Jack F. Matlock Jr. was the United States ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991. Thomas R. Pickering is a member of PSA’s Board of Advisors and was the United States ambassador to Russia from 1993 to 1996, and James F. Collins from 1997 to 2001.This article originally appeared in the New York Times.
Give Diplomacy With Russia a Chance
The crisis over Ukraine has all but frozen official communication between the United States and Russia. The Russian reaction to the political upheaval in Kiev — the absorption of Crimea, and the armed intervention in eastern Ukraine — and the American responses to those actions have brought about a near-complete breakdown in normal and regular dialogue between Washington and Moscow. Relations between the two capitals have descended into attempts by each side to pressure the other, tit-for-tat actions, shrill propaganda statements, and the steady diminution of engagement between the two governments and societies.
Reports from the NATO summit meeting that ended in Newport, Wales, on Friday indicate that the United States and its allies will respond to Russia’s intervention and violence in Ukraine with an escalation of their own — including further sanctions, enhanced military presence in front-line states, and possibly greater support for Ukraine’s armed forces. This amounts to more of the same, with little if any assurance of better outcomes.
Jamie Metzl is a Senior Fellow at the Asia Society. He served in the National Security Council and State Department during the Clinton administration. His is also chairman of PSA’s Board of Director’s. This original article can be found on CNN‘s international news blog.
Is Xi Serious About Cracking Down on Corruption?
There are many signs that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s unprecedented anti-corruption drive is serious. In recent weeks, an investigation was launched into former security chief and Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, while former top General Xu Caihou was expelled from the Communist Party. Nearly 200,000 party members of all levels have reportedly been disciplined for corruption over the last two years. But if this top down approach is not matched by a bottom-up empowerment of the people being most harmed by China’s corruption pandemic it will have little chance of success.
This original article can be found at the Hill news blog. This article was written by Tara Sonenshine, a former member of PSA’s Advisory Board and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. She is currently distinguished Fellow at the George Washington University.
Cementing Peace in the Middle East
It’s all about cement. The key to ending the current conflict between Israel and Gaza may lie, literally and figuratively, in the cement trucks that carry building materials across borders.
As cease-fire talks resume in Egypt, one of the big obstacles to a durable agreement will be the embargo (imposed by Israel and Egypt) that restricts goods from coming in and out of the Gaza Strip. A 7-year-old embargo is both a reflection of the lack of confidence between citizens of Gaza and Israel and a potential confidence-building measure depending on which side you are on. (more…)
Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. He is also Co-Chair of PSA’s Board of Advisors. This article originally appeared in the Rock River Times.
Lee Hamilton: Why government fails, and what we should do about it
As election season approaches, I’ve been pondering a crucial issue about the role of government in our society. It’s that our government often fails — and that we need to address this. What’s odd is that while the frequent failures in government’s performance are very much on ordinary people’s minds, politicians don’t talk much about fixing them.
True, you might hear a few words about the issue when members are back in their districts this month revving up their re-election campaigns, but for the most part, they’ll be focused on issues like jobs and the economy. This is understandable, because that’s what their constituents expect to hear about. (more…)
This original article can be found at the Globalist news blog. This article was written by Tara Sonenshine, a former member of PSA’s Advisory Board and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. She is currently distinguished Fellow at the George Washington University.
Ebola: An Opportunity for Public Diplomacy
The arrival of two Americans on two separate planes in isolation chambers, met by Atlanta doctors in suits and gloves, has caused fear in the United States about the spread of an Ebola virus. Citizens everywhere are watching this unfolding drama as we would a science fiction movie, only this is real and immediate.
According to the World Health Organization, the virus has infected more than 1,300 people. Near 900 have died, mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. That is far less than other contagious diseases, but with no vaccine as yet and no cure, those numbers could rise very quickly. In an age of modern transportation, we are all potential carriers or victims.
Rather than view the Ebola outbreak as a reason to worry, let’s see it as a public diplomacy challenge and opportunity. (more…)
This original article can be found at The Hill newspaper blog. This article was written by Tara Sonenshine, a former member of PSA’s Advisory Board and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. She is currently distinguished Fellow at the George Washington University.
Looking for Bright Spots in Africa
How ironic that as Washington hosts the largest gathering of African heads of state in recent times, an outbreak of the Ebola virus threatens the western part of the continent. One has to hope that disease does not eclipse the good news stories coming out of Africa — a continent with its share of problems.
Last week, President Obama hosted a town meeting with 500 emerging African leaders chosen to come to U.S. universities and colleges for summer training in everything from healthcare to good governance. (Fifty-thousand applied to come.) The new Mandela Fellowship for Young African Leaders is part of a broader initiative known as YALI (Young African Leaders Institute) which networks the best and the brightest in Africa in an effort to boost skills in business, government and education. The YALI initiative is an important step and the enterprise has drawn private companies and foundations who are contributing to bringing more young change agents from the continent. (more…)
Gary Hart was a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and is a member on PSA’s Advisory Board. This op-ed was originally found on National Interest.
The Real Lesson of MH17
Crossing Murphy’s Law with the law of unintended consequences produces this: If the worst possible thing can happen it will, and it will probably happen to you. When the Soviet Union was occupying Afghanistan, we armed the Taliban on the always-dubious theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In the great sweep of human history, it did not take long for the enemy of our enemy to become our enemy. This seems to offer yet another law: Never replace an occupier whom you are trying to get rid of. (more…)
Lee H. Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years and is also a member of the PSA Advisory Board. This original article can be found at Deming Headlight.
Lee Hamilton Commentary: Why incumbents keep getting re-elected
It’s no news that Congress is unpopular. In fact, at times it seems like the only real novelty on Capitol Hill would be a jump in its approval rating. In June, a Gallup poll found members’ standing with the American people at a historic low for a midterm-election year. Which might have been notable except, as The Washington Post pointed out, that “Congress’s approval rating has reached historic lows at least 12…times since 2010.”
Here’s the interesting thing: nearly three-quarters of Americans want to throw out most members of Congress, including their own representative, yet the vast majority of incumbents will be returning to Capitol Hill in January. In other words, Americans scorn Congress but keep re-electing its members. How could this be? (more…)
Madeleine Albright served as secretary of State in the Clinton administration. She is chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group and a member of the Leadership Council of the Franklin Project. This post originally appeared in Foreign Policy . Madeleine Albright is also a member of PSA’s Advisory Board.
Operation Lifeline Syria
Middle East suffers a new trauma every week. Iraq is disintegrating, as the Syrian conflict crashes across its borders. Gaza is in flames, as long-term neglect takes its toll. No wonder it seems difficult for policymakers, never mind the public, to get their priorities straight. (more…)
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Crocker, Luers, Pickering: Our common cause with Iran
Pickering is a member of PSA’s Advisory Board and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. You can find this original article on Rianovosti
WASHINGTON, July 22 (RIA Novosti) – The Obama administration should be forthcoming in producing all relevant information on the crash of Malaysian Airline flight MH17, which led them to come to broad conclusions on the causes and responsibility for the crash, former ambassador to Russia, Thomas Pickering, said in an interview with RIA Novosti Monday. (more…)
All blog posts are independently produced by their authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of PSA. Across the Aisle serves as a bipartisan forum for productive discussion of national security and foreign affairs topics.