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Budget: President is the one who calls the shots

by PSA Staff | February 27th, 2015 | |Subscribe

 PSA Advisory Board Co-Chair Lee Hamilton directs the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. The article originally appeared in The Times Herald.

Budget: President is the one who calls the shots

It may not be obvious from the news coverage, but a good bit of Congress’s 2015 agenda just landed on Capitol Hill with a thud. I mean this literally. The federal budget President Barack Obama submitted runs to 2,000 pages.

This is the most important government document produced each year, so its heft is more than physical. The budget is how we decide what share of this country’s economic resources we should devote to government — and how we should spend them. It’s where we set out our national priorities, sorting out how to allocate money among defense, the environment, education, medical research, food safety, public works … You get the idea. (more…)

Let’s Make the Deal with Iran

by PSA Staff | February 26th, 2015 | |Subscribe

William J. Perry is a former secretary of defense and PSA Advisory Board member. Sean O’Keefe is a former secretary of the Navy and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Adm. James Stavridis (ret.) served as NATO’s supreme commander. Joe R. Reeder is a former undersecretary of the Army. The article originally appeared in the Politico Magazine.

Let’s Make the Deal with Iran

We can’t let partisan infighting destroy what could be a historic nuclear pact.

America is the safest when its leaders work together to effectively meet national security and foreign policy challenges. Yet partisan infighting threatens to upend our nation’s best chance to stem the very real Iranian nuclear threat.

The latest round of negotiations has the United States and Iran mulling a nuclear agreement that would prevent Tehran from amassing enough material to make a bomb for at least 10 years. President Obama says he doesn’t need congressional approval, while lawmakers say they will pore over the terms or even force a vote. Congress also could effectively kill the agreement by refusing to lift or adding to existing sanctions against Iran. The equation gets even more complicated with the addition of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech next week before a joint session of Congress, when he is expected to make the case against any pact with Iran.

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To Win the War on Terror, We Must Win the War of Ideas

by PSA Staff | February 24th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Lee H. Hamilton is Professor of Practice, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs; Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; Director, Center on Congress at Indiana University. He served as U.S. Representative from Indiana’s 9th Congressional District from 1965-1999 and is a current Advisory board member for the Partnership for a Secure America. The article originally appeared in the Huffington Post

To Win the War on Terror, We Must Win the War of Ideas

What is ISIS?

This time a year ago, most Americans wouldn’t have been able to answer that question. Today, the Islamic State group dominates the news headlines through its terrorist actions across the Middle East and in European countries such as France and Denmark.

The sudden ascendancy of a group that, 12 months ago, had yet to pervade the nation’s subconscious offers a chilling reminder of just how rapidly threats to our national security can change. It also signals just how challenging it can be to develop a coherent, comprehensive and, most importantly, effective counterterrorism strategy that ensures the safety of Americans and stays a step ahead of those who wish to do us terrible harm.

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Welcome to the Money Primary

by PSA Staff | February 18th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Gary Hart is a former US Senator and current Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America. The article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Welcome to the Money Primary

The first presidential primary is underway, not simply because the political press cannot wait but because he or she who signs up the most megabucks wins that primary and is well on the way to a nomination. Step right up and participate–that is if you can write a very large check.

This is the saddest commentary on the state of American “democracy” a concerned citizen can think of. Campaigns cost money, a lot of money. Somewhere between 75% and 90% of that money goes to media advertising, even as media commentators (whose salaries it pays) deplore how mercantile campaigns have become. What’s left over goes to compensate increasingly highly paid “strategists”, consultants, media advisors, time buyers, professional organizers, and so forth.

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Russia should be prosecuted for its crimes against humanity

by PSA Staff | February 18th, 2015 | |Subscribe
Paula J. Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for global affairs from 2001 to 2009, is a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The article originally appeared in the Washington Post.
Russia should be prosecuted for its crimes against humanity

An enduring diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis has eluded negotiators. But even if the Minsk peace talks’ newly announced cease-firewere to hold, there is widespread agreement in the West that Russia has engaged in a quasi-war in Ukraine. Moscow has acted with some circumspection, employing intelligence agents and plainclothes special forces (the so-called little green men), but in the past several months, it has become much more brazen, deploying thousands of regular troops, backed up by artillery and armor. There is also consensus that Russian activities in Ukraine are destabilizing European security and have violated numerous international legal norms.

