and Peter Keisler, who served as acting attorney general during President Bush’s second term. They also include several lawyers who dealt directly with detainee policy: Matthew Waxman and Charles “Cully” Stimson, who each served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs; Daniel Dell’Orto, who was acting general counsel for the Department of Defense; and Bradford Berenson, a prominent Washington lawyer who worked on the issues as an associate White House counsel during President Bush’s first term.
In 2007, Stimson resigned as the Bush administration’s top detainee affairs official after suggesting on a radio show that companies not hire law firms providing pro bono services to detainees. He later apologized.

The lawyers’ sharp criticism of the Democratic appointees reflects, in part, a rift that deepened late in President George W. Bush’s term, in which allies of Vice President Dick Cheney fought pitched battles over the treatment of detainees with lawyers throughout the government seeking to bring terror suspects into a more familiar legal framework.
The letter’s other signatories include Philip Zelikow and John Bellinger III, who were top advisers to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, .
Also signing were David Rivkin and Lee Casey, officials in the Justice Department in the first George W. Bush administration. Rivkin and Casey ‘s participation underscores the depth of discomfort with the attacks, as they have been among the most vocal defenders of Bush Administration detainee practices. Last April, for example, they wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the controversial Department of Justice memos widely viewed as justifying harsh treatment in fact “detail the actual techniques used and many measures taken to ensure that interrogations did not cause severe pain or degradation.”

Separately, former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson rose to the defense of lawyers representing detainees. He noted, however, that some of those now defending current Justice Department lawyers were “completely silent” in the face of “vicious attacks” on Bush administration lawyers handling terrorism issues.
“I of course think it’s entirely appropriate for members of the legal profession to have provided legal services to detainees,” Olson told POLITICO. “It is a part of the responsibility of lawyers and in the finest tradition of the profession to represent unpopular persons who are caught up in the criminal justice system or even in the military justice system. I think that people who do so, do so honorably,” said Olson, whose arguments before the Supreme Court helped win the presidency for George W. Bush in 2000.

“But I also think that some of the people being highly critical now of the criticism of the lawyers in the Justice Department, have been completely silent when it came to attacks — vicious attacks — on lawyers in the Department of Justice and the Defense Department who were providing legal assistance and advice to the United States of America during the last administration in connection with the attacks on the United States by terrorists.

“So lawyers should be encouraged to provide legal advice conscientiously to their clients. And that goes for people in the Bush administration and the Obama administration.”

In 2007, Olson co-authored an article in Legal Times in 2007 expressing similar sentiments about representation of detainees. His co-author was Neal Katyal, one of the current Justice Department lawyers attacked by Cheney.

Liz Cheney’s partner in Keep America Safe, Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol, wrote Sunday to dispute the notion that his group’s sharp-edged ad constituted an “attack” on the lawyers. His aim, he wrote, was to push for Justice to release their names and to raise “the question of whether former pro bono lawyers for terrorists should be working on detainee policy for the Justice Department.”

Other critics have compared the Justice Department appointees to mob lawyers, and argued that while they have a right to defend their clients, they don’t belong in government.

Keep America Safe is not alone in raising the issue. And Republican leaders on Capitol Hill believe the attacks are politically effective, exposing what they see as concern for the rights of alleged terrorists outweighing the security of Americans. A senior Republican congressional aide said that the line of attack is likely to broaden as the midterm elections approach. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ipwa) has taken the lead in pressing the Justice Department first to reveal the number of its appointees who represented or advocated for detainees and then to confirm their names to Fox News.

Fox reported that most of the nine were big-firm lawyers who “played only minor or short-lived roles in advocating for detainees,” a popular pro bono cause at more than half of the country’s large law firms. A few were more prominent. Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the Justice Department’s Civil Division represented John Walker Lindh, the young California man captured among the Taliban early in the war in Afghanistan. Jennifer Daskal, another political appointee at Justice, worked on detainee issues at Human Rights Watch, opposing the Bush Administration’s policies. But the highest profile attorney among the group is Katyal, who represented Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s driver, in the case in which the Supreme Court declared President Bush’s military tribunals unconstitutional.

“The fact that he got 5 votes on the Supreme Court has to count for something,” said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who drafted the letter.

“There has to be some space to disagree without someone running an ad suggesting you’re an Al Qaeda agent,” he said.
Here is the full statement and signatories as of early Monday:
The past several days have seen a shameful series of attacks on attorneys in the Department of Justice who, in previous legal practice, either represented Guantanamo detainees or advocated for changes to detention policy. As attorneys, former officials and policy specialists who have worked on detention issues, we consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications.

The past several days have seen a shameful series of attacks on attorneys in the Department of Justice who, in previous legal practice, either represented Guantanamo detainees or advocated for changes to detention policy. As attorneys, former officials and policy specialists who have worked on detention issues, we consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications. The past several days have seen a shameful series of attacks on attorneys in the Department of Justice who, in previous legal practice, either represented Guantanamo detainees or advocated for changes to detention policy. As attorneys, former officials, and policy specialists who have worked on detention issues, we consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications.

