STATEMENTS IN FAVOR OF THE IRAN NUCLEAR AGREEMENT

Dear Readers,

We are now entering a season of debates about the Iranian nuclear agreement which has already had considerable push-back among the Republicans in Congress, many presidential candidates and the usual; suspects in the media. What has been missing is full coverage of the views of the most expert individuals with either deep knowledge of nuclear issues or those who have a long history and career of foreign affairs and the Middle East region as well as non-proliferation and strategic issues. I think the quotes below indicate a wide range of the top experts. We have posted the full statement of the 100 plus former ambassadors and high level officials who have endorsed the agreement.  My views are found elsewhere on this blog but we welcome your comments on this issue.

 

A special thanks goes to my National Security intern Allison Gerns who complied this excellent list. Please pass it on to others.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–Letter from the American Ambassadors

“If properly implemented, this comprehensive and rigorously negotiated agreement can be an effective instrument in arresting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the volatile and vitally important region of the Middle East.”

“We believe that without it, the risks to the security of the United States and our friends and allies would be far greater.”

“Deserves congressional support and the opportunity to show it can work.”

Click here to read the entire letter.

Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle East studies at The London School of Economics

“It’s a good day for diplomacy, it’s a good day for compromise, it’s a good day for a new beginning between Iran — a pivotal state in the Middle East — and the United States.”

Hillary Clinton

“This agreement can make the United States, Israel and our Arab partners safer.”

Ban Ki-Moon

“I know that an immense amount of work went into this and I admire the determination and the commitment of the negotiators as well as the courage of the leaders who approved the deal that was so painstakingly worked out by their teams in Vienna and elsewhere.”

 “I hope, and indeed believe, that this agreement will lead to greater mutual understanding and cooperation on the many serious security challenges in the Middle East.”

Director General of the IAEA

“I welcome this agreement which will facilitate the IAEA’s further verification work in Iran.”

Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg


“This agreement represents a historic breakthrough which, once fully implemented, will strengthen international security.” 

French President Francois Hollande

“It’s a very important deal that was signed overnight, the world is making headway.”

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

“We hope, and expect, that this agreement will herald a step-change in Iran’s relations with its neighbors and with the international community.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

“actively participating in the practical steps for the realizations of the agreement.” 

“without a doubt will play an important role in ensuring non-proliferation in general”

“make the situation in the Middle East healthier.” 
“A Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action consisting of the main document and five technical and totally specific annexes has been coordinated, and a draft resolution of the Security Council which all negotiating parties will submit for consideration by the UN Security Council as co-authors has been coordinated too.” 

 Joint Statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

“With courage, political will, mutual respect and leadership, we delivered on what the world was hoping for: a shared commitment to peace and to join hands in order to make our world safer. This is an historic day also because we are creating the conditions for building trust and opening a new chapter in our relationship.”

“This achievement is the result of a collective effort.”

“We have always been aware we had a responsibility to our generation and the future ones.”

“We know that this agreement will be subject to intense scrutiny. But what we are announcing today is not only a deal but a good deal. And a good deal for all sides – and the wider international community.”

“We call on the world community to support the implementation of this historic effort.”

“This is the conclusion of our negotiations, but this is not the end of our common work. We will keep doing this important task together.”

President Obama

“I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”

“We have cut off every pathway for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.”

“Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region. Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon.”

“This deal meets every single one of the bottom lines that we established when we achieved a framework earlier this spring.”

“Without this deal, there is no scenario where the world joins us in sanctioning Iran until it completely dismantles its nuclear program.”

“I strongly believe that our national security interest now depends upon preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — which means that without a diplomatic resolution, either I or a future U.S. president would face a decision about whether or not to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon or whether to use our military to stop it. Put simply, no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East.”

“I am confident that this deal will meet at the national security interest of the United States and our allies.”

“History shows that America must lead, not just with our might, but with our principles. It shows we are stronger not when we are alone but when we bring the world together. Today’s announcement marks one more chapter in this pursuit of a safer and more helpful, more hopeful world.” (White House, July 14, 2015)

Secretary Kerry

“Iran will not produce or acquire highly enriched uranium or plutonium for at least 15 years.”

“The real fear of that region should be that you don’t have the deal.” 

