Archive for the ‘Diplomacy’ Category

New Secretary Faces Fixing Under-Resourced State Department

November 15, 2008
On news that president-elect Barack Obama is considering Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of state, Fox News brought out Democratic strategist Bob Bechel this morning who asked, “What does Hillary really want to do?  Get more post offices for the finger lakes region of New York or, as Secretary of state, visit European capitols and China?” In my opinion, this is one of the key problems with the State Department.  The Secretary of State often enjoys being “diplomat and traveler in chief” but often ignores his or her role as a key department head of the U.S. government charged with actually managing the Department of State.  During Condoleezza Rice’s time this came to a head when several of State’s diplomats refused to go to assignments in “hot spots” like Iraq.  These “public servants” were mostly coddled and cajoled while U.S. military volunteers, who take the same oath of service as State’s employees, face discipline when they refuse orders or assignments.  The point is that the next Secretary of State will have to deal with Russia, Iran, Iraq, China, Pakistan the Middle East and a host of other ‘hot spots.”  He or she will have to also get and keep the State Department at Foggy Bottom in line, on track, and in order — or it will become foggier still….

 
Seal of the United States Department of State

 

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 15, 2008; Page A04

The next secretary of state not only will face the challenge of repairing the nation’s tattered image and grappling with an array of global crises and hot spots, but also must solve a problem closer to home: reforming an under-resourced State Department to handle its growing duties, such as rebuilding war-torn societies, coping with worldwide pandemics and working with other countries to curb global warming.

“In the last eight years, we have significantly reinvented and transformed every national security agency except the Department of State,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “Our core Foreign Service officers and aid officers are not large enough to play the role that’s been cast for them, nor do we have the training establishment to prepare them for their roles.”

Speculation swirled yesterday that President-elect Barack Obama might be ready to offer the secretary of state post to an instantly recognizable star, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). But other contenders apparently remain in the mix, including Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; and retiring GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.). And after watching a administration whose tenure was marked by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world appears ready for the nation’s new top diplomat — whomever it may be — to lead the reinvigorated diplomacy Obama has pledged to deliver.

“The next president and the next secretary come into office at a time when our economy is in recession, our military is tied down and our reputation is tarnished,” said Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “Diplomatic tools are arguably the one set of instruments that are available. It’s a natural moment for American diplomacy.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/14/AR2008111403505.html

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Obama Should Hire Hillary for International Role; Limit Biden

November 15, 2008

In the world of diplomacy, “bluring out the truth” is hardly an asset….

So the news that President-Elect Barack Obama is considering Hillary Clinton as a possible Secretary of State is delightful — showing real intellect and courage. 

While still Senator Obama,  the now future president was criticized for his lack of foreign policy experience.  So he hired as his vice presidential running mate the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a man with the reputation of a foreign policy and international affairs “expert.”

Yet sometimes, reputation doesn’t always mirror reality or facts.

Joe Biden also has a reputation for saying the wrong thing.  And he takes a lot of wind and time to say the wrong thing.  And even when he speaks the truth it is sometimes a truth that needn’t be mentioned or discussed.  Before the election when he said that some evil doer in the international community would create a crisis just to test the new president, there is no doubt that he believed that to be true.  But what did this utterance gain anyone?  I call this Joe Biden “blurting out the truth.”

In the world of diplomacy, “bluring out the truth” is hardly an asset….

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (L) greets Vice President-elect ... 
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (L) greets Vice President-elect Joe Biden at the Vice President’s residence in Washington November 13, 2008. Cheney, considered one of the most powerful vice presidents in U.S. history, welcomed Biden on Thursday for a tour of his new home to be.  It isn’t difficult to see why one might choose John Nance Garner’s “bucket of warm spit” over highly activists vice presidents….. REUTERS/Molly Riley

Hillary Clinton is well regarded in the world community and her husband is widely revered as a great president — especially in light of the last eight years many will tell you.  And now Bill Clinton is doing meritorious work on the international stage with his foundation.

Hillary would make a good Secretary of State and Barack Obama knows that.  I also have great hope that between Hillary and Barack there is enought knowledge and care for America that the two can agree to iolate Joe Biden from the international stage — especially when sensitive matters are involved.

And Hillary undoubtedly still wants Barack’s job after her rough and disappointing primary election effort….  She ran against Barack and could easlily do so again if left to her own (and Bill’s) devices.  Barack is, perhaps, taking a lesson from Abe Lincold who hired many of his foes believing “keep your friends close and your enemies closer….”

