Today’s Headlines

November 21, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

Must Reads

Smart Power

Foreign aid boosts domestic economy (Eli Sugarman, The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The U.S. foreign assistance budget is under attack by several GOP presidential hopefuls, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, who question its impact and wisdom in today’s tough economic times. Congressional critics share their views and want to slash all international development spending. This approach is misguided. First, foreign aid makes up less than 1 percent of the budget and is therefore not driving the U.S. deficit. Second, such cuts will harm, not help, the U.S. economy. Foreign aid is a powerful investment that creates jobs for Americans and opportunities for our companies by building up tomorrow’s trading partners.

Smart Money (Editorial, Akron Beacon Journal)

A week ago, five former secretaries of state — Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger — sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to support “a strong and effective international affairs budget.” They did so in view of lawmakers looking to reduce spending as part of dealing with huge federal budget deficits. They reminded that while all programs must contribute their share to debt reduction, the country must make intelligent choices about deploying its resources, doing what is cost-effective and strategically sound.  Foreign aid fits the description.

Foreign Policy Funding A Top Candidate for Cuts (Alan Greenblatt, NPR)

Aid programs give U.S. diplomats leverage with allies, while also offering public relations benefits from helping average people in other countries cope with hunger and health problems, says Joseph Parent, a political scientist at the University of Miami.  At the House hearing on Tuesday, Nisha Desai Biswal, USAID’s assistant administrator for Asia, sought to defend her agency’s programs in China. She point out that the money goes not to the Chinese government but to Tibetan communities and programs bolstering health, legal reform and environmental concerns.

Eliminating foreign aid not in the best interest of America (Editorial, Jackson Sun)

U.S. foreign aid creates jobs. An estimated 30,000 Americans work directly for international development companies and are part of the infrastructure that supports U.S. foreign policy and foreign development assistance.  Foreign aid helps create and sustain foreign markets for U.S. goods. One in five American jobs is dependent on exports, and many of the nation’s top international trading partners have, in part, been developed through foreign aid programs. Over 50 percent of U.S. foreign trade is with developing countries that are U.S. foreign assistance partners.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Famine downgraded in some areas of Somalia (Jason Straziuso, Taiwan News)

The U.S. and U.N. food agencies downgraded the famine rating in three areas of Somalia to emergency status but said three other areas — including the refugee communities of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu — remain in the famine zone. Overall, the agencies said the food situation in Somalia remains the worst in the world and the worst in Horn of Africa country since the region’s 1991-92 famine.  “Death rates, especially for young children, remain extremely high, in part due to continued outbreaks of measles, cholera, and malaria.

Debt supercommittee on brink of failure (Heidi Przybyla and Kathleen Hunter, Washington Post)

A debt-reduction committee with special powers that was supposed to dissolve congressional gridlock in Washington is instead on the brink of failure, setting the stage for $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts.  The 12-member bipartisan supercommittee likely will announce today that it can’t reach agreement on deficit savings, according to a Democratic aide…Today is the deadline for the Congressional Budget Office to receive information for scoring a proposal in advance of the supercommittee’s Nov. 23 target date for reaching a deal.

GOP rivals need to get real on foreign policy (John Avlon, CNN)

We now see that foreign policy is largely what a president does, despite all the domestic focus of presidential campaigns.  That’s why it’s pathetic that so little time has been spent on this serious business of being president during dozens of Republican debates to date.  Tuesday’s CNN National Security Debate in Washington will attempt to remedy that, but it finds a GOP field that is fractured and philosophically incoherent when it comes to foreign policy. In the wake of the Bush Doctrine, Republicans are torn between neoconservatives and neo-isolationists, united by little more than reflexive partisan opposition to President Barack Obama.