Foreign Policy

Bi-partisan consensus in Congress should be aggressively followed

On March 16, at a time when elected officials in Washington seem unable to come together in agreement on almost any issue, an extraordinary event involving an important national security concern passed almost without notice. In an unprecedented act of consensus, a bipartisan majority of the United States Senate, 54 Senators, slightly more Democrats than Republicans, signed a letter to Secretary Clinton urging the Obama Administration to put the full weight of its diplomacy together with our allies to support long-standing US policy to promote a resolution to the "Western Sahara stalemate," a 35-year old conflict that has the potential to destabilize North Africa now more than any time in the past twenty years and threaten our interests.

The US bi-partisan policy aims to resolve the conflict through the United Nations, bringing together the parties to achieve a compromise political settlement. As the Senate letter makes clear, the "serious and credible" resolution of this stalemate is Morocco's 2007 proposal for "broad autonomy for the Western Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty." Now, as so often is required in international disputes, it is up to the US, and our allies, to lead the process to a realistic resolution.


Israel should not have to question America's commitment (Rep. Tom Price)

In just over a week, the Obama Administration has successfully called into question the United States’ unwavering commitment to the people of Israel and further progress in the Middle East peace process. The Administration began with an inappropriate response to Israel’s announced plan to construct new homes in Jerusalem – claiming the White House was 'insulted' by Israel’s timing on the announcement. The President determined this was reason enough to condemn our strongest ally in the Middle East. That was followed by an unprecedented cold-shoulder for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. Here the media was shut out and the two leaders had what has been reported as a less than cordial exchange.

Being honest and straightforward with our allies is an important part of international diplomacy. But delegitimizing Israel through a series of public rebukes will only strain the US-Israeli relationship which significantly undermines the peace process. Moreover, we make our ally the target of additional rhetorical barbs lobbed by its neighbors in the region – namely Jordan’s King Abdullah II who felt it appropriate to get on board in denouncing Israel’s actions. It is deeply troubling when misguided statements by the White House are parroted by other nations in the region. 


A robust missile defense program is essential for Israel (Rep. Steve Rothman)

As a member of the 15 person House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, I am sometimes asked why Israeli missile defense is so important.  Doesn’t it seem impossible to hit a bullet with another bullet? Aren’t we better off spending scarce resources another way?

We understand that the vital national security interests of the U.S. heavily depend on the survival and security of the State of Israel, just as Israel’s vital national security is heavily dependent on its relationship with the U.S. But is Israeli missile defense essential?


President made right move on trade initiative (Rep. Bobby Rush)

I am very pleased that the President has used the power he has to jump start an effort that I believe will go a long way toward helping to connect the talent and ingenuity of entrepreneurs and small businesses with the growing, global opportunities for our goods and services to serve expanded and developing markets. Last year, I held a hearing where I said that today’s economic environment demands a ‘bolder effort’ to increase our exports and global competitiveness. I commend the President for making what appears to be a bold step to expand our nation’s exports while, at the same time, creating more jobs here at home.


Current Afghanistan strategy falls short (Rep. Michael Honda)

As Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Afghanistan Taskforce, I want to offer my thoughts on the war in Afghanistan in light of Rep. Kucinich’s resolution, H.Con.Res. 248, considered today on the House floor.  I firmly believe our current strategy falls far short of bringing stability to Afghanistan or security to America.  My serious concerns about U.S. strategy have led me to oppose the war funding supplemental bill in 2009, oppose increased funding for the 30,000 troop surge, support a war tax, and call for an about-face in funding priorities.  My concerns have led me to host innumerous congressional briefings on Afghanistan, pursue the commissioning of GAO reports to audit aspects of U.S. engagement, and author multiple op-eds on the subject.  In short, I take my chairmanship very seriously.

As long as we continue to pursue military solutions to this conflict, paying little to no heed to economic, political and social solutions, security will remain elusive.  As long as we continue to forego the building of Afghan capacity and instead prop up a privatized defense industrial complex, as well as an increasingly privatized development industrial complex, Afghans will never be able to answer our call to “stand up”.  As long as we remain unwilling to bring to justice our allied warlords and corrupt officials in Afghanistan, our calls for an end to corruption in Kabul ring hollow.


The importance of strategic communication (Rep. Mac Thornberry)

On September 11th, 2001, America changed.  Since then the United States has been at war with violent Islamic extremists who plot and plan against us every day.  We have sent American troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to defeat them in combat.  Our intelligence and special operations forces have fanned out across the globe to disrupt terrorist networks and deny them safe havens.  And we have cooperated with friends and allies to reinforce existing counterterrorism resources and build new coordinated capabilities.  While these actions are necessary to defeat the jihadist threat against the United States, they are not sufficient to do so.

To truly defeat terrorism, we must also wage and win the war of ideas.  Success in the debate between moderate and extremist voices within Islam is necessary if we are ever to secure a lasting peace.  Unlike traditional kinds of diplomacy, such as education and cultural exchanges, the goal of the war of ideas is not to persuade people to like America and its policies.  Instead, the aim is to make sure negative attitudes toward America and its allies do not take the form of violent extremism.  These efforts are often called “strategic communication.”


Free trade vital to our economy (Rep. Cuellar)

For two decades, the word “trade” has been a dividing force in Congress.

Its supporters, like me, see trade as a boon to our economy. As the free leader of the world, the U.S. is also one of the largest trading nations, supporting millions of American workers and millions of American jobs.

Increased trade is good for America. In the past decade, U.S. exports have nearly doubled to $2 trillion a year. More exports from the U.S. can increase production of American-made products, spurring and stabilizing local jobs while supporting small business and increasing consumer choice.


Stop outsourcing our security (Rep. Jan Schakowsky)

It seems that every week, we're hearing about another outrageous example of Private Military Contractors, especially Blackwater, (or Xe, as they now call themselves).

As of mid-2009, the United States employed over 22,000 hired guns in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that number keeps going up. Our reliance on private, for-profit companies for the business of waging war is extremely dangerous. It's time we move to eliminate the use of these unaccountable and controversial mercenaries, and I ask you to join me as a citizen co-sponsor of legislation that I have just re-introduced, the Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act.


The latest in Iraq before its important elections

The Iraqi parliamentary elections on March 7 will be a critical test for the young democracy. Ad Melkert, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, will speak at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 12:30-2:00 to assess the latest situation on the ground in the run up to the elections and what the election means for the country's political future.

More information is here, and a stream for the video of the event can be found below:

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