Capitol Hill and Beyond

September 14, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Today, members of the USGLC’s National Security Advisory Council will be on Capitol Hill meeting with House Appropriations leaders.  The message of the retired 3 and 4-star Admirals and Generals is clear:  The International Affairs Budget is critical to our national security.  Last night, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered his first major foreign policy address at the Jesse Helms Center at Wingate University. Senator Rubio strengthened his commitment to U.S. global leadership, saying “If we refuse to play our rightful role and shrink from the world, America and the entire world will pay a terrible price. We can choose to ignore global problems, but global problems will not ignore us.” To watch the video of his remarks, click here.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Defending bill as pro-Israel, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen counters critics of proposal to cut U.N. funding (Patricia Mazzei, Miami Herald)

The Obama administration has denounced the proposal, saying it would undermine U.S. foreign policy. But Ros-Lehtinen countered in a Washington press conference that the bill is about protecting U.S. interests by ensuring that the country does not pay for  diplomatic moves it opposes — such as naming Libya to the Human Rights Council; naming North Korea and then Cuba to head the  Conference on Disarmament, and upgrading Palestine to the same observer status as the Vatican, an action the U.N. General Assembly  is preparing to take despite no progress in peace talks with Israel. Instead, Ros-Lehtinen, a longtime U.N. critic, wants countries to volunteer funding. That is already the case for U.N. agencies such as UNICEF and the World Food Program, she said.

Senator Backs U.S. Role in World Affairs (Jim Morrill, Charlotte Observer)

In recent weeks, Rubio has raised his profile and perhaps his prospects with a series of policy speeches, his first outside Florida or Washington. He was at Wingate at the invitation of the Jesse Helms Center. “If we refuse to play our rightful role and shrink from the world, America and the entire world will pay a terrible price,” Rubio said. “The world counts on America. … We can choose to ignore global problems, but global problems will not ignore us.  “He applauded this year’s Arab uprisings, and said the U.S. should encourage democratic movements in the Mideast, even in countries that might be U.S. allies.  Criticizing leaders of Syria and Libya, he said “even in countries such as Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, we simply do not have the luxury of endorsing the status quo. Instead of tying our fate to discredited dictators, we would be better advised to build constructive alternatives,” he said.

Bill Richardson leaves Cuba without U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross (Juan O. Tamayo, Miami Herald)

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, in a stunning setback, says he will leave Cuba on Wednesday without even seeing a U.S. government subcontractor jailed in Havana for nearly 22 months. Miami Democrat Joe Garcia, a longtime Richardson friend, said the Cuban government’s refusal to allow the meeting, after inviting the former governor to the island, reflects a serious split within the country’s ruling class. “Perhaps the Cuban government has decided it does not want to improve relations” with Washington, Richardson was quoted saying at a news conference in Havana on Tuesday. “Perhaps that is the message it is sending.” Cuba’s rejection of the meeting was clearly a setback for efforts to warm relations between Havana and Washington, which has called for subcontractor Alan P. Gross to be freed on humanitarian grounds.

Smart Power

Wal-Mart pledges billions to aid women businesses (Ylan O. Mui, Washington Post)

The commitment includes $100 million in grants to non­profit groups focused on developing job skills for low-income women in the United States  and for women who work in the overseas farms and factories that Wal-Mart relies on for its merchandise. It also said it will spend $20 billion over the next five years to buy goods from the nation’s women-owned businesses, double its current amount. “We have looked kind of systematically in the places our business can make a difference, that will make us a stronger business and will also help our customers  and our communities,” said Leslie Dach, head of corporate affairs at Wal-Mart. “This is clearly right there in that sweet spot.”

Famine in Africa tests changes in assisting victims of famine (Christian Torres, Washington Post)

The staggering numbers are not only challenging the resolve of responders to the crisis. The numbers are also the biggest test yet of recent improvements in assessing and treating malnutrition, changes that range from the coordination of care to the ingredients of  food aid. Strategies have shifted, however, and in most camps refugees now start at a reception center. Workers there provide  food, water and vaccinations, and they perform triage — assessing levels of malnutrition and diagnosing other conditions. “Before, we’d  have 10,000 people headed toward a hospital, but you can’t run a hospital with 10,000 people,” said Susan Shepherd of Doctors Without Borders in Nairobi in a phone interview. “With outpatient treatment, we’ve been able to get to people earlier and better allocate resources.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

Pakistan Trips Heighten Lawmakers’ Concerns on Insurgent Fighting (Emily Cadei, CQ)

The Obama administration this summer took steps to restrict funds for the Pakistani military after relations soured because of the raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden this spring. In July, the White House suspended $800 million in security assistance, more than one-third of the $2.2 billion in military aid the United States sends to Islamabad each year. There have also been reports that the White House has privately laid out new conditions that Pakistan must meet to receive future aid. “In such an environment, and with our deficits and debt, aid to Pakistan seems naïve at best and counterproductive at worst,” Kirk said. “I am seriously reconsidering and rethinking how well aid to Pakistan served us.” The only bright spot appeared to be Pakistan’s arrest of a senior al Qaeda leader in the city of Quetta last week that was achieved with the help of the United States.

After the U.N. Vote on Palestine (Jimmy Carter, New York Times)

With leadership from Europe, there will be an opportunity for the United States and other members of the International Quartet (Russia, the European Union and the United Nations) to put forward a comprehensive peace proposal based on the fully compatible U.S. official policy, previous U.N. resolutions and the Quartet’s previous demands. There is little doubt that the Arab Peace Proposal could be modified to comply. This can be followed by the full engagement of the United States and/or the United Nations in a mediation effort with direct or indirect talks — whichever is more effective — between Israel and the Palestinians. Subsequently, the same approach can be taken to resolve the issue of the Golan Heights with Syria. The Palestinians will have to refrain from violence, accept Israel’s right to exist in peace within the 1967 borders (modified through negotiations with land swaps), a long-term presence of either U.N. or NATO peacekeeping forces within Palestine, and the right of return of its people to its own lands (with perhaps a token number to Israel). Israelis would, in the process, accept the same borders and peacekeeping presence. The result can lead to peace for Israel and all its neighbors. The United States would regain its leadership role in the region, based on its commitment to freedom, democracy and justice, and a major cause of widespread animosity toward America within the Arab world would be eliminated.