A few weeks ago the Toomey senate campaign in Pennsylvania decided to try to use my organization, Citizens for Global Solutions, to paint Joe Sestak as an extremist. The Greensburg Tribune-Review picked up the story, which I responded to with a letter to the editor.
Well this guy named Carl read my letter, located my email address, and what follows is our conversation. I want to share it with you because it displays a dangerous trend in our nation, the politicization of national security.
I don't know anything about Carl other than he lives in Pennsylvania and (from his email address display) is married. I googled him and found nothing. My apologies in advance for some of the long URLs. Read on and I'll share a few thoughts afterward:
I had to check out "Global Solutions" after reading your letter in the Greensburg Tribune-Review this morning. Knowing who Joe Sestak is and what he will do to my state if he is elected was puzzling to me as to why you would endorse him especially not being a native Pennsylvanian. A quick review of your web site and a picture of you explains it all. Do you support all "left wing" loons?
Just read it and don't follow you... only found three Republican senators that supported START which is rather weakening us in the global arena. Hope it's killed in the full senate.
Carl - regarding START, seems like a whole bunch of smart and credible people disagree with you. What do you base your position on?
(I attached a long list of quotes that included supportive statements from the likes of Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Former Defense Secretary William Cohen. Stephen Hadley, National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush. Jim Baker. Brent Scowcroft and more.)
Who are those "whole bunch of smart and credible people"? Must be all leftists and Obama supporters.
Carl - read the quotes I sent you. Generals, R & D former Sec of State and Defense. You calling Kissinger, Stephen Hadley (National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush), Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Jim Baker, Brent Scowcroft "leftists and Obama supporters"?
To expand on my Yep answer, I saw only one senator that claims to be a Republican responding, but didn't see a date his comment was made. Just because some of these people claim to be Republican doesn't mean that they are... for example, consider Arlen Specter, Crist, Murkowski and some now in the senate with an "R" next to their name (Collins, Snowe). Why not name a few senators that do not agree with these guys.
Carl - First off Danforth and Hagel listed below are former R senators. You can go to Lugar's homepage right now http://lugar.senate.gov/ and START is still the lead. Senators off the committee don't usually weigh in until it comes to the floor. However the bottom line is that this is about national security. That's why the military, Defense Dept., State Dept. are on board. I can give you bipartisan lists of support till the cows come home. But my guess is you care more about the politics that the security issue. So who do you have opposing it and why? Anyone else besides Heritage? Read what Corker had to say about it http://corker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=News&ContentRecord_id=f79537...
Danforth and Hagel Republicans...you gotta be kidding.
And what's more important: "R" or "D" or national security? I don't care what party is in as long as my daughter can grow up in a safe, just, and healthy world.
May as well stop this bantering...we'll not agree on this or anything else you guys are for.
That's the end of the thread. Here's my concern: Carl is more concerned about his side winning then all of us winning. And he's more focused on his anger than my daughter's safety. And that's where I draw the line.
My thirteen year old daughter hasn't gone to full teenage anger mode yet. But when she crosses the line, then it's time to patiently explain the rules, again.
But who gets to be the "adult" when it comes to national security? How do we get through to the "Carls" when the stakes are high but the dialogue has devolved to middle-school cafeteria "gotcha"?
We are never going to agree on everything, but when it comes to our security, we really need more adult behavior and less teenage angst. You got that Carl?
President Obama just gave a very strong speech at the United Nations General Assembly, announcing a new U.S. Global Development Policy, including the first ever Presidential Decision Directive on this subject. I think the speech was a great mixture of leadership and partnership. The video & text is below. Please comment and let me know what you think about this "game changer".
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery Millennium Development Goals Summit United Nations Headquarters New York, New York
As Prepared for Delivery –
Good afternoon. Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen.
In the Charter of this United Nations, our countries pledged to work for “the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples.” In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we recognized the inherent dignity and rights of every individual, including the right to a decent standard of living. And a decade ago, at the dawn of a new millennium, we set concrete goals to free our fellow men, women and children from the injustice of extreme poverty.
These are the standards we set. Today, we must ask—are we living up to our mutual responsibilities?