The American tradition of zealous representation of unpopular clients is at least as old as John Adams’s representation of the British soldiers charged in the Boston massacre. People come to serve in the Justice Department with a diverse array of prior private clients; that is one of the department’s strengths. The War on Terror raised any number of novel legal questions, which collectively created a significant role in judicial, executive and legislative forums alike for honorable advocacy on behalf of detainees. In several key cases, detainee advocates prevailed before the Supreme Court. To suggest that the Justice Department should not employ talented lawyers who have advocated on behalf of detainees maligns the patriotism of people who have taken honorable positions on contested questions and demands a uniformity of background and view in government service from which no administration would benefit.

Such attacks also undermine the Justice system more broadly. In terrorism detentions and trials alike, defense lawyers are playing, and will continue to play, a key role. Whether one believes in trial by military commission or in federal court, detainees will have access to counsel. Guantanamo detainees likewise have access to lawyers for purposes of habeas review, and the reach of that habeas corpus could eventually extend beyond this population. Good defense counsel is thus key to ensuring that military commissions, federal juries, and federal judges have access to the best arguments and most rigorous factual presentations before making crucial decisions that affect both national security and paramount liberty interests. To delegitimize the role detainee counsel play is to demand adjudications and policymaking stripped of a full record. Whatever systems America develops to handle difficult detention questions will rely, at least some of the time, on an aggressive defense bar; those who take up that function do a service to the system.

Benjamin Wittes
Robert Chesney
Matthew Waxman
David Rivkin
Lee Casey
Philip Bobbitt
Peter Keisler
Bradford Berenson
Kenneth Anderson
John Bellinger III
Philip Zelikow
Kenneth W. Starr
Larry Thompson
Charles "Cully" D. Stimson
Chuck Rosenberg
Harvey Rishikoff
Orin Kerr
Daniel Dell’Orto


Umm, we tried that: Mitt Romney wants a confrontational, "no apologies" foreign policy

In a book that mirrors the GOP's talking point criticism of President Obama's foreign policy initiatives, Mitt Romney is pushing a new book that criticizes the Administration for "apologizing" to the world.  I haven't read it, but Spencer Ackerman has an incisive and critical review:
Mitt Romney’s just-published book, “No Apology: The Case For American Greatness,” is a bid to bolster the former Massachusetts governor’s nonexistent national-security and foreign policy portfolio ahead of a possible 2012 presidential run. But a glance through the remarkable conflation of conservative shibboleths, paranoid global fantasies and deterministic myopia in “No Apology” makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that the perennial GOP candidate might have been better off saying nothing at all.
Full review available here at the Washington Independent.

Liz Cheney's neo-con group adopts McCarthyism?

Politico reports today that unrepentant neo-conservatives are now targeting the patriotism of public servants working on Guantanamo issues.  The move has been criticized as a McCarthyist tactic to put them at personal risk for their work.


Clinton's comments before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 2/24/10

Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release                                                                                                                    February 24, 2010


Opening Remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

February 24, 2010
Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, members of the committee.  It’s a real pleasure to be back here in the Senate to be with all of you and participate in this important hearing.  When I was last here to discuss our budget, I emphasized my commitment to elevating diplomacy and development as core pillars of American power.  And since then, I have been heartened by the bipartisan support of this committee and the rest of Congress.  I want to thank the Chairman and the Ranking Member and all of the members for your bipartisan support in moving State Department nominees; 114 were confirmed in 2009.  We are now looking to get up and get nominated for your consideration the leadership team at AID and we are very grateful for the expeditious support and we hope they can move quickly when they hit the floor.  But I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  And let me also take this opportunity to express appreciation on behalf of the men and women who work every day at the State Department, at USAID, here in our country and around the world, to put our foreign policy into action.

The budget we are presenting today is designed to protect America and Americans and to advance our interests and values.  Our fiscal year 2011 request for the State Department and USAID totals $52.8 billion.  That is a $4.9 billion increase over 2010.  But as the Chairman has pointed out, of that increase, $3.6 billion will go to supporting efforts in “frontline states” – Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.  Other funding will grow by $1.3 billion, which is a 2.7 percent increase that will help address global challenges, strengthen partnerships, and ensure that the State Department and USAID are equipped with the right people and resources.

Over the past six weeks in Haiti, we have been reminded yet again of the importance of American leadership.  I’m very proud of what our country has done, and we will continue to work with our Haitian and international partners to address ongoing suffering and transition from relief to recovery.

But I am also acutely aware that this is a time of great economic strain for many of our fellow Americans.  As a former senator, I know what this means for the people you represent every single day.  So for every dollar we spend, as Senator Lugar said, we have to show results.  That is why this budget must support programs vital to our national security, our national interests, and our leadership in the world, while guarding against waste, duplication, irrelevancy.  And I believe that we have achieved those objectives in this budget.

Now, these figures are more than numbers on a page. They tell the story of challenges we face and the resources needed to overcome them.

We are fighting two wars that call on the skill and sacrifice of our civilians as well as our troops.  We have pursued a dual-track approach to Iran that has exposed its refusal to live up to its responsibilities and helped us achieve a new unity with our international partners.  Iran has left the international community with little choice but to impose greater costs for its provocative steps.  And we are now working actively with our partners to prepare and implement new measures to pressure Iran to change its course.

