This article was co-authored by Tara Sonenshine. Tara D. Sonenshine is former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. She is currently a Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. She is a former member of PSA’s Board of Directors. This article originally appeared in the Christian Science Monitor.
Donald Steinberg is president and chief executive officer of World Learning, which works in 60 countries to empower a new generation of global leaders.
Globally, ‘girl power’ should be much more than a slogan
Investing in the education and health of girls pays huge dividends. Now is the time to recommit to empowering girls and ending child marriage and human trafficking, not just because it is morally right but because it is the smartest way to build a more peaceful and prosperous world.
If you want to change the world, invest in a girl.
Today marks the second anniversary of International Day of the Girl, instituted by the United Nations General Assembly to promote the rights of girls, highlight the unique challenges they face around the world, and reaffirm a global commitment to protect and empower them. Given worldwide violence, extremism, poverty, and injustice, we cannot afford to cast aside the contributions that 850 million girls can make to build a safer, more prosperous, and equitable world.
Studies show that if a girl stays in school, receives health care, gains skills, and is safe from sexual and other physical abuse, she will very likely marry later, have fewer but healthier children, earn a higher income, invest in her family, and break the cycle of poverty at home and in her community. She will be more likely to use her education to increase agricultural production, improve health conditions for her family, and serve as a leader to resolve conflicts. (more…)
Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He is a member of the PSA Advisory Board. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.
Limited Options, Influence for U.S. in Syria
Presently, the national conversation about Syria has centered on possible prescriptions for an international crisis that has the U.S. tied up in a considerable conundrum.
Should President Obama punish Syria’s apparent use of chemical weapons? Did Syria and its president, Bashar al-Assad, cross the “red line” that would warrant U.S. military intervention? Can new diplomatic efforts end the chemical weapons impasse? How can the killing be stopped?
Missing from much of what’s been written and said about the crisis in Syria over the last several weeks, however, is a realistic assessment of the state of that nation today, as well as that of the United States’ capacity to influence events in this extremely volatile and complex country. This assessment is key to answering the question: What kind of a solution in Syria is possible?
Syria, as currently constituted, is a chaotic, confusing and challenging country, one partitioned into multiple centers of power and plagued by a brutal civil war that has killed approximately 100,000 people according to United Nations estimates and that, sadly, seems to have no end in sight. Over 6 million Syrians have been displaced, with prospects of more to come in what is the world’s most daunting humanitarian crisis. (more…)
Ben Sohl is an intern at Partnership for a Secure America and a graduate of University of Maryland, College Park. He is a currently a masters candidate at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC.
Stability and Geopolitics
Since their conception, nation-states have always looked after their own national interest. This has traditionally been a fairly simple geopolitical calculation – do what increases the wealth, power, and security of the nation. Over time, this calculation has slowly evolved. Today, the United States finds within its core security interests the stabilization of foreign states. These stability interests often conflict with traditional geopolitical interests, presenting modern policy makers with the challenge of finding a proper balance.
In previous eras, the biggest foreign threat a nation or kingdom faced was from the invasion of an outside armed force. The best defense was to have the biggest deterrent. The more wealth a nation achieved, the stronger its army and its deterrent. Therefore, the primary national security interests were defined by traditional hard power and geopolitical tools.
Today, the most common threat the United States faces is not the invasion of a foreign army, but asymmetric attacks from terrorist groups that thrive in lawless and unstable environments. The greater extent the United States is able to promote stability in these areas, the lesser the dangers there will be to American citizens, and our friends and allies. Therefore, stability promotion has become an important component in the calculus of American national security interests.
Madeleine K. Albright is a member of the PSA Advisory Board, Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, and Chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets. Dr. Albright was the 64th Secretary of State of the United States. This article was originally published on the Clinton Foundation’s website.
Ambassador Profile: Madeleine Albright
Since leaving office a dozen years ago, I have been asked many times to lend my energy and financial support to various worthwhile projects. I say “yes” when I can, partly out of a sense of obligation and partly because I have trouble saying “no.” Participating in the Clinton Foundation, however, is neither an obligation nor a burden; it is a joy.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that President Clinton is not an ordinary philanthropist or “good deed doer;” he is a human power source. He has the ability to charm, educate, and motivate simultaneously, leaving you richer in spirit, albeit a little lighter in the pocketbook.
