Senator Kerry Speaks Out

August 3, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

This morning, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) authored an op-ed for the Washington Post in strong support of U.S. global engagement, even in difficult economic times. Senator Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote “energetic global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, not a favor we do for other countries.” He added “We can either pay now to help brave people build a better, democratic future for themselves or we will certainly pay later with increased threats to our own national security” and “this is not time for America to pull back from the world. This is a time to step forward.”

Must Reads

USGLC in the News

Up Your Game (Nell Merlino, Huffington Post Blogs)

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) held its annual conference in Washington, DC. In case are you not familiar with this group, the USGLC is a network of 400 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic and community leaders from around the country. This year’s event was called “Investing in the Future,” and the keynote speaker was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was, as always, incredibly inspirational and motivating. Her message was clear: That our international engagements directly affect the US economy, and, perhaps more specifically, “That a strong economy at home is vital to America’s leadership in the world.”

Smart Power:

Washington Post Leadership Roundtable on Foreign Aid

Amid budget crisis, a defense of foreign aid (Sen. John Kerry)

At this time of budget crisis, a United States senator defending foreign aid might well be advised to get examined by a political consultant if not a mental health professional. But right now it’s more urgent than ever that those of us who believe in robust American leadership step up and articulate the dangers of American retrenchment. Many question whether we can afford foreign aid and development investments, but the reality – however hard to swallow – is that we can’t afford not to.

A famine in Somalia, and a chronic political failure on humanitarian aid (Bill Shore)

As if those struggling to stay alive needed any more misfortune, the current famine in East Africa intersects squarely with the U.S. debt ceiling crisis.  As a result, the U.S. political establishment is in no mood to meet even the most urgent need with increased assistance. In fact the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations approved legislation to make deep cuts in foreign assistance spending…It is our political leaders, not our nongovernmental organizations, that are in the best position to educate citizens on the relationship between this long-term development and our economic and national security interests. When our government forfeits that role, sometimes to Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn and other celebrity activists, no matter how well-intentioned and generous their philanthropy may be, we forfeit our claim to moral leadership in a complex and interconnected world.

U.S. foreign aid: Business skills needed (Stuart Diamond)

Under pressure from Republicans, the 2012 foreign aid budget wending itself through Congress reflects billions of dollars in aid cuts. Despite the instinct to help starving children in Somalia, sick refugees or earthquake victims, there are only so many resources available. Most of the public thinks foreign aid should be cut, and some lawmakers want aid cut to zero. What is harder, however, is to summon skill and focus to differentiate what works and what doesn’t, to eliminate the bad investments and keep the good ones. Clearly, this is not happening. A main reason is insufficient use of business and persuasion skills.

With famine in Somalia, a case of leadership (not compassion) fatigue (Astier Almedom)

The causes and consequences of hunger are complex, compound and context-specific—but the lack of solutions, whether here or in Somalia, isn’t the result of a dispassionate public. It’s a failure of leadership…We have inadequate and incoherent bureaucratic international humanitarian systems, and beneath them equally inadequate and incoherent sub-systems. The crude famine criteria cited by Mark Bowden in a slow, deliberate, killing tone indicate leadership fatigue, not compassion fatigue – and with each devastating photo or story out of Somalia, it’s this that should scandalize the compassionate American public.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Debt deal pits Pentagon against other security agencies (Shaun Waterman, Washington Times)

The debt deal between Congress and the president sets up what will likely be a painful fight for funding between the Pentagon and other national agencies, according to analysts and officials. Congress structured the first round of budget cuts — almost $1 trillion worth over 10 tears — by dividing them into security and nonsecurity spending. In fiscal 2012, which starts in October, security spending would be capped at about $684 billion, roughly $5 billion less than current year spending. The State Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Homeland Security are included alongside the Pentagon budget in that total. Some analysts predict the State Department and Homeland Security will be gouged to protect Pentagon spending.

Ash Carter to be tapped for Deputy Defense Secretary (Laura Rozen, The Envoy)

The White House has announced that it is nominating Ash Carter, the Pentagon’s head of procurement, to be the next deputy secretary of defense. Carter, a trained physicist, has overseen Pentagon procurement as undersecretary of defense for acquisitions, technology and logistics in the Obama administration. He has previously served as a professor of international security affairs at Harvard, and as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy during the Clinton administration.