Wirth and Hart: Don’t sabotage Iran nuke deal

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

Gary Hart is a PSA Advisory Board member and former senator, Timothy E. Wirth is a former senator. The original article appeared in The Denver Post.

Wirth and Hart: Don’t sabotage Iran nuke deal

“There is agreement on nothing until there is agreement on everything” is a bedrock principle of the pending nuclear negotiations with Iran. “Everything” means everything having to do with controlling Iran’s nuclear program, not everything having to do with the total U.S.-Iran relationship.

Though not yet an agreement, the “framework” has many breakthrough principles, including:

• Uranium enrichment only at the plant in Natanz, Iran, and no enrichment at the Fordow underground facility;

• Prohibition of the Arak heavy water research reactor from producing weapons-grade plutonium or reprocessing to recover plutonium from spent fuel;

• A reduction and then a limit on Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium to 300 kilograms for 15 years;

•A two-thirds reduction in installed centrifuges for 10 years; and

• A range of limitations and inspections that will be in force over a 10-25 year period and some permanent inspections of the program.

But, for this to be an agreement clearly in the interest of U.S. national security, important issues have yet to be resolved, including inspections, enforcement and the “snapback” provisions, under which Iran would receive relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy.

The next three months are a crucial make-or-break time in this calculus.

Congress’ role in this matter is vital. Most sanctions cannot be lifted without the affirmative action of Congress, and review of any final agreement is appropriate. But premature action while the negotiation is incomplete will be construed as an anticipatory veto of any final agreement before it is even seen.

The world is well aware of the partisan gridlock that has infected Washington. The drums of partisanship have already begun to beat in both the United States and Iran. We urge that Congress rise above these distractions and not prematurely undermine these historic negotiations.

If there is a final agreement, Congress will have plenty of time and the information required to take effective action on the issue.

A unified international effort in implementing an effective sanctions program has made these negotiations possible. Further cooperation from our international allies will be essential. We will need their cooperation to put in place the snapback provisions in any final agreement.

If final negotiations fail, there will certainly be a return to a strengthened sanctions regime.

A thoughtful and thorough congressional and public review of any final agreement is the right way to obtain continued international support for our positions. The worst of all outcomes is to be held accountable by the international community for the failure of these negotiations.

Hamilton: Congress feels left out on foreign policy

by PSA Staff | April 6th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is a PSA Advisory Board member, chairman of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, and served as congressman from Indiana’s 9th Congressional District from 1965-1999. The original article appeared in The Detroit News.

Hamilton: Congress feels left out on foreign policy

Congress has developed a fondness for open letters when it comes to Iran. First came the warning shot signed by 47 Republican senators that touched off a storm of criticism. Not to be outdone, the House checked in with its own bipartisan and more diplomatically stated letter to President Barack Obama, warning that its members must be satisfied with any agreement before they’ll vote to reduce sanctions.

What lies behind these moves? I think Congress feels left out of foreign policymaking.

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HAMILTON: Congress and the President need to consult – and not just on Iran

by PSA Staff | April 3rd, 2015 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University and current Advisory Board Co-Chair to the Partnership for a Secure America. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. The article originally appeared in Your Houston News.

HAMILTON: Congress and the President need to consult – and not just on Iran

Congress has developed a fondness for open letters when it comes to Iran. First came the warning shot signed by 47 Republican senators that touched off a storm of criticism. Not to be outdone, the House checked in with its own bipartisan and more diplomatically stated letter to the President, warning that its members must be satisfied with any agreement before they’ll vote to reduce sanctions.

What lies behind these moves? I think Congress feels left out of foreign policy-making.

I have considerable sympathy for this impulse. Over the decades, too much power has drifted to the President when it comes to foreign affairs. The Congress has been deferential, even timid, in allowing this to happen. (more…)

Lee Hamilton: Governing by crisis isn’t governing

by PSA Staff | March 19th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University and current Advisory Board Co-Chair to the Partnership for a Secure America. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. The article originally appeared in Battle Creek Enquirer.

Lee Hamilton: Governing by crisis isn’t governing

After Congress came a hair’s breadth from shutting down the Department of Homeland Security a few weeks ago, members of the leadership tried to reassure the American people. “We’re certainly not going to shut down the government or default on the national debt,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Congress, he said, would not lurch from crisis to crisis.

I wish I could be so confident. Because if you look at the year ahead, the congressional calendar is littered with opportunities to do just that. (more…)

What Navy’s New Maritime Strategy Should Say

by PSA Staff | March 13th, 2015 | |Subscribe

John F. Lehman PSA Advisory Board member served as Navy Secretary from 1981 to 1987. Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) is Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. The article originally appeared in Breaking Defense.

What Navy’s New Maritime Strategy Should Say

After years of ill-considered budget cuts and a focus on large-scale land wars, the U.S. Navy had entered a period of qualitative and quantitative decline, diminished readiness, and a lack of confidence in its own mission and capabilities.

Foreign adversaries seemed ascendant, including a radical theocracy in Iran and an expansionist Russia. Many American political leaders seemed resigned to a significantly reduced global role, and the Navy showed signs of abandoning its historic inclination toward an aggressive, offensive-minded spirit. (more…)

It’s your country — join the fray

by PSA Staff | March 11th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is an Advisory Board member for the PSA and director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a Democratic member of the House of Representatives for 34 years. Article originally appeared in Press of Atlantic City.

It’s your country –join the fray

The question usually comes toward the end of a public meeting. Some knotty problem is being discussed, and someone in the audience will raise his or her hand and ask, “OK, so what can I do about it?”

I love that question. Not because I’ve ever answered it to my satisfaction, but because it bespeaks such a constructive outlook. Democracy is no spectator sport, and citizens are not passive consumers. I’m always invigorated by running into people who understand this. But that doesn’t make answering the question any easier.

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Lee Hamilton: What lies ahead

by PSA Staff | March 3rd, 2015 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University and current Advisory Board member to the Partnership for a Secure America. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. Original article appeared in the Rockford Advocate.

Lee Hamilton: What lies ahead

Given all the words and images devoted to the midterm elections over the past few weeks, you’d think the results had told us something vital about the future of the country. In reality, they were just a curtain-raiser. It’s the next few weeks and months that really matter.

The big question, as the old Congress reconvenes and prepares to make way for next year’s version, is whether the two parties will work more closely together to move the country forward or instead lapse back into confrontation and deadlock. I suspect the answer will be a mix: modest progress on a few issues, but no major reforms.

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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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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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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.