 “Now they’ve done more than just come to negotiations; they’ve actually negotiated a deal. And three of the seven nations thought they shouldn’t, therefore, be held to any kind of restraint. We prevailed and insisted, no, they have to be.”

 “The simple reality is that if you’re going to push back against Iran it is better to push back against an Iran that doesn’t have a nuclear weapon rather than one that does.”

 “The same way that Ronald Reagan negotiated with the Soviet Union, and the same way that Richard Nixon negotiated with what we then called Red China, we have now negotiated with somebody who took our embassy over, took hostages, killed Americans, many of the things you hear people say, supported terrorism but what we need to recognize is that an Iran that we want to stop the behavior of with a nuclear weapon is a very different Iran than an Iran without a nuclear weapon.”

President Vladimir Putin

“We are satisfied that the solution found is based on the principle of phasing and mutuality, which our country has been consistently supporting at every stage of these complicated negotiations.”

Jeffrey Lewis, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies

“If you want to give the international community decent tools to reduce the chances of Iran getting a nuclear weapon, it’s a great deal.”

Robert Einhorn, senior fellow with the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at the Brookings Institution

“The day [Obama] walked in . . . Iran was already a nuclear threshold state. Full rollback, to zero centrifuges, was not a realistic or obtainable objective.” 

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

“We are better off forever in terms of Iranian nuclear activity under this agreement than we would be without it.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

“[It’s] a good product –– not only better than the status quo, not only the best possible option, but a strong, effective … proposal for keeping the peace and stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

Dianne Feinstein

“This is our one opportunity.”

Arms Control Association

 “The agreement will establish long-term, verifiable restrictions on Iran’s sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities… If Congress somehow blocks implementation of this hard-won, balanced and effective multilateral deal, the United States will have broken from its European allies, the necessary international support for Iran-related sanctions would melt away, Iran would be able to rapidly and significantly expand its capacity to produce bomb-grade material; we would lose out on securing enhanced inspections needed to detect a clandestine weapons effort. The risk of a nuclear-armed Iran would thereby increase.”

60 National Security Leaders, including Madeleine Albright, Fmr. Secretary of State; Samuel Berger, Fmr. National Security Advisor; William Perry; Fmr. Secretary of Defense; Admiral Eric Olson (ret.), Fmr. Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; Amb. Edward J. Walker, Jr. (ret.), Amb. to Israel, Egypt, and UAE

“We applaud the announcement that a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has been reached with Iran to limit its nuclear program. We congratulate President Obama and all the negotiators for a landmark agreement unprecedented in its importance for preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran. Though primarily a nonproliferation agreement, the JCPOA has significant implications for some of America’s most important national objectives: regional stability in the Middle East, Israel’s security, dealing with an untrustworthy and hostile nation, and U.S. leadership on major global challenges.”

Barry Blechman, The Stimson Center

“This is an historic agreement which stops Iran’s nuclear program in its tracks for at least ten years, and probably for many more. It includes all necessary technical measures to ensure that Iran is complying with its commitments, provides sanctions relief only as those commitments are demonstrated, and will make the U.S. and its friends in the region far more secure than they would be in any other scenario.”

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

“The international community has delivered a historic deal with Iran. A deal which secures our fundamental aim – to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon – and that will help to make our world a safer place.”

Roger Cohen, The New York Times

“If implemented, the agreement constitutes the most remarkable American diplomatic achievement since the Dayton Accords put an end to the Bosnian war two decades ago. It increases the distance between Iran and a bomb as it reduces the distance between Iran and the world. It makes the Middle East less dangerous by forestalling proliferation.”

Matthew Duss, Foundation for Middle East Peace

“The historic nuclear deal announced Tuesday in Vienna between the U.S. and its P5+1 partners and Iran demonstrates an alternative vision of the use of American power. It shows that our security and the security of our partners can be effectively advanced through multilateral diplomacy, and proves once again the importance of U.S. global leadership in addressing shared problems. The Vienna agreement is a victory for a better vision of foreign policy.”

Philip Hammond, U.K. Foreign Secretary

“After more than a decade of tough negotiations we have reached an historic agreement that will impose strict limits and inspections on Iran’s nuclear programme. Having reached this important agreement, our focus will now be on its swift and full implementation to make sure that a nuclear weapon remains beyond Iran’s reach. We hope, and expect, that this agreement will herald a step-change in Iran’s relations with its neighbours and with the international community.”

