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!


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

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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."