We have also achieved unprecedented unity in our response to North Korea’s provocative actions, even as we leave the door open for a restart of the Six-Party Talks. And we are moving closer by the day to a fresh nuclear agreement with Russia – one that advances our security while furthering President Obama’s long-term vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

With China, we seek areas of common purpose while standing firm where we differ.  We are making concrete our new beginning with the Muslim world.  We are strengthening partnerships with allies in Europe and Asia, with friends in our hemisphere, and with countries around the world, from India to Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey.  And we are working under the leadership of former Senator George Mitchell to end the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians.

At the same time, we are developing a new architecture of cooperation to meet transnational global challenges like climate change and the use of our planet’s oceans.  With regard to the latter, I want to reiterate my support for U.S. accession to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Our country stands to gain immensely from this treaty.  Everything we know from what we are picking up with respect to other countries’ use of the tools under the Law of the Sea demonstrates that we will lose out, in economic and resource rights, in terms of environmental interests, and national security.

In so many instances, our national interest and the common interest converge.  We are promoting human rights, from Africa to Asia to the Middle East; the rule of law, democracy, internet freedom.  We are fighting poverty, hunger, and disease; and we are working to ensure that economic growth is broadly shared, principally by addressing the role of girls and women.  And I want to applaud the Chairman and the subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer for putting this issue on the map of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Now, our agenda is ambitious because our times demand it.  America is called to lead – I think we all believe that – and therefore we need the tools and the resources in the 21st century to exercise that leadership wisely and effectively.  We can bury our heads in the sand and pay the consequences later, or we can make hard-nosed, targeted investments now.

Let me just highlight three areas where we are making significant new investments.

First, the security of frontline states.

In Afghanistan, we have tripled the number of civilians on the ground.  Civilians are embedded with our troops in Marjah in the combat operations going on.  As soon as an area is cleared, they are part of the American team, along with our international allies, who go in to hold and build.   Our diplomats and development experts are helping to build institutions, expand economic opportunities, and provide meaningful alternatives for insurgents ready to renounce violence and join their fellow Afghans in the pursuit of peace.

In Pakistan, our request includes $3.2 billion to combat extremism, promote economic development, strengthen democratic institutions, and build a long-term relationship with the Pakistani people.  That is the vision of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman initiative, and this includes funding for that.  And I want to thank you again, Mr. Chairman and Senator Lugar, for your leadership.  Our request also includes a 59 percent increase in funding for Yemen, Senator Feingold, to help counter the extremist threat and build institutions and economic opportunity.

In Iraq, we are winding down our military presence and establishing a more normal civilian mission.  Our civilian efforts will not and cannot mirror the scale of our military presence, but rather they must provide assistance consistent with the priorities of the Iraqi Government.  So our request includes $2.6 billion for Iraq.  These are resources that will allow us to support the democratic process and ensure a smooth transition to civilian-led security training and operational support.  As these funds allow civilians to take full responsibility for programs, the Defense budget for Iraq will be decreasing by about $16 billion. That is a powerful illustration of the return on civilian investment and illustrates the point that the Chairman was making that this is really part of the security budget for the United States and should be seen as part of that whole.

We are blessed with the best troops in the world, as we have seen time and time again.  But we also need to give our civilian experts the resources to do the civilian jobs.  And this budget takes a step in that direction.  It includes $100 million for a State Department complex crisis fund – replacing the 1207 fund through which the Defense Department directed money toward crisis response.  And it includes support for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, which previously fell under the Defense Department as well.  Secretary Gates and I are working literally hand-in-hand and are committed to having a seamless relationship between the Defense Department and the State Department and USAID to further American security.

The second major area is investing in development.  And this budget makes targeted investments in fragile societies – which, in our interconnected world, bear heavily on our own security and prosperity.  These investments are a key part of our effort to get ahead of crisis rather than just responding to it, positioning us to deal effectively with threats and challenges that lie ahead.

The first of these is in health.  Building on our success in treating HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, our Global Health Initiative will invest $63 billion over six years, starting with $8.5 billion in FY11, to help our partners address specific diseases and, equally importantly, build strong, sustainable health systems as they do.

The Administration has also pledged to invest at least $3.5 billion in food security over three years, and this year’s request includes $1.6 billion, of which $1.2 billion is funded through the State Department.  And I greatly appreciate the work that Senator Lugar and Senator Casey have done to help target the United States effort when it comes to global hunger and food security.  So this funding will focus on countries that have developed effective, comprehensive strategies, where agriculture is central to prosperity and hunger remains widespread.

On climate change, we could not agree with the Chairman more.  Therefore, we have requested $646 million to promote the United States as a leader in green technology and to leverage other leaders’ cooperation – including through the Copenhagen Accord, which for the first time, to underscore the Chairman’s point, brings developing and developed countries together.  This is such an important initiative.  We need leadership from the rest of the world.  This is an opportunity for us to push this initiative and to ensure that we have support to give to core climate change activities and to spread the burden among other countries so that they share part of  the responsibility in meeting this global challenge.

The budget also includes $4.2 billion for humanitarian assistance programs.  Our efforts in Haiti have made clear that State and USAID must be able to respond quickly and effectively.

All of these initiatives are designed to enhance American security, help people in need, and give the American people a strong return on their investments.  Our aim is not to create dependency.  We don’t want to just pass out fish; we want to teach people to fish.  And we want to help our partners devise solutions they can sustain over the long term.  And essential to this is a focus on advancing equality and opportunity for women and girls.  They are the key drivers for economic and social progress.

