The Need for Bipartisanship on U.S.-Burma Policy

by PSA Staff | November 1st, 2013 | |Subscribe

Ryan McClure is an attorney, intern at Partnership for a Secure America, and foreign policy blogger focusing on U.S. foreign policy in East Asia.  He can be followed on Twitter @The BambooC.

The Need for Bipartisanship on U.S.-Burma Policy

The United States’ relationship with Burma has greatly changed in a brief period of time.  Just three years ago, Burma was a pariah state subject to severe American sanctions.  Today, sanctions have been lessened and the Burmese president is welcomed at the White House.  The reason for these changes is Burma’s quasi-military government’s decision to carry out political reform toward a more democratic system.  However, political oppression and human rights violations continue.

The Obama Administration, while aware of these abuses, persists in rewarding the Burmese government for geo-strategic reasons.  Because of this, Congress must press the Administration to institute a more deliberate policy that rewards Burma with economic and diplomatic engagement only when concrete, sustained benchmarks have been met.   (more…)

The North American Global Powerhouse

by PSA Staff | July 22nd, 2013 | |Subscribe

George Shultz is a PSA Advisory Board Member and a former secretary of labor, Treasury and state, and is a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. This article was originally published in the Wall Street Journal.

The North American Global Powerhouse

Discussions of rising economies usually focus on Asia, Africa and the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China. But what may well be the most important development of all is often overlooked: the arrival of North America as a global powerhouse. What’s going on?

The North American Free Trade Agreement was signed by U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas in 1992. It was ratified in the U.S. thanks to the leadership of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Since then, the integration of the three economies has proceeded at a sharp pace. Consider:

The three countries constitute around one-fourth of global GDP, and they have become each other’s largest trading partners. Particularly notable is the integration of trade. A 2010 NBER study shows that 24.7% of imports from Canada were U.S. value-added, and 39.8% of U.S. imports from Mexico were U.S. value-added. (By contrast, the U.S. value-added in imports from China was only 4.2%.) This phenomenon of tight integration of trade stands apart from other major trading blocks including the European Union or East Asian economies.

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Reinvigorating the US-Japan Alliance

by PSA Staff | February 22nd, 2013 | |Subscribe

The author, Jamie Metzl, is Co-Chair of PSA’s Board of Directors. This article originally appeared on Project Syndicate. Metzl is a former member of President Clinton’s National Security Council team and a current Senior Fellow of the Asia Society.

Reinvigorating the US-Japan Alliance 

NEW YORK – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s current visit to the United States provides an ideal opportunity to reinvigorate the long-standing US-Japan bilateral alliance in the face of an increasingly aggressive China and persistent tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

For a half-century, the US-Japan alliance has been a cornerstone of Asian and global peace, security, and stability – and Japan has been an outstanding global citizen. Japan developed the economic-growth model that other Asian countries later emulated so successfully; actively contributed to global economic development; participated in the United Nations and other multilateral institutions (including paying a disproportionately high percentage of UN costs); and has helped to set a global standard for environmental protection and sustainable development.

As Abe arrives in Washington, DC, Japan and the US are both facing significant internal and external challenges, including rising tensions in Asia. In recent months, Chinese aircraft have repeatedly violated Japanese airspace over the East China Sea, and a Chinese naval vessel locked its weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer and helicopter.

Likewise, a Chinese military intelligence unit in Shanghai has reportedly hacked – and stolen from – a multitude of US businesses. And North Korea conducted its third nuclear test earlier this month, sending shock waves through the region.

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The U.S. Needs a More Broad-based Strategy to Combat Al Qaeda in Yemen

by PSA Staff | January 16th, 2013 | |Subscribe

This article was written by Caitlin Poling, a Participant in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program.

The U.S. Needs a More Broad-based Strategy to Combat Al Qaeda in Yemen

For most of the past decade, Yemen has remained on the periphery of American national security policy. During this time, officials in the administration, Department of Defense, State Department, and Intelligence Community have been unable to devote as much attention as needed to Yemen due to American engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2011 along with the September 2012 protests and embassy attacks in response to an American-made anti-Muslim video have demonstrated the importance of security in states like Yemen.
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The Need for US Leadership as China Continues to Exert its Influence in the South and East China Seas

by PSA Staff | January 16th, 2013 | |Subscribe

This article was written by Katherine Ehly and Matthew Hays, two Participants in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program.  All CPP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Hill Staff who were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.

The Need for US Leadership as China Continues to Exert its Influence in the South and East China Seas

In late 2011 the Obama Administration announced that it would increase America’s visibility in Asia.  These efforts were described by the Administration as a “pivot” or “rebalancing” of U.S. military planning, foreign policy, and economic policy toward the region.  Washington, however, has wrestled with how to engage the most prominent and powerful country in the region, China.  With troops nearly gone from Iraq and drawing down in Afghanistan, this shift could not have come at a better time.  As the region has grown more prosperous, the issue of sovereignty over the South and East China Seas has become intense with China exhibiting worrisome acts of aggression toward its neighboring countries.  China, in attempting to control these waters, appears to be demonstrating its intent to exert dominance over the region.

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Strengthening our “Balance of Alliances” in Asia

by PSA Staff | October 2nd, 2012 | |Subscribe

This article was written by two Spring 2012 Participants in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program.  All CPP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Hill Staff who were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.

Over the past year the United States has launched an effort to “rebalance” its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region. While there are many policy issues that divide Republicans and Democrats, America’s role in actively shaping a more peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific is one issue that enjoys strong support amongst both parties. After a decade of focusing our time, energy, and resources on counterterrorism and the Middle East region, we welcome a strategic rebalancing of our efforts to a region that will play a leading role in defining the 21st Century. However, the elements of this new focus should not just focus on the “balance of power” in the region, but also take into account the “balance of alliances” the U.S. enjoys. Approaching the region using an alliance-centric lens can help the U.S. position itself to play a major role in ensuring the region’s continued prosperity and peace.

