Brendan Simmons is an intern at PSA, and a graduate of University of Maryland-College Park where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Russian.
Russia’s Debacle: The Military and Energy Crisis
Russia claims it is boosting its strategic rocket forces and revamping the military, but should the United States be worried? With the declining oil and gas revenues and antiquated oil industry, Russia will struggle to afford President Putin’s increased military budget while attempting to revitalize its oil and natural gas production. During the U.S. presidential campaigns, former Governor Mitt Romney believed Russia was America’s number one geo-political foe, and even after the election, people still believe Romney’s statement to be credible. But the U.S. should not overly concern itself with the Russian military improvements because they will likely not happen.
Recent history shows that Russia’s attempts to upgrade its military have fallen short time and again. Former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was a casuality of this trend and was dismissed in November 2012 when he failed to meet expectations. Before he surrendered to corruption charges, both he and President Putin vowed to increase Russia’s military strength. Serdyukov was originally appointed Defense Minister because he vowed to take control of the rampant corruption in the military while engineering a military boost in spending and capability. But he failed to create the modern military demanded by Putin.
Reviewed by: Andrew K. Semmel is the Executive Director of the Partnership for a Secure America. He is also president of AKS Consulting, whose clients include the International Atomic Energy Agency. This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Arms Control Today, and has been reprinted with the permission of the Arms Control Association.
Detect, Dismantle, and Disarm: IAEA Verification, 1992-2005
By Christine Wing and Fiona Simpson
United States Institute of Peace Press,
2013, 184 pp.
When the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) entered into force in 1970, it included a provision designating the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as its verification arm. When the IAEA was created in 1957, its principal purpose was to promote the use of nuclear energy for civilian purposes. Over the years, however, its role has changed.
Today, its more-visible function is to provide the international community with assurances that countries using nuclear science and nuclear materials are not using them to pursue weapons programs. Because of its expanded role in verification, largely through on-site inspections, the IAEA has joined the NPT as one of the two key anchors of the nuclear nonproliferation regime.
Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey, and Lee Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana, are co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project. Both are members of PSA’s Advisory Board. Kean was chairman and Hamilton was vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission. This article originally appeared in The Plain Dealer.
U.S. must adapt, prepare for future terrorist attacks
It’s hard to believe that more than 11 years have passed since the devastating terrorist strike to our homeland on 9/11. Overnight, homeland security became a top priority. Yet, until last month’s Boston Marathon bombings, the issue of terrorism had faded from the front pages. The terrorist threat barely surfaced in the debates leading up to last November’s presidential election. While we have long been warning of it, the tragic events in Boston have jolted others, including those running in today’s Cleveland Marathon, to realize that the threats to our homeland have not disappeared — rather, they have evolved. Our public debate needs to evolve along with them.
The killing of Osama bin Laden and many other terrorist leaders seriously damaged al-Qaida, but did not destroy it. Today, smaller al-Qaida offshoots flourish in South Asia, Yemen and North Africa, and are dreaming up diabolical new ways to hurt us. The Christmas 2009 “underwear bomber,” who nearly killed 290 people on a Northwest Airlines flight into Detroit, and the 2010 plot to use explosive printer cartridges to blow up cargo planes over American cities are just two examples. Serious concerns remain about terrorists acquiring nuclear or biological materials and directing them against one of our cities. While the likelihood of such an attack might be remote, it would inflict catastrophic damage. Continued chaos in countries like Syria and Pakistan increases the risk that these weapons could fall into the wrong hands. (more…)
By Former Sens. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) Domenici is a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and Nunn serves as a PSA Advisory Board Member and co-chairman of The Concord Coalition. This Op-Ed originally appeared in The Hill.
Congress’s budget process broken because it’s ignored
After trying private negotiations, bipartisan commissions, informal “gangs” and a supercommittee, the search for a long-term federal fiscal plan has come full circle back to where it started — regular order under the budget process in Congress.
Or has it?
We hope it has, because regular order ensures that every member of Congress gets to participate in the final form of any fiscal agreement, grand or otherwise. (more…)
Former Senator, and PSA Advisory Board Member Gary Hart is currently President of Hart International, Ltd. He is chair of the Threat Reduction Advisory Council at the Department of Defense, was vice-chair of the Secretary of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council, former chair of the Council for a Livable World, chair of the American Security Project, and co-chair of the US-Russia Commission. For the past five years, he was a Scholar in Residence at the University of Colorado Denver. This was originally posted on the Huffington Post website.
Weep for the Senate
Generations of United States Senators now past would view with dazed wonder at what the world’s greatest deliberative body has become. Virtually all struggled to serve their and many struggled even more to stay there. Throughout the nation’s history the prestige of such service was second only to the presidency itself, and some preferred the Senate over the White House.
By the time we reach the 2014 election, almost one-third of the current Senate will have resigned in the past three elections. Recent reports indicate that those formerly considered to be virtually automatic candidates are rejecting the opportunity to seek the vacated Senate seats.
