Lee Hamilton: Democracy needs people who’ll run

by PSA Staff | June 15th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-IN) is a member of PSA’s Advisory Board 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 originally appeared on Omaha.com.

Democracy needs people who’ll run

I spend a fair amount of time talking to students and other young people about Congress and politics in general, and I’ve noticed something. It used to be that I’d regularly get asked how one runs for office. Nowadays, I rarely do.

This is a young generation that is famously leery of politics. Every year, the Harvard Institute of Politics surveys young Americans about their attitudes. In their most recent survey, only 21 percent of respondents considered themselves politically engaged. Last year, only a third counted running for office “an honorable thing to do” — compared with 70 percent who considered community service honorable.

A lot of young people are repelled by politics; they’ve lost faith in the system just as many other Americans have. And I fully understand that elected office is not for everybody. You can make wonderful contributions to our communities and to our society as a whole without holding office.

But look. If you don’t have people who are willing to run for office, you don’t have a representative democracy. As the leading edge of the millennial generation reaches the age where running for office is a realistic possibility, I hope they’ll consider a few things.

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Lee Hamilton: Congress is wrong to be shrinking from its war powers

by PSA Staff | June 1st, 2015 | |Subscribe

Former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-IN) is a member of the PSA Board of Advisors 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 originally appeared on Omaha.com.

Congress is wrong to be shrinking from its war powers

A few weeks ago, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia made a small splash in the press when he took Congress to task for failing to authorize our nation’s ongoing war against Islamic militants.

“The silence of Congress in the midst of this war is cowardly and shameful,” he said. “[T]his Congress, the very body that is so quick to argue against President Obama’s use of executive power … allows an executive war to go on undeclared, unapproved, undefined and unchecked.”

Those were strong words, meant to spur Congress to action. Yet after a day or two, they sank without a trace. No one in the media picked up the call. No one in a position to influence the Senate or the House made a move to advance a congressional war authorization.

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Albright and Carson: Why Change in Nigeria Matters to the World

by PSA Staff | May 29th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is Chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategic advisory firm, and Chair of the National Democratic Institute. She is a member of PSA’s Board of Advisors. Ambassador Johnnie Carson, a former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, serves on the board of the NDI and co-chaired its recent election observer mission in Nigeria. He also serves as a Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group.

This article originally appeared on TIME.com.

Why Change in Nigeria Matters to the World

This week, something unprecedented is happening in Africa’s most populous country, where groundbreaking political change is underway. Nigeria’s incumbent president will step down and a new president from another political party, Muhammadu Buhari, will be sworn in.

The March election that brought Mr. Buhari to office was a political triumph for Nigeria and a positive step for the future of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa. Few expected that the election would be peaceful or credible, but the Nigerian people demanded nothing less.

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Advice to new grads from four PSA Advisory Board members

by Audrey Williams | May 21st, 2015 | |Subscribe

 

mortarboard pic

(Image credit: Jason Bache/Flickr)

It’s graduation season, and PSA Advisory Board members Nancy Kassebaum Baker, Madeleine Albright, and Thomas Pickering have all had the opportunity to speak to new graduates across the country over the past few weeks. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new grad or not – we can all learn something from their advice. (more…)

The Foreign Service is too white. We’d know — we’re top diplomats.

by PSA Staff | May 20th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Thomas Pickering is a PSA Advisory Board member and a retired United States ambassador. Among his many diplomatic appointments, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1989 to 1992. 

Edward Joseph Perkins is a former American diplomat who served as U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, South Africa, and the United Nations. He was later the director of the United States State Department’s Diplomatic Corps.

This article originally appeared in The Washington Post. 

The Foreign Service is too white. We’d know — we’re top diplomats.

When we began our careers in the 1970s, the Foreign Service was an exclusive club: overwhelmingly white, male and Ivy League-educated, filled with stuffed shirts in striped pants attending swanky cocktail parties.

For decades, you could quite literally count the number of African Americans in the Foreign Service on one hand. Clifton R. Wharton Sr. (whose son, Clifton Jr., later served as deputy secretary of state) became the first black Foreign Service officer in 1924. By 1949, only four more African Americans had joined. Even in 1976, only 4 percent of Foreign Service officers were black. More than a decade after the Civil Rights Act, America was still presenting a face to the world that looked more like a restrictive country club than our multiracial country.