Commentator Charles Krauthammer referred to Joe Biden recently as “The Sage of Wilmington.”  Such pladitudes and more sincere sounding ones may be required in some numbers to soothe the ego of the future Vice President — but whatever it takes to keep him away from the leaders of the international community has to be done.

President-elect Barack Obama listens to Senator Hillary Clinton ... 
President-elect Barack Obama listens to Senator Hillary Clinton in Unity, New Hampshire, June 27, 2008.(Jim Young/Reuters)

Obama’s statement that there can only be one President of the United States at a time shows me that he also knows that there can only be one person in charge of U.S. foreign policy: the Secretary of State.

For that reason: Joe Biden will have to be carefully managed away from meddling in the international arena.  It may be more productive and safer to allow him to meddle in something else.

Joe Biden can fulful any number of very positive roles in the Barack Obama Administration: but on foreign affairs he is best sent only to overseas funerals and weddings.  And even then there is some risk he’ll “blurt out the truth” which will require apologies and regrets all around….
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Patrick Cox, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin wrote:

“When it comes to commentary about the office of vice president of the United States, no statement is more repeated than John Nance Garner’s observation that ‘the vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm spit.’”

Today our Vice Presidents seem to do a lot more than fill buckets with warm spit….  Maybe some of them should be handed the bucket that John “Cactus Jack” Garner spoke of….

John Nance Garner
John Nance Garner, Vice President of the United States,
(1933-41).

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I have many Joe Biden stories, some related to me and some created by my own witnessing to events.  I’ll just tell two which are really one: in 1972 or ’73, I watched Joe Biden leave a Senate meeting room.  As soon as he was gone his own staff erupted in laughter and stories about stupid things the new Senator had said.  About 30 years later I was trapped in an elevator with Senator Biden and some staff.  When he got out on his floor and the doors closed, the back stabbing and derision of 30 years before was again on display….

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
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 Clinton Among Top Picks At State

By Anne E. Kornblut and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 15, 2008; Page A01

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is among the top contenders to become secretary of state in Barack Obama‘s administration, officials familiar with the selection process said, part of what appears to be an effort by the incoming president to reach out to former rivals and consider unexpected moves as he assembles his Cabinet.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/
2008/11/14/AR2008111403863.html

Hillary Clinton For Secretary of State?

November 14, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is among the candidates that President-elect Barack Obama is considering for secretary of state, according to two Democratic officials in close contact with the Obama transition team.

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer

Clinton, the former first lady who pushed Obama hard for the Democratic presidential nomination, was rumored to be a contender for the job last week, but the talk died down as party activists questioned whether she was best-suited to be the nation’s top diplomat in an Obama administration.

In this Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 file photo, Sen. Hillary Rodham ...
In this Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 file photo, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton D-NY addresses the press after she voted in Chappaqua, NY. Clinton is among the candidates that President-elect Barack Obama is considering for secretary of state, according to two Democratic officials in close contact with the Obama transition team.(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

The talk resumed in Washington and elsewhere Thursday, a day after Obama named several former aides to President Bill Clinton to help run his transition effort.

The two Democratic officials who spoke Thursday did so on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering Obama and his staff. Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines referred questions to the Obama transition team, which said it had no comment.

Other people frequently mentioned for the State Department job are Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and New Mexico‘s Democratic governor, Bill Richardson.

Obama to Face Big Policy Decisions on Iran, N. Korea and Mideast

November 8, 2008

Stay on Bush path or chart a new course?

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 8, 2008; Page A04

President-elect Barack Obama stepped carefully yesterday when he was asked about the unusual letter of congratulations that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent him — the first time an Iranian leader has congratulated the victor of a U.S. presidential election since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

“I will be reviewing the letter from President Ahmadinejad, and we will respond appropriately,” he said, leaving open the question about whether he will reply. President Bush chose not to respond to a rambling 18-page letter he received from Ahmadinejad in 2006, but during the campaign Obama indicated he would be willing to meet with Iranian leaders.

“Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, I believe, is unacceptable,” Obama said yesterday. “And we have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening.”

