Foreign Policy

US should designate Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization

Early this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will submit her decision to Congress on whether or not to designate the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization. The decision comes after nearly 12 years of war in Afghanistan but at a point of increased violence between the U.S. and Haqqanis.

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The costs of not granting Russia PNTR

On August 22, Russia becaming the 156th member of the World Trade Organization, which covers 98 percent of global trade. The United States has spent 19 years negotiating favorable conditions for its trade in goods and services with Russia. In a Peterson Institute study, Gary Hufbauer and I have estimated that the volume of U.S. exports of merchandise and services to Russia would double from $11 billion in 2011 to $22 billion over about five years, if WTO rules apply to U.S. trade with Russia.

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Global human rights cop

The House and Senate are currently considering legislation that contemplates punishing foreigners who commit certain human rights violations abroad.  While the motives of the legislation's supporters are no doubt noble, the United States should not be the sole arbiter of human rights around the world. Any unilateral action against foreign citizens for acts committed abroad requires great care and delicacy in execution.

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Genocide in Syria

This week Ireland’s Junior Foreign Minister, Joe Costello, visited Syrian refugee camps in Jordon. When he was there he may have heard the word atfal; Arabic for children. Genocide, the word politicians hate to hear, is the other word he might have heard. Genocide is happening now in Syria. Criteria appear to be met solely, but not exclusively, on Article 2 Section (e) of the Genocide Convention which focuses on children.

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Engagement at UN ensures US leadership role

Pundits have long debated how much a VP pick can sway voters come Election Day. Yet, cycle after cycle, we find that running mates impact the dynamics of the ticket. Joe Biden enhanced the ticket’s foreign affairs gravitas in 2008, and Paul Ryan brings regional appeal in 2012. These ‘number twos’ are carefully chosen to bolster candidates’ strengths and fill gaps where weaknesses exists.    

Just as presidential candidates need strong partners, so too does our nation as a whole. As the conventions kick off in Tampa and Charlotte, it’s an apt time for the candidates to consider what other kinds of running mates could strengthen their would-be administrations. Who will stand by the United States in combatting terrorism? What partners will join us in promoting democracy in the most fragile nations of the world? Who will bolster our efforts to curb the global spread of disease?

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India's misunderstood electrical grid

The international media reacted with alarm last month when major parts of northern India suffered power outages. They shouldn’t have. The failure of the electric grid on July 30 and 31 was an isolated incident. The government and private sectors are working hard to prevent a recurrence.

The resilience of the electrical system was obvious almost from the start. Power was restored widely after a few, short hours. Essential services such as railroads, metro lines and airports went dark only briefly. And the grid has functioned well and without incident ever since.

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Guidelines for laying down red lines

The strategic signal de jour of tough-minded national security officials and mavens is the “red line” –whether drawn in the sand of the Syrian desert against chemical weapon threats; laid down around South China Sea islands against belligerent assertions of sovereignty; or sent through cyberspace as a centrifuge-disabling virus.

But let the user beware of three pitfalls: overuse, excessive specificity, and absolutism.

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As tensions over Iran increase, protecting American troops remains paramount

When Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared that, “We are determined to prevent Iran from becoming nuclear (armed), and all the options are on the table. When we say it, we mean it,” he let it be known that time was swiftly running out for the diplomatic option to succeed in curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following a recent conversation with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, echoed the growing sentiment among senior Israeli officials that the time for action may be quickly approaching.

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Broken SEC pushes unworkable rules on 'conflict minerals'

Soon to be finalized Conflict Mineral disclosure rules exemplify the broken state of our financial regulatory structure. Once again, it is disappointing that the Securities and Exchange Commission appears to have missed an opportunity to get it right.

Through the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress directed the SEC to require new disclosures for companies to reveal if they use four separate minerals, or their derivatives, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in any products. Unfortunately, the SEC’s rule will not be reflective of the way supply chains actually work and will do little to curtail the turmoil and civil wars that have raged in the central African nation since 1960. Instead the rule will create an unworkable regulatory regime that will be exploited by bad actors and difficult to implement for honest market participants.

The underlying goal of this provision is both noble and worthy of the efforts by Congress to end human rights abuses. There has yet to be, however, an adequate cost benefit analysis and uncertainty remains over whether these rules can achieve their intended goals. These lingering questions indicate the likely possibility of unintended, negative consequences for American businesses.

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Start businesses, not wars

No one wants war – ever. Wars take a tragic toll on human lives and leave physical, emotional, and financial scars. However, throughout the beginning of time, there have been battles between opposing nations and peoples for one reason or another. And there doesn’t seem to be an antidote created yet to prevent war.

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