Today’s Headlines

April 22, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Who’s In the News

US Senator Visits Libyan Rebels in Benghazi (VOA news)

U.S. Senator John McCain arrived in the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi Friday to meet with opposition leaders and to assess the situation on the ground. McCain told reporters the rebels are his “heroes”, after his arrival in the eastern city that serves as the headquarters of the Libyan opposition.

Senators span the globe, drop in on Afghanistan (Politico)

A handful of senators are globetrotting this spring break — with the latest stop an unannounced visit to Afghanistan. After leading a congressional delegation to Seoul to discuss trade and security issues with Korea, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and a handful of other senators dropped in on the war zone to check U.S. progress.

What Do Jim Grant and Melanne Verveer Have in Common? (Stephenie Foster, the Huffington Post)

Jim Grant was not a household name, but he was a tireless global children’s advocate. In fact, Nick Kristof wrote that Jim Grant, “a little-known American aid worker,” had “probably saved more lives than were destroyed by Hitler, Mao, and Stalin combined” through his promotion of vaccinations and diarrhea treatments. Grant served as head of UNICEF, after a distinguished career at the UN and in the US government.

Smart Power

The secret of foreign aid (Michael Buckler, Baltimore Sun)

Overseas assistance in the federal budget is actually American assistance in disguise. Poor countries receive money from our government under the condition that some of the money (about 50 percent) be used to acquire goods and services from American companies. By doing this, Congress ensures that aid money stimulates the American economy, not fragile ones in need of help.

End U.S. aid to Egypt (Malou Innocent and Abdelilah Bouasria, the Washington Times)

Opponents of cutting U.S. aid to Egypt argue that such a move would undermine Egyptian-Israeli peace, U.S. naval access to the Suez Canal, and U.S.-Egypt intelligence cooperation. The reality, however, is both far more complex and far less dire.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Obama White House, Pentagon At Odds Over Libya Policy (David Wood, the Huffington Post)

After 26 months in office, President Obama still has not forged a smoothly working national security team that can both nimbly pounce on military crises and deftly manage festering problems, say current and former U.S. officials.

U.S. aid to Libyan opposition held up at White House (Josh Rogin, the Cable)

As of today, six days after the State Department notified Congress it planned to give the aid, the White House has still not signed off and none of the aid has begun its journey to the rebels, despite that intense fighting is ongoing. “Yesterday’s announcement of the 25 million in drawdown assistance was not fully cooked. That still needs to head to the White House, be confirmed or ratified by the president, and then we can begin implementing it,” Toner explained at Thursday afternoon’s State Department briefing.

The Defense Build-Down Is Here (Gordon Adams, the Will and the Wallet)

President Obama’s latest announcement that he intends to seek $400 billion in reductions from his current security funding plans between FY 2012 and 2023 is only the latest signal that a defense build-down is under way.  What is missing is a detailed plan for managing the build-down; that will be the responsibility of the next Secretary of Defense, since Bob Gates is likely to leave this summer.