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.
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 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.
Complications in US – Pakistan Relations
Since September 11, 2001 no relationship has been more contentious, or more vexing, than the one shared between the United States and Pakistan. It is a relationship that despite obvious mutual benefits is often viewed through a lens of distrust by both countries. This consociation began during the regime of Muhammad Zia Al Huq as both nations stood side by side stemming off the Soviet invasion of the1980′s. Low points during the A.Q. Kahn and Raymond Davis affairs tested the limits of both nations; and of course, in the wake of the final reckoning of Osama Bin Laden relations took on a life of its own. Rather than being seen as testaments to the strong foundation of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship ideally working well together, each incident, in its time, has been construed by many pundits, in both nations, as the beginning of the end. The lowest watermark viewed by Pakistan as an infringement on sovereign territory, the bin Laden mission, sent tenuous diplomacy on a collision course with conflict and distrust. This dysfunctional juxtaposition between the U.S. and Pakistan has become more glaringly apparent this summer during the talks associated with the re-opening of NATO Supply Routes running through Pakistan.
Anthony Scavone is a recent graduate of Boston University where he studied International Relations focusing specifically on International Development and Sub-Saharan Africa. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali from October until they were evacuated in mid-April. You can read more about his personal experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in his personal blog, Anthony in Africa. This is the second post in a two-post series about the motivations and impact of the recent military coup in Mali.
Reflections on the Coup, Part 2
Although the situation at hand is most tragic for the citizens of Mali, the current situation could have significant repercussions for those of us both fortunate to escape, and even those of us who have never been.
This article authored by former Senator Alan Simpson originally appeared in the McClatchy Company news service.
The U.S. Needs the U.N., and the U.N. Needs the U.S.
Jan. 12 marked the second anniversary of the horrific earthquake that ripped Haiti apart. While we quite properly remembered the unthinkable loss of Haitian lives that day, less well remembered were the deaths that same day of more than 100 U.N. officials in the collapse of the building that housed the headquarters of the U.N. mission in Haiti.
They were there in an effort to help the process of nation building in Haiti and to assist with humanitarian relief efforts there. Their deaths remind us that the United Nations and its staff members serve in many difficult places working on the most difficult issues. Their efforts serve us all.
Advisory Board Member and former Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, discusses his recommendations for U.S. Policy in Iran. His recommendations include greater cooperation with the United Nations, collaboration with regional partners, and intelligence sharing in addition to many other points of leverage and influence the United States could use. The article originally appeared here on CNN.
Washington (CNN) — Longtime observers of the Middle East are baffled by allegations that high-ranking officials in the Iranian government approved a plan to assassinate Saudi Arabia Ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, and blow up the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington. Commentators have described the plan as “brazen,” but “bizarre” and ‘bone-headed” might be more appropriate adjectives.
It’s difficult to comprehend either the motives or the means selected to carry out the plan outlined by the Justice Department in its criminal indictment of Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri. Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia are not new, but Iran has been both cautious and clever enough to restrain its ambitions for regional dominance.
If the allegations of the assassination and bombing plot are true, and the covert operation had proved successful, Iran’s leaders would have invited retaliation on a scale far more vigorous than any they might have contemplated. Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that the Iranian landscape would likely have been substantially altered.
If there were Foreign Service action figures (and budding toddler foreign policy wonks out there, you know you would want one of these), then the Robert Ford one might well be the hot toy for this holiday season. For the last six months, Ford, the US Ambassador to Syria, has brought increased attention to President Bashar al-Assad’s escalating campaign of violence against anti-regime demonstrators. The toll has become harder and harder to ignore; to date, at least 2,700 have been killed and more than 20,000 have been detained. But so have Ford’s actions, meeting with activists and documenting the unrest, all the while facing blowback (sometimes severe) from those loyal to the regime. Until recently, though, he had been serving on a one-year recess appointment. Now, in lieu of an action figure, Ford has gotten the next best thing: on Monday, he was finally confirmed by the Senate to serve a full term as the Ambassador in Damascus.
Ford’s actions certainly eased his road to Senate confirmation, but it is worth remembering that the idea of sending an Ambassador back to Syria was a contentious one only less than a year ago. The post had been vacant since 2005 after Washington withdrew its ambassador following the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and some contended that filling the post again was a bad move. When President Obama appointed Ford to a recess appointment last December, incoming Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen argued that it sent the “wrong message” and that “making undeserved concessions to Syria tells the regime in Damascus that it can continue to pursue its dangerous agenda and not face any consequences from the US.” Rather than a sign of strength, an American ambassador there was seen as a sign of weakness.
On Monday, September 19th, Partnership for a Secure America along with the Stanley Foundation and the Hudson Institute hosted Ambassador Linton Brooks in a series of events at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center, which focused on the nuclear challenges facing the United States. Ambassador Brooks, currently a senior analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was the lead US negotiator on the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) and also served as Director of Arms Control for the National Security Council and as an administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Nearly ten years ago, on a clear blue morning in New York City, the beginning acts of the worst terrorist attack on American soil were set in motion. The air filled with smoke, debris, and the endless sound of sirens as nearly 3,000 were killed. This past Sunday, with night already descended on the city, the air instead filled with the sounds of crowds cheering upon hearing the news that Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for those attacks, had been killed. As President Obama summed it up, “Justice has been done.” The New York Post put it more bluntly: “the son of a bitch is dead.”
The story behind the death of Osama bin Laden is exciting in itself: a small team of Navy Seals conducts a daring 40-minute raid, gets the most wanted man in the world, and scores a major victory against al Qaeda. But we should also be proud of the way our government worked for years, across administrations and agencies, to ultimately carry out this critical mission. The intelligence community, though much maligned, tirelessly spent six years unraveling OBL’s courier network to track him down. Once he was found, the military did its job with surgical precision. And the President exhibited decisive leadership when given the opportunity to take OBL out, choosing, after careful deliberation, a riskier operation than others on the table to make sure the job was finally done. (more…)
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PSA Board of Directors member Dr. Andrew K. Semmel recently co-authored a new Stanley Foundation report with Jack Boureston, managing director at FirstWatch International, called The IAEA and Nuclear Security: Trends and Prospects. The report concludes that the international community should strengthen the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The authors state that adequate international nuclear security standards to prevent non-state actors from acquiring nuclear materials are absent. Currently, the international community has only “a diverse patchwork of initiatives that, when combined, constitute an awkward architecture of prevention, detection, and response.” The report urges the adoption of an international agreement to lay out minimally acceptable standards and create increased international coordination, monitoring, and reporting. The authors suggest that, while no international organization is currently vested with the level of responsibility for nuclear security functions to achieve these standards, the IAEA is “best positioned to fill that role.” To download the full report, click here.
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.