Samuel R. Berger, former national security advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001, is a PSA Advisory Board Member.
March 19, 2013|Foreign Policy
What Obama Must Do In Israel
This week, when Air Force One lands in Tel Aviv, the newly reelected American president and the Israeli prime minister with a new government will turn the page on a new chapter in their relationship. And they will discuss how to manage the strategic challenges we both face in ways that protect our respective interests.
Much has been made and said about the personal relationship between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu. Some of it is even true: It has been far from tension-free, and is very much in need of a reboot. But I also think that too much has been said about it, as if the bilateral relationship could be reduced to their personal rapport — as if the strategic dimension of the two countries’ ties were either anecdotal or purely a function of personal chemistry.
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.
Thomas Pickering, member of the PSA Advisory Board, along with esteemed colleges Anthony Zinni and Jim Walsh authored this Op-ed originally published in the Chicago Tribune.
What to do about Iran?
Adlai Stevenson once advised that “to act coolly, intelligently and prudently in perilous circumstances is the true test of a man — and also of a nation.” In the face of Iran’s potential for becoming a nuclear weapons state and a threat to Israel, U.S. leaders would be smart to follow Stevenson’s advice and act prudently and intelligently.
There is little doubt that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose dangerous challenges to U.S. interests and security, as well as to the security of Israel. There is no question of the seriousness of the problems presented by Iran’s nuclear program or the need to consider the use of military force as a last resort.
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.
Ambassador Crocker Speaks on Middle East Issues After Leaving State Dept.
On September 17, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosted former Ambassador Ryan Crocker, appearing in his first public event since his tour in Kabul. A small audience was given special insight into arguably the most experienced living U.S. Ambassador with assignments in the Middle East. Ambassador Crocker has served in Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and, most recently, Afghanistan. Having returned to civilian life, Crocker often stated to the audience that he was now a “free” man. As such, the audience was privileged to have this opportunity to hear from someone who has spent nearly 40 years abroad and could speak candidly and honestly about situations on the ground and the relationships between states in the region.
This article was written by two Spring 2012 Participants in PSA’s Congressional Fellowship Program. All CPP 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 Timing Just Isn’t Right
What is preventing the United States and Russia from pursuing further nuclear disarmament talks beyond the New START treaty?
In the U.S., a flurry of debate has taken place among elected officials and the arms control community since the enactment of the New START treaty. The debate has centered on determining the number of weapons needed to maintain a minimal deterrent, modernization of the strategic triad, the role of missile defense and what role and utility do nuclear weapons have in our defense strategy today. Skeptics of further disarmament have argued that larger reductions, without adequate modernization, will lead to instability by inviting aggression against allies who are considered protected by the U.S.’s extended deterrent. Those in favor of disarmament have countered that the current U.S. arsenal far exceeds what is necessary to deter nuclear attack and reducing the force level would be a smart way to meet defense spending targets set in the Budget Control Act. Despite the timeliness of the budgetary argument, the skeptics are clearly carrying the day, as both the House and Senate versions of the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act include robust funding levels for the nuclear triad and provide funding for large modernization projects not requested in the President’s budget.
Graeme Bannerman, a scholar at the Middle East Institute, served as staff director on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. He is also a member of PSA’s Board of Directors. This article originally appeared in Politico and can be found here.
Alliance with Egypt is Key for U.S.
As a result of foreign policy miscalculations, the United States may lose its historical leadership in the Middle East. While the unfolding tragedy in Syria, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the war on terrorists absorb U.S. attention and resources, the unnecessary decline of U.S.-Egyptian relations could do the most damage to our national interests. Just as Britain’s domination of the region ended on the banks of the Suez Canal in 1956, Washington now appears determined to end our 30 years of regional dominance in a confrontation with the Egyptian people.
U.S. pre-eminence in the region since the 1970s was built on the strategic cooperation between Washington and Cairo. Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter strove to create this relationship, for they realized that the preceding 20 years of predominant Soviet influence in the region was due to the Egyptian-Soviet partnership.
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.
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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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.
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.