The Real Lesson of MH17

by PSA Staff | July 28th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Gary Hart was a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and is a member on PSA’s Advisory Board. This op-ed was originally found on National Interest.

The Real Lesson of MH17

Crossing Murphy’s Law with the law of unintended consequences produces this: If the worst possible thing can happen it will, and it will probably happen to you. When the Soviet Union was occupying Afghanistan, we armed the Taliban on the always-dubious theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In the great sweep of human history, it did not take long for the enemy of our enemy to become our enemy. This seems to offer yet another law: Never replace an occupier whom you are trying to get rid of. (more…)

Crocker, Luers, Pickering: Our common cause with Iran

by PSA Staff | July 23rd, 2014 | |Subscribe

Crocker, Luers, Pickering: Our common cause with Iran

Pickering is a member of PSA’s Advisory Board and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. You can find this original article on Rianovosti

WASHINGTON, July 22 (RIA Novosti) – The Obama administration should be forthcoming in producing all relevant information on the crash of Malaysian Airline flight MH17, which led them to come to broad conclusions on the causes and responsibility for the crash, former ambassador to Russia, Thomas Pickering, said in an interview with RIA Novosti Monday. (more…)

Bordering on surreal — live images of war

by PSA Staff | July 23rd, 2014 | |Subscribe

Bordering on surreal — live images of war

Sonenshine is a distinguished fellow at George Washington University and former member of PSA’s Board of Directors. This article originally appeared in the The Hill Contributor’s Blog.

A civilian aircraft is shot down over the border between Russia and Ukraine, wreckage burning on the ground. Two hundred ninety-eight innocent souls lost. In another quadrant of your screen, outgoing rockets from Gaza meet incoming missiles from Israel along the border as Israeli ground troops seek to destroy tunnels connecting the areas. Cut to the U.S.-Mexico border, where thousands of people are streaming across to escape life in Latin America, facing uncertain conditions. Pause before watching scenes of insurgents marching toward Baghdad. They came over porous borders with Syria.

Everywhere you look, a boundary is in dispute at a time when we supposedly live in a virtual e-everything world with no borders. The question arises — what role do borders serve? (more…)

After Ukraine, Obama Keeps an Eye on the Baltics

by PSA Staff | June 11th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Tara Sonenshine is distinguished fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs and former under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. She is also a former member of PSA’s Board of Directors. This article originally appeared in Defense One.

After Ukraine, Obama Keeps an Eye on the Baltics

In the wake of the Ukraine election, all eyes are on Russia and President Vladimir Putin for signs of a full withdrawal of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border or an escalation of tensions in and around Kiev.

But there is another related hotspot to be watching:  the Baltics. While political analysts are busy imagining a new Ukraine with quasi-independent states or neutral, federated regions and political power-sharing arrangements, the Obama administration is rightly considering beefing up its military presence in Europe, perhaps going so far as granting a Baltic request for permanent NATO military bases. Having been somewhat blindsided by Ukraine, neither this administration nor European leaders want to take any chances.

(more…)

Russia Violates International Law & Complicates International Priorities

by PSA Staff | April 29th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Gregory Gleichauf is a foreign affairs intern at Partnership for a Secure America. He currently attends James Madison University.

Russia Violates International Law & Complicates International Priorities

“I was in the middle of a phone call—I won’t tell you with whom—but with a prime minister from a country somewhere, and in the middle of it, I swear to God, the phone call got dropped twice while we were talking, so we had to reconnect and that’s why I’m late and that’s modern communications, I guess.” Even before he had gotten to the substance of his presentation, Secretary of State John Kerry had hinted at an underlying theme. On March 18, the Dean Acheson Auditorium of the U.S. State Department was filled with college students who had gathered to hear Secretary Kerry’s presentation entitled ‘Making Foreign Policy Less Foreign’ where he addressed some of the major issues facing American foreign policy today. The Secretary showed that even though the world has become more interconnected through globalizing forces, there are still countries that operate as he described as “on the wrong side of history.”

Innovations during the past century and into today have toppled barriers that inhibited greater international cooperation and connectivity among countries with mutual interests. Technology now allows for a Philadelphia corporation to talk with a partner in London in real time. With transportation advancements, a plane can leave Miami and land in Madrid just hours later. With these and other major developments, doors have opened to allow a greater and more rapid flow of culture, ideas, information and commerce that help bring the world closer together. With this increased cooperation and interdependence, enforcement of international law became a necessity to govern the workings of the world.

(more…)

U.S.-Russian Cultural Relations Are on Ice, Too

by PSA Staff | April 23rd, 2014 | |Subscribe

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.

(more…)

Achieving Long-term Stability in Ukraine Is Key to Navigating Watershed Moment in East-West Relations

by PSA Staff | April 7th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is a member of PSA’s Advisory Board and the 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 on Huffington Post.

Achieving Long-term Stability in Ukraine Is Key to Navigating Watershed Moment in East-West Relations

In recent days, there has been no shortage of opinions about Ukraine, the escalating crisis over that country’s future and the international community’s response to Russia’s bold takeover of Crimea.

