Today’s Headlines

May 17, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

The Daily GAB

With the House on recess, only the Senate is in session this week.  The Senate Budget Committee’s markup of an FY12 budget resolution has been delayed yet again, as Democrats remain divided over the spending plan.  Despite the delays in the Senate, the FY12 appropriations process will continue to move forward when the House returns next week.  Last week subcommittee markups were held for the Homeland Security and VA-Military Construction bills.  The State-Foreign Operations markup will be last in line, with the Subcommittee markup not scheduled until July 27 followed by Full Committee action on August 3rd.

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Who’s In the News

Video:  Secretary Gates on 60 Minutes (Katie Couric—CBS News)

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke with Katie Couric on “60 Minutes” Sunday night emphasizing the need for a strong and effective State Department presence to complete the transition in Afghanistan.  “My worry is that we’ll be penny wise and pound foolish,” said Gates.  “I feel like we’re on the 2-yard line and I’d hate to see us not get across the goal line.  And it’s the State Department that’s going to take us across the goal line.”

Victoria Nuland to be State Department Spokesman (Josh Rogin—The Cable)

Nuland has had a long career in the Foreign Service, working for both Democratic and Republican administrations. She is now the special envoy for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe; during the George W. Bush administration, she was the U.S. ambassador to NATO, and before that the principal deputy foreign policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney. During the first term of Bill Clinton’s administration, she was chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and then moved on to serve as deputy director for former Soviet Union affairs.

Smart Power

Next ISAF war commander speaks up for foreign aid (Kevin Baron – Stripes Central)

After 10 years of war, the U.S. military and civilian development workers have become “inextricably linked,” said Allen, who is deputy commander of Central Command and President Barack Obama’s choice to replace Gen. David Petraeus. “In many respects, USAID’s efforts can do as much – over the long term – to prevent conflict as the deterrent effect of a carrier strike group or a marine expeditionary force,” Allen said.

Three cheers and three wishes for new Congressional Foreign Aid Caucus (Sarah Jane Staats – Center for Global Development)

Three cheers to Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Adam Smith (D-WA) for launching the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance last week. My three wishes for the caucus: be active; make the presidential policy directive on U.S. global development reality; and look beyond aid.

Can innovation plug the development funding gap? (Jamie Drummond –Poverty Matters blog)

The G20 should start a serious discussion about how innovative financing mechanisms could accelerate global development, but this should not distract from concrete commitments on aid.

Politics/Foreign Policy

US speeds up direct talks with Taliban (Karen DeYoung – the Washington Post)

The administration has accelerated direct talks with the Taliban, initiated several months ago, that U.S. officials say they hope will enable President Obama to report progress toward a settlement of the Afghanistan war when he announces troop withdrawals in July.

‘Bush Doctrine’ echoes on Middle East (Dave Boyer – the Washington Times)

President Obama will try this week to clarify his muddled strategy for promoting democracy in the Middle East, with lawmakers from both political parties and world leaders waiting to assess quickly whether his approach has muscle.

Kerry seeks to mend fences in Pakistan (Alex Rodriguez-Los Angeles Times)

Sen. Kerry, head of the Foreign Relations Committee, reaches an agreement for cooperation in getting ‘high-value targets,’ but delivers a stern warning that the U.S. won’t tolerate Pakistan providing a haven to terrorists.