Foreign Policy

America neglects its allies at its peril

I recently returned from a long trip to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, three of America’s most important allies in the strategically vital region of the Persian Gulf.  I spoke with senior members of their royal families, as well as a wide range of business leaders and intellectuals. What they told me should alarm anyone concerned about America’s future.

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Ban the blast

Multilateral efforts towards nuclear disarmament marked a significant achievement when the three nuclear powers – the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States – concluded the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT). This week 50 years ago on September 24, 1963, the U.S. Senate ratified the PTBT with a bipartisan majority of 80 to 19 and the treaty entered into force on October 5, 1963.

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Start-up nation or Challenger Two?

There are only two times I recall watching a live event on television when I was in school. The first is the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, and the second is the signing of the Oslo Accords. In a national tragedy, the Challenger blew up 73 seconds into its flight. And, as the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Accords on the White House lawn just passed, it is entirely possible the Oslo process may blow up, too.

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Americans clamor for presidential leadership with Syria

Regardless of your personal vote or support for Barack Obama and his policies, he is our president and commander-in-chief. He sets our foreign policy for the most part and commands our military. Certainly, there are no simple or easy solutions to dealing with whoever is responsible for the horrid deaths by the lethal, illegal, gassing of Syrian citizens which the United Nations is still documenting.

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Immigration reform: A victory for the moral conscience of America

The mainstream media, always on the prowl for a doom and gloom story about the perils incumbent upon our nation's Capitol, have seemingly delighted in writing the obituary for immigration reform. The recent news that two more Republicans have dropped out of the original House "Gang of Eight," has allowed the media to spin tales of, "two more nails in immigration reform's coffin." However, that simply is not the reality on the ground.

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China not the ‘silver bullet’ for U.S. weather satellite data

A looming gap in data from U.S. weather satellites threatens to degrade the accuracy and timeliness of weather forecasts at a time when extreme weather is increasing. The real possibility that weather forecasts will get worse, not better, is sobering news in the wake of this month’s devastating Colorado floods, May’s tragic tornado in Moore, Okla., and last October’s catastrophic Superstorm Sandy. Just imagine how much greater the loss of life and property would have been for any one of these disasters had our forecast ability been diminished.

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Let drone victims' families speak

The first time I met Kareem Khan was in Islamabad in 2010. Only a few months before, a U.S. drone had killed his brother and his teenage son while they were sitting down for dinner at his home. In response to their deaths, Kareem could have taken revenge; instead, he sought out a lawyer who could help him find justice in the courts, rather than the battlefield.

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Don't ignore peace overtures from Iran

Overcoming tensions is difficult work that requires tenacity. As members of different faith traditions, we’ve seen such tensions explode on the world stage and worked to build peace locally and globally. Bridging the gap isn’t just an exercise in cross-cultural communication. The stakes can be incredibly high, as we've seen in the recent diplomatic breakthrough on Syria. For long-term stability and avoidance of yet another military conflict, they are equally high in the conflict between the U.S. and Iran.

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How to dethrone King Vladimir

In recent weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has cleverly recast himself as a statesman and a peacemaker, while diminishing the clout and prestige of America and President Barack Obama on the world stage.   He even penned an op-ed for the New York Times in which he praised the United Nations and the “rule of law,” claimed that poison gas in Syria was used by the opposition and not Assad’s forces, and took exception to American “exceptionalism,” reminding us that “God created us equal.”  Quite a sermon from a former KGB agent who has enshrined himself as Russia’s likely president-for-life.

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Don’t set aside Syria

After avoiding a tough political vote on the authorization of the use of force in Syria, Republicans in Congress are shifting their focus back to last year’s attacks in Benghazi.  This is safer ground; both from a political and policy perspective, the security breakdown and lack of response before, during, and after the crisis at the consulate merits further scrutiny to make sure the right lessons are learned.  Democrats were also grateful to avoid a vote, and now hope to elevate the discussion of a looming government shutdown, for which they assume Republicans will be blamed.

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