Gary Hart served as US Senator of Colorado from 1975-1987 and is currently a member of PSA’s Advisory Board. This article was originally published in the Huffington Post.
A Truly Strong Foreign Policy
The weekend media featured an uncommon amount of navel gazing about foreign policy. Except the navel being gazed at belonged to Barack Obama. To the degree that pundits ever agree, they seemed to agree that the Obama foreign policy was “weak.” Predictably, there was little if any agreement as to what “strong” would look like.
Much of this desire for “strength” reflects a longing for the relative clarity of the Cold War: Democracy versus Communism; West versus East; NATO versus Warsaw Pact; our military versus their military. An all-out arms race was supportable because our economy was growing throughout most of this period (1947-1991).
Tara Sonenshine is a former member of PSA’s Board of Directors. She also served as U.S. undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs and is currently a distinguished fellow at George Washington University. This article was originally published in DefenseOne.
U.S.-Russian Cultural Relations Are on Ice, Too
It’s called FRUKUS, an acronym that only the military could come up with. It is an annual multinational training exercise at sea involving the France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Until now.
Frank G. Wisner is a member of PSA’s Board of Advisors as well as a former Under Secretary of State and of Defense and a former Ambassador to Zambia, Egypt, the Philippines, and India. The article was co-authored by Leslie H. Gelb, a former New York Times columnist and senior government official. Original article posted at the Daily Beast.
Face the Assad Reality In Syria
U.S. policy is going down the drain in Syria diplomatically and militarily. The choice: deal with Assad or fail.
The Syria conference underway in Geneva to transition from the rule of President Assad will fail, and the Obama team knows it. There is no incentive now in the Assad or rebel camps for diplomatic compromise, and the U.S. knows that. Nothing the U.S. and its allies are doing or planning on the military front will compel President Assad to step aside, and the White House understands that full well. The reality on the ground today is that American-helped moderate rebels continue to flounder, while Assad’s forces and those of the jihadi extremists prosper. Obama officials see this as well and realize that nothing they are doing or are likely to do will alter those facts.
So, if President Obama understands what he is doing will fail, why is he doing it?
Thomas Pickering is former US ambassador to Venezuela and Czechoslovakia; and former US Under Secretary of State and ambassador to Israel, Russia, India, the UN and Jordan. Mr. Pickering is a member of PSA’s Advisory Board. William Luers, director of the Iran Project, co-authored the article. The article was originally published in the Financial Times.
Diplomatic Success Always Trumps a Military Victory
Diplomatic negotiations with Iran strike many Americans as an oxymoron. How could serious negotiations be conducted with a nation we have distrusted for decades, that has persisted in developing a nuclear programme, has threatened Israel and is involved in terrorist activities?
Yet the same Americans are quick to oppose a military solution. So the conclusion is that diplomacy must be tried. To help Americans understand that diplomacy can be used to manage some of the toughest problems, former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz have written an article endorsing diplomacy. It is hard to disagree.
The author, Alessandria Dey, is an undergraduate student of Hamilton College and a current participant of Hamilton’s DC Program. She is an intern at Partnership for a Secure America.
Are We Fighting a “War on Terror” in 2013?
In 2001, following the events of September 11th, former President Bush declared a “war on terror.” What followed was a military invasion into Afghanistan, marking the beginning of this long war. Now, after more than a decade of active U.S. military presence, many are questioning our nation’s future intentions in the Middle East. In addition to the continuation of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, U.S. involvement in counterinsurgencies and nation building has led to more skepticism of our foreign policy goals. The main question is: are we fighting a “war on terror” in 2013? The answer is yes.
A “war on terror” is defined beyond direct altercations with terrorist groups. In addition to combating terrorist groups and affiliates, the “war on terror” is a crusade against potential security threats against the U.S. In 2013, a “war on terror” includes the repression of terrorist groups, democratization of the Middle East, and continued nation-building – essential objectives for protecting the homeland in the long term.
