The Global Citizen: Capitol Hill
Bill Clinton's masterful speech to nominate Barack Obama summed up the philosophical difference between Democrats and Republicans saying, "We believe that 'We're all in this together' is a far better philosophy than 'You're on your own'.'' It's clear that these divergent views extend to the two parties' take on the rest of the world.
My colleague Andrew Hess has pulled together a great side by side comparison of the Ds and Rs platforms on Energy, the Environment, and Foreign Policy. There is a clear difference between the two that will impact our nation's role in an increasingly multi-polar interdependent world.
Democrats stress international cooperation, saying that "The greatest dangers we face--terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber and biological attacks, climate change, and transnational crime--cannot be solved by any one nation alone. Addressing these challenges requires broad and effective global cooperation."
For the past two and a half years, a big part of my job at Global Solutions has involved managing the work of our political action committee, Global Solutions PAC. I've met with congressional candidates from around the country, listened to their views on foreign policy, recommended endorsements and contributions to their campaigns, and attended fundraisers to show our support. It's been a great experience, and one that has taught me quite a lot.
Now, as I prepare to leave Global Solutions and embrace new opportunities, I look back on my time here and have a few thoughts and memories I'd like to share with you.
It doesn't take a genius or political pundit to know that most Americans are not primarily focused on foreign policy this year as they decide which candidates they want to send to the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives. Most voters, understandably, are more focused on jobs and the economy. However, there is plenty of evidence that voters do want to see a U.S. foreign policy that remains engaged outside our borders and works with allies and international institutions to build a better world. For example, according to a recent survey by the Better World Campaign:
Last Thursday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), seeking to gauge the treaty's performance in the time since February 2011, when it first came into effect. Witnesses brought before the committee included the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Thomas P. D'Agostino; the Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the State Department, Rose Gottemoeller; and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, Madelyn R. Creedon.
Each of the witnesses offered positive assessments of New START's effectiveness, highlighting the ways in which the agreement has helped to make nuclear relations between the US and Russia more stable and transparent. In her testimony, Gottemoeller remarked that New START has helped to improve the flow of nuclear weapons-related information between the two countries. In particular, she cited the treaty's verification mechanisms, including exhibitions of strategic arms and guaranteed on-site inspections, as concrete examples of provisions that have helped to improve the aforementioned information flow.
Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations resumed a markup of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, setting their priorities for spending on Foreign Affairs for the 2013 fiscal year. This was an important and revealing moment for the Senate because what they designate money for in the international affairs budget shows where their foreign policy priorities lay. The Senate showed a much stronger commitment to international development and human rights than the House did, and we applaud them for that.
Fortunately, the Senate bill provides $1.6 billion for Contributions to International Organizations (CIO), which is slightly above the level requested by the President. However, for contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA), the bill provides $2 billion for UN peacekeeping, which is $100 million less than the President's request.
One glaring issue with the Senate bill is the question of funding for UNESCO. Due to an almost 20-year-old law, the United States is barred from contributing to UNESCO because of the recent vote that made Palestine its newest member.
It was a bad and sad day for Indiana on Tuesday.
Senator Richard Lugar not only lost in the Republican primary; Tea Party extremists did their best to humiliate America's finest public servant. A few even trespassed onto the senator's farm and put up the obnoxious "Retire Lugar" campaign signs that popped up like weeds across our state this spring.
Through his work on the school board and as Indianapolis mayor, Lugar set the stage for the remaking of the Indiana capital city into a major, world class city. As senator, he made Indiana a better state, but also globally important.
As an Indiana Republican, Senator Lugar made the party a powerhouse, but often saved the GOP from its worst excesses. The man once known as Nixon's favorite mayor was now deemed too moderate for a strong majority of Indiana Republicans.
Here is what some other, more graceful, Hoosiers posted on facebook on Tuesday night:
Kiel, Terre Haute, IN: Thanks for 36 years of representing Indiana well on a global stage, helping end apartheid and all of that.