Diplomatic issues rarely begin or end cleanly with a change of administrations, but Bush will be leaving his successor an extensive list of foreign policy processes. The new administration will have to quickly evaluate them and decide whether to continue along Bush’s path, make minor modifications or forge ahead in a different direction. Obama will inherit at least three foreign policy structures, built largely by Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, aimed at thwarting Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, eliminating North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

During the campaign, Obama issued a series of foreign policy pronouncements that often appeared designed not to box himself in. One prominent exception was a pledge to remove most U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of his inauguration. But in many cases, Obama appears to have left himself wiggle room on many issues that will confront him. During the campaign, in fact, internal briefing materials purposely focused on defining the challenges facing the next president, but did not detail possible policy options, advisers said.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/0
7/AR2008110703522.html?hpid=topnews

Senior China Diplomat Subject of Ridicule, Protest, Curses in Taiwan: Two People from Different Planets

November 6, 2008

He stepped off the plane with a mission: Make history by becoming the most senior Chinese official to visit Taiwan. Sign a landmark trade deal. Draw the wayward island closer to motherland China.

Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin did all those things during his trip that ends Friday. But his five-day visit also highlighted how — socially and politically — Taiwan and China are not merely like two separate countries. They are more like different planets.

While Chen hobnobbed with tycoons and officials on Taiwan’s banquet circuit, he was mocked by comedians, cursed by rowdy street protesters and scrutinized by the island’s aggressive media.

By WILLIAM FOREMAN, Associated Press Writer
.

China's top negotiator with Taiwan, Chen Yunlin, center, is ... 
China’s top negotiator with Taiwan, Chen Yunlin, center, is escorted by security to his waiting car after being forced to stay for some hours in the Regent Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan, early Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008. Chen was trapped in the hotel during a dinner meeting with ruling party leaders due to a raging protest of over a thousand pro-Taiwan supporters outside the hotel, denouncing his visit. Chen, chairman of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), is on a five-day visit to Taiwan.(AP Photo)

The press dubbed his Elvis-style pompadour hairdo “airplane head.” A newspaper headline asked, “Who knows how much hair gel he uses?”

A popular chant by street protesters who dogged him was, “Chen Yunlin scram!” They unfurled a huge banner from a window at his hotel that called him a “Communist bandit.” He was trapped in a banquet hall past midnight Wednesday by demonstrators who surrounded the venue and blocked traffic.

A nightly TV comedy show that features impersonations of political figures targeted him, too, with a comedian appearing as a stiff, poofy-haired Chen with two thuggish bodyguards at his side and mimicking the slow, stodgy way Chinese leaders speak.

Parody and protests are common in Taiwan’s raucous democracy. They wouldn’t be tolerated in Chen’s communist police state back home, just 100 miles on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. The nation’s top leaders must be respected — by everyone.

Despite the insults and mockery, Chen’s visit was remarkable because it would have been virtually impossible a year ago.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081106/ap_on_re_as/as_taiwan_china_envoy_28

McCain Major Foreign Policy Address

March 30, 2008

 March 27, 2008

Los Angeles (myfoxla.com)  —  The United States needs to work more closely with democratic nations and restore its image as a world power, Republican presidential candidate John McCain said today in downtown Los Angeles.
US. Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain is ... 
“We can’t build an enduring peace based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to,” McCain said during a breakfast meeting of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council at the Westin Bonaventure hotel.

“We have to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global compact — a league of Democracies — that can harness the vast influence of the more than 100 democratic nations around the world to advance our values and  defend our shared interests.”

In his speech — titled “U.S. Foreign Policy: Where We Go From Here” —  McCain also reiterated his stances that the United States cannot withdraw from Iraq, that torture of prisoners must stop and the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay must be closed.

“America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us as a model,” McCain said. “How we behave at home affects how we are perceived abroad. … We can’t torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured.”

McCain, who recently toured the Middle East and Europe, said the United States must do more to collaborate with democratic nations.

“The United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone,” the Arizona senator said.

“Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed,” he said. “We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies.

“… Leadership in today’s world means accepting and fulfilling our responsibilities as a great nation,” he said. “One of those responsibilities is to be a good and reliable ally to our fellow democracies.”

McCain’s comments were a departure of sorts from the Bush Administration, which has been criticized for employing a go-it-alone policy.

But McCain said again he would not advocate the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

“We have incurred a moral responsibility in Iraq. It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible and premature withdrawal,” McCain said.

Democratic candidates Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., have both pledged to gradually withdraw U.S. troops if elected.

