Today’s Headlines

November 16, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

Must Reads

USGLC in the News

Foreign Aid is Investment in U.S. ‘Security and Prosperity,’ Say 5 Former Secretaries of State (Patrick Goodenough, CNS News)

As some GOP presidential candidates call for U.S. foreign aid to “start at zero,” five former secretaries of state – four of them from Republican administrations – wrote to lawmakers Monday, strongly supporting funding for the State Department and foreign operations. The letter, released by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, was signed by Condoleezza Rice (secretary of state from 2005-2009), Colin Powell (2001-2005), Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), George Schultz (1982-1989) and Henry Kissinger (1973-1977).

Republicans’ ‘Starting from zero’ aid proposal startles pro-Israel community (Ron Kampeas,  JTA)

“Starting from zero,” the foreign assistance plan touted by leading Republican candidates at a debate, is getting low marks, and not just from Democrats and the foreign policy community. Pro-Israel activists and fellow Republicans also have concerns.

Who’s in the News?

Graham: GOP candidates need to “step up their game” on foreign policy (Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy)

Certain GOP presidential candidates, such as Herman Cain, need to “step up their game” and prove that they know enough about foreign policy to be president, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told The Cable. “There are individual candidates that need to step up their game,” Graham said on Tuesday, when asked about Cain’s cringe-worthy interview on Monday with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Libya. “Each candidate has to demonstrate for the public that they’re ready for the job. And no one expects a person who hasn’t been commander-in-chief before to know everything about every topic, but Libya? I think it’s fair to ask our candidates to articulate a position,” Graham said. “Cain has got to convince people that he’s got the depth of knowledge [to be president].”

Smart Power

Bob Rabatsky: Promoting US jobs and national security (Bob Rabatsky, The Gulf Today)

With congressional budget negotiators seeking $1.2 trillion in savings, some Americans question why the United States should be spending money on foreign assistance when we have pressing needs at home. As someone who has dedicated his career to international development, I assure you that cutting foreign assistance would do more harm than good. When tallying the bottom line, Congress should consider the full price tag: our foreign assistance creates jobs at home by boosting exports and protects our national security by making friends and strengthening economies in emerging societies.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Perry’s Call to Zero Out Foreign Aid Wins Few Accolades (Erin McPike, Real Clear Politics)

The thinking goes that when so many Americans are hurting at home, why send money abroad? On a larger level, it’s a point the GOP has been struggling with in recent years as the electorate has veered away from neocon-thinking and nation-building. That trend was punctuated by the enthusiasm earlier this year for potential presidential candidates Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels, both of whom argued that the defense budget could withstand some bold cuts. But foreign aid is separate from defense, and business and military leaders alike are rushing to defend our international affairs budget.

Flubs Are Rubbing Some Republicans the Wrong Way (Michael D. Shear, New York Times)

The Republican presidential candidates have served comedians a full platter of laughs this year — a steady diet of gaffes, misstatements, puzzled looks and long, awkward pauses. To a remarkable degree, the candidates have turned the cringe-inducing moments to their advantage, asserting that they demonstrate an authenticity different from the slick professionalism of politicians in Washington. But the embarrassing moments are piling up, and some veteran Republicans are beginning to wonder whether the cumulative effect weakens the party brand, especially in foreign policy and national security, where Republicans have typically dominated Democrats.

US Foreign Policy turns toward Asia (Editorial, New York Times)

The theme of President Obama’s eight-day tour of Asia is what the administration describes as a foreign policy “pivot” from the messy and costly wars of Iraq and Afghanistan to a new era of engagement with the booming economies of the Far East . “The United States is, and always will be, a Pacific power,” Mr. Obama said as he opened a news conference Monday in Hawaii. The region, he added, “is absolutely vital not only for our economy but also for our national security.” The president is right, of course, and his vision is, in many ways, a beguiling one. Many Asian countries are eager for greater economic, political and military engagement with the United States because of their wariness of China. Eight signed up over the weekend for the administration’s new Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade plan; Australia announced its agreement to a permanent U.S. military presence. Not that war is on the horizon: Though China’s growing military power must be watched, there are no ugly land battles to fight in Asia, and the threat of terrorism is small.