Susan R. Johnson is president of the American Foreign Service Association. Ronald E. Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, is president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, where Thomas R. Pickering, a former undersecretary of state and PSA Advisory Board member, is chairman of the board. This article was originally published in the Washington Post.
Presidents are breaking the U.S. Foreign Service
American diplomacy is facing a crisis. The professional career service that is intended to be the backbone of that diplomacy no longer claims a lead role at the State Department or in the formulation or implementation of foreign policy. The U.S. Foreign Service is being marginalized — just as military efforts to resolve major diplomatic challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed, and as diplomacy has become both more complex and more important to our national security and prosperity.
The Foreign Service is being relegated to a secondary status: staff support to political elites who set and manage policy. Long-held concepts about the disciplined, competitive, promotion-based personnel system are being called into question.
The Rogers Act established the Foreign Service as a merit-based, professional diplomatic service in 1924. This concept was reemphasized in 1946, after the U.S. experience in World War II ratified the need to model the Foreign Service’s personnel system after that of the military rather than the domestic civil service. The 1980 Foreign Service Act reiterated that “a professional career Foreign Service based on merit principles was necessary to meet the challenges of a more complex and competitive world.” The importance of a professional diplomatic service has been underscored by our national experience in the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the broad array of current and foreseeable challenges.
What is wrong at State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, our embassies and other agencies that together are the vehicles for American diplomacy? What accounts for the Foreign Service being marginalized? (more…)
This is an excerpt from former Senator Richard Lugar’s April 9, 2013 Georgetown Public Policy Institute Whittington Lecture. He is a visiting professor at the institute and head of www.TheLugarCenter.org. This version was published in The Hill.
Budgets, Bipartisanship and Our National Security
With the release of his budget, President Obama must attempt reestablishing a closer working relationship with Congress that gives those members who are inclined toward bipartisanship some assurance that their sacrifices can lead to productive outcomes.
Such bipartisan cooperation – the suspension of the pursuit of political advantage in the interest of doing something necessary for our country — is necessary not only to achieve important national goals, but also to undergird national unity in the event of severe crises.
This cooperation depends both on congressional leaders willing to set aside partisan advantage and on administration officials who understand that the benefits of having the support of Congress is worth the effort and political capital it takes to secure that support.Both parties clearly recognize that enacting a long-term budget is important for our domestic welfare. Failing to construct a credible deficit reduction plan carries extreme risks, as markets and managers look for assurances that the United States is prepared to arrest the long-term fiscal spiral. Given the recent upheaval over Europe’s debt crises, further signs that the United States is incapable of addressing its fiscal situation could have dire consequences for the U.S. economy.
But we also should see budget deliberations as a national security priority, because our current economic posture leaves us highly vulnerable to both economic and national security disasters. The president should regard the conclusion of a comprehensive budget deal as central to his commander-in-chief duties. (more…)
This article is by Norman R. Augustine and Gary Hart. Norman Augustine is a board member of the American Security Project, a nonpartisan public policy and research organization, and has been chairman of the Council of the National Academy of Engineering. Gary Hart is a former senator from Colorado, a member of PSA’s bipartisan advisory board, and is chairman of the American Security Project. This originally appeared in Forbes.
A Challenge to America: Develop Fusion Power Within a Decade
America’s economy and security depend upon reliable sources of power. Over the next few decades, almost all of the power plants in the U.S. will need to be replaced, and America’s dependence on fossil fuels presents serious national security concerns. They sap our economy, exacerbate climate change, and constrict our foreign policy. Our newfound boom in natural gas and oil production will ease but not eliminate these underlying issues.
The only way that we can resolve these challenges, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a timeframe that avoids the worst consequences of climate change, is to develop next-generation sources of clean base load power. In short, America needs to produce energy that is clean, safe, secure and abundant, and to do it now.
By LEE HAMILTON
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.
March 20, 2013| Cypress Creek Manor
Congress Falls Short on National Security
Wherever you stood on Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster to delay John Brennan’s confirmation as CIA director, or on the Senate’s confirmation hearings for Brennan and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, they all serve as a reminder of just how feeble Congress has proven to be when it comes to foreign policy.