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, criticized McCain’s speech as “empty rhetoric” that does nothing to distance him from the policies of President Bush.

“His new appreciation for diplomacy has no credibility after he mimicked President Bush’s misleading case for a unilateral war of choice when it mattered most,” Dean said. “Why should the American people now trust John McCain to offer anything more than four more years of President Bush’s reckless  economic policies and failed foreign policy?”

Foreign policy is considered an area of strength for the 71-year-old McCain, but today’s speech comes eight days after he made a high-profile gaffe.

In a news conference in Amman, Jordan, during a congressional fact- finding trip, McCain told reporters he continues to be concerned about Iranian authorities  “taking al-Qaida into Iran, training them and sending them back.”

When asked about that statement, McCain said, “Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaida is gong back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., then whispered to McCain, who said, “I’m sorry. The Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaida.”

Democrats pounced on McCain’s misstatement.

“Not only is McCain wrong on Iraq again, but the bigger problem is either that either he doesn’t understand the problems facing Iraq and basically  the whole Middle East or he’s willing to ignore the facts on the ground,” Luis Miranda, a deputy communications director with the Democratic National Committee, told City News Service.

“Whichever one of those two things it is, it’s just not worthy of inspiring trust.”
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McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rodgers told The New York Times last week that “John McCain misspoke and immediately corrected himself by stating that Iran is, in fact, supporting radical Islamic extremists in Iraq, not al- Qaida — as is reflected in the transcript.

“The reality is that the American people have deep concerns about the Democratic candidates’ judgment and readiness on matters of national security and that’s why the DNC launched their attack.”
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 Text of U.S. Senator John McCain’s remarks at the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles, California:


tion

When I was five years old, a car pulled up in front of our house in New London, Connecticut, and a Navy officer rolled down the window, and shouted at my father that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.  My father immediately left for the submarine base where he was stationed.  I rarely saw him again for four years.  My grandfather, who commanded the fast carrier task force under Admiral Halsey, came home from the war exhausted from the burdens he had borne, and died the next day. 

In Vietnam, where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home to the country they loved so well.  I detest war.  It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description.  When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue.  The lives of a nation’s finest patriots are sacrificed.

Innocent people suffer and die. Commerce is disrupted; econom ies are damaged; strategic interests shielded by years of patient statecraft are endangered as the exigencies of war and diplomacy conflict. Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war.  

Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly.  Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war.  However heady the appeal of a call to arms, however just the cause, we should still shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us. I am an idealist, and I believe it is possible in our time to make the world we live in another, better, more peaceful place, where our interests and those of our allies are more secure, and American ideals that are transforming the world, the principles of free people and free markets, advance even farther than they have.  But I am, from hard experience and the judgment it informs, a realistic idealist. I know we must work very hard and very creatively to build new foundations for a stable and enduring peace. 

We cannot wish the world to be a better place than it is.  We have enemies for whom no attack is too cruel, and no innocent life safe, and who would, if they could, strike us with the world’s most terrible weapons.  There are states that support them, and which might help them acquire those weapons because they share with terrorists the same animating hatred for the West, and will not be placated by fresh appeals to the better angels of their nat ure.  This is the central threat of our time, and we must understand the implications of our decisions on all manner of regional and global challenges could have for our success in defeating it.

President Harry Truman once said of America, “God has created us and brought us to our present position of power and strength for some great purpose.”  In his time, that purpose was to contain Communism and build the structures of peace and prosperity that could provide safe passage through the Cold War.  Now it is our turn. 

We face a new set of opportunities, and also new dangers.  The developments of science and technology have brought us untold prosperity, eradicated disease, and reduced the suffering of millions.  We have a chance in our lifetime to raise the world to a new standard of human existence.  Yet these same technologies have produced grave new risks, arming a few zealots with the ability to murder millions of innocents, and producing a global industrialization that can in time threaten our planet.

To meet this challenge requires understanding the world we live in, and the central role the United States must play in shaping it for the future.  The United States must lead in the 21st century, just as in Truman’s day.  But leadership today means something different than it did in the years after World War II, when Europe and the other democracies were still recovering from the devastation of war and the United States was the only democratic superpower.  Today we are not alone.  There is the powerful collective voice of the European Union, and there are the great nations of India and Japan, Australia and Brazil, South Korea and South Africa, Turkey and Israel, to name just a few of the leading democracies.  There are also the increasingly powerful nations of China and Russia that wield great influence in the international system.