And that brings me to our third area that I want to highlight.  None of this can happen if we do not recruit, train, and empower the right people for the job.

The State Department and USAID are full of talented, committed public servants, but unfortunately, we have too often failed to give them the tools they need to carry out their missions on the ground.  Rather than building their expertise, we have too often relied on contractors, sometimes with little oversight and often with greater cost to the American taxpayer.

This budget will allow us to expand the Foreign Service by over 600 positions, including an additional 410 positions for the State Department and 200 for USAID.  It will also allow us to staff the standby element of the Civilian Reserve Corps, a critical tool for responding to crises.

Now, while deploying these personnel generates new expenses in some accounts, it does reduce expenses in others by changing the way we do business.  We are ending an over-reliance on contractors and finding opportunities to save money by bringing these functions into government and improving oversight.

So Mr. Chairman, one thing should be very clear from this budget:  The State Department and USAID are taking a lead in carrying out the United States foreign policy and national security agenda.  As we finish the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and as the White House finishes the coordination of the Presidential Directive, we have a unique opportunity to define the capabilities we need and then to match resources with priorities. 

The QDDR will help ensure that we are more effective and accountable.  And I want to thank all of you for your individual contributions on so many of these issues that are important not only to your constituents but to our country and the world.  And Mr. Chairman, I look forward to continuing to work closely with this committee and I would be pleased to take your questions. 

# # #

Why [Progressives] Should Run on National Security

Max Fisher in The Atlantic Monthly, Feb 22, 2010

Ever since Ronald Reagan successfully campaigned for the presidency against President Jimmy Carter's failed handling of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, Republicans have framed Democrats as weak on national security and terrorism. That former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was ever considered a serious contender for the presidency is a testament to the political hay Republican are able to make from national security. For the first time in a generation, President Obama has the opportunity to reverse that trend. But if he and Democrats nationwide fail to seize it, they will allow Republicans to once again use national security against them. The White House must decide whether it wants national security to be a political strength or weakness in the looming 2010 and 2012 elections, and it must decide soon.

Despite making tremendous strides in national security policy, the White House continues to shun its politics. President Obama's approval ratings on national security  and foreign policy  , though far from stellar, poll better for him than any other issue. Yet his specific policies--civilian trials for terrorists  ,banning torture  --poll poorly. The White House likely fears that tying Obama too publicly to his unpopular policies will tarnish his generalized popularity on national security. For example, when the decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other terrorists in New York City became politically unpopular , the White House quietly agreed  to move it rather than fight for the location. But if Obama doesn't ally himself with these policies on his terms, Republicans will do it on their terms.

Beyond the Tea Party focus on taxes and health care, Republicans are preparing to put national security center stage. This weekend, CPAC attendees listed   national security as their third most important issue after the size and spending of federal government. Many conservatives see national security as key to Republican Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts and are urging  future GOP candidates to redouble that focus. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, though unpopular  nationally, is using his sway within the GOP establishment to pressure Republicans on national security. Whether the White House wants it or not, a national debate on national security is coming.

Because the White House continues its unpopular policies without making a bold defense of them, congressional Democrats up for reelection are stuck with a difficult choice. Either they break with the White House, halting Obama's agenda as Senate Democrats did in voting down   funding to close Guantanamo, or they side with the White House and defend its policies when Republican challengers inevitably bring them up. But if voters mistrust Democrats on national security, they especially mistrust congressmen, who are often seen as bureaucrats lacking the "Commander-in-Chief" sheen of the president. Congressional Democrats know they can't campaign on Obama's unpopular policies and can't make them popular. They have been so sheepish on national security, in fact, that they refuse to even establish a party message. Understandably, few are likely to risk reelection just to defend Obama's policies for him.

With Democrats mum on national security, Republicans have significant control over the national conversation on the issues. Unchecked, they've had marked success in painting Democratic policies as motivated by abstract moral and civil right concerns. This allows Republicans to position themselves as prioritizing safety first. If the GOP can frame national security debates as a zero-sum compromise between American safety and abstract moral ideals, they will win every time. If they succeed in making this narrative stick, 2010 could be simply the beginning in Democratic losses over national security.

The White House knows that the Republican narrative isn't accurate. President Obama's policies are certainly informed by civil rights, but they are also the most effective. General David Petraeus  is among the many military officials to agree that torture doesn't provide good intelligence and is a net loss for the U.S. Civilian trials are far more effective   at securing convictions than military tribunals. Yet the White House political team sees such policies as radioactive, at times actively opposing them.

Instead of dooming its party to electoral losses, the White House must get out in front of the coming national security debate. The message to sell is that President Obama's policies make Americans safer. In addition to being more politically viable than high-minded rhetoric about civil rights, this also happens to be, by every indication, true. If Democrats can sell their national security as making Americans safer, they'll not only have won an immediate victory, they'll have turned one of the party's greatest weaknesses into what could be among its greatest strengths.

