Front and Center

October 27, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

With the clock rapidly ticking toward the November 18 expiration of the FY12 Continuing Resolution (CR) – and acknowledgement now from Appropriations leaders that another CR until mid-late December will be necessary – the Senate is preparing to take up another “minibus” appropriations package next week that could include the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (S. 1601).  This package is tentatively scheduled to hit the floor on Wednesday following a vote earlier in the week on the first appropriations minibus (comprised of the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD Appropriations bills).  While it has yet to be finalized what bills will be in the second minibus, possibilities include State-Foreign Operations with the Financial Services and Energy-Water Appropriations bills or State-Foreign Operations with the Defense and Homeland Security Appropriations bills. This morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “Afghanistan and Pakistan: Transition and the Way Forward.”  Secretary Clinton also made the cover of this week’s Time magazine on “the rise of smart power.” Click here to see the cover.

Must Reads

Who’s in the News

Hillary Clinton and the Limits of Power (Massimo Calabresi, Time)

Hillary Clinton argues in our cover story this week that America is not so much in decline as adjusting to a world of increasingly diffuse power, where like-minded networked individuals, non-governmental organizations and other non-traditional global actors may steer events as much as great power capitals.  Clinton lays out “smart power” strategies for protecting and advancing U.S. interests in that new non-polar world.

Q&A: Hillary Clinton on Libya, China, the Middle East and Barack Obama (Richard Stengel, Time)

Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel accompanied Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her recent trip to Libya, Oman, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  On Oct. 19, he conducted a wide-ranging interview with her, discussing among other things, the Middle East, China and American exceptionalism.  A transcript of most of that conversation follows.

Smart Power

Extra billions can be fed, but who will pay the tab? (Cary Gillam, Reuters)

The United Nations further predicts the population will grow to some 9 billion by 2050. With no increase in arable land, an already taxed supply of fresh water and fears of ongoing drought and harmful climate change, figuring out how to feed that many people is a top priority for both government and private interests.  But just as research, development and expansion of agricultural programs are most critical, the public dollars pledged to this effort remain a pittance of what is needed, and are in fact in danger of sharp decline, experts say.

Global Health Investments: A Payoff for the U.S. (Chris Collins, Huffington Post)

Last week, Republican presidential candidates convened in Las Vegas for a debate hosted by CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference. On the topic of foreign aid, several of the presidential hopefuls were extremely skeptical. For example, Mitt Romney argued that “We’re spending more on foreign aid than we ought to be spending.” Ron Paul said, “To me, foreign aid is taking money from poor people in this country and giving it to rich people in poor countries, and it becomes weapons of war.”  What’s missing from this discussion is the fact that foreign aid — which accounts for approximately 1 percent of our national budget — is actually used to aid those in need while advancing our country’s humanitarian and diplomatic goals. And it’s working.

Toward a Smarter Power: Moving Beyond the Rhetoric (Justin Polin, ISN)

There exists in US foreign policy a great imbalance between military and civilian power…Due to failures of civilian institutions, many soldiers have become de facto nation-builders, anthropologists, and public diplomats. They were not, in many cases, trained for these missions. But they were the only option—albeit an expensive and inefficient one.  President Obama, to his credit, has sought to change this unhealthy status quo, seeking to implement what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called “smart power,” which she defined as “the full range of tools at our disposal—diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, and cultural—picking the right tool, or combination of tools for each situation.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

Exclusive: Inside Herman Cain’s new foreign policy team (Josh Rogin, The Cable)

Broadly speaking, Cain’s foreign policy stances aren’t so different from other leading candidates such as Mitt Romney or Rick Perry. They include a focus on relationships with allies, strong advocacy for maintaining defense spending, impassioned support for the U.S.-Israel relationship, and skepticism of providing foreign aid to countries that don’t support U.S. policies. Like Romney and Perry, Cain also doesn’t have a lot of foreign policy experience, although he has traveled to 20 countries on six continents, said Gordon. His campaign is aware that travel alone doesn’t equal experience, and is using Gordon’s connections to make up ground fast.

GOP Not Giving Obama Enough Credit on Libya (Norman Ornstein, Roll Call)

By any objective standard, the Obama approach to Libya has been a huge success. Not a single American life was lost, the United States worked in concert with the Arab League and in partnership with our NATO allies, a hated and oppressive regime was toppled and a hated, oppressive and dangerous dictator was wiped out, at a price less than a thousandth of the cost of the Iraq War.  It is a measure of the outrageous lengths the permanent campaign and our partisan polarization have gone that, according to Smart Politics at the Humphrey Institute of the University of Minnesota, only one Republican, Rep. Leonard Lance (N.J.), gave even a smidgen of credit to President Barack Obama in a press release or statement.

After the earthquake in Van, Turks and Kurds could work together to reach peace (Elif Shafak, The Guardian)

Turkey’s government has now announced that it will be accepting foreign aid from more than 30 countries, including Israel. Since May 2010, when the Gaza-bound flotilla incident took place, relations between the two countries have been at rock-bottom. Many are now wondering if this humanitarian crisis may be the beginning of a new era. The tremors of the earthquake are continuing and it will take us quite some time to clean the rubble, bury the dead, mourn our losses and heal the wounds. But, after all this, there is hope that Turks and Kurds can work together to reach peace.