This wasn’t immediately obvious, of course. Paul’s speech questioned whether there are limits on the President’s power to use drones to kill Americans who’ve been declared “enemy combatants.” But the CIA and military have been using drones overseas for years and this was the first time Congress really pondered the issue. That’s a measure of its dereliction, not of stepping up to the plate. Why has it taken so long to see significant congressional review of the President’s power to use drones?
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.
The author, Julia Pyper, is a writer for E & E News’s ClimateWire. Reproduced with permission. Copyright 2013, E&E Publishing, LLC www.ClimateWire.net.
NATIONAL SECURITY: Defense experts say costs of climate change could be staggering
The ramifications of climate change pose a serious threat to U.S. security interests and will have devastating effects unless Washington takes immediate action, a bipartisan group of 38 former politicians and retired military officials wrote in a letter released yesterday.
“As a matter of risk management, the United States must work with international partners, public and private, to address this impending crisis,” the letter says. “Potential consequences are undeniable, and the cost of inaction, paid for in lives and valuable U.S. resources, will be staggering.”
The author, Jamie Metzl, is Co-Chair of PSA’s Board of Directors. This article originally appeared on Project Syndicate. Metzl is a former member of President Clinton’s National Security Council team and a current Senior Fellow of the Asia Society.
Reinvigorating the US-Japan Alliance
NEW YORK – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s current visit to the United States provides an ideal opportunity to reinvigorate the long-standing US-Japan bilateral alliance in the face of an increasingly aggressive China and persistent tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
For a half-century, the US-Japan alliance has been a cornerstone of Asian and global peace, security, and stability – and Japan has been an outstanding global citizen. Japan developed the economic-growth model that other Asian countries later emulated so successfully; actively contributed to global economic development; participated in the United Nations and other multilateral institutions (including paying a disproportionately high percentage of UN costs); and has helped to set a global standard for environmental protection and sustainable development.
As Abe arrives in Washington, DC, Japan and the US are both facing significant internal and external challenges, including rising tensions in Asia. In recent months, Chinese aircraft have repeatedly violated Japanese airspace over the East China Sea, and a Chinese naval vessel locked its weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese destroyer and helicopter.
Likewise, a Chinese military intelligence unit in Shanghai has reportedly hacked – and stolen from – a multitude of US businesses. And North Korea conducted its third nuclear test earlier this month, sending shock waves through the region.
Lee Hamilton is the Co-Founder of Partnership for a Secure America and Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. This article was originally published in the Winona Daily News and can be found here.
Lee Hamilton: Some Suggestions for Improving Congress
A few weeks ago, the survey firm Public Policy Polling made headlines when it released a poll comparing Congress’s standing to a variety of unloved things.
Respondents did prefer our national legislature to the ebola virus, but otherwise the news was grim: Americans, the survey suggested, have a lower opinion of Congress than of head lice, Genghis Khan, used-car salesmen and root canals.
Congressman Hamilton (D-IN) and Governor Kean (R-PA) are members of PSA’s bipartisan Advisory Board. They co-chaired the 9/11 Commission and are now co-chairs for the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project. This op-ed originally appeared in The Hill newspaper.
We can’t forget national security
During the presidential campaign, there was a striking lack of debate on homeland security. Given the country’s economic problems, the public understandably wasn’t focused on terrorism, and President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney may have been satisfied that the government’s reforms since the 9/11 attacks enhanced our safety and left little to debate.
The silence is eerily reminiscent of the 2000 presidential campaign, when, despite a horrific attack on a U.S. warship during the height of the campaign and the bombings of two U.S. embassies only two years before, neither candidate had much to say about terrorism. As then, we cannot afford to forego an ongoing debate on our security.
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This article was written by three 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.
A Security Broach:
How Security Clearance Reform Can Address Employment Challenges, Reduce Costs, and Improve National Security
In 1953, Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize, the Crucible debuted on Broadway, and Queen Elizabeth was crowned. Stalin died; a cease-fire agreement was reached on the Korean peninsula; the Rosenbergs were executed; Che Gueverra was touring Latin America, and the first color television made its debut.
The Cold War was a grave reality for all Americans; McCarthyism was at its peak, and the question of how to protect American national security interests and secrets was a serious test. It was in this environment that the newly inaugurated President Eisenhower issued an historic and often overlooked Executive Order to establish security standards for federal employees and contractors.
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.