I suspect that some in wealthier countries may ask—with our economies struggling, so many people out of work, and so many families barely getting by, why a summit on development? The answer is simple. In our global economy, progress in even the poorest countries can advance the prosperity and security of people far beyond their borders, including my fellow Americans.
When a child dies from a preventable disease, it shocks our conscience. When a girl is deprived of an education or her mother is denied equal rights, it undermines the prosperity of their nation. When a young entrepreneur can’t start a new business, it stymies the creation of new jobs and markets—in his country and in ours. When millions of fathers cannot provide for their families, it feeds the despair that can fuel instability and violent extremism. When a disease goes unchecked, it can endanger the health of millions around the world.
So let’s put to rest the old myth that development is mere charity that does not serve our interests. And let’s reject the cynicism that says certain countries are condemned to perpetual poverty. For the past half century has witnessed more gains in human development than at any time in history. A disease that had ravaged the generations, smallpox, was eradicated. Health care has reached the far corners of the world, saving the lives of millions. From Latin America to Africa to Asia, developing nations have transformed into leaders in the global economy.
Nor can anyone deny the progress that has been made toward achieving certain Millennium Development Goals. The doors of education have been opened to tens of millions of children, boys and girls. New cases of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are down; access to clean drinking water is up. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted from extreme poverty.
Yet we must also face the fact that progress towards other goals has not come nearly fast enough. Not for the hundreds of thousands of women who lose their lives every year simply giving birth. Not for the millions of children who die from the agony of malnutrition. Not for the nearly one billion people who endure the misery of chronic hunger.
This is the reality we must face—that if the international community just keeps doing the same things the same way, we will miss many development goals. That is the truth. With ten years down and just five years before our development targets come do, we must do better.
Now, I know that helping communities and countries realize a better future isn’t easy. I’ve seen it in my own life. I saw it in my mother, as she worked to lift up the rural poor, from Indonesia to Pakistan. And I saw it on the streets of Chicago, were I worked as a community organizer trying to build up underdeveloped neighborhoods. It’s hard. But I know progress is possible.
As President, I have made it clear that the United States will do our part. My national security strategy recognizes development as not only a moral imperative, but a strategic and economic imperative. Secretary of State Clinton is leading a review to strengthen and better coordinate our diplomacy and development efforts. We’ve reengaged with multilateral development institutions. And we’re rebuilding the United States Agency for International Development as the world’s premier development agency. In short, we’re making sure that the United States will be a global leader in international development in the 21st century.
We also recognize that the old ways will not suffice. That is why in Ghana last year I called for a new approach to development that unleashes transformational change and allows more people to take control of their own destiny. After all, no country wants to be dependent on another. No proud leader in this room wants to ask for aid. And no family wants to be beholden to the assistance of others.
To pursue this vision, my administration conducted a comprehensive review of America’s development programs. We listened to leaders in government, NGOs and civil society, the private sector and philanthropy, Congress and our many international partners.
Today, I am announcing our new U.S. Global Development Policy—the first of its kind by an American administration. It’s rooted in America’s enduring commitment to the dignity and potential of every human being. And it outlines our new approach and the new thinking that will guide our overall development efforts, including the plan that I promised last year and that my administration has delivered to pursue the Millennium Development Goals. Put simply, the United States is changing the way we do business.
First, we’re changing how we define development. For too long, we’ve measured our efforts by the dollars we spent and the food and medicines we delivered. But aid alone is not development. Development is helping nations to actually develop—moving from poverty to prosperity. And we need more than just aid to unleash that change. We need to harness all the tools at our disposal—from our diplomacy to our trade and investment policies.
Second, we’re changing how we view the ultimate goal of development. Our focus on assistance has saved lives in the short term, but it hasn’t always improved those societies over the long term. Consider the millions of people who have relied on food assistance for decades. That’s not development, that’s dependence, and it’s a cycle we need to break. Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and peoples a path out of poverty.
Let me be clear, the United States of America has been, and will remain, the global leader in providing assistance. We will not abandon those who depend on us for life-saving help. We keep our promises, and honor our commitments.
