Today’s Headlines

August 19, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

Who’s In the News

Our chance to shape change in North Africa and the Mideast (Stephen Hadley, The Washington Post)

We know how to help build the infrastructure of democracy: fair elections, political parties, free media and the rule of law. We know how to help stabilize economies, establish free markets and encourage foreign trade and investment that can provide a better economic life.  But our nation has not yet shown the organization or commitment required to take advantage of this historic opportunity.

World Humanitarian Day: Celebrating International and Local Groups Working Together (Elizabeth Wright, The Huffington Post)

This year’s World Humanitarian Day is a celebration of people helping people. In Nairobi, where my colleague Kirk Prichard and I have been deployed on short notice to support Concern Worldwide’s emergency response in the Horn of Africa, we see evidence of people helping people every day. And though international staff like us are called on to contribute to the relief effort, it is almost entirely powered by Kenyans.

Smart Power

The Soft Power of Humility (Paul Pillar, The National Interest)

Foreigners observe what Americans do, both officially and unofficially, and draw conclusions about American intentions and what America is all about. That influences their views about how the United States ought to be treated, from being cooperated with to being attacked. It also forms a point of comparison for assessing their own nations, societies, and governments.

Politics/Foreign Policy

White House Wants Budget Options for Defense Cuts (Kate Brannen, Defense News)

The White House has directed the Defense Department, along with all other federal agencies, to draw up budget options for 2013 that meet the strict spending guidelines put in place by the debt-ceiling agreement signed into law Aug. 2.In an Aug. 17 memo, Jacob Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), asked federal agencies for 2013 spending plans based on two scenarios: a 5 percent cut and a 10 percent cut from the 2011 enacted discretionary level.

Afghans brace for economic fallout of U.S. exit (Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times)

The West’s measured dash for the exit has Afghans bracing for an economic meltdown with reduced security, political instability, more violence and more economic destruction.  The World Bank estimates that 97% of Afghanistan’s economy is tied to international military and donor spending, with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warning of “severe economic depression” after 2014. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development spend about $320 million a month in Afghanistan.

U.S. sending North Korea emergency aid (William Wan, The Washington Post)

For the first time in almost a year, the United States is providing aid to North Korea, sending up to $900,000 in emergency assistance for flood relief.  The plans to deliver aid, announced on Thursday, come at a time when North and South Korea have tried to improve relations, with the United States playing a key role.