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.

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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 TheLugarCenter.org.  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.

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A World Hungry for Food and Solutions: Why We Need Food Diplomacy

by PSA Staff | April 28th, 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 GW Planet Forward.

A World Hungry for Food and Solutions: Why We Need Food Diplomacy

If there is one truly global issue that unites people and divides them it is food. Food security—or lack thereof, is today on the top of every nation’s priorities including our own. Simply put: There is not enough food to go around in a world that is likely to house 9.6 billion people by 2050. Food insecurity—where someone in the household literally has to reduce food intake—affects people in the United States, Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East.

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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.

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Where Congress falls short, and where it doesn’t

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

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

Where Congress falls short, and where it doesn’t

At a public gathering this year, someone asked me how I’d sum up my views on Congress. It was a good question, because it forced me to step back from worrying about the current politics of Capitol Hill and take a longer view.

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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?

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Common Core will benefit NJ students (Opinion)

by PSA Staff | April 2nd, 2014 | |Subscribe

Former Gov. Tom Kean is currently a member of PSA’s Advisory Board. He is also co-chair of the nonprofit education research and advocacy organization JerseyCAN: The New Jersey Campaign for Achievement Now. This article was originally published at NJ.com.

Common Core will benefit NJ students 

When it comes to education, New Jersey has consistently been a leader. It’s something on which we pride ourselves.

A critical part of being a great leader, however, is regularly seeking ways to do better, and this is exactly what we did in June 2010, when New Jersey adopted the Common Core State Standards, a set of benchmarks for what students should know at each grade level so they all graduate high school prepared for college and careers.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.