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The Way Forward for Congress

by PSA Staff | May 14th, 2015 | |Subscribe
Lee Hamilton is a PSA Advisory Board member. He is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University; Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; and Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. This article originally appeared at Southernminn.com.

 The Way Forward for Congress

There have been encouraging signs on Capitol Hill of late that Congress’s long slide into irrelevance may be slowing.

Agreements on Medicare reimbursements and on Iran, No Child Left Behind, Pacific trade and other issues in various committees led last month to a chorus of relieved approval both in Washington and in the press. Just as important, the amendment process — at least in the Senate — is once again functioning as it’s supposed to.

But let’s not go overboard. Major challenges lie immediately ahead, chief among them how Congress handles the budget. If Congress finds that it likes feeling productive, then I’ve got some suggestions for turning these first, tentative steps into full-blown progress.

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The Moral Imperatives of Food Security

by PSA Staff | May 5th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Madeleine Albright is a PSA Advisory Board member and was U.S. Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001. She also chairs Partners for a New Beginning, the Albright Stonebridge Group,  and co-chairs the Aspen Food Security Strategy Group . Article originally appeared in The Aspen Journal of Ideas.

The Moral Imperatives of Food Security

It is peculiar to live in a world where hunger is an endemic problem for half the planet while diet books are best-sellers in the other half. This point is often lost in the broader bundle of jargon that now defines the conversation on food security in the twenty-first century, but it should not be.

A food security expert today will tell you that in order to feed the world’s population, projected to reach over 9 billion people by 2050, we must adopt a sophisticated strategy of “streamlining market efficiencies,” “scaling best practices,” and “leveraging disruptive technologies” to put food in the mouths of the poor and the hungry. True. But there is more to this story.

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Money and Politics: We Need Change Now

by PSA Staff | April 29th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University and current Advisory Board Co-Chair to the Partnership for a Secure America. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. The article originally appeared in Surfsky News.

Money and Politics: We Need Change Now

I’ve seen a lot over my decades in politics, and not much alarms me. But I have to be blunt: Money is poisoning our political system.

The people who matter most to a representative democracy – the ordinary voters in whose interests elected politicians are supposed to act – feel as though they’ve become an afterthought in the political process. The tidal wave of money washing over our elections, with no end in sight, is causing Americans to lose faith in the system. In that way, the course we’re on threatens the core values and principles that define us as a nation.

Oddly, many politicians see no problem – except perhaps the inconvenient need to spend a significant portion of every day dialing for dollars. They don’t, however, believe this is corrupting. They don’t believe they’re selling their votes, or even that money influences their behavior.

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Middle East Continues to Dominate U.S. Foreign Policy, but Our Strategy in Region Remains Largely Unclear

by PSA Staff | April 27th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University and current Advisory Board Co-Chair to the Partnership for a Secure America. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. The article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

Middle East Continues to Dominate U.S. Foreign Policy, but Our Strategy in Region Remains Largely Unclear

Like every U.S. president of the last half-century, I find it nearly impossible to avoid focusing most of my foreign policy attention on the continuingly chaotic and confusing region of the world that is the Middle East.

I have now spent five decades working on foreign policy in government, and I’m still struggling to make sense of the Middle East. It’s an extremely turbulent area, where tensions flare up regularly. Its economic growth has been tepid at best, and its overall governance is feeble. The region is currently flooded with refugees. And city after city is fraught with danger, destruction and devastation.

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The Deal Involves Expanding the ‘Maritime Silk Road’

by PSA Staff | April 23rd, 2015 | |Subscribe

Jamie Metzl is a Co-Chairman of the PSA Board of Directors and Nonresident Senior Fellow for Technology and National Security at the Atlantic Council.

The Deal Involves Expanding the ‘Maritime Silk Road’

Xi Jinping’s just completed visit to Pakistan is a big deal for China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and the United States. China has pledged $46 billion to develop the port, road, and pipeline infrastructure linking the Pakistani port at Gwadar to Western China’s Xinjiang province, to construct badly needed power plants, and to upgrade Pakistan’s submarines, presumable to carry nuclear weapons. In return, Pakistan is giving China essentially full access to the Gwadar port.

Everyone should wish for economic development in Pakistan, and it would be great if at least a significant portion of the Chinese aid and loans goes toward activities, like badly-needed infrastructure and energy-generating capacity, that benefits the ordinary Pakistani people. US aid to Pakistan over past decades has spectacularly failed in this regard.

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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.