In fact, my administration has increased assistance to the least developed countries. We’re working with partners to finally eradicate polio. Building on the good efforts of my predecessor, we continue to increase funds to fight HIV/AIDS to record levels—and that includes strengthening our commitment to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria. And we will lead in times of crisis, as we have done since the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan.
But the purpose of development—and what’s needed most right now—is creating the conditions where assistance is no longer needed. So we will seek partners who want to build their own capacity to provide for their people. We will seek development that is sustainable.
Building in part on the lessons of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which has helped countries like El Salvador build rural roads and raise the incomes of its people, we will invest in the capacity of countries that are proving their commitment to development.
Remembering the lesson of the Green Revolution, we’re expanding scientific collaboration with other countries and investing in game-changing science and technologies to help spark historic leaps in development.
For example, instead of just treating HIV/AIDS, we’ve invested in pioneering research to finally develop a way to help millions of women actually prevent themselves from being infected in the first place.
Instead of simply handing out food, our food security initiative is helping countries like Guatemala, Rwanda and Bangladesh develop their agriculture, improve crop yields and help farmers get their products to market.
Instead of simply delivering medicine, our Global Health Initiative is helping countries like Mali and Nepal build stronger health systems and deliver better care. And with financial and technical assistance, we’ll help developing countries embrace the clean energy technologies they need to adapt to climate change and pursue low-carbon growth.
In other words, we’re making it clear that we will partner with countries that are willing to take the lead. Because the days when your development was dictated in foreign capitals must come to an end.
This brings me to the third pillar of our new approach. To unleash transformational change, we’re putting a new emphasis on the most powerful force the world has ever known for eradicating poverty and creating opportunity. It’s the force that turned South Korea from a recipient of aid to a donor of aid. It’s the force that has raised living standards from Brazil to India. And it’s the force that has allowed emerging African countries like Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique to defy the odds and make real progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals, even as some of their neighbors—like Cote d’Ivoire—have lagged behind.
The force I’m speaking of is broad-based economic growth. Now, every nation will pursue its own path to prosperity. But decades of experience tell us that there are certain ingredients upon which sustainable growth and lasting development depends.
We know that countries are more likely to prosper when they encourage entrepreneurship; when they invest in their infrastructure; and when they expand trade and welcome investment. So we will partner with countries like Sierra Leone to create business environments that attract investment, not scare it away. We’ll work to break down barriers to regional trade and urge nations to open their markets to developing countries. And we’ll keep pushing for a Doha round that is ambitious and balanced—one that works not just for major emerging economies, but for all economies.
We know that countries are more likely to prosper when governments are accountable to their people. So we are leading a global effort to combat corruption—which in many places is the single greatest barrier to prosperity, and which is a profound violation of human rights. That’s why we now require oil, gas and mining companies that raise capital in the United States to disclose all payments they make to foreign governments. And it’s why I urged the G-20 to put corruption on its agenda and make it harder for corrupt officials to steal from their people and stifle their development.
The United States will focus our development efforts on countries like Tanzania that promote good governance and democracy; the rule of law and equal administration of justice; transparent institutions, with strong civil societies; and respect for human rights. Because over the long run, democracy and economic growth go hand in hand.
We will reach out to countries making the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, and from war to peace. The people of Liberia show that even after years of war, great progress can be achieved. And as others show the courage to put war behind them—including, we hope, in Sudan—the United States will stand with those who seek to build and sustain peace.
And we know that countries are more likely to prosper when they tap the talents of all their people. That’s why we’re investing in the health, education and rights of women, and working to empower the next generation of women entrepreneurs and leaders. Because when mothers and daughters have access to opportunity, economies grow and governance improves. And it’s why we’re partnering with young people, who in many developing countries are more than half the population. We’re expanding educational exchanges, like the one that brought my father to America from Kenya, and we’re helping young entrepreneurs succeed in a global economy.
As the final pillar of our new approach, we’ll insist on more responsibility—from ourselves and others. We’ll insist on mutual accountability.
For our part, we’ll work with Congress to better match our investments with the priorities of our partner countries. Guided by the evidence, we’ll invest in programs that work and end those that don’t. Because we need to be big-hearted and hard-headed.