In such a world, where power of all kinds is more widely and evenly distributed, the United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone.  We must be strong politically, economically, and militarily.  But we must also lead by attracting others to our cause, by demonstrating once again the virtues of freedom and democracy, by defending the rules of international civilized society and by creating the new international institutions necessary to advance the peace and freedoms we cherish.  Perhaps above all, leadership in today’s world means accepting and fulfilling our responsibilities as a great nation.

One of those responsibilities is to be a good and reliable ally to our fellow democracies.  We cannot build an enduring peace based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to.  We have to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global compact — a League of Democracies — that can harness the vast influence of the more than one hundred democratic nations around the world to advance our values and defend our shared interests. 

At the heart of this new compact must be mutual respect and trust.  Recall the words of our founders in the Declaration of Independence, that we pay “decent respect to the opinions of mankind.”  Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed.  We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies.  When we believe international action is necessary, whether military, economic, or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right.  But we, in return, must be willing to be persuaded by them. 

America must be a model citizen if we want others to look to us as a model.  How we behave at home affects how we are perceived abroad.  We must fight the terrorists and at the same time defend the rights that are the foundation of our society.  We can’t torture or treat inhumanely suspected terrorists we have captured.  I believe we should close Guantanamo and work with our allies to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of dangerous detainees under our control.

There is such a thing as international good citizenship.  We need to be good stewards of our planet and join with other nations to help preserve our common home.  The risks of global warming have no borders.  We and the other nations of the world must get serious about substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years or we will hand off a much-diminished world to our grandchildren.  We need a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner.  We Americans must lead by example and encourage the participation of the rest of the world, including most importantly, the developing economic powerhouses of China and India. 

Four and a half decades ago, John Kennedy described the people of Latin America as our “firm and ancient friends, united by history and experience and by our determination to advance the values of American civilization.”  With globalization, our hemisphere has grown closer, more integrated, and more interdependent.  Latin America today is increasingly vital to the fortunes of the United States. Americans north and south share a common geography and a common destiny.  The countries of Latin America are the natural partners of the United States, and our northern neighbor Canada.

Relations with our southern neighbors must be governed by mutual respect, not by an imperial impulse or by anti-American demagoguery.  The promise of North, Central, and South American life is too great for that.  I believe the Americas can and must be the model for a new 21st century relationship between North and South.  Ours can be the first completely democratic hemisphere, where trade is free across all borders, where the rule of law and the power of free markets advance the security and prosperity of all.

Power in the world today is moving east; the Asia-Pacific region is on the rise.  Together with our democratic partner of many decades, Japan, we can grasp the opportunities present in the unfolding world and this century can become safe — both American and Asian, both prosperous and free.  Asia has made enormous strides in recent decades. Its economic achievements are well known; less known is that more people live under democratic rule in Asia than in any other region of the world.

Dealing with a rising China will be a central challenge for the next American president.  Recent prosperity in China has brought more people out of poverty faster than during any other time in human history.  China’s newfound power implies responsibilities.  China could bolster its claim that it is “peacefully rising” by being more transparent about its significant military buildup, by working with the world to isolate pariah states such as Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe, and by ceasing its efforts to establish regional forums and economic arrangements designed to exclude America from Asia. 

China and the United States are not destined to be adversaries.  We have numerous overlapping interests and hope to see our relationship evolve in a manner that benefits both countries and, in turn, the Asia-Pacific region and the world.  But until China moves toward political liberalization, our relationship will be based on periodically shared interests rather than the bedrock of shared values. 

The United States did not single-handedly win the Cold War; the transatlantic alliance did, in concert with partners around the world.  The bonds we share with Europe in terms of history, values, and interests are unique.  Americans should welcome the rise of a strong, confident European Union as we continue to support a strong NATO.  The future of the transatlantic relationship lies in confronting the challenges of the twenty-first century worldwide: developing a common energy policy, creating a transatlantic common market tying our economies more closely together, addressing the dangers posed by a revanchist Russia, and institutionalizing our cooperation on issues such as climate change, foreign assistance, and democracy promotion.

We should start by ensuring that the G-8, the group of eight highly industrialized states, becomes again a club of leading market democracies: it should include Brazil and India but exclude Russia.  Rather than tolerate Russia’s nuclear blackmail or cyber attacks, Western nations should make clear that the solidarity of NATO, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, is indivisible and that the organization’s doors remain open to all democracies committed to the defense of freedom.

