Top Headlines of the Day

February 15, 2012 By Mac Stoddard

USGLC in the News

Obama’s 2013 foreign aid budget request: The good, the bad and the ugly (Jenny Lei Ravelo,

While the top-line numbers in President Barack Obama’s 2013 budget request for foreign aid were encouraging, details of how it will be spent have raised mixed reactions from the development community.  Obama is requesting $51.6 billion for the international affairs account. The proposed budget has received praise from some development organizations, with the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network and the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition calling the budget request “balanced” and a “smart, strategic investment.”  But cuts in humanitarian assistance and global health — including the $542.9 million reduction from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief — have led some health advocates and nongovernmental organizations to raise concerns.

Who’s in the News

Gen. Dempsey urges Egypt to resolve dispute (Donna Cassata, Military Times)

The nation’s top military leader said Tuesday that he pleaded with Egypt’s ruling generals to resolve the crisis with Washington over the crackdown on American nonprofit groups that promote democracy in the Middle East, warning that the simmering dispute threatens billions in U.S. aid and the relationship between the two nations.  The substantial U.S. military aid to Egypt is linked to its adherence to an American-mediated 1979 peace treaty with Israel, Washington’s closest Middle East ally. Egypt receives $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid and about $250 million in economic assistance every year.  Members of the House and Senate, furious with the latest developments, have raised the possibility of trying to withhold the aid.

Smart Power

Give diplomacy with Iran a chance (Dennis B. Ross, New York Times)

The Obama administration has now created a situation in which diplomacy has a chance to succeed. It remains an open question whether it will.  Still, it is unclear whether Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose regime depends so heavily on hostility to America, is willing to make a deal on the nuclear issue. Nonetheless, Iran is now signaling that it is interested in diplomacy.  Iran can have civilian nuclear power, but it must not have nuclear weapons. Ultimately, Ayatollah Khamenei will have to decide what poses a greater threat to his rule: ending his quest for nuclear weapons or stubbornly pursuing them as crippling economic pressures mount.  With Iran reeling from sanctions, the proper environment now exists for diplomacy to work. The next few months will determine whether it succeeds.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Highway bill stalled in Senate over Paul’s Egypt amendment (Josiah Ryan, The Hill)

Republican firebrand Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday suggested he plans to continue his delay of the Senate’s business unless he is granted a vote on his amendment to strip Egypt of foreign aid for 30 days in retribution for the country’s detention of 19 American pro-democracy workers.  Several Democrats have blasted Paul, although not by name, in the last two-days, claiming his demand for a vote on the amendment is not germane and delaying a “jobs bill.”  Paul fired back from the floor on Tuesday, saying that the situation in Egypt requires the upper chamber’s urgent attention.  The Paul amendment would strip Egypt of all foreign aid for 30 days or until it releases the 19 pro-democracy workers.

Muslim Brotherhood: You’d best keep the aid money coming if you want that treaty with Israel intact (Allahpundit, Hot Air blog)

Regimes come and go but the bribes remain the same. US aid to Egypt is guaranteed by the Camp David Accords and stopping it would be a violation of that treaty, a high-ranking Muslim Brotherhood lawmaker said Sunday. Essam El-Erian, who also serves as chairman of the Egyptian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said that should aid from Washington be cut, the Brotherhood would consider changing the terms of Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.