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.
This article originally appeared in The Hill. The author, Secretary William Cohen, is a member of PSA’s Advisory Board.
Simpson-Bowles provides fiscal fix
Recently, television networks ran footage of a car speeding at 70 miles per hour down the wrong side of a divided highway. The man who captured the event on his camera could see that catastrophe was inevitable. The collision was horrific.
The crash is a perfect metaphor for what is taking place on Capitol Hill. Barring congressional action, the automatic spending cuts to both federal civil and defense programs known as sequestration will go into effect on Jan. 2, 2013. These cuts, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will eliminate approximately $111 billion from defense, domestic and Medicare accounts in fiscal 2013, and $984 billion over the next nine years.
Sequestration was part of the agreement that temporarily resolved the debate over raising the debt ceiling, a debate that almost forced the United States to default on its debt last fall and succeeded only in reducing our nation’s credit rating. Sequestration was originally intended to provide a doomsday scenario that would force Democrats and Republicans to come together to find $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years. Ideological rigidity trumped the fear of failure.
This article was written by Sen. Gary Hart and Sen. Warren Rudman, members of PSA’s Advisory Board. The article originally appeared in The New York Times.
For Political Closure, We Need Disclosure
Since the beginning of the current election cycle, extremely wealthy individuals, corporations and trade unions — all of them determined to influence who is in the White House next year — have spent more than $160 million (excluding party expenditures). That’s an incredible amount of money.
To put it in perspective, at this point in 2008, about $36 million had been spent on independent expenditures (independent meaning independent of a candidate’s campaign). In all of 2008, in fact, only $156 million was spent this way. In other words, we’ve already surpassed 2008, and it’s July.
This article, co-authored by PSA Advisory Board member and former Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering and William Luers, former U.S. Ambassador and President of the United Nations Foundation from 1999 to 2009, originally appeared in the New York Times.
Envisioning a Deal With Iran
IF you deal in camels, make the doors high,” an Afghan proverb cautions. As the dangers mount in the confrontation between the United States and Iran, both sides will have to raise the doors high for diplomacy to work, and to avoid conflict.
A diplomatic strategy must begin with the United States’ setting its priorities and then defining a practical path to achieve them. To achieve its top priorities, it will have to learn what Iran needs. Since the United States will not get total surrender from Iran, it must decide what it can put on the table to assure that both sides can reach a deal that will be durable.
PSA Advisory Board Co-Chair Lee Hamilton discusses why Americans have come to regard Congress so poorly, arguing that this mood is a result of a dysfunctional Washington mired in partisanship, secrecy, and a lack of accountability. This op-ed originally appeared in The Star Press.
The latest New York Times/CBS News poll had bad news for Congress, whose support is down to single digits. But it had even worse news for the Republic. Americans’ distrust of government, the pollsters found, is “at its highest level ever.”
A lot of this ire is focused on Congress, which an overwhelming majority believe is incapable of acting on behalf of the nation as a whole, but it has come to take in all of Washington. The poll’s findings can be summed up in the words of one respondent, a small-businesswoman from Arizona. “Probably the government in Washington could be trusted at one time,” she told the Times, “but now it seems like it’s all a game of who wins rather than what’s best for the people.”
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Last week, the highest level extra-governmental group ever convened to address any public policy challenge met in Washington, D.C. to announce the launch of their new organization – the United States Energy Security Council – formed to advance American energy security. This bipartisan group of 20 influential former cabinet officials, military personnel, retired Senators, and prominent business leaders, includes three PSA Advisory Board members – Robert C. McFarlane, former National Security Advisor, John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy, and Gary Hart, former Senator (D – Colo.).
At their launch event, USESC founders emphasized the importance of finding solutions to the nation’s current energy dilemma and described the risk associated with America’s reliance on oil as a sole transportation fuel. Across the bipartisan panel, members agreed that, in the interest of national and economic security, America must pursue strategies to diversify the fuel sources used in transportation – eliminating the decades old monopoly that oil has enjoyed in the U.S. transportation sector and diminishing the strategic importance of this resource. McFarlane was certain to point out, however, that the group is not “anti-oil,” but more accurately “pro-fuel choice.”
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.