Friday Roundup on Global Affairs

October 8, 2010 By Andy Amsler

Today in Washington – Friday, October 8, 2010
President Obama delivers remarks on the monthly jobs numbers

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Is the Obama administration retreating from its nuclear non-proliferation promise? (Josh Rogin – The Cable)

President Obama promised in his April 2009 speech in Prague that the U.S. would lead the drive towards a world without nuclear weapons. On Friday, top administration officials will meet to decide how far to press that goal in practice when expanding American civilian nuclear cooperation abroad. “We need a new paradigm for civil nuclear cooperation that allows all countries to enjoy the benefits of nuclear power, while avoiding the spread of nuclear weapons and technologies,” Obama said just after the speech. Now, in what’s being billed as a major internal showdown, top administration officials will meet at the White House on Friday for a “deputies committee” meeting to square off on how to handle ongoing negotiations over two pending civilian nuclear agreements, one with Vietnam and another with Jordan.

Why Barack Obama is an anti-colonialist (Dinesh D’Souza – Washington Post)

Some have described the president as being a conventional liberal or even a socialist. But liberals and socialists are typically focused on poverty and social equality; Obama rarely addresses these issues, and when he does so, it is without passion. Pretty much the only time Obama raises his voice is when he is expressing antagonism toward the big, bad corporations and toward those earning more than $250,000 a year. I believe the most compelling explanation of Obama’s actions is that he is, just like his father, an anti-colonialist. Anti-colonialism is the idea that the rich countries got rich by looting the poor countries, and that within the rich countries, plutocratic and corporate elites continue to exploit ordinary citizens.

Department of State Completes Selection of Deputy Assistant Secretaries for Public Diplomacy (Matt Armstrong – MountainRunner)

Congratulations to the Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs: they have their Deputy Assistant Secretaries in place to support the State Department strategic framework for public diplomacy. From the State Department: “The State Department announced today that it had completed a key component of its strategic framework for public diplomacy, with the selection of Deputy Assistant Secretaries for public diplomacy in the Department’s six geographic bureaus and a Deputy Assistant Secretary for international media engagement in the Bureau of Public Affairs. ‘The Department of State’s strategic framework for public diplomacy was designed to strengthen our ability to match strategies and programs to our country’s top foreign policy priorities,’ stated Judith A. McHale, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. ‘These new Deputy Assistant Secretaries will provide valuable public diplomacy leadership in this critical endeavor, and ensure the close integration of public diplomacy with policy formulation’.”

Smart Power

U.S. Scores Poorly on Transparency of Foreign Aid Spending (Gavin Baker – OMB Watch)

A new comparative study of development aid finds the U.S. among the least transparent of the world’s donors. Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA), an assessment released on Tuesday by the Center for Global Development and the Brookings Institution, examined four areas of aid effectiveness: transparency, maximizing efficiency, fostering institutions, and reducing burdens on recipient countries. Although the U.S. is the world’s largest donor of development aid, its aid quality ranked in the bottom third across each area. The study examined $26.8 billion in U.S. development aid. On transparency, the U.S. ranked 24th out of 31 donors, including 23 countries and eight international organizations. Among the transparency criteria, the U.S. scored well on project-level reporting of development aid spending. However, the U.S. ranked worst of all donors on reporting of delivery channels (i.e., exactly who received the money). In addition, the U.S. was penalized for not being a member of the International Aid Transparency Initiative.

Politics/Foreign Policy

U.S. Contractors Employed Taliban (Nathan Hodge – Wall Street Journal)

A yearlong investigation by a Senate panel has found evidence that the mostly Afghan force of private security guards the U.S. military depends on to protect supply convoys and bases in Afghanistan is rife with criminals, drug users and insurgents. U.S. soldiers search Afghan men working for a private security firm escorting truck convoys, after they found illegal weapons in their vehicle, in a village near Kandahar. The Senate Armed Services Committee inquiry, based on interviews with dozens of military commanders and contractors and a review of over 125 Pentagon security contracts, found evidence of “untrained guards, insufficient and unserviceable weapons, unmanned posts” and other failings that put U.S. troops at risk. More alarming, the report alleges that some local warlords who have emerged as key labor brokers for private security firms are also Taliban agents.

Chinese dissident Liu wins Nobel Peace Prize (Karl Ritter and Scott McDonald – Associated Press)

Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for using nonviolence to demand fundamental human rights in his homeland. The award ignited a furious response from China, which accused the Norwegian Nobel Committee of violating its own principles by honoring “a criminal.” Chinese state media immediately blacked out the news and Chinese government censors blocked Nobel Prize reports from Internet websites. China declared the decision would harm its relations with Norway — and the Nordic country responded that was a petty thing for a world power to do. This year’s peace prize followed a long tradition of honoring dissidents around the world and was the first Nobel for China’s dissident community since it resurfaced after the Communists launched economic but not political reforms three decades ago.

The White House’s report on Af-Pak: Hold the optimism (David Ignatius – Washington Post)

What’s notable about the new White House report on Afghanistan and Pakistan  sent to Congress this week is its bleak assessment of the security picture. You could almost read President Obama between the lines warning the military: This strategy isn’t working the way we hoped. Don’t ask me for more troops. “The report doesn’t paint an optimistic picture of the security situation,” said a White House official. He described the 27-page document as “very candid and very frank.” Government officials always say that about reports, but in this case, it’s actually true. You can sense in this report the tension that lies ahead between Obama and his commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus.

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