The conversation thus far has largely centered on how the U.S. and its European allies can ease the standoff over Ukraine, convince Russia to scale back the tens of thousands of troops it has reportedly amassed near Ukraine’s border and prevent a prolonged crisis in this important part of the world.

Missing from much of the discussion, though, is a frank assessment of what exactly the U.S. and its European allies seek to accomplish outside the more immediate aim of keeping the Russians out of Ukraine. That is, what is our long-term objective with regard to this troubled nation and, if there is one, is it attainable?

(more…)

How to deal with Russia without reigniting a full-fledged Cold War psychology

by PSA Staff | March 31st, 2014 | |Subscribe

George P. Shultz, a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, was secretary of state from 1982 to 1989. Sam Nunn, a former U.S. senator from Georgia and chairman of the Armed Services Committee from 1987 to 1995, is co-chairman and CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Both Nunn and Lugar serve as members of PSA’s Advisory Board. This article was originally published at the Washington Post.

How to deal with Russia without reigniting a full-fledged Cold War psychology

Russia has taken over Crimea and threatens further aggression. Now is the time to act but also to think strategically. What basic strategic approach should the United States and its allies take, and how can that approach be implemented over time so that the tactical moves benefit our long-term interests? Is it possible to avoid the reemergence of a full-fledged Cold War psychology, which is encouraged by Russia developing an “I can get away with it” mentality?

(more…)

Ghost Port

by PSA Staff | March 26th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Gary Hart served as US Senator of Colorado from 1975-1987 and is currently a member of PSA’s Advisory BoardThis article was originally published on Huffington Post Blog

Ghost Port

Twenty-five years ago or thereabouts I brought together an international consortium to build a new seaport at Novorossiysk, north of Sochi on the Russian Black Sea coast. There was already a small port at Novorossiysk on the natural Tsemes Bay (due East of Sevastapol). Needless to say, the proposed world class port never got built. But if it had, it might have changed history.

(more…)

Ukraine, a Tale of Two Countries

by PSA Staff | March 24th, 2014 | |Subscribe

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 the Washington Times.

Ukraine, a Tale of Two Countries

Ukraine’s real-life page-turning novel is getting complicated with new characters and scenes. America’s part in the story is a big one.

Interim President Arseniy Yatsenyuk came to Washington to see President Obama this week.

Ousted President Victor Yanukovych went to Moscow to give a speech.

In next week’s episode, citizens in Crimea will vote on a referendum on whether to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is playing good-cop, bad-cop with America and Russia and may be the only one with real sway. Mrs. Merkel has alternated between suggesting to President Obama that Vladimir Putin is “in another world,” to rapping Mr. Putin on the knuckles for illegal behavior.

Which power will emerge as the real hero in this tale of two countries? My money is on Ukraine — because of one word: culture.

You can’t stop culture with military might. Culture creates societal change and is rarely motivated by the butt of a rifle or the barrel of a gun.

Visiting Ukraine last April, I saw the range of influences that make up the cultural diversity of this unique country. Every facet of Ukrainian life is a reminder of shared traditions.

I came in the season of Easter when children dye Easter eggs for the holiday. I attended a Jewish Shabbat service the same week.

I found museums in Kiev alive with paintings — Ukrainian art and Russian works co-existing in the National Art Museum in Kiev, from David Burliuk to Maria Sinyakova to Mikhail Boichuk and others.

Music in Ukraine ranges from Polissa pop to Kolomiya rap, from Cossack songs to Russian ballads. Even the cuisine is varied —from borshch to ukha, blyntsi to Paska. Its dishes and ingredients hail from Russia, Poland, Germany and Turkey.

Literature in Ukraine is translated around the world into German, English, Russian and other languages. Ukrainian poets and authors are often on display at Germany’s Leipzig Book Fair taking place this week.

Culture is a durable good and fortifies a nation.

What makes this tale so tragic is that even with a strong culture, Ukraine will pay a heavy price for Russia’s intervention. The Russian assault on Ukrainian life will drain the country of necessary resources at a time when the economy is terrible — one of the issues that Mr. Obama and Mr. Yatsenyuk discussed.

In addition to the positive sides of Ukrainian life, I saw, firsthand, an educational system in dire need of support. I visited School No. 168, bringing together students of diverse backgrounds including Ukrainian youth with disabilities. Like many educational institutions, School No. 168 needs funding, more books and computers so that young minds can be nourished and nurtured — so that they can produce more great writers and artists.

That’s where America and the West come in. We have to provide resources to keep Ukraine sturdy. The International Monetary Fund and congressional money is helpful but won’t immediately change circumstances on the ground. We need a public diplomacy campaign to raise money for Ukraine and to raise the rhetorical outrage. Let’s adopt Ukraine as a cause. The Ukrainian people have the right to choose their own diverse narrative — to write their own story.

As for the referendum, the Crimea is part of Ukraine and no referendum will be considered legal or binding by a 2014 global community. The Russian government can’t tell Ukrainians they are not part of Ukraine just as you can’t tell Ukrainian-Americans residing in Pennsylvania that they are not part of the United States.

Ukraine will emerge from this crisis stronger because of its culture and citizens. We have not read the last chapter.

Next Page »

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.