Even engaging national security politics at all could well be a victory for Democrats. By shifting the GOP-preferred debate from "safety versus civil rights," a sure loser for Democrats, to "whose policies make America safer," Democrats would be on much safer ground. It's not hard to see why Obama's policies poll poorly. Voters dislike the idea of civilians interrogating terrorists, for example, because it comes across as "soft." Due to entrenched popular assumptions, Democrats are unlikely to win a contest over toughness. Should Democrats champion the clear message that civilian interrogations are more effective, they would move the entire field of debate to more comfortable territory.

This, after all, would be similar to the White House's political strategy on health care. Rather than make the case that expanding coverage to millions of Americans is an abstract moral duty, Obama has focused on cost control and efficiency. The battle for health care has not been easy, but Obama has made more progress than any Democrat in a generation or more, and he may go further still. The difference for Democrats between health care and national security is that they chose to confront health care. But national security is not going away. Democrats have the ultimate weapon in any political debate: their policies work. If Obama uses his commander-in-chief gravitas to champion national security, it could be a boon for the entire Democratic Party. If he does not, he will only be enabling the Republican narrative that has won them elections for decades: Democrats are weak on national security.

Original link


Sensing US decline, Americans expect a "Chinese Century"

Poll shows concern about American influence waning as China's grows
By John Pomfret and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 25, 2010; A11

Facing high unemployment and a difficult economy, most Americans think the United States will have a smaller role in the world economy in the coming years, and many believe that while the 20th century may have been the "American Century," the 21st century will belong to China.

These results come from a new Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted during a time of significant tension between Washington and Beijing.

"China's on the rise," said Wayne Nunnery, 56, a retired U.S. Air Force employee from Bexar, Tex., who was one of 1,004 randomly selected adults polled. "I don't worry about a Chinese century, but I do wonder how it's going to be for my three sons."

Asked whether this century would be more of an "American Century" or more of a "Chinese Century," Americans divide evenly in terms of the economy (41 percent say Chinese, 40 percent American) and tilt toward the Chinese in terms of world affairs (43 percent say Chinese, 38 percent American). A slim majority say the United States will play a diminished role in the world's economy this century, and nearly half see the country's position shrinking in world affairs more generally.

The results are consistent with recent polls by Gallup, the Pew Research Center and others that have tracked a significant public concern about China's growing prominence on the world stage, as its economy has expanded into what is arguably the second-biggest in the world. In 2000, for example, when the U.S. economy was booming, 65 percent of Americans polled by Gallup said the United States had the world's strongest economy. By last year, the United States and China ran neck-and-neck on the question.

Analysts say the bubbling anti-China sentiment in the United States could constitute a problem for U.S. policy toward that country if the polls also coincide, as they seem to, with growing support for trade protectionism.

Annetta Jordan, another poll participant, said in a follow-up interview that she has witnessed the shifting economic strength firsthand. Jordan, a mother of two from Sandoval, N.M., was working at a cellular telephone plant in the early 1990s as production and hiring were ramped up. By 1992, the plant had 3,200 workers. "Then this whole China thing started and we were very quickly training Chinese to take our jobs," she said. Now the plant has 100 people left.

"We're transferring our wealth to China," she said. "I see that as a very negative thing. When I was younger, a lot of corporations had a lot of pride and patriotism toward America. But corporations have changed. If we in the U.S. go down, that's okay; they'll just move their offices to Beijing."

Carla Hills, the former U.S. trade representative who negotiated China's entry into the World Trade Organization in the late 1990s, said any shift in American public opinion away from China is a

"I really worry about public opinion in both countries getting ahead of where we want to be," she said. "I worry about the public discourse here that 'it's all China's fault,' and the reverse in China that says we're trying to push China around."

In a poll last year in urban areas of China done by the Lowy Institute, Australia's premier think tank, Chinese respondents picked the United States as the No. 1 threat to China's rise by a factor of two over Japan and India, which were tied for second place.

Despite the mutual wariness, most Americans in the Post-ABC News poll say a diminished U.S. role in the world's economy or affairs would be positive or "neither good nor bad."

For Andrew Kohut, the president of the Pew Research Center, increasing public concerns with China remind him of America's reaction to another rising Asian nation three decades ago: Japan.

"This is déjà vu all over again, to quote Yogi," he said. "When a Japanese company bought Rockefeller Center, Americans went nuts. We asked questions about whether Japan was going to become No. 1 and people said yes. These two sentiments are very similar."

Kohut said he doesn't necessarily agree with the answers.

"Anyone who would say that China has eclipsed the United States hasn't been in a Chinese house," he said. But, he added, an "inflated view of what China is today" could have ramifications.

"When Americans are unhappy with themselves, they are unhappy with others, which can translate into protectionist pressure and security anxieties, both of which make it hard to manage U.S.-China relations," said David M. Lampton, a professor of China studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. "People tend to be anxious about big, rapidly changing, nontransparent things -- China is all three."

In recent weeks, U.S. relations with Beijing have taken a nose dive as President Obama met the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who is considered a separatist by China, and the administration moved to sell $6.4 billion in weapons to Taiwan. Although both Washington and Beijing have signaled that they don't want the relationship to be damaged, other issues -- most notably trade and a U.S. belief that China's currency needs to rise against the dollar -- could conspire to keep tension high.

Other analysts say the polling may foreshadow something bigger and more complicated than just a potential rise in protectionist sentiment.

