Crossing the Rubicon

by PSA Staff | January 30th, 2012 | |Subscribe

William Cohen is a member of PSA’s Advisory Board and former Secretary of Defense (1997-2001). This article originally appeared in The Hill newspaper.

Crossing the Rubicon

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently visited Israel and called for greater engagement between our two countries. Given the fact that it’s difficult to find a closer political bond between two countries anywhere in this galaxy, one would surmise that there’s little distance to travel to cement the relationship between our two democracies. After all, we share similar values, ideals and interests.

There exists, however, a singular and important difference within this triangle of bonded friendship. Israel lives in a neighborhood that is far more unstable than that enjoyed by the United States. The geographic proximity of those whose stated goal is to vanquish the state of Israel — and who could soon have the capacity to do so — causes the Israelis to view threats through a different prism.

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The Dragon Comes to Africa

by PSA Staff | January 26th, 2012 | |Subscribe

This article was written by two Fall 2011 Fellows in PSA’s Congressional Fellowship Program.  All CFP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Fellows who were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.

The Dragon Comes to Africa

Africa’s development has been a focus of goodwill for the American people for decades, and a central topic of geostrategic importance for policy makers. China is working to develop Africa too—but how they aid and invest in the continent is different. This is leaving Africans with a choice about how to develop and where they end up. The countries of sub-Saharan Africa are learning quickly that even free money can come with negative effects.

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Why EU Sanctions May Hurt the West More than Iran

by Lori Shah | January 23rd, 2012 | |Subscribe

Today the European Union announced an escalation of their sanctions against Iran. According to the new guidelines, the 27 member nations will end any oil contracts with Iran by July 1st and any assets held by the Iranian central bank within the EU will be frozen, with a limited exemption to continue legitimate trade. While this new oil embargo will go a long way in satisfying European public opinion, it is unlikely that it will have the desired effect on the Iranian regime and, most importantly, has huge potential to backfire.

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Rethink our Russian Relationship

by PSA Staff | January 19th, 2012 | |Subscribe

Gary Hart is a member of the PSA Advisory Board, president of Hart International, Ltd. and chairman of the American Security Project. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1975 until 1987. This article originally appeared in The Hill on January 18th, 2012 and can be found here.

As an American with more than average interest and experience in Russia, it is a mystery to me why, unlike virtually every other country on earth, U.S. policy has tended to be so dependent on the personal relationship between the respective leaders.

This was especially true of Presidents Clinton, with the late Boris Yeltsin, and George W. Bush, with then-President Vladimir Putin (“I looked the man in the eye.”). This mystery of Russian relations is not totally confined to U.S. leaders: Remember Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s famous report to President George H.W. Bush on Mikhail Gorbachev as “a man we can do business with.” A humorist might call it the vodka syndrome, except Clinton was never known as a drinker and, of course, the second President Bush had sworn off alcohol.

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Guns, Butter, And Band-Aids: A Three-Tiered Approach to Foreign Policy

by PSA Staff | January 18th, 2012 | |Subscribe

This article was written by two Fall 2011 Fellows in PSA’s Congressional Fellowship Program.  All CFP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Fellows that were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.

Guns, Butter, And Band-Aids: A Three-Tiered Approach to Foreign Policy

In the early hours of a tropical morning in January 2010, the Baltimore-based U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort docked two kilometers off the coast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti equipped with military, U.S. Public Health Service, nongovernmental organization, and international organization personnel ready to respond to the raw wounds of the island nation still trembling from a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that had struck only days earlier. Despite initial doubts from the Pentagon that the ship was needed as another member of a swiftly-deployed fleet of similarly-equipped Navy and Marine vessels to the island[1], the U.S.N.S. Comfort quickly became a household name for U.S. military relief efforts due to the ship’s remarkable capability to quickly provide wounded Haitians a stable, secure place to receive desperately needed medical care. Not to be understated were the colossal efforts of the U.S. Agency for International Development.  This agency was designated to spearhead the U.S. intergovernmental agency response to the tragedy, which deployed disaster assistance personnel within a day of the crisis’ occurrence and continues to rebuild Haiti nearly two years later. Monitoring on-the-ground developments in Haiti, the U.S. Department of State preserved its strong tradition of diplomacy with the Haitian government and the international community; thereby assuring the distressed country that it had an ally in its long fight to recover, rebuild, and thrive.