While Africa’s problems — poverty, corruption, disease, and instability — are well known, we must refocus on the bright promise offered by many countries on that continent.  We must strongly engage on a political, economic, and security level with friendly governments across Africa, but insist on improvements in transparency and the rule of law.  Many African nations will not reach their true potential without external assistance to combat entrenched problems, such as HIV/AIDS, that afflict Africans disproportionately.  I will establish the goal of eradicating malaria on the continent — the number one killer of African children under the age of five.  In addition to saving millions of lives in the world’s poorest regions, such a campaign would do much to add luster to America’s image in the world.

We also share an obligation with the world’s other great powers to halt and reverse the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  The United States and the international community must work together and do all in our power to contain and reverse North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and to prevent Iran — a nation whose President has repeatedly expressed a desire to wipe Israel from the face of the earth — from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  We should work to reduce nuclear arsenals all around the world, starting with our own.  Forty years ago, the five declared nuclear powers came together in support of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and pledged to end the arms race and move toward nuclear disarmament.  The time has come to renew that commitment.  We do not need all the weapons currently in our arsenal.  The United States should lead a global effort at nuclear disarmament consistent with our vital interests and the cause of peace.

If we are successful in pulling together a global coalition for peace and freedom — if we lead by shouldering our international responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future for humanity, I believe we will gain tangible benefits as a nation. 

It will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.  This challenge is transcendent not because it is the only one we face.  There are many dangers in today’s world, and our foreign policy must be agile and effective at dealing with all of them.  But the threat posed by the terrorists is unique.  They alone devote all their energies and indeed their very lives to murdering innocent men, women, and children.  They alone seek nuclear weapons and other tools of mass destruction not to defend themselves or to enhance their prestige or to give them a stronger hand in world affairs but to use against us wherever and whenever they can.  Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House, for he or she does not take seriously enough the first and most basic duty a president has — to protect the lives of the American people.< /P>

We learned through the tragic experience of September 11 that passive defense alone cannot protect us.  We must protect our borders.  But we must also have an aggressive strategy of confronting and rooting out the terrorists wherever they seek to operate, and deny them bases in failed or failing states.  Today al Qaeda and other terrorist networks operate across the globe, seeking out opportunities in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Africa, and in the Middle East.

Prevailing in this struggle will require far more than military force.  It will require the use of all elements of our national power: public diplomacy; development assistance; law enforcement training; expansion of economic opportunity; and robust intelligence capabilities.  I have called for major changes in how our government faces the challenge of radical Islamic extremism by much greater resources for and integration of civilian efforts to prevent conflict and to address post-conflict challenges.  Our goal must be to win the “hearts and minds” of the vast majority of moderate Muslims who do not want their future controlled by a minority of violent extremists.  In this struggle, scholarships will be far more important than smart bombs.

We also need to build the international structures for a durable peace in which the radical extremists are gradually eclipsed by the more powerful forces of freedom and tolerance.  Our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are critical in this respect and cannot be viewed in isolation from our broader strategy.  In the troubled and often dangerous region they occupy, these two nations can either be sources of extremism and instability or they can in time become pillars of stability, tolerance, and democracy.  

For decades in the greater Middle East, we had a strategy of relying on autocrats to provide order and stability.  We relied on the Shah of Iran, the autocratic rulers of Egypt, the generals of Pakistan, the Saudi royal family, and even, for a time, on Saddam Hussein.  In the late 1970s that strategy began to unravel.  The Shah was overthrown by the radical Islamic revolution that now rules in Tehran.  The ensuing ferment in the Muslim world produced increasing instability.  The autocrats clamped down with ever greater repression, while also surreptitiously aiding Islamic radicalism abroad in the hopes that they would not become its victims.  It was a toxic and explosive mixture.  The oppression of the autocrats blended with the radical Islamists’ dogmatic theology to produce a perfect storm of intolerance and hatred. 

We can no longer delude ourselves that relying on these out-dated autocracies is the safest bet.  They no longer provide lasting stability, only the illusion of it.  We must not act rashly or demand change overnight.  But neither can we pretend the status quo is sustainable, stable, or in our interests.  Change is occurring whether we want it or not.  The only question for us is whether we shape this change in ways that benefit humanity or let our enemies seize it for their hateful purposes.  We must help expand the power and reach of freedom, using all our many strengths as a free people.  This is not just idealism.  It is the truest kind of realism.  It is the democracies of the world that will provide the pillars upon which we can and must build an enduring peace.