"If we face perceptions around the world that China's rise is inexorable and the U.S. is on the decline," said Bonnie S. Glaser, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "this will hamper U.S. diplomacy and negatively affect U.S. interests."

This explains why, for example, Asian countries near China routinely raise concerns with U.S. officials about America's commitment to Asia.

"All of us want to hedge against China," said a senior official in the region, "but we need to know that the U.S. government will be here for the long haul.

"But even if you do stick around," he said, "there is no doubt that all of us now factor in how China will react to what America wants."

The Post-ABC News poll was conducted Feb. 4-8 by conventional and cellular telephone. The questions reported here were asked of half-samples of respondents; the results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus five percentage points.

Polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.


2010 Midterms will be most expensive in US history

According to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics, we're looking at a doozy of a campaign season - estimates suggest $3.7 billion will be spent swaying American voters, and that's a conservative estimate.

This prediction is a conservative estimate that includes spending by U.S. Senate and U.S. House candidates and political parties. It also estimates spending by so-called 527 committees and independent expenditures on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts by outside political action committees to support and oppose candidates.

It does not include a projection for how much money could come directly from corporations, unions, trade associations or other special interest groups in advertisements stemming from the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision that reversed the ban on independent expenditures by corporations. These groups are now free to spend unlimited sums on such advertisements -- and there is no precedent on which to base an estimate of how much money corporations and organizations will spend through this new political money mechanism.
Take away:  join America's Impact and make your voice heard!


New Civ-Mil coordination agency opposed by State and DoD

From Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent today:

Just as the U.S. government’s Iraq reconstruction watchdog formally unveils a proposal to revamp the integration of civilian and military activities in combat zones, opposition from the State Department and the Pentagon threatens to scotch the whole effort.

When he testifies Monday before the congressionally created Commission on Wartime Contracting, Stuart Bowen, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, will present his solution for the poor coordination, planning and policy implementation among U.S. diplomats, aid workers and military personnel he has documented in Iraq since 2004. Bowen proposes the creation of a new agency, known as the U.S. Office for Contingency Operations and jointly answerable to State and Defense, to be responsible for organizing and implementing civilian diplomatic, development and reconstruction efforts and interfacing with the military during stabilization and reconstruction operations. First reported by The Washington Independent in November, Bowen’s so-called USOCO proposal, the product of months of effort by him and his deputy Ginger Cruz, will be printed Monday and delivered to every member of Congress by Tuesday.

There’s only one problem. The two departments to which USOCO would report are both against the idea.
In formal responses appended to the USOCO paper, two senior administration officials praise Bowen’s effort and endorse his diagnosis that civilian and military efforts in stabilization and reconstruction missions suffer from an ad hoc planning and implementation structure, saying he “correctly identifies under-funding [and] lack of capacities” within State and the U.S. Agency for International Development as a key weakness. But both reject USOCO as a solution. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy writes that the problem is “one of capacity and not of structure” and observes that congressional support for a restructuring “in today’s fiscally constrained environment seems unlikely.”

Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew, presenting State’s lengthy formal response to USOCO, pledges to Bowen that the USOCO proposal will receive “full consideration” from an ongoing State Department and USAID comprehensive review of development and diplomacy known as the QDDR. But he says Bowen’s fix is “problematic on several fronts,” and that USOCO would take too much policymaking responsibility away from the Secretary of State and the department’s regional bureaus.

While the State Department’s formal response to Bowen embraces some of his specific proposals to bolster civilian planning and budgeting authorities for stabilization operations, it suggests that the current Afghanistan campaign, which “far surpasses previous examples of civilian input into military planning,” already shows that State and Defense can cooperate successfully, even on an ad hoc basis. State denies the need for new institutional structures like USOCO for improving such coordination and chides the focus on stabilization and reconstruction operations as “an overly narrow view of the challenges that face U.S. foreign policy over the coming years.”

Bowen, in an interview with TWI, indicated that he will now pivot to selling USOCO on Capitol Hill. He said the fact that both Lew and Flournoy “specifically agreed with most of our targeted recommendations” in the paper provided an opportunity to convince Congress that existing bureaucratic structures are insufficient to deal with the problem. In addition to the Commission on Wartime Contracting hearing today, Bowen is scheduled to testify before the oversight subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

“The core issue is this,” Bowen said. “There is no one entity responsible and accountable for stabilization and reconstruction operations. They are part of the missions of the departments of State and Defense, part of USAID’s mission, and the missions of the departments of Treasure, Agriculture and Justice, among others, but there is no central point of planning and management, and that bred the problems of poor coordination and weak integration we’ve encountered” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is unclear where the White House stands on the issue. Gayle Smith, the National Security Council senior director for global development and humanitarian affairs, is said to be skeptical of USOCO, but White House officials would not comment.

But USOCO still has a number of high-profile supporters. In the USOCO proposal, Bowen cites the endorsement of retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush, and Spike Stevenson, the former top USAID official in Iraq. And in an interview last month, Ryan Crocker, the well-respected former ambassador to Iraq during the 2007 troop surge, also said that existing bureaucratic structures were insufficient to handle stabilization and reconstruction missions. “The current situation requires a perpetual reinventing of wheels and a huge amount of effort by those trying to manage contingencies,” Crocker told TWI.

