Today’s Headlines

January 27, 2012 By Mac Stoddard

Must Reads

Who’s in the News

Egyptian revolution one year later; uncertainty of the “Arab Awakening” (Paul Wolfowitz, American Enterprise Institute)

Three years ago, when President Obama spoke at Cairo University, he was applauded for the mere announcement that he would discuss democracy and women’s rights, the only two of seven issues to be so welcomed. Even people who are critical of the United States often aspire to the values that we stand for.  At a time when so much is in flux in the Arab world, it is important for the United States to speak up strongly in support of democracy, religious freedom, women’s rights, and the rule of law.

Foreign Policy of the Final Four (Jamie Crawford, CNN)

Foreign policy still lags far behind the discussion of domestic issues as the Republican candidates continue debating each other. But when it does arise, the final four candidates in the race seem to divide into two camps – intervene big time on one side, stay out of it on the other side.   “We have one candidate, Ron Paul, who’s a principled noninterventionist, and then we have three candidates – Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum – that are all activist internationalists who want to use American power aggressively overseas to contest the perils they see,” James Lindsay with the Council on Foreign Relations told CNN.  The race to the nomination for Romney, Gingrich and Santorum is not likely to turn on foreign policy Lindsay told CNN. “They may not be in the same ZIP Code on all issues, but they are in the same city,” he said.

Smart Power

Senators Caution Against Aid Cutoff Amid Anger At Egypt’s Treatment of U.S. Groups (Emily Cadei, CQ, Subscription Required – Document Attached)

Leading senators do not support a halt in aid to Egypt despite the Egyptian military’s escalation of its conflict with several U.S. non-profit groups working in the country to promote democracy.  Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., said it “really is premature at this point” to consider blocking the billions in U.S. funds flowing to Cairo, largely for the Egyptian military.  Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., ranking member on the Appropriations subcommittee that funds foreign aid, said he spoke with U.S. ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson earlier in the day about the matter. While he remains concerned, he also expressed confidence that the situation would soon be resolved. And he concurred with Kerry that now is not the time to freeze aid. “Let’s see how it winds up,” said Graham. “We need to be measured here and understand that the Egyptian elections are very important how they turn out.”

Gates donates $750 million to shore-up disease fighting fund (Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times)

In a show of faith in the faltering Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Bill Gates donated $750 million to the fund on Thursday.  The donation was made as a promissory note intended to tide the fund over regular cash shortages.   Mr. Gates, who made the announcement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said tough economic times were “no excuse for cutting aid to the world’s poorest,” and called the fund one of the “most effective” entities to which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donates.   The Global Fund, which pays for AIDS drugs for more than 3 million poor people, has been struggling to raise money. Its last fund-raising drive fell more than $1 billion short of the $13 billion the fund said it needed to continue existing grants.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Dispelling myths about foreign aid (Stewart M. Patrick, Internationalist)

U.S. citizens support foreign aid, particularly when it is targeted to alleviating poverty and humanitarian suffering. This is remarkable, given the magnitude by which Americans consistently overestimate the percentage of the federal budget actually devoted to foreign aid. These findings emerge from a newly updated digest of U.S. and international polling on global issues developed by CFR and the Program on International Policy Attitudes. They suggest that bashing foreign aid—as most of the leading GOP candidates for president have done—is a campaign strategy of dubious value. It may provide red meat to the Republican base, but it ignores the generous impulses of the American majority.

Why we have a responsibility to protect Syria (Shadi Hamid, Atlantic)

Arab protesters and revolutionaries, despite their often passionate dislike of U.S. policy, continue to turn to us for support in their time of need. This should not be taken lightly. In a time when millions of Arabs are demanding and dying for their freedom, the United States finds itself in a privileged role. Because of who we are, what we claim to aspire to — and, of course, our unparalleled military capability — we often, for both better and worse, have the power to tip the balance one way or the other.   The clichéd refrain that the Arab uprisings are about “them” and not “us” seems to treat Western powers as innocent bystanders, which they aren’t and haven’t been for five decades. International factors have been critical in the majority of countries facing unrest, including Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and, to a lesser extent, Egypt. In short, U.S. support for democracy matters and will continue to matter for the foreseeable future. In some countries, it will matter a great deal.

Dempsey: ‘Premature’ to use military force against Iran (Yochi J. Dreazen and Kevin Baron, National Journal)

The current U.S.-led push to force Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions through steadily increasing economic and diplomatic pressure is beginning to show results and it would be “premature” to resort to military force, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview on Thursday.  Dempsey, the nation’s highest military officer, told National Journal that the U.S. remained committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and was prepared to use force if necessary. But he cautioned that a conflict with Iran would destabilize the region and potentially have a severe economic impact on the U.S.   “I do think the path we’re on—the economic sanctions and the diplomatic pressure—does seem to me to be having an effect,” Dempsey said during the interview in his Pentagon office. “I just think that it’s premature to be deciding that the economic and diplomatic approach is inadequate.”