Foreign Policy

Passage of human trafficking bill sends clear message

Yesterday, hundreds of advocates, survivors, law enforcement officials and lawmakers gathered to witness President Obama sign legislation that will strengthen protection for women threatened by domestic violence, as well as renew the nation’s most important tool to fight modern day slavery, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA).

But this moment didn’t come without political drama. In early February, Sen. Leahy of Vermont, with the support of Sen. Rubio of Florida, added the TVPA reauthorization to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), with the amendment passing by a resoundingly bipartisan vote of 93-5. And just last week, the House relented and approved the Senate-passed VAWA, including the TVPA reauthorization.


Uncertain future awaits Venezuela

For 14 years Hugo Chavez and his cronies did everything they could to consolidate their power and retain an iron grip over the Venezuelan people, no matter the cost. In an era without Chavez, the U.S. must take advantage of this situation and pursue innovative ways to help facilitate democratic order to a country that has suffered under authoritarian rule for over a decade. The people of Venezuela, including those in the exile community in the U.S., deserve a free, fair, and transparent election so that they can decide the future of Venezuela.


Time for a new Venezuela

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez died of cancer on Tuesday. His passing has the potential to mark the end of an antagonistic and divisive 14-year chapter in this hemisphere. Notwithstanding recent accusations of U.S. involvement in Mr. Chavez’s death, for now, incendiary and vitriolic anti-American rhetoric is somewhat muted. Additionally, the fate of anti-democratic alliances with Cuba, Russia, and Iran are in doubt as are the regional organizations of ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas, and CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, that have excluded the United States and further fragmented the region. The momentum of a perpetual era of Chavismo – his unique blend of authoritarian styled populism and socialism – has slowed. 


Rule of law should lead transition in Venezuela

After over fourteen years of global mischief and controversial partnerships on the world stage, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias succumbed to his two year battle with cancer earlier this week. The opaque manner in which his sickness and eminent death were handled, coupled with Cuba’s overt role in managing information on the health of the Venezuelan leader, has rightfully led many to question the likelihood of a constitutional, post-Chavez transition. The citizens of Venezuela have the right to expect a transparent electoral process, and it is incumbent on the international community to support them in achieving this aspiration.


'Israel lobby' to push for aid despite sequestration cuts

The long-dreaded sequestration has arrived, bringing with it potentially catastrophic consequences for governmental programs designed to benefit those most in need. The NAACP estimates these across-the-board cuts will result in 100,000 fewer low-income children being prepared for school through Head Start, 17 million fewer “Meals-on-Wheels” delivered to seniors suffering from food insecurity, and 1.6 million fewer unemployed Americans served through job training, education, and employment services.


Kazakhstan's path can serve as model for other nations

Just 21 years ago, Kazakhstan emerged from a collapsing Soviet Union with almost no private sector. Today it has grown into one of the five fastest growing economies in the world.
But past achievements are no guarantee of future success. In an era when the pace of change has never been faster, ambitious, developing countries must prepare themselves to cope. They must have the courage to create the socioeconomic and political conditions that empower their people to meet challenges and seize opportunities.


Kerry goes to Ankara

Before Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Turkey on March 1, he would better reconsider the trajectory of relations with Turkey. Kerry is known to value the Transatlantic ties and is keen on an active U.S. role in Turkey’s broader neighborhood. But he needs to contextualize his case against the current misfit between the two countries’ foreign policy agendas.


US needs to respond to meat bans with diplomacy not dogmatism

On March 1, China’s ban on imported American pork, cattle, and turkey products will go into effect. This will create tremendous ripple effects in American agriculture and international markets. Even people who do not follow food safety news have likely heard of the looming trade disputes with China, Russia, Taiwan, and the European Union over the U.S.’s use of the controversial livestock feed additive ractopamine.  
Public outcry from members of Congress, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the U.S. Trade Representative have not stopped China or Russia from moving forward with their bans. These are not the first nations to ban ractopamine, and as other countries are bound to follow suit, it is about time we ask ourselves the cold, hard question: why does American agriculture continue to shutter valuable foreign markets at the expense of agribusiness dogma?


Khojaly Massacre deserves recognition

America is historically widely known and recognized as a safe heaven, for refugees, migrants and all those moving from the “Old World” and elsewhere in pursuit of justice, stable legal and political environment and greater economic opportunities. After all, the majority of people do not just venture far and abroad out of good life.

One of the calamities that led to generations of people to emigrate to America in search of a better life is war and fighting in their birthplace — including war crimes, massacres, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. One such horror, the biggest war crime at the time in all of Europe, the Khojaly Massacre, happened on the night of Feb. 25, 1992, when the armed forces of Armenia, led by its current president and defense minister, committed a crime against humanity in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly, massacring nearly 800 of mostly ethnic Azerbaijanis as well as Meskheti (Ahiska) Turks, Kurds and others.


Libya needs international assistance, not drone attacks

Two years to the day after the anti-Gadhafi uprisings began in Benghazi, the populace has again taken to the streets. This time they are protesting the new authorities failures to bring economic development and its prerequisite, security. Over the last two years, wide swathes of Libyan territory have been transformed into a non-governed space has indirectly facilitated the Islamist takeover in Mali and the attack by Al-Qaeda affiliates on Algeria’s In Amenas gas facility. If Libya is the fabled ‘gateway to Africa’, then the gate has been left wide open.

In today's Libya, heavy artillery and extremist militants flow across the country's porous borders with ease. Since the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, Libya's extreme east is currently being monitored by American drones in search of jihadist training camps.