Today’s Headlines

September 1, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Who’s in the News

State Official Confident About Compromise on Security Spending (Emily Cadei, CQ )

A top State Department official expressed optimism Wednesday that the agencies competing for national security dollars under the new budget deal will be able to avoid a nasty turf battle for upcoming fiscal year funding. Thomas R. Nides said that while discussions within the executive branch have not yet started, he was confident that the White House and the relevant agencies would be able to work out an acceptable distribution of funds. “There’s no question, they’re not going to throw the money into a room and let us all kind of fight for it,” he said.

Schumer: Halt funds to Libya until Lockerbie bomber jailed (By Laura Rozen, The Envoy)

Sen. Charles Schumer, the influential New York Democrat, is calling on the State Department to suspend aid to Libya’s new Western-backed rebel government unless it agrees to re-imprison the Libyan man convicted for his role in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Big changes atop State’s Political-Military bureau (Josh Rogin, the Cable)

The Political-Military (PM) bureau at the State Department has a host of new leaders this week, including a new principal deputy, another new deputy, and two new senior advisors. Andrew Shapiro is the assistant secretary for PM and reports up to Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher. Shapiro and Tauscher aren’t going anywhere, but below them there are a lot of new faces. Thomas Kelly replaces Kurt Amend as principal deputy assistant secretary for PM. Amend retired from the State Department and will now join the private sector after 22 years in the Foreign Service, though after only about a year as the No. 2 official at PM.

Smart Power

Ellison, Pelosi speak on urgency and challenges of Somali famine relief (Jon Collins, Minnesota Independent)   National political leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), hosted a community forum Wednesday in Minneapolis—which has a large Somali community—to chart the relief efforts spearheaded by the U.S. government and whip up support for humanitarian aid spending. “Famine isn’t defined as drought or defined as food access, it’s a definition of children dying,” USAID Administrator Raj Shah told the crowd, made up mostly of people from the University of Minnesota and Somali-American communities. “That number is likely go up significantly if we’re unable to dramatically expand our access to care for vulnerable populations in Somalia.”

The Politics of American Militarism (Joshua Foust, the Atlantic)

Most Americans would be shocked to learn that something like 95 percent of the foreign affairs budget of the federal government is devoted to the military. It’s no surprise that the average Americans doesn’t realize how little we really spend on foreign assistance, or even how much we spent on the military. Foreign aid is a little under one percent of the federal budget, but the public discourse focuses on it so much it’s easy to assume it takes up far more of our resources than it does.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Perry’s Foreign Policy Vision (Ed Lavandera, CNN)

CNN’s Ed Lavandera covers presidential candidate Rick Perry’s emerging foreign policy plans.


‘Thank You, America!’ (Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times)

Americans are not often heroes in the Arab world, but as nonstop celebrations unfold here in the Libyan capital I keep running into ordinary people who learn where I’m from and then fervently repeat variants of the same phrase: “Thank you, America!

How the U.S. and the world can help Iraq (Ayad Allawi, Washington Post)

As the Arab Spring drives change across our region, bringing the hope of democracy and reform to millions of Arabs, less attention is being paid to the plight of Iraq and its people. We were the first to transition from dictatorship to democracy, but the outcome in Iraq remains uncertain. Our transition could be a positive agent for progress, and against the forces of extremism, or a dangerous precedent that bodes ill for the region and the international community.

Leaders of 9/11 Panel Call Action Plan Unfinished (Siobhan Gorman, Wall Street Journal)

In the decade since the Sept. 11 attacks, the U.S. has failed to make sufficient progress on nine counterterrorism actions, ranging from border screening to terrorist-detention standards, according to the former leaders of the commission that investigated the hijackings.

U.S. intensifies efforts to flip Taliban (Jim Michaels, USA Today)

The top coalition commander in Afghanistan told USA Today on Wednesday that he has ordered a “surge” in efforts to get Taliban fighters to renounce violence and return to village life based on recent intelligence suggesting they feel abandoned by their leaders. Marine Gen. John Allen said the effort aims to quickly capitalize on plunging morale among insurgents in southern Afghanistan, once the backbone of the Taliban movement, and to lure militants back to their homes with jobs and other incentives.