A Call for Engagement

May 4, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

As the details of the U.S. military action that killed Osama bin Laden continue to emerge, reaction on Capitol Hill has focused on the Pakistani government, and how bin Laden managed to hide under their nose. Key bipartisan Congressional leaders, however, have made clear that our national security depends on strong and effective engagement. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said, “This is not a time to back away from Pakistan. We need more engagement, not less” and said U.S. aid to Pakistan since 9/11 “has been worth it.” On the Senate side, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry (D-MA) noted when it comes to Pakistan, “We have to find a way to work together effectively.”  Also contributing to the debate on Capitol Hill is USGLC Senior Director Mark Green, who published an op-ed today in the Hill, taking a look at the landscape and concluding “Outside the political world, leader after leader appears to understand that International Affairs programs deserve support because they’re good for us, for America, for our national security, and for our economic future.”

Must Reads
Who’s In the News

What business and military already know (Mark Green – The Hill)

The International Affairs Budget always seems to be an easy target for politicians to aim their fire at. For one thing, most Americans think it makes up a huge part of our federal spending — even though it’s really only about 1 percent of the budget.

Is Palin reading the Tea Party leaves on foreign policy? (Josh Rogin – The Cable blog)

Former Governor Sarah Palin has a new foreign policy team, but the real story is that she may be shifting her entire foreign policy persona to accommodate a GOP voting pool that is increasingly driven by Tea Party politics.  In a speech at Colorado Christian University on Monday, Palin laid out a foreign policy framework that runs counter to her previous identity as a pro-military, pro-defense budget, pro-intervention hawk. She criticized the war in Libya — despite the fact she once pressed for the no-fly zone there.

Smart Power

Afghan aid programs are crucial to the war effort (Admiral James Loy – Washington Post)

The April 29 front-page article “U.S. military frets over delays in 3 key Afghan aid programs” rightly drew attention to civilian power as a critical element for success in Afghanistan. In fact, it quoted a senior military officer who said “our flank is exposed” without programs to promote good governance and job creation. As one who has witnessed this reality personally, I couldn’t agree more.

African farms can help to transform the continent (Mohamed Béavogui – The Guardian)

Africa’s smallholder farmers not only have the potential to produce enough food for export – and thereby contribute to food security worldwide – but to help lead the way to robust growth and development across the continent. That is, if the right kinds of investments and policy approaches are taken to vastly improve their productivity through better access to technology, credit, transportation and markets.

Politics/Foreign Policy
Further U.S. aid could hinge on what the Pakistanis knew (Seth McLaughlin – Washington Times)

Several lawmakers said Tuesday that it is time to rethink U.S. aid to Pakistan in light of revelations that Osama bin Laden spent the past six years squirreled away in a safe house a mere football field away from one of country’s top military academies and miles from the capital of Islamabad.  In a letter to Rep. Kay Granger, chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on state, foreign operations, Rep. Allen West said lawmakers should freeze aid to Pakistan until the country answers questions about whether they aided and abetted the United States’ most-wanted terrorist.

Escaping from Afghanistan’s Mad-Max Present (Ann-Marie Slaughter, Foreign Policy)

So, what is the overarching goal in Afghanistan? The United States seeks a secure, stable, and self-reliant Afghanistan that does not provide sanctuary for al-Qaeda and that is a cross-roads for an increasingly prosperous and secure region.  Security has to be the top priority. A secure Afghanistan would be a country with low levels of violence that is defended and policed by its own local, regional, and national forces. Security means not only an end to open conflict between the government and insurgents and/or warlords, but also the kind of everyday safety that allows citizens to go to work and to send their children to school. It means a country free from the continual fear of violence or death, whether targeted or random.