Confirmation Hearings Continue

June 10, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

CIA Director Leon Panetta testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday in his confirmation hearing to replace Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. Panetta, in response to a question from Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), spoke of the importance of international affairs programs in complementing military strength in war zones: “It has to be a whole of government approach as we deal with these issues. Clearly, State Department plays a very important role in providing assistance to individuals to ensure that an area remains secure […] The Department of Defense is our primary military weapon in terms of securing areas. But if we don’t follow it up with these other important assets, we will never be able to fully secure these countries.” Panetta is expected to win easy confirmation and assume his post at the Pentagon by early July.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Panetta faces no major hurdles to confirmation as Pentagon chief (Craig Whitlock — Washington Post)

Panetta, 72, is scheduled to take office in three weeks assuming he wins Senate approval. That seemed a safe bet Thursday as members from both parties on the Senate Armed Services Committee praised his record as director of the CIA since 2009, particularly his handling of the daring raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. “I can’t wait to vote for you!” gushed Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.)

Gates blasts NATO, questions future of alliance (Robert Burns—AP)

America’s military alliance with Europe — the cornerstone of U.S. security policy for six decades — faces a “dim, if not dismal” future, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday in a blunt valedictory address. In his final policy speech as Pentagon chief, Gates questioned the viability of NATO, saying its members’ penny-pinching and lack of political will could hasten the end of U.S. support.

Beyond bombs and bullets in Pakistan (CNN Interview with Nancy Birdsall)

The following is a transcript of my interview with Nancy Birdsall, President of the Center for Global Development.  We discussed the Center’s latest report: Beyond Bombs and Bullets: Fixing the U.S. Approach to Development in Pakistan. The Center brought together a wide variety of experts and policy-makers from the U.S. and Pakistan to examine how the $7.5 billion of U.S. aid over five years is being spent – and what the main challenges are.

Smart Power

Evaluating U.S. foreign assistance to Afghanistan (J. Alexander Their—Foreign Policy)

USAID is an essential component of our critical national security strategy in Afghanistan. Over the last 18 months USAID has tripled its staff in Afghanistan, aligned our efforts with our military and civilian partners, and demanded far greater accountability of ourselves, our contractors, and the Afghan government and local Afghan institutions. The results we are achieving attest to this progress.

Lockheed hosts ’soft power’ conference (Tracy Agnew — Suffolk News Herald)

More than 70 people from around the world have converged on Lockheed Martin’s Center for Innovation in Suffolk this week for a symposium on soft power.

US seeks greater trade with growing Africa (Lachlan Carmichael — AFP)

The United States wants to expand trade with Africa, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Thursday in opening talks on the continent where China has aggressively moved into fast-growing economies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will join the two-day meeting in Zambia’s capital Lusaka, where 1,600 delegates are seeking ways to maximise benefits of an 11-year-old preferential trade deal.

Politics/Foreign Policy

White House wants debt deal by July 4 (David Rogers—Politico)

Picking up the pace, the White House wants three meetings a week with lawmakers for the remainder of June in hopes of hammering out a deficit-reduction agreement by the July 4th recess.

US Announces New African Trade Capacity Building Initiative at AGOA Forum (USAID)

The United States announced an additional commitment of up to $30 million per year for four years, subject to availability of funds, to boost trade capacity in Africa. United States Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, made the announcement during the opening session of the Tenth African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum today in Lusaka, Zambia.