Bowen, who has earned bipartisan plaudits on Capitol Hill for years by identifying millions of dollars in wasted or poorly managed Iraq contracts, intends to test Flournoy’s proposition that Congress will have no appetite for the big bureaucratic overhaul USOCO represents. In addition to the hearings this week and the formal publication of the proposal, he is pushing USOCO to key members of Congress, including the leaderships of the House and Senate foreign affairs and armed services committees, as well as the Senate Government Reform and Homeland Security Committee.

“Resistance does not mean end of the argument, it just means we continue,” Bowen said. “This issue is still very much in flux.”


SNOMG: State Dept's Koh Says New Job is Like Snowstorm Cleanup

Progressives and moderates had many years under the Bush Administration to discuss and plan how they would do things differently.  So why is the Obama taking so long to implement a platform that has been waiting in the wings for (literally) years?  If you're in Washington, the State Department asks you to look out your window at the massive piles of snow and ice that have choked the city for over a week:
Harold Koh, eight months into his tenure as the top lawyer for the U.S. State Department, invoked the imagery of a snowstorm today in explaining why the Obama administration has not made as much progress on national security issues as some liberals had hoped.

“It takes a lot more time to dig out from a snowstorm than it does for the snow to fall,” Koh told a gathering of international lawyers at the Washington office of Arnold & Porter.

More at the Blog of the LegalTimes


Check out the new Afghanistan Congressional Communications Hub

Work for Congress?  Interested in non-military solutions to US objectives there?  (You'd better be!)

Take a look at the non-partisan Afghanistan Congressional Communications Hub - from we've seen, it contains very short, relevant data on key issues affecting US efforts in Afghanistan.  A treasure trove of pithy info!


Check out the FP Pulse

America's Impact hosts a live stream of twitter feeds of foreign policy thinkers and leaders. 

Designed to be easy, targeted way to put your finger on the pulse of the foreign policy establishment, you don't need a twitter account to take advantage of the information.

The FP Pulse is unique to America's Impact - help us keep it relevant by suggesting feeds we should follow!


2010 Quadrennial Defense Review

The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) was published this Monday. A cornerstone of defense planning and budgeting, the QDR is published every four years to explain the Defense Department's strategic direction to Congress. The current version was started under President Bush but refined over the past year as the Obama team entered office. It will define a strategic direction of the U.S. military for the rest President Obama's term.

"Vision Meets Reality: 2010 QDR and 2011 Defense Budget", a policy brief by Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Research Associate Travis Sharp, summarizes the 2010 QDR by saying:
The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) portrays the security challenges of the future as fundamentally different from those of the past. In the 21st century, conventional U.S. military superiority will increasingly drive potential adversaries toward asymmetric responses to American power. Recognizing this new state of affairs, the QDR emphasizes the non-traditional threats posed by WMD terrorist attacks, hybrid warfare combining high- and low-tech tactics, and the loss of shared access to the global commons in air, sea, space, and cyberspace. Even potential competitors like China are more likely to attack the United States using asymmetric means, such as by countering American power in cyberspace rather than in a blue-water naval battle in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Together, these asymeteric security challenges could erode America’s freedom of action and ability to influence the course of world events in the years ahead – if the United States does not begin to prepare for them now.
He concludes, "Closing the distance between strategic priorities listed in the QDR and realistic plans to implement them will prove a major challenge in 2010 due to persistent structural constraints on reallocating defense spending."


Haass on Obama's Biggest FP Quandry

January 26, 2010

I recently had a question and answer session with CFR Consulting Editor Bernard Gwertzman regarding President Obama's upcoming State of the Union address. There is no doubt that the President will focus far more on economic and domestic issues than foreign affairs. This is partly for political reasons, but also because the world is relatively calm right now compared to the economy. But be ready for Iran to be the dominant foreign policy issue of 2010.
President Obama has indicated that he's going to stress "fighting for the middle class" in his State of the Union address. In fact, he hasn't really talked about foreign affairs lately, and it is uncertain how much attention it will get in the speech. Has foreign affairs dropped to the bottom of his priority list?  

There are two reasons that the speech is virtually certain to focus on the domestic economy. The first is the actual state of the domestic economy and the politics that surround it. Obviously that's the subject that's most on the minds of the American people. But secondly, it also reflects the fact that by contrast, the world of foreign policy and national security is relatively calm. Even though American forces are in large numbers in Afghanistan and Iraq, mercifully, U.S. casualties are low. The attempted terrorist attack in the airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day did not succeed, which made it a several-day story but not a lingering one. Even the attention to Haiti is beginning to fade because what grabbed peoples' attention was the human emergency, but the long-term challenge of developing Haiti is not going to be a front page story. So again, the reason for the domestic economic focus is a recognition that foreign policy and national security have receded from the forefront of the American political conscience. And there is an awareness that economic issues remain paramount. 

Recent polls show that the only foreign issue the public is very interested in is protecting the country against terrorists.

Which in some ways is as much a domestic issue; it's an extension of homeland security and again, it ought not to be surprising. Foreign policy begins at home. People think about economic issues in terms of "What does some policy mean for jobs?" So one of the reasons, for example, that trade is not getting the emphasis that I would like it to is because of domestic politics, and the fact that in a high unemployment situation, many Americans are worried more about imports than in seeing the opportunity in increasing exports.

