Foreign Policy

Pakistan: One year after the floods

In the village of Nehal Khan Burchand, Pakistan, signs of rebuilding are underway. One year ago today, unprecedented, torrential rains hit northern Pakistan. Back then, little did these poor farmers of Nehal Khan Burchand know that a water mass the size of Great Britain was coming their way down the Indus River. In a matter of weeks, it would submerge their village. 

Little did they know that they would spend the next eight months living in a camp - one of thousands set up to provide shelter for the roughly seven million people displaced by last year’s floods.

When I visited Pakistan in September of last year, the situation could not have been more dire. With twenty million people in need of emergency relief, the country was facing a crisis larger than the 2001 tsunami, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake combined.  

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Caveat emptor!

The situation I set out below might seem imaginary to you, but it is stark reality for a group of Iranian exiles who trusted the U.S. and now are in danger of being slaughtered. 

Imagine for a moment that you are a resident of Camp Ashraf in Iraq, one of some 3,400 defenseless Iranian dissidents who were classified as a “Protected Person” under the Fourth Geneva Convention by the United States in 2004 – only after numerous reviews by various U.S. intelligence and investigative bodies.

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Afghan women's rights are in jeopardy

I have always considered myself to be a true patriot toward my country. I love Afghanistan for its land, culture, and beauty. However, I am concerned that our freedom is in jeopardy. I fear that once again, we may soon be at war and the women’s rights that I have worked so hard to improve will be diminished.  

I am so grateful to the United States citizens who have helped my country. Now that U.S. soldiers are beginning to return home, I worry that Afghanistan is not ready to be left alone. Afghanistan’s military and local police are not prepared to secure the country on its own. This year, security has been the worse I’ve seen since 2002.

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American agriculture paying stiff price for stalled trade agreements

Apple launched its first iPhone June 29, 2007 -- 1,483 days ago. Two days earlier, the U.S. – Panamanian Free Trade agreement (FTA) was signed; and the day after, the U.S.-Korea FTA was signed. The iPhone is now on its fourth generation, while these trade agreements, plus one with Colombia (signed 1,703 days ago) still sit, stalled in Washington. 

Despite receiving recommendations on the agreements from Congress July 7 of this year, the White House has yet to send the agreements to Congress for final approval.  News that these trade agreements are now being pushed off until after August recess is both disappointing and unsettling for American agriculture, and especially for the meat and poultry industry, U.S. agriculture’s largest sector. 

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War Powers Resolution consistently ignored

In 1973, in my first job in Washington, D.C., I helped to pass the War Powers Resolution. At the time, it seemed like a good idea.

The country was reeling from the Vietnam War that had proved so divisive and caused so many casualties. Many blamed Presidents John F. Kennedy for surreptitiously getting the country into a war, Lyndon Johnson for using falsehoods to win approval of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and Richard Nixon for his secret plan to end the war that led to many more years of fighting and dying.

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Working Women’s Forum

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the following remarks on the Working Women’s Forum July 20, 2011 in Chennai, India:

I want to thank my friend and your friend, a wonderful woman who is viewed as a leader around the world, Jaya.

I want you to know that I have admired the work of the Working Women’s Forum for many years. In 1978, there were only 800 women members. Today, there are more than 1 million of you. I am honored to be here with you to celebrate your accomplishments in bringing micro-credit to women, in bringing healthcare and other services to women so they could have a better life for themselves and their children.

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US Libya policy: Much ado about nothing

Almost four months since NATO airstrikes began against Muammar Gadhafi and his military, the United States has become a mere follower of a dysfunctional and fragmented international approach to Libya.  America’s irrelevance in the crisis is now clear. What is also evident is that the collapse of U.S. policy in the oil-rich North African country is a failure of faulted design.

President Barack Obama’s lack of assertiveness – as previously argued – and clarity of vision in foreign policy has come to fruition in dealing with Gadhafi. 

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US must protect Iranian dissidents in Iraq

As the U.S. acts to prevent the massacre of defenseless populations in Syria and Libya, it is surprisingly silent about the Iranian regime’s attempts to perpetrate a brutal massacre at Camp Ashraf, where over 3,400 defenseless Iranian political dissidents reside.
 
Camp Ashraf, Iraq, is located near the Iran-Iraq border, and is home to supporters of the main Iranian opposition, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). They are unarmed civilians and designated as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Over the past two years, the Iraqi government has ordered attacks on the camp on a number of occasions, while psychologically torturing and depriving the residents of their basic needs like fuel and medicine.
 
When Colonel Gadhafi’s forces unleashed a wave of attacks on unarmed civilians, the US and European governments ensured the passage of a resolution at the U.N. Security Council allowing humanitarian intervention to protect civilians.

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Common sense on Iran

I recently visited 12 American cities — from Anchorage to Colorado Springs to Charleston — to discuss Iran and the effort to stop its nuclear weapons program. I may not have drawn crowds as large as Lady Gaga’s, but I did engage thousands of citizens directly or through local media. It was refreshing to be able to discuss the issue free from the political implications that color similar Washington conversations. Americans, I discovered, have a lot more common sense about our options than many Washington politicians.

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The Keep Our Communities Safe Act has the wrong priorities

In 2001, Sara*, a young Sri Lankan woman fled her home after being captured and tortured by members of the military. While attempting to reunite with family in Canada, she passed through a United States border checkpoint. After telling authorities of the horrors and persecution she was fleeing, she was then taken into immigration custody under a law that requires the detention of asylum seekers who arrive at U.S. borders and prohibits immigration judges from ordering release. Sara spent more than four years in an immigration detention center fighting to prove her asylum claim. She won and was eventually released.  

Sara’s story is not unique. Under existing law, each year thousands of asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons who have sought safe haven in the United States are detained. Seeking protection is not a crime, nor should it be penalized. Like Sara, circumstances beyond their control prevent their return home. Their situation calls for protection, not punishment and shelter, not imprisonment. 

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