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A New Approach to Interventionism

by PSA Staff | January 17th, 2012 | |Subscribe

This article was written by two Fall 2011 Fellows in PSA’s Congressional Fellowship Program.  All CFP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Fellows that were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.

For the vast majority of Americans, watching the last American boot leave Iraqi soil is nothing short of good riddance. The numbers have become seared in Americans minds: Nearly nine years. Nearly a trillion dollars spent. Nearly 35,000 US soldiers wounded. Nearly 4,500 US soldiers dead.

The long-term effect of the Iraq War is pretty obvious—a national sentiment for retrenchment—a streak of isolationism that is being espoused by both sides of the political spectrum. It’s hard not to watch Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry warn against “military adventurism” without comparing him to his predecessor.

But despite the desire to go inward, the simple fact is that if there was any hope for the US to go on the sidelines, that’s changed forever with the onset of the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring has reminded the world of the danger of failed states. With long-time dictators losing power, militant Salafists (not solely Al Qaeda) are looking to fill the vacuum.

But the Arab Spring also comes with a new challenge—a new type of interventionism.

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Shifting Priorities: Investing in Cybersecurity

by PSA Staff | January 13th, 2012 | |Subscribe

This article was written by two Fall 2011 Fellows in PSA’s Congressional Fellowship Program.  All CFP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Fellows that were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.

Cyber-based threats against information infrastructures in the United States have generated an increasing concern for national security. According to a Congressional Research Service report, these emerging threats consist of cyber terrorism, debilitating U.S. command over the electromagnetic spectrum, facilitation of terrorist operations, cyber crimes involving theft of intellectual property, patent violations, or copyright laws, and identity theft. These threats also involve unauthorized probing of tests that target a computer’s configuration and its system defenses and, in some instances, the unauthorized viewing, copying, and extraction of data files. The low expense of access to the internet combined with the ability to operate anonymously, are strong key factors that make information operations enticing for those who are unable to combat the U.S. in conventional warfare.  Understanding these real threats against our nation enforces the need for a shift in prioritization and funding to address any future cyber security threats in all capacities.

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There’s a Better Way to Gauge Congress

by PSA Staff | January 13th, 2012 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton, Co-Chair of the PSA Advisory Board, is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the Indianna for 34 years. The original article appeared in the South Bend Tribune and can be found here.

There’s a Better Way to Gauge Congress

I suspect that most members of Congress will want to forget the year that just ended.

The institution that symbolizes our democracy finished 2011 plumbing depths of unpopularity it has never experienced before. Its low approval ratings set records — suggesting, as Gallup put it, “that 2011 will be remembered as the year in which the American public lost much of any remaining faith in the men and women they elect and send off to Washington to represent them.”

The poor jobs picture, the lurching from one brink-of-disaster deadline to the next, the polarization that keeps the parties from working together, the widespread sense that Congress is so dysfunctional it cannot meet the nation’s challenges — all play a role.
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Zbigniew Brzezinski: After America

by PSA Staff | January 4th, 2012 | |Subscribe

PSA Advisory Board Member and former National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinksi, write about what a decline in American power could mean for the rest of the world – particularly China. The fall of the American hegemon could mean a slide into global chaos as quickly developing countries compete for global economic and strategic power. This article originally appeared in Foreign Policy and can be found here.

After America

Not so long ago, a high-ranking Chinese official, who obviously had concluded that America’s decline and China’s rise were both inevitable, noted in a burst of candor to a senior U.S. official: “But, please, let America not decline too quickly.” Although the inevitability of the Chinese leader’s expectation is still far from certain, he was right to be cautious when looking forward to America’s demise.

For if America falters, the world is unlikely to be dominated by a single preeminent successor — not even China. International uncertainty, increased tension among global competitors, and even outright chaos would be far more likely outcomes.

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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.