Keep America a shining city on a Hill (Dr. Tony Beam, Greenville News)
Looking at the instability we see around the world today, one thing I want the fine men still running for president to not forget is their fundamental responsibility to ensure the United States remains a leader on the global stage. The fact is American global leadership is essential to our national security, our economic prosperity, and our most central values. Our top military leaders have made clear that by investing a small amount — just over 1 percent of our overall budget — in development and diplomacy programs, we can prevent conflicts before they start, fight terrorism and international crime, promote stability, and thereby keep our service members out of harm’s way. The best war is the one we never have to fight, and in today’s dangerous world, that means utilizing all the foreign policy and national security tools we have available in order to keep our country safe.
Malaria’s Defeat, Africa’s Future (Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Huntington Post)
Africa is taking command of its future by tackling an ancient plague: malaria. Supported by the lessons learned from the decade to “roll back malaria,” which produced a 33 percent decline in malaria deaths in Africa between 2000 and 2010, 41 African presidents have now signed on to end deaths from the disease in their home countries as part of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA). Africa must demonstrate its own commitment to this outcome by expanding domestic funding of health. Innovative finance approaches — such as pooled commodity procurement or airport surcharges — will be a major topic of discussion at the ALMA meeting this week. We should also commit to using the resources in hand, including investments made in our countries by the World Bank, to fuel continued progress in the malaria fight.
Between Hard Power and Soft (Roy Godson, Weekly Standard)
A U.S. leader who wants to prevent military conflict while maintaining America’s national security and global preeminence must be committed to understanding—and shaping—politics in volatile places. That entails bolstering leaders, political groups, and movements that share our values. Human rights and honest justice systems, in particular, are pillars of legitimate, stable governments. It is time to have a new, specialized professional corps of Americans, drawn from military, diplomatic, and other backgrounds, with dedicated career tracks that allow them to stay in a region and develop long-term trust and connections that allow us to help shape a freer, more stable future. This strategic, hard-edged but softer approach is our best bet for precluding the need for a large and expensive U.S. military footprint on the ground.
GOP candidates Ron Paul & Mitt Romney Should Realize Why We Need Foreign Aid (Sehreen Noor Ali, PolicyMic)
Foreign aid costs only 1% of the federal budget, yet GOP candidates consistently criticize the practice, threatening to cut it off completely or, as in the case of Mitt Romney, imply that the U.S. should leave it to countries like China to “take care” of poverty. If current GOP candidates properly understood the American public and foreign aid, they would tone down their hawkish stance on overseas assistance and acknowledge the benefits of contributing to aid organizations like The Global Fund. According to a recent World Public Opinion report and the 2010 Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll, a strong majority of Americans support the provision of “food and medical assistance” (74%) and “aid to help needy countries to develop their economies” (62%) even in economic downturns. U.S. citizens believe that developed nations have a “moral responsibility” to help poorer countries and to take measures that support their democratic ambitions. In addition, most respondents said that helping developing countries is good for the America’s own economic growth.
Egypt’s assault on civil society (New York Times)
On Dec. 29, security forces raided as many as seven nongovernmental groups in Cairo, including three American-financed democracy-building groups — the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House. Employees were hauled in for questioning in a bogus criminal investigation. On Thursday, the Egyptian government confirmed that it had barred at least six Americans — including I.R.I.’s Egypt director, Sam LaHood, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — from leaving the country. Egypt’s military receives $1.3 billion in annual aid from Washington. It is beyond us why the generals would keep pressing this destructive dispute, even after hearing remonstrations from President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. They must let Mr. LaHood and the others go immediately.
Foreign students can boost economic development (Stuart S. Malawer, Richmond Times-Dispatch)
State universities have a huge untapped asset in the foreign graduate students who have chosen to study in the United States. The primary motive for most of these students is to learn about their professional fields in connection with the United States. In fact, they often want to start businesses with links to their homelands. New arrivals in this country often become the most aggressive entrepreneurs. They help bring together people, ideas, products and financing from around the world. They are a self-selecting group that has gone through a lot of effort to study and live in the United States. Why waste this opportunity? The commonwealth can help match the interests of these students or the leads they provide to firms within Virginia. This process would not be too difficult or an excessively burdensome obligation for universities. The schools’ cooperation would help with the most important issue of this decade: job creation.
The President’s budget request will slash $487 billion from the military over the next ten years, delaying vital next-generation systems and giving the pink slip to 100,000 active duty men and women in uniform. Unfortunately, this is a budget-driven strategy that kills jobs and puts our military at risk while it is still in harm’s way. Despite increasingly tough talk about the importance of Asia, the Obama administration’s preview of its fiscal year 2013 defense budget proves that it is a “pivot” in name only. This budget is a prayer that the United States will not have to fight more than one major war at a time. The two-war standard has long been a way to measure America’s global reach and deter potential adversaries. The world is no less dangerous today than it was twenty years ago—so why is the Obama administration planning for an era of decreased conflict? Our world was changed on September 11th because of an act of war for which America was not prepared. With diffuse and growing threats, the world can ill-afford American complacency.