A Foreign Policy Debate?

October 11, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Tonight, the Republican 2012 Presidential candidates face off for the latest primary debate, hosted at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire.  With several candidates recently giving foreign policy speeches, we can expect to hear a lot more about these candidates’ visions for American leadership in the world.

Must Reads

USGLC In the News

Romney pushes for ‘strong’ foreign policy but offers few specifics on Afghanistan (The Ticket, Yahoo News)

But retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald, the former deputy commander of U.S. forces in Europe, was more positive in his assessment of Romney’s call for a well-funded American defense and diplomacy. “Gov. Romney is obviously in agreement with today’s military leaders–in order for America to be safe, we need our civilian tools of development and diplomacy,” Wald said in a statement. “I would urge all of the candidates to embrace this view of America’s role in the world, which is also shared by General David Petraeus.”

Who’s in the News

America’s Pacific Century (Hillary Clinton, Foreign Policy)

As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region.

Smart Power

We’re already reforming foreign aid (George Ingram, Washington Post)

Walter Pincus’s call for a “review” of U.S. foreign aid programs would be spot on except it has already happened.  We are two years into an unprecedented effort to reform our diplomatic and development programs. We have just marked the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the first policy directive on development, which set in motion a process across the U.S. government to make foreign aid more focused on economic growth and more selective, accountable, and responsive to the needs of people we are trying to help.

No Time to Get Stingy (Carol Giacomo, New York Times)
Spending for diplomacy and foreign aid has long been a favorite target of Congressional budget cutters. That’s truer than ever this year with the supercommittee looking for a $1.5 trillion reduction in the federal deficit. Why spend precious tax dollars overseas when the need at home is so great?  For the sake of national security, this country cannot afford to retreat from the world. Its investment in the State Department and foreign aid helps advance peace and stability by feeding starving people, providing access to doctors and medicines, opening new markets, promoting democracy, curbing nuclear arms and strengthening allies with military and economic assistance. It also gives Washington leverage.

Benefits of Foreign Aid (Ashley Judd, The New York Times)
“Foreign Aid Faces Major Cutbacks in Budget Crisis” (front page, Oct. 4) worried me because, in my eight years as a global health ambassador, I have learned that we live in an interconnected world. In 13 trips around the world, I have personally seen that defeating public health threats like malaria, H.I.V./AIDS and tuberculosis and empowering reproductive health do not just enrich lives abroad, but also have a direct impact on the quality of American lives at home.

Robert Ford, making a difference in Syria (David Ignatius, Washington Post)
If you’re wondering what diplomats can do in an era of pulverizing military force and instantaneous communications, consider the case of Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria. He has been meeting with the Syrian opposition around the country, risking his neck — and in the process infuriating the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.  Ford is an example of the free-form diplomacy the United States will need as it pulls back its troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fighting Cervical Cancer (Nancy Brinker, New York Times)
“Fighting a Cancer With Vinegar and Ingenuity” (front page, Sept. 27) captured the predicament in developing nations: at least 250,000 women around the world will die of cervical cancer this year, most in poorer countries.  In addition, cervical cancer is nearly five times more common among women who are H.I.V. positive. We must move quickly to put these effective and inexpensive medical advances into place, like the widespread use of household vinegar as a diagnostic tool.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Foreign policy re-enters GOP race (Ben Birnbaum, The Washington Times)

Defense and foreign-policy issues, which have taken a back seat to economic issues so far in the Republican presidential race, are re-emerging – at least for now – as candidates have begun laying out their visions for the Pentagon budget, the war in Afghanistan and America’s role in the world. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. became the latest on Monday, arguing for an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan and a smarter Pentagon budget.

State Department readies Iraq operation, its biggest since Marshall Plan (Mary Beth Sheridan and Dan Zak, The Washington Post)

The State Department is racing against an end-of-year deadline to take over Iraq operations from the U.S. military, throwing together buildings and marshaling contractors in its biggest overseas operation since the effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.  Attention in Washington and Baghdad has centered on the number of U.S. troops that could remain in Iraq. But those forces will be dwarfed by an estimated 16,000 civilians under the American ambassador — the size of an Army division.