To my fellow donor nations—let’s honor our respective commitments. Let’s resolve to put an end to hollow promises that are not kept. Let’s commit to the same transparency that we expect of others. And let’s move beyond the old, narrow debate over how much money we’re spending and let’s instead focus on results—whether we’re actually making improvements in people’s lives.
To developing countries, this must be your moment of responsibility as well. We want you to prosper and succeed—it’s in your interest, and it’s in our interest. We want to help you realize your aspirations. But there is no substitute for your leadership. Only you and your people can make the tough choices that will unleash the dynamism of your country. Only you can make the sustainable investments that improve the health and well-being of your people. Only you can deliver your nations to a more just and prosperous future.
Finally, let me say this. No one nation can do everything everywhere and still do it well. To meet our goals, we must be more selective and focus our efforts where we have the best partners and where we can have the greatest impact. And just as this work cannot be done by any one government, it cannot be the work of governments alone. Indeed, foundations, the private sector and NGOs are making historic commitments that have redefined what’s possible.
This gives us the opportunity to forge a new division of labor for development in the 21st century. It’s a division of labor where—instead of so much duplication and inefficiency—governments, multilaterals and NGOs all work together. We each do the piece we do best, as we are doing in support of Ghana’s food security plan, which will help more farmers get more goods to market and earn more money to support their families.
That’s the progress that’s possible. Together, we can collaborate in ways unimaginable just a few years ago. Together, we can realize the future that none of us can achieve alone. Together, we can deliver historic leaps in development. We can do this. But only if we move forward with the seriousness and sense of common purpose that this moment demands.
Development that offers a path out of poverty for that child who deserves better. Development that builds the capacity of countries to deliver the health care and education that their people need. Development that unleashes broader prosperity and builds the next generation of entrepreneurs and emerging economies. Development rooted in shared responsibility, mutual accountability and, most of all, concrete results that pull communities and countries from poverty to prosperity.
These are the elements of America’s new approach. This is the work we can do together. And this can be our plan—not simply for meeting our Millennium Development Goals, but for exceeding them, and then sustaining them for generations to come.
“Comments from the Pat Toomey campaign concerning Citizens for Global Solutions in the news story "Senate rivals trade accusations of liberal, conservative extremism" (Sept. 14 and TribLIVE.com) were inaccurate and misleading.
To assert that we are "an extreme left-wing group" ignores our endorsements on both sides of the aisle. In addition to supporting Rep. Joe Sestak and Rep. Jim Gerlach in 2006, this year we backed Delaware's Rep. Mike Castle in his bid for a U.S. Senate seat. Sen. Dick Lugar was our 2008 legislator of the year. We have a long record of supporting candidates who support responsible global policy.
Citizens for Global Solutions believes the United States should play a positive and constructive leadership role in effectively addressing global problems, as has been our great tradition. We support the U.S. paying the United Nations as a member in good standing. We do not support a "global tax" on U.S. citizens. We believe senators should get their facts right before they speak. Toomey fails this test.
It would appear that the dangerous experiment of American unilateralism has yet another proponent in Toomey. As we know from history, this position not only endangers national security but greatly threatens American influence abroad. It proves why he is the wrong choice to be the next senator from Pennsylvania.
We are proud to endorse Sestak for Senate because he understands that America's ideals are as important as her might in international relations. While we do not expect Sestak to agree with all of our policy ideas or recommendations, we do believe he will be a capable, principled, smart and successful U.S. senator.”
With Delaware Congressman Mike Castle's earth-shattering loss of in his Senate primary bid, the Tea Party insurrection is destroying the last vestige of the Grand Old Party as a major driving force behind pragmatic foreign policy. The rise of the Tea Party, the self described "loose network of conservative grassroots movements," has challenged the old internationalist wing of the party and won. As the brutal primary fights in Utah, Alaska and now Delaware have shown us, this is not your father's Republican party. And it probably never will be again.
Gone are the great thinkers that once made the Republican Party a driving force in internationalist policy. How would the Tea Party react today to the globalist tradition of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, or even Ronald Reagan?
It was Eisenhower who supported reversing the isolationist bent that had plagued the party during the New Deal.
