Today’s Headlines

August 9, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

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Smart Power

National Security in an Age of Austerity (Kurt Volker, Dallas Morning News Op-Ed))

The United States still has the biggest economy in the world, the biggest defense establishment in the world and the largest set of complex interests in the world. Our well-being depends upon security, freedom and prosperity throughout the world. Nations around the world depend on us as an honest broker, to maintain stability and to balance out more worrying regional actors. The United States still carries great moral force based on our democracy and justice at home. We remain the beacon for millions who seek to immigrate to our shores. The United States is uniquely able to rally alliances and shape the global security environment. But for America to live up to this potential, it requires a vision, a will and a realism about resources. What voters really want is a strategy for our national security, not a retreat. That’s what America’s next president — whether Barack Obama or one of his challengers — needs to offer.

New White House Strategy for Countering Extremism (Lisa M. Allen, Foreign Policy Blogs)

On August 3rd the White House released an eight-page strategy for countering extremism entitled “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.” The strategy, which took over a year to produce, lays out three areas of improvement: enhancing engagement with appropriate local communities, building government and law enforcement expertise in the area of violent extremism, and countering violent extremist propaganda. While the strategy does state that Al Qaeda is the foremost terrorist threat to the U.S., it paints a rather broad picture of how to counter this threat. The three-pillared approach appears to be heading in a positive direction, but without concrete details, it is difficult to tell how successful this strategy will be.

Politics/Foreign Policy

US Debt Struggle Puts Middle East Aid Commitments in Question (David Arnold, Voice of America)

When Congress returns from a month’s recess in early September, lawmakers will look again for reductions in international aid. They do so at a crucial time when many countries may need assistance in their transition from revolution to democracy.  Budget reductions will still be discussed, but global social and political objectives remain the driving force. Analysts say it will be hard for lawmakers in Washington to decide which countries in the Middle East are going to be good democratic bets.

Famine: Hundreds of thousands of kids could die; Jill Biden visits refugees; US to give $100M (AP)

Jill Biden is the highest-profile U.S. visitor to East Africa since the number of refugees coming across the Somali border dramatically increased in July. Biden, who traveled to the camp in a C-130 military transport plane, said she wants to raise awareness and persuade donors to give more. “There is hope if people start to pay attention to this,” said Biden, who also met with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. President Barack Obama approved $105 million on Monday for humanitarian efforts in the Horn of Africa to combat worsening drought and famine.