If you look at the great arc that extends from the Middle East through Central Asia and the Asian subcontinent all the way to Southeast Asia, you can see those pillars of democracy stretching across the entire expanse, from Turkey and Israel to India and Indonesia.  Iraq and Afghanistan lie at the heart of that region.  And whether they eventually become stable democracies themselves, or are allowed to sink back into chaos and extremism, will determine not only the fate of that critical part of the world, but our fate, as well.  

That is the broad strategic perspective through which to view our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Many people ask, how should we define success?  Success in Iraq and Afghanistan is the establishment of peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic states that pose no threat to neighbors and contribute to the defeat of terrorists.  It is the triumph of religious tolerance over violent radicalism. 

Those who argue that our goals in Iraq are unachievable are wrong, just as they were wrong a year ago when they declared the war in Iraq already lost.  Since June 2007 sectarian and ethnic violence in Iraq has been reduced by 90 percent.  Overall civilian deaths have been reduced by more than 70 percent.  Deaths of coalition forces have fallen by 70 percent.  The dramatic reduction in violence has opened the way for a return to something approaching normal political and economic life for the average Iraqi.  People are going back to work.  Markets are open.  Oil revenues are climbing.  Inflation is down.  Iraq’s economy is expected to grown by roughly 7 percent in 2008.  Political reconciliation is occurring across Iraq at the local and provincial grassroots level.  Sunni and Shi’a chased from their homes by terrorist and sectarian violence are returning.  Political progress at the national level has been far too s low, but there is progress. 

Critics say that the “surge” of troops isn’t a solution in itself, that we must make progress toward Iraqi self-sufficiency.  I agree.  Iraqis themselves must increasingly take responsibility for their own security, and they must become responsible political actors.  It does not follow from this, however, that we should now recklessly retreat from Iraq regardless of the consequences.  We must take the course of prudence and responsibility, and help Iraqis move closer to the day when they no longer need our help.

That is the route of responsible statesmanship.  We have incurred a moral responsibility in Iraq.  It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature withdrawal.  Our critics say America needs to repair its image in the world.  How can they argue at the same time for the morally reprehensible abandonment of our responsibilities in Iraq?

Those who claim we should withdraw from Iraq in order to fight Al Qaeda more effectively elsewhere are making a dangerous mistake.  Whether they were there before is immaterial, al Qaeda is in Iraq now, as it is in the borderlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Somalia, and in Indonesia.  If we withdraw prematurely from Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq will survive, proclaim victory and continue to provoke sectarian tensions that, while they have been subdued by the success of the surge, still exist, as various factions of Sunni and Shi’a have yet to move beyond their ancient hatreds, and are ripe for provocation by al Qaeda.  Civil war in Iraq could easily descend into genocide, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions.  I believe a reckless and premature withdrawal would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our values.  Iran will also view our premature withdrawal as a victory, a nd the biggest state supporter of terrorists, a country with nuclear ambitions and a stated desire to destroy the State of Israel, will see its influence in the Middle East grow significantly.  These consequences of our defeat would threaten us for years, and those who argue for it, as both Democratic candidates do, are arguing for a course that would eventually draw us into a wider and more difficult war that would entail far greater dangers and sacrifices than we have suffered to date. I do not argue against withdrawal, any more than I argued several years ago for the change in tactics and additional forces that are now succeeding in Iraq, because I am somehow indifferent to war and the suffering it inflicts on too many American families.  I hold my position because I hate war, and I know very well and very personally how grievous its wages are.  But I know, too, that we must sometimes pay those wages to avoid paying even higher ones later.

I run for President because I want to keep the country I love and have served all my life safe, and to rise to the challenges of our times, as generations before us rose to theirs.  I run for President because I know it is incumbent on America, more than any other nation on earth, to lead in building the foundations for a stable and enduring peace, a peace built on the strength of our commitment to it, on the transformative ideals on which we were founded, on our ability to see around the corner of history, and on our courage and wisdom to make hard choices.  I run because I believe, as strongly as I ever have, that it is within our power to make in our time another, better world than we inherited.