As Congressman and Senator, Nixon fully supported the formation of the United Nations. As president, his foreign policy sought to end the illusion of American supremacy and to secure a stable global order.
Ronald Reagan was instrumental in reaching out to Moscow and signing arms-control treaties more sweeping than anything Nixon or Kissinger had ever envisioned. What would the Gipper think of the intellectually bankrupt campaign launched by the Heritage Foundation to sink New START?
The candidates of the Republican Party today bear little if any resemblance to their internationalist cohorts of yesterday. Take for example the current bare-knuckled battle for Pennsylvania's Senate seat between former Congressman Pat Toomey and current Rep. Joe Sestak. As David Schorr, (a fellow member of Citizens for Global Solutions PAC put it, "Toomey must be getting his foreign policy advice from John Bolton and Dick Cheney, since his message today tried to portray international cooperation as a radical left cause."
Toomey recently blasted Rep. Sestak for supporting an increase in the foreign aid budget, a standard boilerplate campaign slogan for modern day "fiscally responsible" Republicans who can't (or don't) want to think too hard. It doesn't take a lot of research to figure out that discretionary spending for international programs since 1962 has averaged just 0.4% of GDP, and has through the years generally trended downward.
This unsettling fact was even recognized by the Bush Administration, when shortly after the September 11th attacks it elevated foreign aid to "a third pillar of national security." This doctrine was even articulated in the U.S. National Security Strategy of 2002, and reiterated in 2006 and 2010.
How do these decidedly grown-up views compare to today's Tea Party-backed candidates? Delaware Senate Republican Nominee Christine O'Donnell is adamantly against "outsourcing our foreign policy to the U.N." Rand Paul, who is running for Senate in Kentucky, believes "all funding of the U.N. as a whole [should] become voluntary," and that the "United States should withdraw from and stop funding altogether those UN programs that undermine legitimate American interests and harm the cause of freedom around the world." Nevada Tea Party Senate candidate Sharron Angle just flat out wants to see the U.S. out of the U.N.
Recent political history serves only to highlight this great exodus (forced or not) of internationalist minds from the party. The defeat of Congressman Mike Castle in Delaware is but the latest in a long line of purges. After being labeled RINOs by many party activists, Congressman Chris Shays, Jim Leach and Senator Lincoln Chafee (whose single vote prevented the confirmation of Ambassador John Bolton) were all defeated in their reelection bids. Political environs caused Senator Chuck Hagel to retire in 2008.
Senator Lugar, perhaps the Senate's most pragmatic and courageous internationalist, is expected not to run for reelection in 2012. And rumors abound of a possible trip to the other side of the aisle for one of the last truly moderate Republicans in the Senate, Olympia Snowe.
The United States deserves two mature political parties that can work together and reach educated consensus. An effective foreign policy requires the U.S. to be a good global citizen. When we build positive multilateral relationships, respect international law, and use military engagement only as a tool of last resort, we flourish collectively as a nation.
In Washington, there has always been a tradition that politics stopped at the water's edge. We saw an example of that today when Republican Senators Lugar, Corker, and Isakson joined their Democratic colleagues to approve the New START nuclear weapons reduction treaty in the Foreign Relations Committee. The question is, will a Tea Party-dominated Republican party ever be sane enough to do this again?
CGS Research Associate Dan Hanlon contributed to this post.
Five months after being signed by the President, the New START treaty successfully made it out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC). Fourteen senators voted for it and four against after a long and heated debate over issues like missile defense and nuclear modernization. Three Republicans threw their chips in favor of New START.
This is a major win for the arms control advocacy community, given that until just a few days ago, it wasn't clear how some influential GOP senators on the treaty were going to vote. With a Democratic majority in the committee, the treaty would have been voted out regardless. But the treaty will need 67 votes on the floor (read: at least 8 Republicans) to be ratified, which is no easy task in this divided Senate.
However, as Senator Kerry stated, the country is safer when SFRC can rise above partisan politics. The treaty's ratification on the Senate floor would have been a pipe dream without Republican votes on the committee.
