How Iran turns lemons into high-octane lemonade

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

Robert C. “Bud” McFarlane served as President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor from 1983-1985, and is a member of PSA’s distinguished Advisory Board. This post originally appeared in the Washington Times

In 2009, as intelligence reports confirmed that Iran — the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism — had resumed its nuclear weapons development program, the efforts of American policy officials to reverse it focused first on Iranian vulnerabilities. What critical commodity or service essential to daily life in Iran might be restricted by sanctions and thereby influence the government of Iran to change course? It didn’t take long to identify such a strategic commodity: gasoline.


World losing battle against terror, climate change & cyberattacks: Albright

by PSA Staff | June 17th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Madeleine K. Albright was U.S. Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations, and is a member of PSA’s distinguished Advisory Board. Ibrahim A. Gambari was Foreign Minister of Nigeria and U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. This article originally appeared at USA Today.   

As the United Nations marks its 70th anniversary later this year, there is mounting evidence that the international community is losing the fight against the most pressing security and justice challenges of our time. From Syria to sub-Saharan Africa, a marked increase in mass atrocities has undermined basic human rights and reversed the trend of declining political violence that began with the end of the Cold War. Climate change, cyberattacks, and the threat of cross-border economic shocks also pose grave implications for global security and justice.


SPECIAL REPORT: Did Maridia Conduct a Nuclear Test Explosion? On-Site Inspection and the CTBT

by PSA Staff | February 12th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Jenifer Mackby is a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists and a senior adviser to the Partnership for a Secure America. She was a technical observer in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Preparatory Commission’s Integrated Field Exercise 2014. She previously served as secretary of the negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in Geneva and secretary of the Working Group on Verification at the Preparatory Commission in Vienna. The article originally appeared in Arms Control Today.

SPECIAL REPORT: Did Maridia Conduct a Nuclear Test Explosion? On-Site Inspection and the CTBT

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission launched a large-scale simulation of an on-site inspection in Jordan on November 3, 2014, to test the organization’s ability to find a nuclear test explosion site. The exercise, involving two fictitious countries, lasted for five weeks and used 150 tons of equipment to comb a large swath of land next to the Dead Sea.

The inspection area encompassed 1,000 square kilometers, the maximum area allowed by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), although the 30-day inspection period for the exercise was much less than the potential 130 days that the treaty allows. Searching for clues of a nuclear explosion in such an expanse and in such a shortened time period was a daunting task. It required the international teams, comprising 200 scientists and experts in on-site inspection technologies from 44 countries, to focus on their respective tasks for 12- to 14-hour days.


Jamie Metzl: Is Kim Jong Un More Dangerous than His Dad?

by PSA Staff | November 12th, 2014 | |Subscribe

PSA Board Director and former Clinton administration National Security Council official Jamie Metzl weighs in on the changing calculus for the North Korean leadership. For further information about Kim Jong Un, check Dr. Metzl’s CNN commentary.

North Korea’s Changing Calculus

It is no coincidence in my opinion that American detainees Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller were released by North Korea just as President Obama is arriving in Beijing for the APEC Summit. With North Korea-China relations more strained than they have been in years, the US moving towards a potential deal with Iran, the North Korean economy in shambles, and a resolution just being introduced to the UN General Assembly calling for North Korea’s leaders to be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, Kim Jong Un and his cabal are being squeezed as never before. Absolute terror remains a very effective means for North Korea’s leaders to maintain control of their population, but it’s hard to see how the status quo can be maintained for too long. It may be that North Korea sees this too, and has come to realize both that the costs of its global pariah status is increasing and that an Iran-like deal (where they negotiate over a long time and ultimately give up enough of their nuclear program to make the world happier and secure aid but not enough to limit deterrence) could be to their advantage. Don’t expect a Burma-like about face any time soon, but a lot seems to happening in North Korea and Asia more generally (including the new Xi Jinping-Vladimir Putin alliance) that will pose new challenges to America and our allies, but could also create new opportunities.

Tara Sonenshine: A Fulbright Is Not a Political Football

by PSA Staff | October 1st, 2014 | |Subscribe

Tara Sonenshine sits on the Partnership for a Secure America’s Board of Advisors. She is a former under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs and currently teaches at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs.This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

A Fulbright is Not a Political Football

Every now and then Congress shows wisdom as in the recent decision by the House and Senate to reject a request from the Obama administration to cut funding for the famous Fulbright program from $237 to $204 million.

What’s a Fulbright and why should you care?

The Fulbright is the most competitive and highly sought academic fellowship in the world. Think of it as trade — the trading of great minds in the stead of peace.

The Fulbright premise is tried and true — built on a simple, highly effective concept of international exchanges among scholars to foster better understanding and relations among nations. The Fulbright program provides small grants to help American students and teachers learn and work abroad and foreign students and scholars to visit the United States. As Senator J. William Fulbright, the program’s founder, said in 1945, “a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion… increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and fellowship.”