Unfortunately, a robust, punitive Western response, deterring Moscow from future misconduct, has been lacking. Even worse is that the West has proven unable to distinguish different types of Russian misconduct, much less to deal with them in a differentiated fashion.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Did Maridia Conduct a Nuclear Test Explosion? On-Site Inspection and the CTBT

by PSA Staff | February 12th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Jenifer Mackby is a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists and a senior adviser to the Partnership for a Secure America. She was a technical observer in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Preparatory Commission’s Integrated Field Exercise 2014. She previously served as secretary of the negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in Geneva and secretary of the Working Group on Verification at the Preparatory Commission in Vienna. The article originally appeared in Arms Control Today.

SPECIAL REPORT: Did Maridia Conduct a Nuclear Test Explosion? On-Site Inspection and the CTBT

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission launched a large-scale simulation of an on-site inspection in Jordan on November 3, 2014, to test the organization’s ability to find a nuclear test explosion site. The exercise, involving two fictitious countries, lasted for five weeks and used 150 tons of equipment to comb a large swath of land next to the Dead Sea.

The inspection area encompassed 1,000 square kilometers, the maximum area allowed by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), although the 30-day inspection period for the exercise was much less than the potential 130 days that the treaty allows. Searching for clues of a nuclear explosion in such an expanse and in such a shortened time period was a daunting task. It required the international teams, comprising 200 scientists and experts in on-site inspection technologies from 44 countries, to focus on their respective tasks for 12- to 14-hour days.

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Lee H. Hamilton: Can we have a regular Congress?

by PSA Staff | February 5th, 2015 | |Subscribe

PSA Advisory Board member 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. The article originally appeared in the Battle Creek Enquirer.

Lee H. Hamilton: Can we have a regular Congress?

You probably didn’t notice, but the Senate passed a milestone a couple of weeks back. Before 2015 was a month old, senators had already had a chance to vote up-or-down on more amendments than they did in all of 2014.

This is a promising sign that new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might have meant it when he declared last year that he wants the Senate to return to the “regular order” of debate and amendments. For the last few weeks, a favorite inside-the-Beltway guessing game has been whether he’d be willing to stick with it in the face of demands, sure to come, to reduce debate and amendments and expedite approval of bills.

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Kean-Hamilton: How to halt next terror generation

by PSA Staff | February 2nd, 2015 | |Subscribe

PSA Advisory Board members Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton are the former chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission and are co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Program. Originally appeared in USA Today

Kean-Hamilton: How to halt next terror generation

Ideas are not easily destroyed. Bullets could not extinguish the irreverence of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper recently targeted by terrorists. Nor can increased counterterrorism efforts alone eradicate the radical Islamist incitement to violence that inspired recent atrocities in Ottawa,Sydney, Paris and Peshawar. Such policies help prevent the next terrorist attack but cannot stop the cultivation of the next generation of terrorists. For that, we must defeat and discredit this extremist ideology.

Until 2001, terrorism was perceived mostly as a law enforcement problem. The 9/11 attacks made clear that terrorism was a grave national security threat, requiring the use of all instruments of national power. Since then, America and its allies have hardened their defenses, greatly improved intelligence-sharing, increased counterterrorism cooperation and decimated the centralized leadership of the “core” al-Qaeda organization.

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The United States and Russia must repair their partnership on nuclear security

by PSA Staff | January 27th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Sam Nunn is co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a former U.S. senator from Georgia and member of PSA’s Advisory Board. Richard Lugar is president of the Lugar Center and a former U.S. senator from Indiana. The article originally appeared in The Washington Post.

The United States and Russia must repair their partnership on nuclear security

For more than two decades, the United States and Russia partnered to secure and eliminate dangerous nuclear materials — not as a favor to one another but as a common-sense commitment, born of mutual self-interest, to prevent catastrophic nuclear terrorism. The world’s two largest nuclear powers repeatedly set aside their political differences to cooperate on nuclear security to ensure that terrorists would not be able to detonate a nuclear bomb in New York, Moscow, Paris, Tel Aviv or elsewhere.

Unfortunately, this common-sense cooperation has become the latest casualty of the spiraling crisis in relations among the United States, Europe and Russia.

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Children of war need help

by PSA Staff | January 20th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Anthony Lake is executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund and former member of PSA’s Advisory Board. The article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian.

Children of war need help

Innocent children, women and elderly people – who cannot protect themselves – were massacred. Village after village has been burned to the ground. And three young girls were sent to their deaths with explosives strapped to their bodies in so-called suicide bombings that killed scores of civilians.

Over the past week I hope you saw these news reports from northern Nigeria. And I hope you did not flip or click away to the next article – horrified, yes, but hoping these were only isolated incidents happening in some difficult-to-reach place in some other African country.

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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.