There has been a notable decrease in the activities of major terrorist groups after the initial invasion of Afghanistan. Despite the decrease in the activities of groups like al-Qaeda, their presence and the determination of insurgents remain a threat to the government in place. U.S. involvement in counterinsurgency campaigns is vital to the stability of Afghanistan. Insurgents are responsible for a considerable amount of damage and their relationship with al-Qaeda remains intact. They hinder economic development and improvement in governance needed for the long term stability of Afghanistan. Four thousand Afghan civilians in the first half of 2013 were victims of insurgents’ high profile attacks. Suicide attacks remain steady with 150 per year since 2009. Insurgents are now infiltrating the Afghan police and turning their weapons on Afghan and NATO forces. (more…)
Mr. Lehman was secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration and a member of the 9/11 Commission. He is a member of the PSA Advisory Board. This article was originally published in the Wall Street Journal.
John Lehman: More Bureaucrats, Fewer Jets and Ships
More than half of our active-duty servicemen and women serve in offices on staffs.
As we lament the lack of strategic direction in American foreign policy, it is useful to remember the classic aphorism that diplomatic power is the shadow cast by military power. The many failures and disappointments of American policy in recent years, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Russia and Iran are symptoms of the steady shrinkage of the shadow cast by American military power and the fading credibility and deterrence that depends on it.
Although current U.S. spending on defense adjusted for inflation has been higher than at the height of the Reagan administration, it has been producing less than half of the forces and capabilities of those years. Instead of a 600-ship Navy, we now have a 280-ship Navy, although the world’s seas have not shrunk and our global dependence has grown. Instead of Reagan’s 20-division Army, we have only 10-division equivalents. The Air Force has fewer than half the number of fighters and bombers it had 30 years ago.
Apologists for the shrinkage argue that today’s ships and aircraft are far more capable than those of the ’80s and ’90s. That is as true as “you can keep your health insurance.” (more…)
Brendan Simmons is an intern at PSA and a graduate of University of Maryland-College Park where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Russian.
Russia’s Debacle: The Military and Energy Crisis
Russia claims it is boosting its strategic rocket forces and revamping the military, but should the United States be worried? With the declining oil and gas revenues and antiquated oil industry, Russia will struggle to afford President Putin’s increased military budget while attempting to revitalize its oil and natural gas production. During the U.S. presidential campaigns, former Governor Mitt Romney believed Russia was America’s number one geo-political foe, and even after the election, people still believe Romney’s statement to be credible. But the U.S. should not overly concern itself with the Russian military improvements because they will likely not happen.
Recent history shows that Russia’s attempts to upgrade its military have fallen short time and again. Former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was a casuality of this trend and was dismissed in November 2012 when he failed to meet expectations. Before he surrendered to corruption charges, both he and President Putin vowed to increase Russia’s military strength. Serdyukov was originally appointed Defense Minister because he vowed to take control of the rampant corruption in the military while engineering a military boost in spending and capability. But he failed to create the modern military demanded by Putin.
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.
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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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.
Putin’s Complicated Foreign Policy
Within weeks of being inaugurated in his third term as the President of Russia in May, Vladimir Putin announced his decisions to skip the G-8 summit at Camp David, and to send Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in his place to the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in London, sending commentators in the Western world into a frenzy. Many in the United States proclaimed (and mourned) the end of the Russia reset. This view only increased as Putin appeared to turn his attention to his immediate neighbor, Belarus, making his first international visit with President Alexander Lukashenko, and then attending a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Additionally, Putin has joined China in opposing UN efforts to sanction Syria, a move that has frustrated many, while Russia continues to supply the Assad regime with weapons. Although the Russian reset with the West technically took place during Dmitri Medvedev’s presidency, there is little doubt that then-Prime Minister Putin was heavily involved in this decision (as well as most others). What, then, explains this sudden and drastic shift?
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.