Thank you.

Bush facing resistance to NATO expansion

March 30, 2008
By DESMOND BUTLER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Ahead of this week’s NATO summit, President Bush has told alliance members he wants to expand the organization to include three Balkan countries and put Ukraine and Georgia on track for membership.
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Bush probably will get some of what he wants at the meetings Tuesday through Thursday in Bucharest, Romania. But with only nine months left in his term, Bush may find his ability diminished to persuade European leaders, just as it is with Congress. That is a reflection of the president’s low public approval ratings and the anticipation of a new administration that will set policy.

European leaders know the new president could shift course on NATO. For that reason, they may seek to put aside some decision, including commitments to Ukraine and Georgia, until after Bush leaves office in January.

“I think this NATO summit is basically the ‘Goodbye George’ summit,” said Daniel Hamilton, Director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. “A lot of the energy is looking beyond the administration.”

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President Bush and  Russian President Vladimir Putin embrace ... 
President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin embrace following a media conference at the G8 summit site in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, July 15, 2006. Bush is beginning his farewell tour on the world stage trailed by questions about how much clout he still wields. Unpopular abroad, as he is at home, Bush nevertheless has been a commanding presence among world leaders for the past seven years. Now, with fewer than 300 days left in his term, other presidents and prime ministers are looking beyond Bush to see who will occupy his chair a year from now. Bush will meet with Putin next week in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) 
 

North Korea Test-Fires Missiles In Ongoing Show of Truculence

March 29, 2008

 By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, March 29, 2008; Page A09

TOKYO, March 28 — North Korea test-fired a volley of missiles into the sea Friday and warned that it may stop disabling its nuclear facilities unless the United States drops its demands for more details about the North’s nuclear arsenal.

Missiles are carried during a massive military parade in Pyongyang, ... 
Missiles are carried during a massive military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this file image made from television April 25, 2007 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army. North Korea has test-fired several short-range missiles off its western coast, a news report said Friday, March 28, 2008.
(AP Photo/APTN, File)

The missile launch and the combative warning — which accused the Bush administration of “persistently trying to cook up fictions” — came one day after the North expelled 11 South Korean officials from an industrial park north of the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas.

South Korea downplayed the missile firings, characterizing them as part of a routine military exercise. “We believe the North does not want a deterioration of relations between South and North,” a government spokesman said Friday.

Still, three truculent actions in two days suggest that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, after a relatively placid stretch of cooperative diplomacy, is feeling increasingly peeved by demands from the United States and South Korea.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/27/AR2008032704075.html

Russia foresees new problems with the West

March 18, 2008

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The West may face new diplomatic problems with resurgent Russia because of European and U.S. efforts to stifle Moscow‘s influence, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in an annual review on Tuesday.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates (L), US Secretary of State ...
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates (L), US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (C) and Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov hold a press conference after talks in Moscow. The United States and Russia failed in talks here Tuesday to bridge gaps over US missile defence plans and the fate of the main strategic arms treaty, but vowed to make a clean break with past tensions.(AFP/Pool/Kevin Lamarque)

“The events of 2007 show that one cannot exclude problems in global politics in the period to come,” said the document posted on the ministry Web site (www.mid.ru). “This primarily refers to Europe where the inertia of bloc approaches…is most visible.”

Last year saw tough anti-Western rhetoric coming from the Kremlin as it prepared for a transfer of power from President Vladimir Putin to his handpicked successor Dmitry Medvedev, who takes office on May 7 after winning this month’s election.

Russia has clashed with the United States over Washington’s plans to deploy elements of its missile defense system in Europe, over Iran and Western recognition of independence for Serbia‘s breakaway province of Kosovo.

Echoing earlier statements by Putin, the review criticized U.S. policy as “destructive … aimed at breaking strategic stability, imposing its military superiority in the world.”

It also criticized the European Union for what is viewed in Moscow as an attempt to restrict Russia’s influence.

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Change from within in Iran?

March 14, 2008

USA Today
Commentary

The dangers posed by Iran can hardly be ignored. Tehran continues to enrich uranium and could restart its nuclear weapons program at any time. It has been undeterred by sanctions. Its virulently anti-American president has called for the destruction of Israel and supports Middle East terrorism. Its regional influence is growing — in part because it is no longer held in check by one-time ene
my Saddam Hussein. The United States has accused it of being behind attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.

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