Missing Pieces: Pakistan’s Problems, the Foreign Assistance Budget, and More (Isabel Coleman, Council on Foreign Relations)
Foreign assistance fares reasonably well in President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget request, released last week. Amounts for “economic support, democracy, and development assistance” and USAID operations are up from FY2012; the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Peace Corps are unchanged; global health, humanitarian assistance, and the National Endowment for Democracy face declines. Among the budget’s highlights are a new Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund, worth $770 million, to promote democracy, civil society, and economic reforms in transitioning countries and those willing to change “proactively.” Connie Veillette of the Center for Global Development offers a largely positive take on the request, and the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition provides an exhaustive analysis.
World Leaders Are Meeting in a Script All Too Familiar to Somalis (Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times)
On Thursday, foreign policy heavyweights will gather in London and spend about six hours trying to solve a problem that has bedeviled this forlorn country for more than 20 years: establishing a functional government. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, Arab sheiks, Turkish diplomats and other representatives from about 40 countries are all scheduled to (appear). Western diplomats say the key to Somalia’s problems, like poverty, piracy, famine and two decades of civil war, is more international support for Somalia’s fledging Transitional Federal Government and the small local administrations that are starting to assert themselves across the country. One of the goals of the London conference is solidifying a plan for what happens in August, when the mandate of the transitional government ends.
Candidates Spar on Iran at GOP Debate (News Team, Council on Foreign Relations)
With a slew of primary contests and caucuses coming up in the next couple weeks, the four remaining GOP presidential candidates in Arizona debated for the last time before Super Tuesday, touching on a variety of foreign policy issues ranging from foreign aid and defense policy to Iran and immigration. Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney agreed that Iran poses a serious nuclear threat.
U.S. pushing for humanitarian aid, not arms, to Syrian opposition (Karen DeYoung, Washington Post)
U.S. officials steered away Thursday from any commitment to help arm Syrian opposition forces, insisting that the current focus should be on funding humanitarian aid, unifying the political opposition to President Bashar al-Assad and increasing the world’s diplomatic and economic stranglehold on his government. On the eve of an international meeting in Tunisia, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed with top European and Arab allies that their most urgent priority is developing a “unified position that sends a strong message to the Syrian regime” of international impatience, a senior State Department official said.