Foreign Policy

Standing with Israel and the right to self-defense (Rep. Pete Sessions)

Hamas. Hezbollah. Iran. No nation, including Israel, should be expected to tolerate the threats and terrorism produced by these hate-filled regimes.

Since 2001, Hamas – which pledges to destroy Israel – has fired over 7000 rockets and mortars at civilians from the Gaza Strip into Israeli towns. In 2006, Hezbollah fired over 3970 rockets into civilian centers in Northern Israel from Lebanon. And in addition to calling for Israel’s annihilation, last month Iran successfully tested a surface-to-surface missile with a range capable of reaching Israel. Clearly, Iran and its proxies – Hamas and Hezbollah – pose an existential threat to Israel and the entire region.

Pakistan's refugee crisis

Last week in Cairo, President Obama eloquently underscored the importance of human security, and the need for everyone to have a safe, dignified and prosperous place in the world. Realizing this aspiration is a daily challenge in the face of widespread human rights violations and vulnerability caused by persecution and conflict.

One challenge to the world's capacity to care for its citizens is taking place right now in Pakistan, where the conflict between the government and militants in the northwest has forced almost three million people from their homes. According to the UN Refugee Agency, this is the most rapid large-scale displacement the world has witnessed since the movement into the Congo after the Rwandan genocide.


U.S. telecommunications firms must not help violate human rights in Cuba (Sen. Mel Martinez)

Yoani Sanchez, whose Generation Y blog gives “voice” to the reality of today’s Cuba, recently wrote, “For alternative bloggers—within Cuba—the only common thing that unites us is the use of the Internet to hang our opinions, chronicles and questions.”

Unfiltered information and privacy are fundamental components of freedom.  For a growing number of Cubans, the Internet is an avenue to find expression that is constrained by the regime; for Cubans to express “the diversity of dreams and desires [and] to stress the plurality that in the real Cuba is hidden under the mask of unanimity.”

Chutzpah and cheaters partner to keep American tire workers unemployed

A group of tire importers that should be competitors banded together recently to ally themselves with China in a trade case.

Doesn’t sound like they’re working for the interests of the United States, does it? No, they’re not. They’re collaborating with China against American manufacturing in general and American tire workers, represented by the United Steelworkers, in particular.

Details of the North Korea Nuclear Test

The U.S. Geological Survey routinely reports on seismic activity worldwide, and its summary for May 25 lists 33 "events"--one of which turns out to be North Korea's second nuclear explosion. But government agencies that focus on such signals typically do not rush to report their detailed analysis to the general public. So I and other experts have tried to fill an information vacuum by working intensively in recent days. In a posting on my institution's website, my colleague Won-Young Kim and I conclude that:

  • This was an explosion and not an earthquake;

Honoring our soldiers from Berga (Rep. Joe Baca and Rep. Spencer Bachus)

For Memorial Day commemorations this year, we were honored to announce that a brave group of World War II soldiers imprisoned at a Nazi camp will receive long overdue recognition for their service and sacrifice.

During the Battle of the Bulge, Nazi troops sent 350 captured U.S. soldiers to the Berga camp in Germany.  Many were selected on the basis that they were Jewish or looked Jewish.  The soldiers labored under inhumane conditions.  Over 100 soldiers either perished at Berga or during a forced march connected to it, the highest number of American fatalities at any German camp.  Only a handful of these soldiers now survive to teach us the meaning of perseverance and dedication to country.

U.S. - U.A.E. Agreement is a "Missed Opportunity" (Rep. Brad Sherman)

I believe that the United States missed an opportunity to leverage this agreement to convince the UAE to improve its export control regime and to reign in Iranian front companies that have used UAE territory to obtain sensitive technologies for Iran’s weapons programs. While the UAE has made important strides in these areas, their export control law, passed in 2007, still is not fully implemented. We need maximum effort from this critical transshipment hub country; thus far, we don’t have it.

Congress will also need to use the 90-day review period to examine this agreement in light of its being held out as a “model” for future nuclear cooperation agreements. Given the increased interest in nuclear power we have seen globally, including by other countries in the Middle East, we need to ensure that this agreement does in fact represent the best we can achieve from a nonproliferation perspective.


House considers Supplemental Appropriations (Rep. Mike Honda)

On May 14th, the House considered H.R. 2346, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 [pdf here]. While I have great faith in the new Obama administration and supported many of the provisions within the supplemental, I had a number of concerns that prevented me from supporting the bill in its current form.

I recognize that our new administration believes that the supplemental was a necessary carryover from the previous administration, but I could not support the continuation of the Bush Administration’s failed modus operandi in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, and the mis-proportioned 90-10 doctrine of assistance allocation – that is, 90% for military investments and only 10% for political, economic, and social development.

Keeping Our Eye on National Security (Rep. Michael McCaul)

This week the House will vote on a supplemental appropriations bill that provides funding to continue the War on Terror. While I am pleased with what is in the bill, I believe we need to commit more resources to what should be our nation’s number one priority. Failing to do so could prove catastrophic for the United States and our interests abroad. Recent history has shown us that terrorists test new presidents early in their terms. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing happened in the first year of President Clinton’s first term. 9/11 was carried out within eight months of George W. Bush’s inauguration.

Yet, actions in Washington have the world questioning America’s commitment to security and defense. While I applaud the Obama administration for listening to General Petraeus and shifting our military focus away from our successes in Iraq and to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, I believe we are falling short in other key areas.

Creating a Border That Works (Rep. Duncan Hunter)

Escalating violence along our nation’s Southern border with Mexico continues to present a serious threat to communities and law enforcement on both sides of the border.  As Mexico’s drug cartels fight for dominance of the Southwest border region, it is clear that more resources and a strategic plan that focuses on more than information and technology sharing are needed to effectively address this threat.

Nonetheless, the Obama Administration appears committed to advancing its Southwest Border Initiative.  The problem with this strategy is that it relies entirely on Mexico suddenly getting serious about border control. While there definitely needs to be some level of coordination between the U.S. and Mexico, sending more money and equipment south of the border – without first closing dangerous smuggling corridors -- is not an effective enforcement strategy.