Senator Lugar (R-IN) has been on board since the treaty was signed, but Senators Corker (R-TN) and Isakson (R-GA) required much more cajoling in the form of a combination of expert opinions, well-executed grassroots operations on the ground in Tennessee and Georgia, and reassurances from GOP experts and the White House that this treaty is in fact good for national security. To their credit, these Senators invested a huge amount of their time and their staff's time to help them make an educated decision. The support of these key Senators means that the scales are starting to tip in the right direction.
New START became controversial, but few anticipated the political attention it has received. It's a treaty that makes modest reductions to U.S. and Russian arsenals and carries on a tradition of arms control treaties started by GOP icon and Cold War hero Ronald Reagan. Even Senator Kyl (R-AZ), who is not a big fan of New START, has called it "benign." But the political climate in the Senate is such that the issue quickly became a contentious political one.
Despite the success of the vote and the decision by Senators Corker and Isakson to support New START ratification, there are still Republican red flags that can't be ignored. Their commitment was contingent on the committee's acceptance of the resolution of ratification proposed by Senator Lugar (though it also received the OK from Kerry), and it was troubling that they voted for some of the problematic amendments proposed by Senator Risch. The other Republican senators on the committee were more than vocal about their opposition to aspects of New START, and Senator DeMint (R-SC) went as far as stating that New START does not defend the people of the United States, which directly contradicts what nearly every expert has said: that New START improves our national security.
He implied that voting against his proposed amendment was tantamount to opposing the defense of the American people. Senators Barrasso (R-WY) and Risch (R-ID) had similar comments and attempted to push harmful amendments, including multiple "killer" amendments that would have guaranteed the death of New START for the foreseeable future. Ironically, Senator DeMint offered amendment after amendment, but was unwilling to work with Senators Kerry and Lugar to draft compromise language or indicate that if his amendments were addressed he'd be inclined to vote for the treaty. Clearly Senator DeMint's primary motive was to stall the process, and it's probably not the last we'll hear from him.
Next the treaty will find itself on the Senate floor, where it needs a two-thirds vote to be ratified. It's likely that New START will go to the floor right after the elections, but by then the voting dynamics on the floor will have changed and Republican confidence is likely to be boosted as the party inches closer to a majority. There is still reason to fear what could happen while New START is lying in wait during the election: more Republican obstructionism.
We have seen treaties like the Law of the Sea convention, CEDAW (the Women's treaty) and other make it though committee but not to the floor. So after five months of debate, hundreds of constituent calls into Senate offices, dozens of letters to the editors and op-eds, 21 hearings, more bipartisan experts than we can count, and an incredibly engaged White House, we have an SFRC vote in favor of START and the support of three key Republicans - a big victory for nuclear non proliferation. Will the same equation bring about the results we want for the floor vote?
Scoville Fellow Meg McDermott also contributed to this post.
With only a month and half remaining before a pivotal Election Day, CGS’s Global Solutions PAC continues to endorse candidates, both incumbents and challengers, whom we believe will be strong internationalist voices and valuable allies in the Senate and House of Representatives. Here are the latest endorsements for September:
Last week Senator Lugar got on C-SPAN and stated that "for the moment, this [New START treaty] is not a crucial situation," implying that a delayed vote wouldn’t really make a difference for American intelligence on Russian nukes. But a few weeks ago he told Washington Post reporter Mary Beth Sheridan that a delay in the ratification schedule for New START "is very serious and impacts our national security."
So which is it? As so many experts have pointed out, perhaps the most important selling point on New START is the fact that there haven’t been inspectors on the ground in Russian nuclear facilities in 270+ days. Senator Lugar embraced the idea, but now his tune has changed. It’s a surprising about-face, even if it’s a subtle one. Especially since it’s coming from Lugar - the Senate’s in-house nuclear disarmament expert and the voice of reason on New START.
Senator Lugar, in the C-SPAN interview, also said that the treaty probably won’t get to the floor for debate until after the elections. Although he expects his fellow Republicans to vote with him, it’s not clear that his comments did much to convince them to do so. Senator Lugar is downplaying the distinct, and dangerous, possibility that Republicans will use his statements as an exit ramp – an opportunity to move from being mildly disinterested in New START to opposing it.
