Opinion Leaders Speak Out

October 20, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Opinion leaders pushed back today on the concerning statements made by some Republican presidential candidates Tuesday night, in response to a debate question about the merits of foreign aid. The Washington Post editorial board wrote, “It’s sad that, only three years after the George W. Bush presidency, no candidate defended foreign aid as a marker of American generosity and a transmitter of American values” and the Weekly Standard pointed out that our foreign assistance programs are only one percent of our entire budget and asked  whether or not we really want China to “fill a void left by America abroad.”

Must Reads

Who’s in the News

Qaddafi is Dead, Libyan Officials Say (Kareem Fahim, New York Times)

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the former Libyan strongman who fled into hiding after rebels toppled his regime two months ago in the Arab Spring’s most violent uprising, was killed Thursday as fighters battling the vestiges of his loyalist forces wrested control of his hometown of Surt, the interim government announced.  Al-Jazeera television showed what it said was Colonel Qaddafi’s corpse as jubilant fighters in Surt fired automatic weapons in the air, punctuating what appeared to be an emphatic and violent ending to his four decades as the self-proclaimed king of kings of Africa.

Clinton Issues Blunt Warning to Pakistan (Steven Lee Myers, New York Times)

Setting the stage for a high-level diplomatic showdown, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly warned Pakistan’s leaders on Thursday that they would face serious consequences if they continued to tolerate safe havens for extremist organizations that have crossed the border to attack Americans and Afghans.  “There’s no place to go any longer,” Mrs. Clinton said, referring to Pakistan’s leadership, in some of the Obama administration’s most pointed language to date. “The terrorists are on both sides” of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “They are killing both peoples,” she said.

A Billion (50 Cent, Huffington Post)

Some people are born with very little; some are fortunate enough to have it all. When I grew up, we didn’t have much. I had to hustle to get what I wanted… but I had that hunger for more. I didn’t always make the right choices, but I learned from my mistakes. I had to overcome challenge after challenge in order to take my life from nothing to living my dreams. And I’m thankful for that because it helped mold me into who I am today. That’s why I want to give back to those without, to help make a change in their lives.

Smart Power

The GOP’s disappointed disdain for foreign aid (Editorial, Washington Post)

“WHY DO WE continue to send foreign aid to other countries when we need all the help we can get for ourselves?”  The question, posed to the Republican presidential candidates during their Las Vegas debate Tuesday, is understandable, if familiar. Americans are suffering, as the questioner noted. Why not just help them?  There are answers to that question that many Americans will accept, if leaders have the guts to offer them.

Romney: Let’s Cut Humanitarian Foreign Aid and Get China to Step Up (John McCormack, the Weekly Standard)

During last night’s GOP presidential debate in Las Vegas, moderator Anderson Cooper asked former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney if foreign aid should be eliminated. Romney indicated that he supported foreign aid for defense but not humanitarian purposes. Like the other candidates questioned about foreign aid (Perry, Bachmann, Paul), Romney did not point out that foreign aid makes up just 1 percent of the federal budget.

In Egypt, corruption cases had an American root (James V. Grimaldi and Robert O’Haroow Jr., Washington Post)

Formed with a $10 million endowment from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies gathered captains of industry in a small circle — with the president’s son Gamal Mubarak at the center. Over time, members of the group would assume top roles in Egypt’s ruling party and government.  Today, Gamal Mubarak and four of those think tank members are in jail, charged with squandering public funds in the sale of public resources, lands and government-run companies as part of a dramatic restructuring.

The First Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (Gerald Hyman, CSIS)

With the promulgation of four documents—President Barack Obama’s National Security Strategy of 2010; his September 2010 speech on the UN Millennium Development Goals; his simultaneous Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD); and the December 2010 State/USAID Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR)—the Obama administration has put its stamp on development policy and strategy, including heralded departures from predecessor administrations, especially that of George W. Bush. Essential details remain to be provided.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Defense, Foreign Aid, and the Las Vegas Debate (James M. Lindsay, Council on Foreign Relations)

I like political debates. They offer candidates a chance to discuss important issues, and with a bit of luck, help educate the public about the tough choices that the country faces. But sometimes candidates dodge questions and tell people what they want to hear rather than what they need to know. That was the case when Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate turned to foreign policy.

Foreign Policy Gets Short Shrift in the Senate (Meredith Shiner, Roll Call)

The Arab Spring is reshaping the Middle East, Israeli-Palestinian tensions are coming to a head and President Barack Obama just dispatched 100 troops to Uganda — but the Senate’s all-consuming focus on domestic economic affairs has left scarce room for foreign policy debates.  Inside Washington’s most deliberative body, Members have spent little to no floor time openly expressing opinions or airing grievances about the trajectory of America’s international presence, even as the world landscape changes significantly.

Shrinking America’s Role in the World Is the True Obama Doctrine (Danielle Pletka and Stuard Gottlieb, Fox News)

After months of mixed messages, President Barack Obama has chosen to draw down to virtually zero troops in Iraq when the deadline for withdrawal expires on December 31. Some will label the decision politics; other will label it ideology. What is clear is that shrinking America’s role in the world is the true Obama doctrine.  Earlier this year, the administration agreed to renegotiate a deal to leave forces in Iraq past 2011. U.S. commanders reportedly asked for at least 10,000 troops to secure Iraq’s hard won peace. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explained that remaining “sends a powerful signal to the region,” a sentiment shared strongly by his successor, Leon Panetta.