Senator Rubio on American Engagement

June 15, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Yesterday Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered his maiden speech on the Senate floor, mentioning the need for American engagement in the world:  “I know that now some say that times are so tough here at home that we can no longer afford to worry about what happens abroad – that maybe America needs to mind its own business. Well, whether we like it or not, there is virtually no aspect of our daily lives that is not directly impacted by what happens in the world around us. We can choose to ignore global problems, but global problems will not ignore us.” Click here to watch the video.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Rajiv Shah: Our aid work is for the American people (Guardian, Madeleine Bunting)

“On the logo of USAid, it says “from the American people”, but our work has to be seen as “for the American people”, Shah argues.”Development is a fundamental part of our national security. It is extreme poverty – the realities of access to water and food – which creates the long-term drivers of our insecurity. Most wars are fought over scarce resources, and that is going to accelerate in the future. The food spike of 2008 led to food riots and instability. Bob Gates [the outgoing secretary of state for defence] has said, ‘It is cheaper to do development than to send soldiers’. Admiral Mike Mullen [chairman of the joint chiefs of staff] is one of our strongest advocates.”

Senate panel backs Panetta as U.S. defense chief (Reuters Newswire)

The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee enthusiastically backed Leon Panetta as the next Pentagon chief on Tuesday, agreeing in a unanimous vote to send his nomination to the full Senate for consideration. Panetta, the outgoing head of the CIA, is expected to win a Senate floor vote to replace Robert Gates as U.S. Secretary of Defense but the exact timing of that vote is still uncertain.

Smart Power

A sensible way forward for the U.S. in Afghanistan (LA Times Op-Ed, Michael Cohen and Michael Wahid Hanna)

Fighting must continue, but talking and engagement are even more urgent. Although recent exploratory talks with credible Taliban leaders represent an encouraging breakthrough, these openings could be for naught if the military campaign is not waged in concert with this political initiative.

The Future of Funding: Development Aid as an Investment (Huffington Post, Dan Silverstein)

Congresswoman Granger set the table recently at a luncheon when she praised Bill Gates and his foundation as a model for serving the world’s poorest. “Foreign aid must be viewed as an investment, not an expense,” she said. “Where money is wasted, it should be stopped. Where funding is ineffective, it should be redirected. But when foreign aid is carefully guided and targeted at a specific issue, it can and must be effective.”… If it becomes widely recognized that it is in the self-interest of the United States government to underwrite productive investments in emerging economies it is likely that others in Congress will look to her for leadership in creating a template that builds “political will” strong enough to fuel robust funding for results-driven programming like the administration’s marquee agricultural initiative called Feed The Future.

Politics/Foreign Policy

House panel OKs defense bill, limits Pakistan aid (AP, Donna Cassata)

A House panel on Tuesday approved a defense spending bill that would impose limits on U.S. aid to Pakistan and would create a special bipartisan group to examine America’s future role in the Afghanistan war. By voice vote, the House Appropriations Committee approved the legislation that would provide $530 billion to the Pentagon and $119 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill is $9 billion less than President Barack Obama requested.

Joe Biden deficit group down to the ‘tough stuff’ (Politico, David Rogers)

Robust, strongly felt exchanges marked White House budget talks Tuesday as the focus turned back onto discretionary spending and the huge divide still between House Republicans and the Obama administration’s domestic agenda. The 2012 bills now beginning to move through the House would cut an additional $45 billion from domestic and foreign aid on top of reductions already enacted in April to avert a government shutdown. Measured in real dollars, many agencies would be pushed back to spending levels not seen since the early years of former President George W. Bush’s first term.

State Department facing several nomination fights (Josh Rogin, the Cable)

It’s going to be a long summer for the State Department’s legislative affairs bureau, which is about to find itself dealing with whole host of nomination battles on Capitol Hill. GOP senators were not shy last year about using their power to hold up nominees in order to extract concessions from the State Department, and will likely expand that strategy in the coming months. With significant turnover in Foggy Bottom and a contentious campaign season approaching, the Republican caucus in the Senate is planning to hold up several State Department appointments in order to wring concessions from the administration or torpedo certain nominations altogether.