The Week Ahead

May 23, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Both chambers of Congress are in session this week as debate over the budget continues. Tomorrow, Vice President Biden’s bipartisan budget working group meets again, and the House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to approve its FY12 302(b) appropriation allocations as well. The allocations include a 2% cut for the International Affairs Budget from current FY11 levels, but a much deeper cut for non-war-related programs. Also this week, the Senate will likely hold votes on both the President’s FY12 budget request and the House’s FY12 budget resolution, in order to force politically difficult votes on both sides of the aisle.  Neither of the budgets is expected to pass.

Must Reads
Who’s In the News

The real successes of foreign aid (Bill Gates – The Wall Street Journal)

Stepping into the public square to announce that foreign aid is important and effective can be lonely work. As someone who has attempted to make that case over the past decade, I can assure you that the world is often eager to hear just the opposite.  But aid money can and does work. It improves people’s lives and makes the world a better and safer place.

Real change is about telling hard truths (Tim Pawlenty, USA Today)

As a candidate for president, it would be easy for me to just tell the American people we can solve our debt crisis and fix our economy without making any tough choices. But we have now seen where that type of leadership gets us.

Smart Power

US foreign aid chief visits Maine for Colby College commencement (Christopher Cousins – Bangor Daily News)

Spend money to save money. That’s the philosophy Dr. Rajiv Shah uses to direct the U.S. Agency for International Development, which this year will distribute $23 billion or more to war-torn or nature-ravaged countries around the world.  With so many problems on the domestic front, Shah, who was the commencement speaker at Colby College Sunday, acknowledges that some people question the wisdom of sending so much taxpayer money overseas, but he said most of them come around when they recognize the alternative.

Politics/Foreign Policy
Obama clarifies stance on Israel (Kara Rowland – The Washington Times)

President Obama, seeking to quell criticism of his call for the borders of Israel and a Palestinian state to be based on 1967 lines, stressed Sunday to the country’s biggest pro-Israel lobby that he also supports land swaps between the two sides to reflect changes on the ground over the past 40 years.

Pakistani province cancels aid agreements with US (Ivy Mungcal – Devex)

The local government of the Pakistani province of Punjab said Friday (May 20) that it had canceled six aid agreements with the United States in protest of the latter’s raid of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s hideout in the Asian country.

Afghanistan has three wars at once. Let’s fight the right one (Douglas Ollivant – Washington Post)

First, there is the fight against al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups. Second is the war to protect and support the fledgling Afghan government against the Taliban insurgency. The third war is the least understood but the most enduring: the internal social and cultural battle between the urban modernizers of Afghanistan, mostly based in Kabul, and the rural, tribal, anti-modern peoples who live in the country’s inaccessible mountain regions.