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Bridges Not Barriers: Securing Futures and Improving Lives Through Expanded Foreign Aid

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

Co-authored by Ray Chambers and Thomas Kean. The Honorable Thomas Kean is a former Governor of New Jersey and Chairman of the 9/11 Commission Report. He is on the board of directors of Partnership for a Secure America. This blog posting originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Bridges Not Barriers: Securing Futures and Improving Lives Through Expanded Foreign Aid

The international community suffered a profound loss earlier this month when Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed in Libya. While the deplorable attack came at the hands of an extremist group, the collective response of the Muslim world has clearly not been supportive of the actions of a few. Within hours, Libya’s interim president strongly condemned the “cowardly” attack and apologized to the United States. Yet almost immediately, some leaders in the United States seized upon the attack as a reason for the United States to end all foreign aid to Libya and other nations in the region.

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Enlarging the Frame

by PSA Staff | May 21st, 2012 | |Subscribe

This article was written by Sen. Gary Hart and Rep. Lee Hamilton, members of PSA’s Advisory Board, and Matthew Hodes, PSA Executive Director. The article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

Enlarging the Frame

With the next round of talks between the P5+1 and Iran coming up on May 23rd in Baghdad, we know that the parties have concluded further talks could be useful. But it still appears that the central thrust of the P5+1 (the U.S., U.K., China, Russia, France and Germany) will be limited to immediate concerns over Iran’s nuclear program and not the underlying issues that define Iran’s relationship with the international community. While we must hope that approach bears fruit, we must not lose sight of the wider frame that represents the more strategic approach, and just possibly, offers a higher likelihood of long term success.

We already know what one version of negotiations limited to the nuclear agenda can produce. In 2010, Brazil and Turkey brokered a potential deal with Iran, consistent with Iran’s existing obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that would have dealt with the enrichment issue currently under discussion but the U.S. government rejected that approach, choosing to pursue a stricter sanctions regime in the U.N. Security Council. At the same time, we also have evidence of what broader, more comprehensive negotiations might look like. In 2003, a memo, provided by the then-Swiss Ambassador to Iran, described the outline of a comprehensive U.S.-Iran negotiation process. The U.S. government questioned its legitimacy and took no action. Regardless of its provenance, the memo provided an illustration of the critical interests, the underlying issues, both for the U.S. and for Iran. Any negotiation with the Iranians over their nuclear program will stand a better chance of success if the broader issues that have created tensions since 1979, especially Iran’s role in the Middle East region, can be resolved.

What interests would the U.S. and the West want to promote and protect? Paraphrasing the memo, we would want an Iran that had no nuclear weapons or weapons program, with verification from IAEA without obstruction; we would want Iran to end its support to terror groups, including but not limited to Hamas and Hezbollah; we would want Iran to end its efforts to thwart Arab-Israeli peace and accept the two-state solution concept and; we would want an end to any effort to de-stabilize governments in the region and cooperation in efforts of the international community in Iraq and Afghanistan. Put simply, the U.S. will insist that Iran behave like a responsible neighbor in the region and submit itself to appropriate scrutiny to prove it is behaving in that manner.

What interests would the Iranians want to promote and protect? Iran would want an end to efforts to de-stabilize the current regime and acceptance into the international community of nations; Iran would want a lifting of all sanctions; Iran would want access to peaceful nuclear technology and; Iran would want Western recognition of Iranian security interests in the region. Put simply, Iran will want to normalize its status in the world and feel secure from any threats of regime change.

Thomas Pickering and William Luers, respected former U.S. diplomats, used a similar line of thought. In a recent article they used as a point of reference Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 and described the anecdote in which Nixon wrote down what the Chinese would want, what we would want and what we both would want, describing this list as Nixon’s “analytical pillars.” Applying that framework to U.S.-Iran relations, they suggested a set of shared interests that one could easily take from the aims described above. They suggested that both Iran and the United States would want stability in the region, the end of terrorism, the reincorporation of Iran into the international community, and no war. Barry Blechman of the Stimson Center has also weighed in, suggesting a broader agenda that would include the issue of nuclear weapons. Far from being a sign of weakness, our willingness to offer both carrots and sticks would show our confidence. The Iranians would know that there is an alternative to war or capitulation; at the same time we would not remove military options from our list of contingencies should comprehensive negotiations fail.

As we approach the next round of negotiations, we must beware of extreme voices that will want to limit the conversation to an expansion of threats — a structure of confrontation or capitulation. Bellicose words can box us in just as they can box in the Iranians, making a military confrontation more likely. We would be better served by quiet, frank discussions about our respective interests and our potentially shared interests. We should never forget that during the Cold War, we faced an adversary that was equipped and prepared to destroy us and our allies. But while we never let our guard down, we nevertheless looked for opportunities to cooperate. Eventually, we found areas of mutual interest that helped build confidence in our ability to manage that complicated relationship. That policy worked for us during the Cold War; it should work for us with a regional actor today.

KORUS Free Trade Agreement: An Agent of Stability

by PSA Staff | February 6th, 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.

KORUS Free Trade Agreement: An Agent of Stability

Almost sixty years ago at the end of the Korean War, the relationship between the United States and South Korea took on a new meaning.  The relationship was built on a cooperative framework between allied forces in order to promote stability on the peninsula through a strengthened commitment to the mutual goals of protecting democratic values, peace and economic security.

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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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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.