Middle East Continues to Dominate U.S. Foreign Policy, but Our Strategy in Region Remains Largely Unclear

by PSA Staff | April 27th, 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 The Huffington Post.

Middle East Continues to Dominate U.S. Foreign Policy, but Our Strategy in Region Remains Largely Unclear

Like every U.S. president of the last half-century, I find it nearly impossible to avoid focusing most of my foreign policy attention on the continuingly chaotic and confusing region of the world that is the Middle East.

I have now spent five decades working on foreign policy in government, and I’m still struggling to make sense of the Middle East. It’s an extremely turbulent area, where tensions flare up regularly. Its economic growth has been tepid at best, and its overall governance is feeble. The region is currently flooded with refugees. And city after city is fraught with danger, destruction and devastation.

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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 means of coercing Iran

by PSA Staff | April 14th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Robert McFarlane is a PSA Advisory Board member and served as President Reagan’s national security adviser. The original article appeared in The Washington Times.

The means of coercing Iran

How would the prospects for stability in the Middle East be affected if Iran were to succeed in its effort to become a nuclear power? In what ways might we expect Iran to behave differently?

The behavior of the Soviet Union in the late 1970s is instructive on this point. Despite signing the 1972 SALT I Agreement with the United States, which put restraints on strategic nuclear forces, the USSR soon began to violate several of its tenets and to establish an advantage in ICBM warheads. Before long it had established a comfortable margin of superiority over the United States. Then, secure against any plausible threat, it became more willing to take risks to expand its influence in various parts of the world. We recall well those years from ‘75 to ‘80 in which the Kremlin’s support for so-called wars of national liberation enabled them to exert a prevailing influence in country after country — Angola, then Ethiopia, South Yemen, Mozambique, Afghanistan (following an invasion by more than 100,000 troops), and ultimately, Nicaragua. Not until the early ‘80s, as the United States restored its will to oppose Soviet expansion, did the Kremlin change course.

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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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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…)

Japan’s Sensitive Military Normalization

by PSA Staff | March 10th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Jamie Metzl, Co-Chair of the PSA Board of Directors and senior fellow of the Atlantic Council and author of “Genesis Code,” served on the U.S. National Security Council and in the U.S. State Department during the Clinton administration. Article originally appeared in Project Syndicate .

Japan’s Sensitive Military Normalization

NEW YORK – Soon after the Islamic State’s brutal murder in January of the Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for the country’s “biggest reform” of its military posture since the end of World War II. Abe wants Japan to become a “normal” country again, with the capacity to defend its interests and citizens wherever they are threatened. But how should his government go about it?

Even for a Japanese public that still generally supports their country’s post-war pacifism, the hostage crisis was unsettling, not least because it highlighted Japan’s military impotence. Unlike Jordan, which was able to consider a rescue mission for its own hostage and launch a powerful military response after he was killed, Japan’s constitution left it no options for rescue or retaliation.

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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.