Gabe, Columbus, IN: Lugar stood up to the hawks in the Reagan administration to demand the President break with the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines.
Dave, Indianapolis, IN: Sad day for the hungry, a sad day for our nation. Democracy is about talking with one another, not shouting at others.
This Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on U.S. policy on Iran. Witnesses included the Honorable Thomas Pickering, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, General James Cartwright, former Vice Chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Mr. Karim Sadjadpour, Senior Associate for the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The hearing assessed the current nuclear crisis in Iran and what the future of the situation looks like. Chairman Kerry acknowledged that intelligence shows that Iran has not yet started to make a nuclear weapon, but it is clear that the purpose of Iran developing better nuclear technology is so that they will be ready when that decision is made. To deter this decision, the international community has been placing sanctions on Iran. The European Union has banned oil contracts with Iran and the Swiss have announced that they will not grant access to Iranian banks. Chairman Kerry reiterated the President's resolve to "keep all options on the table", and continue to push Iran forward. Senator Lugar gave short remarks, noting that even as Iran grows more isolated, nothing has changed. The regime continues the oppression and persecution of certain groups within the country.
I came across an interesting piece by Carter Eskew this week in the Washington Post. The post, "Compromises for Romney?" speculated about concessions Mitt Romney might have to make to please conservatives in his party if he wins the Republican nomination and is elected President this fall. Some of the speculation: John Bolton as Secretary of State; Newt Gingrich as U.N. ambassador; and Rick Santorum as attorney general.
It's going to be tough to lose the outstanding Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in any case (as she's leaving after this term is up even if President Obama is re-elected). But I can't think of anyone I'd rather NOT see succeed her than John Bolton. He was refused confirmation as U.N. ambassador by the Senate in 2005 and 2006 (since he had expressed his belief that the U.N. shouldn't exist at all, that was hardly surprising) before finally getting the position during a recess appointment. Somehow, I don't think that having someone who opposes the U.N.'s very existence managing America's relationship with the rest of the world is a very bright idea. Bolton also said the decision to pull out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was the "happiest moment" of his political career to date.
On Tuesday I attended the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on "National Security & Foreign Policy Priorities in the FY 2013 International Affairs Budget," which featured Secretary of State Hilary Clinton as the key witness. While the foreign assistance portion of the U.S. budget is around 1%, this area of funding has been slightly reduced. In her testimony, Clinton identified the State Department's top five priorities for the coming year within the State Department's proposed budget.
The first priority is to sustain the current missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Clinton reminded the committee that "as troops come home, civilians remain to carry out the critical missions of diplomacy and development. Our request reflects the temporary, extraordinary costs of operating on the frontlines." There is now an important diplomatic role for the U.S. to play in Afghanistan.
The second priority the Secretary mentioned is Asia, where the U.S. needs to strengthen its relationships and maintain its Pacific presence. This effort is called "forward deployed diplomacy," in which the U.S. is seeking out better relations within the region.
Last Friday I attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Egyptian crackdown on non-governmental organizations. In December, the Egyptian government raided the offices of several NGOs within the country and is now prosecuting representatives from these organizations. The government claims that the organizations were not registered to be in the country and that they were receiving aid from non-Egyptian organizations. Four presidents from American NGOs affected by the raids testified at the hearing, including the International Republican Institute, National Democracy Institute, Freedom House, and the International Center for Journalists.
The witnesses were questioned about how their organizations were affected by the government raids and the charges being brought against them. Lorne Craner, of the International Republican Institute, said that members of his organization were interrogated for hours by Egyptian officials. Some of the NGOs said their offices were sealed so that they are no longer able to use the facilities and most had documents, computers, cash, and other goods confiscated. The witnesses agreed that their organizations have never received treatment like this before. While no formal indictments have occurred, charges are being brought against 16 Americans.
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