Investing in Our National Security

August 17, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

In a conversation yesterday at National Defense University, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made clear that there will continue to be close cooperation between their agencies, and that protecting our national security requires both military and non-military tools. Secretary Panetta said “Our national security is our military power, our Defense Department, but it’s also our diplomatic power and the State Department.” This morning, Vice President Joe Biden arrived in China at the invitation of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. The two leaders are planning reciprocal visits, which U.S. official say provides an important opportunity to build a relationship with Xi, who is considered likely to become the next Chinese President.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Biden begins visit to China (Jaime FlorCruz and Xiaoni Chen, CNN)
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Beijing Wednesday to kick off a five-day visit to China. “One of the primary purposes of the trip is to get to know China’s future leadership, to build a relationship with Vice President Xi, and to discuss with him and other Chinese leaders the full breadth of issues in the U.S.-China relationship,” said Tony Blinken, national security adviser to the vice president. “Simply put, we’re investing in the future of the U.S.-China relationship.”

Together We Can Beat the Deficit (Senators Patty Murray, Max Baucus and John Kerry, Wall Street Journal)

Our country has long been a beacon of light in the world because the American people always come together when times are tough. Over the past few months, in debating the debt ceiling and deficit reduction, that light of common cause has appeared to flicker at times in our nation’s capital. As appointees to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction—12 members of Congress charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade—we hope to remedy that.

Names: CNAS picks up Slaughter, Skelton, and Verma (Josh Rogin Tuesday, the Cable)
The Center for a New American Security picked up three top Democrat foreign-policy hands, all of whom recently left government service: Ike Skelton, former House Armed Services Committee chairman, Anne-Marie Slaughter, former State Department policy planning director, Rich Verma, former assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs.

How America Leads the Fight Against Africa’s Famine (Bill Frist, Wall Street Journal)
Droughts happen. Famines ensue. Families are destroyed. You can’t control Mother Nature. On a fact-finding mission to the border of Kenya and Somalia this month, I learned otherwise. Traveling with Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, I knew going in that 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are at risk of starvation and death because of the worst drought in 60 years. Five regions in war-torn Somalia are experiencing famine, and 29,000 children in the region have died in the past three months. There is much Americans can do—immediately and inexpensively—to save lives and quickly reverse the current trajectory of catastrophe.

Smart Power

Clinton: Libya, Syria show ‘smart power’ at work (Matthew Lee, AP)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton defended the U.S. response to crises in Libya and Syria on Tuesday, saying the Obama administration is projecting “smart power” by refusing to act alone or with brute force to stop autocratic repression in the two countries.

Panetta: Cuts will hurt U.S. security (Robert Burns, AP)
Bigger defense cuts triggered by failed deficit-reduction negotiations would have devastating effects on the nation’s security, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday. In a rare joint appearance at the National Defense University, Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made their case for limiting their budgets’ exposure to the political battles in Congress over identifying additional ways to reduce future government spending.

Photo of bag-carrying ambassador charms China (Associated Press)
A photo of the new U.S. ambassador to China carrying his own backpack and ordering his own coffee at an airport has charmed Chinese citizens not used to such frugality from their officials. ZhaoHui Tang, a businessman from Bellevue, Washington, snapped the photo Friday on his iPhone when he spotted Gary Locke at the counter of an airport Starbucks. Locke is the first Chinese-American ambassador to China and a former governor of Washington state.

World Bank says famine in Horn of Africa is manmade (Axel Hildebrand, Reuters)

The famine in the Horn of Africa is manmade — the result of artificially high prices for food and civil conflict, the World Bank’s lead economist for Kenya Wolfgang Fengler told Reuters Tuesday. “This crisis is manmade,” Fengler said in a telephone interview. “Droughts have occurred over and again, but you need bad policymaking for that to lead to a famine.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

The global era and the end of foreign policy (Philip Zelikow, Financial Times)
Consider the case of development assistance. Large-scale transfers, in the form of foreign aid, are actually a historical anomaly. During the 200 years in which most of the world’s capital assets and infrastructure were constructed, private capital flows – and often also international capital flows – usually provided the funds. London was a traditional clearing house. After the Great Depression, private capital flows were inhibited, and public capital took on a greater role, including income transfers between countries. Institutions and habits of thought changed, while capital controls and Cold War rivalries reinforced reliance on foreign aid. But in the last 20 years, the traditional flows have returned on far larger scales.

State Dept. is new overseer of intel contract in Iraq (Walter Pincus, Washington Post)
With insurgent violence continuing in the country and all U.S. combat forces still scheduled to leave by the end of the year, State has taken over a $230 million Army contact with L-3 Communications to allow intelligence services to continue through the end of May 2012, five months after military personnel are expected to leave.

Shaping a new world order (Andrew J. Bacevich, LA Times)

China, Russia, India and others are rising, and to call the U.S. the world’s ‘sole superpower’ now means little. But Washington can benefit if it is able to manage this geopolitical transformation effectively.