America cannot afford to isolate itself (Tom Ridge and Donna E. Shalala, Miami Herald)
As the Republican presidential hopefuls crisscross Florida ahead of next week’s primary, they will address their plans to keep America at the top of its game on the global stage. Miami is recognized as the “Gateway to the Americas,” and we understand the challenges and opportunities that come with that title. Right now trade supports one in five jobs here in Florida — a figure that has nearly doubled as a percentage of total jobs in the state in the past two decades. In 2010, Florida exported nearly $60 billion in merchandise to foreign markets. The future of our economic growth is in the international sector, and the fastest growing markets for U.S. goods and services are in the developing world. That’s why the small investment we make in our international affairs budget — just one percent of the total federal budget — acts as a jobs and revenue creator here at home.
Wealthy nations must step up to the challenge of world hunger (Bill Gates, Seattle Times)
On any given day, a billion people — 15 percent of the world’s population — are worrying about whether their family will have enough food to eat that night. The problem requires more attention and funding from traditional aid donors. The governments of wealthy nations, which have been so generous up to now, must continue to support agricultural research that has yielded such amazing returns in the past. As the economic crisis continues and some of our politicians start talking about cutting foreign aid for the world’s poorest, we face a clear choice: On the one hand, we can invest modest amounts to continue the progress we’ve seen over the past 50 years; on the other, we can choose to tolerate a world in which one in seven people goes hungry.
The Truth About Foreign Aid (Bill Gates, New York Times)
Last week, Oxfam and Save the Children released a report saying that emergency relief in the Horn of Africa came months late, costing thousands of lives and millions of dollars. Oxfam and Save the Children conclude that humanitarian assistance should be done differently. The anti-foreign aid establishment is using the report to argue that aid doesn’t work and should be cut across the board. The very fact that $2.1 billion has been donated to help the victims of the famine is a testament to human beings’ generosity. But that fact of our generosity also explains why I am so frustrated by the increasing opposition in many rich countries to foreign aid. We know people care about the suffering of others. Not only that. They are willing to express their caring by making significant donations, even in very hard times. So what keeps them from supporting government investments to alleviate extreme suffering?
Clinton’s policy planning director on 2012 foreign policy priorities (Josh Rogin, The Cable)
The State Department has a new program to give journalists in foreign countries access to senior officials through live web conversations, and the official in the hot seat on Tuesday was none other than Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan, who laid out the administration’s foreign policy priorities for 2012. Sullivan said that one of the main items on the administration’s foreign-policy agenda was “to shift from a decade of war and a focus on threats, which by necessity the last 10 years were mostly about, to a decade of opportunities.” These opportunities, according to Sullivan, include efforts “to help support democratic transitions in the Middle East and North Africa, opportunities to consolidate America’s engagement as a Pacific power … opportunities to deepen partnerships in our own hemisphere as we head into the Summit of the Americas in April of 2012, and opportunities to drive a development agenda alongside our diplomacy agenda that gets to issues like health and food and climate so that we are creating better chances for people across the world.”
U.S. Citizens barred from leaving Egypt (John Bresnahan and David Rogers, Politico)
Egyptian authorities are barring several U.S. citizens — including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s son — from leaving the country after Egyptian government forces raided the offices of Washington-backed groups monitoring recent parliamentary elections there. Sam LaHood is director of the Egyptian program for the International Republican Institute, a nongovernmental organization with close ties to GOP congressional leadership. He attempted to board an airplane in Cairo on Saturday to leave the country but was told he was on a “no-fly list” and was refused permission to depart. Direct intervention by President Barack Obama and other top administration officials has failed to resolve the NGO dispute, although U.S. officials are hopeful it can be defused soon.
House Republicans hope to ease automatic defense spending cuts (Kristina Wong, Washington Times)
Republicans on the House Armed Service Committee are stepping up their effort to shield the Defense Department from additional spending cuts ahead of the Feb. 13 release of President Obama’s fiscal 2013 federal budget. The Pentagon already is preparing to trim about $500 billion from its budget over the next 10 years. Under a process called sequestration, the Pentagon would face an additional $500 billion spending reduction over that period. On Tuesday, committee Republicans released an online video that calls the sequestration cuts “irresponsible” and hails legislation that would pay for one year of additional defense cuts. The “Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2011,” introduced in December, calls for a 10 percent reduction of the federal workforce over the next decade.
Obama goal is to secure flow of trade amid disasters (Shaun Waterman, Washington Times)
The Obama administration Wednesday pledged new measures to better secure the global trade and transportation systems against terrorism, crime and natural disasters. “The global supply chain system … is essential to the United States’ economy and is a critical global asset,” President Obama wrote in his introduction to the high-level strategy report. The six-page document lays out the goal of a secure and efficient worldwide network of just-in-time airfreight deliveries, container shipping and railroads and highway systems that power the international economy.