A variety of explanations are offered for this extraordinary situation: the financial costs of campaigns; the viciousness of political attacks; the toll taken in self-respect and dignity; media sensationalism; polarization leading to paralysis in the Senate itself.
At least for the present, the United States Senate is neither what it traditionally has been nor should be. (more…)
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University and a PSA Advisory Board Member. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. This originally appeared on the Center on Congress’ blog.
How Politics Has Changed
When two senators recently got into a spat over whether the Boston Marathon bombings were being politicized, the news was everywhere within minutes. Reams of commentary quickly followed. In the maneuvering over gun-control legislation, every twist and turn was instantly reported and then endlessly debated. As the effects of the federal sequester start to make themselves felt, outlets in every medium — print, television, online — are carrying both the news and the inevitable partisan sniping over its meaning.
This is political reality today, and when people ask me how politics has changed since I first ran for Congress in 1964, it’s the first thing that comes to mind. Back then, when you spoke to the Rotary in a small town, you were speaking to a few members of the Rotary. Today, you might well be speaking to the world. A debate on Capitol Hill back then might or might not have made the news, but even if it did, days could go by before the rest of the country reacted. Today, the response is instantaneous, often hot-blooded, and almost inconceivably far-reaching. (more…)
Tara D. Sonenshine is the US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, a former PSA Board Member. This article originally appeared in the Daily Monitor, an independent daily newspaper in Uganda.
We should protect freedom of expression in all media
World Press Freedom Day is celebrated every May 3 to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom and to honour journalists who have lost their lives in pursuit of their profession.
But as many human rights activists and journalists and people of conscience often ruefully declare, every day should be World Press Freedom Day. That’s because – as I write this – almost 250 journalists languish in prisons worldwide. Many more are harassed, intimidated and even murdered. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, throughout the world nearly 600 journalists have been murdered with impunity since 1992 – and last year was the deadliest of all for journalists.
What are their purported crimes? Doing what journalists should in any free society: reporting to all of us what is going on in their communities and in their countries. (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, and PSA Advisory Board member. This article was originally published in the Alexandria Echo Press
Commentary: Tired of budget shenanigans? Here’s an answer
With the formal release of President Obama’s budget, the pieces are finally in place for a reprise of the Washington drama we’ve all come to know. There will be high-stakes negotiations, lines in the sand, and enough intrigue to keep Beltway insiders riveted by every piece of breaking news.
The rest of us, though, are already worn out. In repeated conversations with ordinary people, I’ve been struck by the immense frustration I’ve encountered. They’re tired of brinksmanship and constant fiscal crisis. They’re fed up with accusations, spin, fear mongering, and intransigence. They’ve had it with a complex, opaque process when the outline of a solution — controlling spending and entitlements, raising revenues to meet the country’s obligations, and investing in economic growth — seems evident. Above all, they’re weary of a government that appears addicted to crisis. Why, they wonder, can we not pass a budget in an orderly, rational way?
Susan R. Johnson is president of the American Foreign Service Association. Ronald E. Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, is president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, where Thomas R. Pickering, a former undersecretary of state and PSA Advisory Board member, is chairman of the board. This article was originally published in the Washington Post.
Presidents are breaking the U.S. Foreign Service
American diplomacy is facing a crisis. The professional career service that is intended to be the backbone of that diplomacy no longer claims a lead role at the State Department or in the formulation or implementation of foreign policy. The U.S. Foreign Service is being marginalized — just as military efforts to resolve major diplomatic challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed, and as diplomacy has become both more complex and more important to our national security and prosperity.
The Foreign Service is being relegated to a secondary status: staff support to political elites who set and manage policy. Long-held concepts about the disciplined, competitive, promotion-based personnel system are being called into question.
The Rogers Act established the Foreign Service as a merit-based, professional diplomatic service in 1924. This concept was reemphasized in 1946, after the U.S. experience in World War II ratified the need to model the Foreign Service’s personnel system after that of the military rather than the domestic civil service. The 1980 Foreign Service Act reiterated that “a professional career Foreign Service based on merit principles was necessary to meet the challenges of a more complex and competitive world.” The importance of a professional diplomatic service has been underscored by our national experience in the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the broad array of current and foreseeable challenges.
What is wrong at State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, our embassies and other agencies that together are the vehicles for American diplomacy? What accounts for the Foreign Service being marginalized? (more…)
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Thomas R. Pickering is a member of the Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment. He was undersecretary of state for political affairs from 1997 to 2001 and served as ambassador and representative to the United Nations from 1989 to 1992. Ambassador Pickering is also a member of the Partnership for a Secure America Advisory Board. This article was originally published in the Washington Post.
America Must Atone for the Torture it Inflicted
It’s never easy in this volatile world to advance America’s strategic aims. For more than four decades, in the service of Democratic and Republican presidents, it was often my job to persuade foreign governments to adhere to international law and observe the highest standards of conduct in human rights — including the strict prohibition of torture. A report released Tuesday by an independent task force on detainee treatment (to which I contributed) makes it clear that U.S. officials could have used the same advice. (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.