This also provides political cover for Senators that want to stomp their feet about why they don’t like the treaty. Senator Corker’s recent op-ed is an example of just that. He tries to defend himself against accusations of holding the treaty hostage in the Senate. He goes on and on about the need for more money for modernization, but fails to mention that the Obama administration has already prepared adequately for modernization and has invested a whopping 80 billion over a ten year period to do just that.
Of course Senator Corker is using the issue of funding to demand 10 billion more in pork for modernization, which is really about shifting the focus away from the New START Treaty itself. The strong bi-partisan consensus in favor of the treaty is no match for Republican resistance to it, so they are doing their best to stall efforts to ratify the treaty prior to the November elections. And Senator Corker’s partner in crime in the stalling game, Senator Kyl, is at the same time very concerned about the budget deficit.
Counter to what Lugar says, this is a critical moment. With a committee coming up in less than two weeks, it seems almost certain that there won’t be a floor vote on New START until after the election. Letting the treaty hang out to dry during that contentious time won’t help, either. Here’s to hoping that the Senator Lugar from two weeks ago re-emerges and brings his fellow Senate Republicans with his. Because Senators on the right and the left need to remember what this treaty is about: keeping tabs on Russia’s nuclear capabilities. We simply can’t do that without New START.
President Obama, speaking from the Oval Office, told the nation (and the world) that it is time to "turn the page" now that U.S. combat operations have officially ended in Iraq. And while he talked about what we learned from the last "page," the President missed an important part of the Iraq war's lesson. If we learned anything in Iraq, it's that our nation is most successful when we work in close cooperation with other nations as opposed to going at it alone. Our greatest strength is when we convince nations to join together and play by a common set of rules that we are also willing to adhere to.
President Obama correctly told us that:
"...one of the lessons of our effort in Iraq is that American influence around the world is not a function of military force alone. We must use all elements of our power -including our diplomacy, our economic strength, and the power of America's example -to secure our interests and stand by our allies."
This is true, and I'm proud to here our President say this. But it's not just about "our power." During World War II, the U.S. initiated the creation of the United Nations system. The organization was built on a foundation of mutual security in response to a shared threat. In the Korean War, the U.S. participated with sixteen U.N. member states that provided troops under a United Nations Joint Command.
In early 2003, opposing the run up to the Iraq war, I wrote that while:
"...the evils of George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein are not in the same league ... what makes the two leaders equally problematic is that they both rely on national interest and national sovereignty to legitimize their use of military might and coercive force to achieve their aims. Both threaten to act outside of international law, thereby decreasing human security while increasing the potential of global warfare. ... Unfortunately, the Bush Administration's new preemptive policy of acting against 'emerging threats before they are fully formed' undermines the basic principles of the United Nations and collective security. "
President Bush's invasion of Iraq did indeed fan the flames of "global warfare." In Iraq, Afghanistan, parts of Africa, and around the world, religious fundamentalism now spawns violence that threatens the stability of all nations. President Obama identified "our fight against al Qaeda "as the U.S.'s greatest security challenge. He also said:
"Throughout our history, America has been willing to bear the burden of promoting liberty and human dignity overseas, understanding its link to our own liberty and security. "
But we don't and shouldn't have to bear the burden alone. This is the true lesson of the Iraq war. Looking forward, it's time to focus on how we can work to make the United Nations a more perfect tool to share this burden.
In Iraq and Afghanistan the U.N. has done an admirable job of supplying humanitarian aid and organizing elections. But there is an opportunity now to empower the organization with robust peacekeeping forces, including U.S. personnel, to assist Iraq and other nations as they strive to build peaceful societies.
The end of combat in Iraq does not mean the end to violence. Rather than engaging in a perhaps decades long deployment to backstop the Iraqis - as we are still doing in Germany and Japan after WWII and in Korea after that war - we should invest our energies into a UN system that can truly end the scourge of war. The UN was created to fight fascism. It then blocked the spread of communism. With U.S. support it could prevent fundamentalist-induced terrorism.
At the core of American ideals and international law is the belief that no group or nation should use violence to impose its will on others. We will have truly turned the page after Iraq if the United States' goal is a world where nations unite and work together to make this a reality.