Mitt Romney hawks new hard line on foreign policy (Ben Smith, Politico)
The last week has crystallized a subtle but important shift in Mitt Romney’s foreign policy positioning, completing a move toward a tough, clear, hard line on everything from China to the Taliban that suggests a Romney administration would most likely turn Barack Obama’s outstretched — and often slapped down — hand into a clenched fist. But while he is projecting strength — he attacked Obama Wednesday for suggesting that American foreign policy should “recognize its limits” — his push for expansive spending and unlimited action may at some point bump up against political and fiscal realities.
Perry to End Bid for the Presidency (New York Times)
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas will end his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday and endorse Newt Gingrich, two campaign officials confirmed, a decision that could influence the South Carolina primary on Saturday. The announcement from Mr. Perry was expected to inject fresh momentum into Mr. Gingrich’s efforts to emerge as the leading alternative to Mitt Romney. It was unclear whether Mr. Perry would campaign with Mr. Gingrich in the final two days of the primary campaign here.
Saving lives, making partners in Africa (Aaron Nathans, Delaware Online)
Aid to impoverished countries can produce big returns in the form of improved human health and new markets for U.S. goods, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development told a Wilmington audience on Wednesday. Rajiv Shah spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of hundreds at the University of Delaware’s Wilmington campus at the Opportunity: Africa conference, sponsored by the office of Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.
Enough Already: It’s Time to Talk to the Taliban (Stephen Hadley and John Podesta, Foreign Policy Institute)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described the U.S. strategy as “fight, talk, and build” — and that is exactly what the United States and its allies have been doing. U.S. and NATO troops have been fighting bravely for more than 10 years, and diplomats and development specialists have risked their lives providing crucial support to Afghans working to rebuild their society. The goal of this process should be an agreement by all Afghan parties to renounce violence, break with al Qaeda, and respect the Afghan constitution — including its human rights provisions, notably the rights of women and all ethnic groups. Now, after years of painstaking quiet diplomacy, it is time to see if such an outcome is possible.
The Arab Spring and Freedom’s Future (David J. Kramer and Arch Puddington, Freedom House)
The Arab Spring has reminded us that people want freedom even in societies where such aspirations have been written off as futile. Previous transformational events that created momentum for democracy invariably succeeded because American leadership was involved. To assume that things will work out largely on their own as the Arab world struggles to overcome despotism and build free institutions would be a catastrophic mistake. Such a policy would seriously damage American national interests and condemn the Arab people to more years in the authoritarian wilderness.
A diplomatic solution with Iran is still possible, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Wednesday. “We have always expressed a willingness to try to do that,” Panetta said at a Pentagon briefing. Panetta was responding to a report from Iran that said President Barack Obama had proposed direct talks in a letter passed to Iranian leadership. Panetta refused to comment about specific communications but said diplomacy is always an option to pursue.
How U.S. can help stop bloodshed in Syria (Ammar Abdulhamid and Ken Ballen, CNN)
The protesters and all Syrians who yearn for freedom are un-ambivalent in their call for international intervention. America faces a fundamental choice. It can stand behind democratic aspirations fully, or it can continue to rely on 19th century notions of power politics and influence. Backing tyrants as a hedge against Islamist extremism has only fostered more extremism. Although the course of history is never smooth or predictable, supporting freedom, democracy and individual dignity will, over time, provide the most stable model for prosperity and peace.