‘No’ to Iran Means No Forever

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

Samuel Berger is the former White House national security advisor and current co-chair of Albright Stonebridge Group. He is a member of PSA’s Advisory Board. This article originally appeared in Politico.

There is a notion cultivated by opponents of the Iran nuclear agreement, attractive to members of Congress under intense pressure to vote no, that congressional rejection of the agreement will enable U.S. negotiators to reach a better deal. The expectation is, that with a further turn of the screws, we can pressure the Iranians to give more and/or we give less. But it can’t happen.

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Madeleine Albright Says: Learn to Interrupt, But Only If You Know What You’re Talking About

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

Madeleine K. Albright was U.S. Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations, and is a member of PSA’s distinguished Advisory Board. This article originally appeared in NY Magazine.

This week, the Cut is talking advice — the good, the bad, the weird, and the pieces of it you really wish you would have taken. Here, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on learning to get things done in the United Nations.

Probably every woman you know, certainly every woman I know, has been in meetings where you’re the only woman in the room, and you want to make some kind of a comment and you think, Okay, I’m not going to say that, because it sounds stupid. And then some man says it, and everybody thinks it’s completely brilliant, and you’re really mad at yourself for not having spoken. I had that experience most of my life.

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Peace envoy Gary Hart: America will invest in Northern Ireland, but only if there is political and economic stability

by PSA Staff | June 15th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Retired United States Senator Gary Hart (D-CO) is the personal representative of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and a member of PSA’s Advisory Board. This article originally appeared in the Belfast Telegraph.

America will invest in Northern Ireland, but only if there is political and economic stability

Most of us think of ourselves either as a citizen of a nation, or a follower of a religion, or both. In many older societies, identity is shaped by family, or tribe.

Even within nations, there are cultural divisions, such as the Walloons and the Flemish in Belgium, or the Ossetians and the Abkhazians in Georgia. Within religions there are Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox and other sects in Christianity and Shia and Sunni within Islam.

In the United States, it is still quite common to have people and neighbourhoods described as Italian-American, Irish-American, Cuban-American and so on. There are fewer tribal, ethnic and cultural identities in more unitary nations, such as Poland and Italy.

These sociological reflections are of little importance on a day-to-day basis, unless one kind of discrimination, or another, occurs, or unless ongoing sectarian conflicts perpetuate themselves over centuries, as in the Middle East.

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The Foreign Service is too white. We’d know — we’re top diplomats.

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

Thomas Pickering is a PSA Advisory Board member and a retired United States ambassador. Among his many diplomatic appointments, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1989 to 1992. 

Edward Joseph Perkins is a former American diplomat who served as U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, South Africa, and the United Nations. He was later the director of the United States State Department’s Diplomatic Corps.

This article originally appeared in The Washington Post. 

The Foreign Service is too white. We’d know — we’re top diplomats.

When we began our careers in the 1970s, the Foreign Service was an exclusive club: overwhelmingly white, male and Ivy League-educated, filled with stuffed shirts in striped pants attending swanky cocktail parties.

For decades, you could quite literally count the number of African Americans in the Foreign Service on one hand. Clifton R. Wharton Sr. (whose son, Clifton Jr., later served as deputy secretary of state) became the first black Foreign Service officer in 1924. By 1949, only four more African Americans had joined. Even in 1976, only 4 percent of Foreign Service officers were black. More than a decade after the Civil Rights Act, America was still presenting a face to the world that looked more like a restrictive country club than our multiracial country.

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The Deal Involves Expanding the ‘Maritime Silk Road’

by PSA Staff | April 23rd, 2015 | |Subscribe

Jamie Metzl is a Co-Chairman of the PSA Board of Directors and Nonresident Senior Fellow for Technology and National Security at the Atlantic Council.

The Deal Involves Expanding the ‘Maritime Silk Road’

Xi Jinping’s just completed visit to Pakistan is a big deal for China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and the United States. China has pledged $46 billion to develop the port, road, and pipeline infrastructure linking the Pakistani port at Gwadar to Western China’s Xinjiang province, to construct badly needed power plants, and to upgrade Pakistan’s submarines, presumable to carry nuclear weapons. In return, Pakistan is giving China essentially full access to the Gwadar port.

Everyone should wish for economic development in Pakistan, and it would be great if at least a significant portion of the Chinese aid and loans goes toward activities, like badly-needed infrastructure and energy-generating capacity, that benefits the ordinary Pakistani people. US aid to Pakistan over past decades has spectacularly failed in this regard.

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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.

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The Iran Deal and Its Consequences

by PSA Staff | April 8th, 2015 | |Subscribe

George Shultz is a PSA Advisory Board member and former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger is a former Secretary of State. The original article appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

The Iran Deal and Its Consequences

The announced framework for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program has the potential to generate a seminal national debate. Advocates exult over the nuclear constraints it would impose on Iran. Critics question the verifiability of these constraints and their longer-term impact on regional and world stability. The historic significance of the agreement and indeed its sustainability depend on whether these emotions, valid by themselves, can be reconciled.

Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications. For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.

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The Fantasy of a Better Iran Deal

by PSA Staff | April 7th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Samuel R. Berger is a PSA Advisory Board member and was national security adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1997-2001; he is also currently chair of Albright Stonebridge Group. The original article appeared in Politico.

The Fantasy of a Better Iran Deal

Some are insisting on a “better deal” than the framework nuclear agreement reached with Iran on April 2. But the idea of a better deal is a chimera, an illusory option, and it should not lull us into thinking there is another agreement to be had if only we were to bear down harder. The present agreement, which depends on important pieces to be resolved by the end of June, can substantially reduce the ability of Iran to develop a nuclear weapon over the next ten years or more and also creates a dynamic that could be a game changer in the combustible Middle East.

Senator Mark Kirk has postponed a vote on the Iran sanctions bill he wrote with Senator Robert Menendez, possibly until June 30. This is a constructive step, avoiding an action that would undercut negotiations toward a final agreement. But we need to keep the sanctions issue in mind because it is inextricably intertwined with the same calls for a better deal emanating from people in Congress, Israel, and other critics. No one can argue that a better agreement wouldn’t be better—3,000 Iranian centrifuges is better than 5,000; a 20-year deal is better than 10. The tough question is: How do you get there? Putting aside what the Iranians might do in response to additional pressure—dig in deeper, speed up their program–and looking just at our side of the equation, the notion of a better deal is unachievable.

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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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Russia’s Grab for its Neighbors

by PSA Staff | March 30th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Paula Dobriansky is a PSA Advisory Board member, former undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs, and a senior adviser to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Program. Blaise Misztal is the program’s director. Original article appeared here in The Washington Times.

Russia’s Grab for its Neighbors

A bipartisan consensus is emerging that the United States should do more to address Russia’s continuing aggression against Ukraine. But Russian revanchism does not begin or end with Ukraine, nor are “little green men” its only foreign policy instrument. Moscow is actively engaged in subversive activities along Europe’s eastern flank, targeting the region’s economic and political stability. As Central European capitals grow increasingly concerned, Washington urgently needs to demonstrate its robust commitment not just to the region’s security but to its democratic future.

Moscow has long demanded that Western nations not encroach on its “sphere of influence,” defined by the borders of the old Iron Curtain. It is now seeking to regain its sway over its neighbors in order to, ultimately, control all aspects of their domestic, foreign and defense policies and separate them from the rest of Europe.

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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.