“We wouldn’t have agreed to the deal unless we were sure that it had robust measures in place to deliver effective oversight on Iran’s nuclear program. This is the best and maybe to only way to build the trust that will allow a dialogue on the many other issues we have in Iran”

William Hartung, Center for International Policy

“The historic Iran nuclear deal is a positive development in its own right. This is a huge step away from the ill-considered calls for military action against Iran that have emanated from U.S. neoconservatives. It’s good for America, good for Iran, and good for the region.”

Joe Klein, TIME

“Yes, the Iran deal is risky. But we have been taking all sorts of bellicose risks since Sept. 11, 2001. Almost all of our military ventures have failed. So many lives have been lost. It’s time, finally, to take a risk for peace.”

Michael Krepon, The Stimson Center

“This agreement significantly reduces Iran’s capacity to build nuclear weapons for ten years or more. It contains effective monitoring provisions. It is far better than any of the alternatives before us. A divide over this agreement, mostly along partisan lines, and repeated attempts to block its implementation will diminish U.S. leadership, destabilize the Middle East, place even greater burdens on U.S. military forces and weaken the U.S. Treasury. Friends and allies of the United States in Europe and the Pacific need to know that they can trust in U.S. executive agreements. Friends in the Middle East need a bipartisan plan to address their concerns about Iran. Congress voted to rid Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. Will it now vote against an agreement that verifiably limits Iran’s all-too-real nuclear capabilities?”

“A ‘nay’ vote by Republicans against the Iran deal can have grave consequences even if they cannot override a presidential veto. Division, mostly along party lines, is never cost-free on national security issues. If Republicans block implementation of this agreement, Tehran will be off the hook. The United States and its friends and allies will then face the worst of both worlds: an Iran that is under no obligations to limit its nuclear capabilities and that welcomes foreign investment.”

Ellen Laipson, President and CEO of Stimson

“Diplomacy – the long and hard slog of it – is one of the victors here. A negotiated agreement to change Iran’s policy and practice on issues with great regional security consequence could set a precedent for problem solving in a region where the resort to force is the default position. To make this agreement a truly lasting contribution to regional peace, all parties will need to support its implementation and Iran in particular could signal to its neighbors that it is willing to address other causes of tension and insecurity.”

Susan Rice, National Security Advisor

“We have complete ability on our own to go into the Security Council with evidence of a violation after a process and snap those sanctions back into place. [The verification time] is more than an adequate time and we shouldn’t be worried.”

Alex Vatanka, Middle East Institute

“The Iranian public is very optimistic and hopeful that the painful economic sanctions will soon begin to be rolled back. The United States, for its part, has succeeded in finding a diplomatic path forward.”

Sen. Chris Murphy

“The best way to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is through diplomacy, not war. At a time when the Middle East is awash in crippling violence, we have an opportunity to address one of the most dangerous threats to the United States and the region through a negotiation, and I congratulate President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and their team for the agreement that was reached today.”

Atlantic Council

“The Iran Task Force of the Atlantic Council supports the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) announced in Vienna this week and applauds the bold intent and intense efforts of President Barack Obama and his team of diplomats and scientists who worked so hard to bring it to fruition. At the same time we support the JCPOA, we believe it is necessary to view the agreement with a clear-eyed, realistic perspective, wishing for the best outcome but also being prepared for less-favorable scenarios given past Iranian conduct. We hope that our colleagues in Congress will share this objective with a non-partisan appraisal of the agreement. This agreement is better than the alternatives if the JCPOA is rejected.” 

National Iranian American Council

“With a nuclear deal in hand, we who urged that the U.S. and Iran must give diplomacy a chance have been proven right. Peace was possible, provided that the right policies were adopted and backed with sufficient political will. Make no mistake: if Congress rejects this good deal with Iran, there will be no better deal forthcoming and Congress will be left owning an unnecessary war.” 

Ami Ayalon, Fmr. Director of Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security service)

“Reaching the agreement wasn’t a mistake. It is the best of the available options, even though it strengthens Iran as a troublemaker.” 

Hans Blix, Fmr. Head of the IAEA

“I think it is a remarkably far-reaching and detailed agreement. And I think it has a potential for stabilizing and improving the situation in the region as it gradually gets implemented. The alternative mind you, as Obama says, the alternative really is toward war.” 

