Military Leaders Give a Little Advice to Presidential Candidates

November 22, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

This morning our National Security Advisory Council Co-Chairs General Michael Hagee and Admiral James Loy wrote on CNN.Com about how critical our international affairs programs are to national security.  Hagee and Loy also sent a letter to all of the presidential candidates on this issue last Friday.  This is particularly timely as CNN, the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation host a foreign policy debate this evening with the 2012 Republican candidates.

Must Reads

USGLC in the News

Dear candidates, don’t cut foreign aid (General Michael Hagee, USMC (Ret.) and Admiral James Loy, USCG (Ret.), CNN)

The next Commander in Chief will face a complex and difficult set of global challenges.  Recently, many candidates for president have spoken of the need to listen to the advice of military leaders on national security, and we appreciate the respect shown to our men and women in uniform.  As former Commandants of the U.S. Marine Corps and Coast Guard, we believe our nation needs a smart power approach to national security that embraces a strategic investment in our foreign assistance programs.

Who’s in the News

Kentucky voices: Don’t balance the U.S. budget on world’s impoverished (Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, Lexington Herald-Leader)

Congress is nearing a vote on the federal budget with profound moral implications: Drastic cuts proposed for poverty-focused international humanitarian and development assistance will harm people around the world. Many will be poorer. Children will suffer. Hunger will increase. The sick will go untreated. And hope will fade.  Certainly Congress faces difficult fiscal challenges, including an obligation to future generations. But to meet these challenges by skirting our obligation to the poorest people in the poorest places on earth as they, too, face the impact of a global economic downturn is both wrong and unwise. We must be fiscally and morally responsible.

A New chapter in Iraq (Thomas R. Nides, Politico)

Just five years ago, civil war threatened to engulf Iraq. More than 140,000 U.S. troops were stationed throughout the country battling an insurgency that many predicted would prevail.  Yet today, after enormous sacrifices from the Iraqi people and American troops and civilians, Iraq is a country transformed. In our efforts to help, we have used the full range of our civilian resources — what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton likes to call “smart power” — to help Iraq become a sovereign, stable and self-reliant country. While Iraq still faces significant challenges, today it is poised to become an important American partner in the strategic heart of the Middle East. And America’s troops will be home by the end of the year.  That means it’s time to start thinking of Iraq not as a war but as a country.

Republicans Are Endangering National Security (William S. Cohen, New York Times)

It was good news two weeks ago that Republican leaders had finally crossed the antitax line they had drawn in the sand, by offering $300 billion in net tax increases as part of a debt-reduction deal. But the news was not good enough. The amount offered did not approach bridging the gap with Democrats, and Republicans needed to go much farther to avert the possibility of disastrous cuts to our military strength.  Their failure to do so is directly responsible for Monday’s failure of the “supercommittee,” created by Congress as part of the debt-limit deal.

Smart Power

GOP presidential candidates pledge to zero out foreign aid (Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, The Hill)

Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and their fellow candidates racing to the bottom of American generosity have declared that eliminating foreign aid – “starting from zero” – will be the central tenet of their foreign policy.  In addition to leaving hundreds of millions of people without lifesaving humanitarian assistance, “zeroing out” foreign assistance betrays some of our key allies like Israel, with whom we have existing agreements and essential partnerships.  Far from plying the world with expensive cake, American foreign assistance is vital to our national security, essential to our moral standing in the world, and greatly enhances our power and influence.

Rick Perry still shaky on foreign policy (Rebecca Kaplan, CBS News)

Despite a strong performance in the last presidential debate focused on foreign policy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry showed less command over the subject in a Monday night appearance on Fox News.  During the CBS News/National Journal debate on Nov. 12, Perry made waves by saying he would zero out aid to all countries and re-examine those budgets. Asked Monday about which countries he would permanently cut off from the U.S. purse strings, Perry identified China — because of the high number of abortions in the country — and Venezuela, because of the oil money that flows through the country. But Perry also said, “I don’t know whether Venezuela is getting any money or not.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

Republican candidates face foreign policy challenge (Jackie Kucinich, USA Today)

Republican presidential contenders have made slamming President Obama’s economic policies a key theme of the 2012 election, but criticizing his national security record will be a tougher sell, according to foreign policy experts.  As the GOP field gathers in Washington tonight to debate national security issues for the second time this month, they will not only wade into area where the president is politically strong but will also venture into complicated issues where those who are not prepared are easily exposed. Obama’s policies have been “pretty resolute and solid,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in national security and defense policy.

Perry Says He Is Open to Ending UN Funding (Hiram Reisner, NewsMax)

Presidential hopeful Rick Perry says the deficit-reduction supercommittee failed because President Barack Obama refused to take a leadership position. The Texas governor also told Fox News’ Brett Baier Monday America should take the lead role in dealing with the civil strife in Syria, should not wait for U.N. action, and if elected he would consider not funding the international organization, in part because of how it treats Israel.  In a wide-ranging interview, Perry was asked about everything from foreign policy to his stances on Congress being exempt from insider-trading laws, which prevent most Americans from gleaning information about companies in advance that could lead to financial gains in the stock market.