Obama took office with a very full foreign policy agenda. On his second day in office, he announced that former senator George J. Mitchell would be his Middle East negotiator. He had an early study done on Afghanistan. What's happened to these issues? On Afghanistan, we know he announced in early December that he would send thirty thousand more troops and try to withdraw them by July 2011.

Which, in the end, may not be the most important part of the decision. The reorientation of policy: the reaching out to the Taliban, attempts to build relationships with tribal leaders, attempts to improve Afghan governance may be at least as important as the troop increase in Afghanistan. But you're right: Afghanistan was the most consequential national security decision by Mr. Obama's first term. But again, in the short run, his decision has taken it off the immediate front burner.

If he had not sent the thirty thousand troops, it would have been a big political issue.

Or maybe not, if things were relatively calm. Iraq is off peoples' radar screens, because again, U.S. casualties have reached a seven- or eight-year low. The Iraqi elections in March will be a few days' story, but Iraq won't resurface as a major issue unless things were to get quite bad again. As for the Middle East negotiations, trying to get the Palestinian-Israeli talks underway again, the administration launched what I believe was an ill-designed initiative that has come and gone.

That became a clear failure so far.

It was a misguided approach. On the other hand, Americans have discounted the reality of an Israeli-Palestinian impasse. So it's not an issue that most Americans wake up every day focused on. Many of the most important issues in the world--say China's trajectory, or Russia's, or India's--again are part of the architecture, but they don't get much in the way of day-to-day notice.

Let me say one or two other things. One issue that has clearly receded in attention in this country is climate change. It's the result of the poor economy; also the failure at Copenhagen, continuing debate over science, and new important debates over this or that policy prescription. That's an issue that clearly has less traction domestically in early 2010 than it had in 2009.

Obama has given considerable thought to nuclear weapons reductions. He gave a big speech on this in Prague, and we're negotiating with Russia on a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaty, which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the other day was close to agreement.

All indications are we will get an agreement sooner rather than later, and it's good that you mention the nuclear issues because that cluster of issues is going to get more attention over the next six months than perhaps it has in any time over the last six or sixteen years.

We've got these big conferences coming up.

We've got two big conferences. You've got the Nonproliferation Treaty review conference in New York in May, and before that, in March, you have this Global Nuclear Security Conference, which Obama is hosting. So this combination of the Russian negotiations, as well as these two big international conferences, will remind people that this set of issues, which many think of as having disappeared along with the end of the Cold War, is still very much with us.

One of the major issues out there is still Iran, where Obama started out the year seeking to engage the Iranians in negotiations. Then we had these apparently rigged presidential elections in June. You earlier had supported the idea of negotiations. But you yourself wrote an article saying the United States should put more emphasis on changing the Iranian regime from within. What led you to change?

Let me say first if I were forced to predict, I would predict that Iran will prove to be the most compelling foreign policy issue of 2010. What led me to the view that the United States needed to reorient its policy away from a "nuclear first" or a "nuclear only" policy was several things. On the nuclear side, there was absolutely no evidence that the Iranians were either sincere about the negotiations or able to negotiate competently given the splits within the Iranian government. Secondly, the Iranians continue to go ahead in the laboratories, as we saw with the announcement of this secret facility outside of Qom. At the same time, they're clearly encountering difficulties in the laboratories, which perhaps gives us a little bit more time.

But most important, which you put your finger on, was the fraudulent June election and the emergence of a serious Iranian opposition. The stakes have now grown, given the degree of repression, and I believe that for the first time in the thirty years since the Iranian revolution, we have the emergence of a serious political opposition in that country that has significant and growing domestic support.

My view is that given that the negotiations are going nowhere, given that the Iranians continue to churn out enriched uranium at whatever rate they can in their labs, and given this political dynamic within Iran, the United States ought to find ways to support this Iranian dynamic--certainly rhetorically, but also in ways that would support the opposition rather than delegitimize it. The administration has to be careful. It has to be smart. But I do think there's a case for supporting the opposition. The president made a step in that direction on December 28 when he made some remarks about U.S. support for the rule of law, and freedom, and democracy in Iran. I believe that sort of an approach should be sustained.

The Iranians are not attending the Afghan conference in London later this week. I guess they don't want to show any support for the West right now?

Iran has reached a point where virtually everything that goes on needs to be looked at through the prism of what's going on domestically there. And it helps explain the variations in their posturing at the nuclear negotiations. It may well explain what's going on vis-à-vis Afghanistan. The fact is that historically, at times, Iran has played a helpful role in Afghanistan, and it's one of the important players there, obviously as it is in Iraq. It's a reminder how in the long run, Iran's reintegration into the region and the world in a constructive way would be a major, major positive development.

My sense is that Iran's domestic political dynamic, for the first time in three decades, holds out just that possibility. I don't think any of us know how close Iran is to meaningful political change--whether we're talking months, years, or whatever. But important things are going on there, and my only advice, or suggestion--to the U.S. government, to Congress, but also to other governments--is that rather than design and implement their policy solely with regard to the nuclear talks, which increasingly look like a long shot, they ought to increasingly design and implement their policy thinking about what effect it might have on the balance between Iran's opposition and Iran's government. What we really need is a reorientation of U.S. and European policy toward Iran.