With over 355,000 alumni from over 155 countries, the Fulbright Program is important, symbolically and substantively for the United States at a time when we are trying to win more friends and fight more enemies. The Fulbright program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,600 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 US scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals. In this exchange of knowledge comes the chance to build stronger civil societies based on common values and interests.

So why would anyone want to cut a program that builds and maintains robust educational, scientific, economic, and political partnerships; knowledge transfer; and competition in the global marketplace?

Well, in a world of economic choices there is always a temptation to save “cents” at the expense of “sense.” Mistakenly, some in the government thought of shifting resources from in-depth exchange programs like Fulbright — which last a full year and extend around the globe — to shorter programs targeted on regions like Africa or Asia. Taking an axe to a government program might sound appealing unless you know the facts:

Firstly, the Fulbright is not exclusively a U.S. government program. It uses cost-sharing and partnership agreements with other countries — some of which are America’s long-standing friends and most important allies in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, and in the Western Hemisphere. In many of the countries engaged in these exchanges, Fulbright Commissions administer the program. Their budgets come from multiple sources — the U.S. Department of State and other governments as well as private charitable donations. In many countries with Fulbright commissions, partner countries spend more funding Fulbright opportunities for U.S. students and scholars to go abroad and more for their own students and scholars to go to the United States than the U.S. government does. We should not undermine their confidence in the U.S. commitment to the program with $ 30 million cut that would jeopardize those revenue flows.

Geography matters. It is also important to keep the reach of Fulbright educational exchanges broad, not narrow. Shifting the diplomatic lens away from Europe, for example, during a period when we are building coalitions of the willing to fight ISIS, deal with the instability in Ukraine, and counter transnational threats makes no sense. This is a time when we need transatlantic cooperation through dialogue and exchange.

The Fulbright program yields some of the greatest peace dividends. Among its alumni are 29 former heads of state or government, 53 Nobel Prize winners, and 80 Pulitzer Prize winners from all regions of the world. Those who invest in the Fulbright program invest a full year because learning about another country takes time. Shorter programs that offer less substantive immersion for foreigners do not necessarily create lasting change. Cutting corners on education never quite works.

Lastly, there is an American economic imperative to invest in international education including bringing scholars from the around the world to the U.S. According to the Association of International Educators, international students contribute over $24 billion to the U.S. economy each year, and the Fulbright Program is one of the most respected programs among international educators in the United States and abroad.

The Fulbright program must stay fully funded. Stay tuned for more budget action as Congress makes final decisions on the FY15 appropriations bills although the way things are going, there may not be a final budget until the end of the year. In the meantime, America has to do it work to strengthen ties with other nations and promote international cooperation. Fulbright is one small way to maintain the world’s largest multilateral investment in public diplomacy.

The unfinished business of foreign aid reform

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

Lugar served as senator from Indiana from 1977 to 2013, and was twice chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and twice chairman of the Agriculture Committee. He currently runs  Berman represented congressional districts in California’s San Fernando Valley from 1983 to 2013 and served as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He is currently a senior adviser at Covington & Burling. Kolbe represented Arizona congressional districts from 1985 to 2007, and is a senior Transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund and senior adviser at McLarty Associates.  The three serve as honorary co-chairs of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. This article was originally published in The Hill

The unfinished business of foreign aid reform

In 2008 a group of foreign policy luminaries issued a proposal to promote a “fresh, smart approach to U.S. foreign policy and engagement in the world.”  As the name of their new coalition implied, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) sought to reform a foreign aid system that was badly outdated and poorly equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  MFAN offered a set of core principles and priority actions for making foreign assistance more effective, more efficient, and better at serving our national interests.  Their ideas inspired each of us to engage in foreign aid reform from our individual leadership positions within and outside of Congress.

Over the intervening six years, notable progress has been made.  Both the President’s Policy Directive on Global Development and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review sought to elevate the role of global development in our foreign policy, and to adopt a more evidence-based and results-oriented approach to aid.


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.


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?


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.


To reach the top, girls need financial literacy

by PSA Staff | March 10th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Tara Sonenshine advises World Learning and is currently a Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University. She served as a member of PSA’s Board of Directors and as  former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.. The article was co-written by Patrice Hirsch Feinstein. The article was originally posted in Newsday.

To reach the top, girls need financial literacy

Women, take note. You are 50 percent of the population, but in America’s wealthiest companies you have only 18 percent of the top executive jobs.

That’s one eye-opener from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School of business and the IE Business School in Madrid, published recently in the Harvard Business Review. To make us feel better, the study underscores that in 1980, female representation was zero — so 18 percent is an improvement.


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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.