Chuck Freilich, Harvard Kennedy School

“[The deal] is a compromise agreement that postpones an existential threat to Israel, opens the possibility for a strategic change in the Middle East and strengthens Israel’s security.” 

Leslie H. Gelb, Council on Foreign Relations

“As for the heart of the nuclear agreement— for certain it is not perfect, but it does represent clear steps forward in holding Tehran to account on its nuclear efforts. All provisions regarding developing uranium or plutonium hold Iran way below where it is at present and where it’s been headed.” 

Philip Gordon, Council on Foreign Relations 

“A bipartisan group of experts and distinguished former U.S. officials, including some of my former colleagues from the administration’s Iran team, put forward a similar list. It will be interesting to see whether the signatories of the Washington Institute letter conclude the outcome in Vienna meets the necessary bar. On balance I think it does.”

Efraim Halevy, Fmr. head of the Israeli National Security Council

“Without an agreement, Iran will be free to do as it pleases, while the sanctions regime will anyway crumble, as many of the world’s countries will rush to Tehran to sign profitable contracts. Iran made concessions in a series of critical matters. A moment before we storm Capitol Hill, led by the Israeli ambassador to Washington, it’s important to hold a profound debate in Israel on whether no agreement is preferable to an agreement which includes components that are crucial for Israel’s security. There will be no other agreement and no other negotiations. What is better, a signed agreement or no agreement?” 

Aaron David Miller, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 

“There’s no question the Obama administration got what it wanted out of this deal: a slower, smaller Iranian nuclear program more easily monitored and constrained for at least a decade. No chance now of a pre-emptive Israeli strike, and no need for an American one. For now, a putative nuclear crisis has been defused and kicked down the road.” 

Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

“[The deal gives Iran] an opportunity to prove to the world that it intends to pursue a nuclear program solely for peaceful purposes. If Iran seizes that opportunity … then it will find the international community and the United States willing to provide a path out of isolation and toward greater engagement.”

Senator Dick Durbin

“The agreement before us is a comprehensive solution.” 

“Given a choice between the invasion of Iran or working in a diplomatic fashion toward a negotiation so that we can lessen this threat to the world, I think President Obama made the right choice.”
“There are critics, we’ve heard a lot of them in the Senate, but there isn’t a single critic that’s stepped up with a better idea.” 

LOOKING TOWARDS AND BEYOND 2015: THE HARD STRATEGY AND DECISIONS IN A DETERIORATING WORLD

President Obama defending U.S Foreign Policy at West Point.
President Obama defending U.S Foreign Policy at West Point.

By: Harry C. Blaney III

In a world that increasingly seems bent on self-destruction, bad governance, and self-inflicted wounds, there is clearly an urgent need to, as they say, “get a grip” on things!  As President Obama has said, none of these problems are easy; they will take a long time to deal with and they can’t be done by just one nation. Nor can they be addressed by just doing nothing. The key is, as Obama again said, is “not to do stupid things”, and needless to say do intelligent things and do them well and do them with other like minded nations whenever possible. This means first of all examining with care our values and our real interest, the cost and practicality of possible options, and not least the probability of success and any unforeseen consequences; what some would call “blowback.”

The last Bush administration did none of this and this administration has learned hopefully that lessen of “not doing stupid things.” That does not mean withdrawing from the world, but it may mean forcefully responding to a crisis when necessary and practical. But what are the elements that either make good policy and strategy and what are the harsh constraints in devising good strategy and properly implementing it, and with others, in a true multilateral coalition?

First, one domestic constraint on an effective American role in addressing global challenges is our corrosive political landscape, which is too often driven by hate, ignorance, stupidity, and partisan politics and not by good values or the national interest. The right wing neo-con hawks have criticized Obama for “leading from behind”. This pejorative statement is simply partisan from those who got us into an unnecessary war at great cost to our nation, the lives of brave men and woman in the armed forces, and our embassy staff. Now they are looking at pushing a unilateral unnecessary war with Iran and seem to be fomenting a  crude “cold war” strategy and creating implacable enemies out of China and Russia. Sadly, some of this is to increase mindlessly the DOD budget on behalf of the military-industrial sector and to push narrow ideological and myopic interests.

This is not the way to make smart strategic and foreign policy decisions. It has already hurt our global role as Congress debates the coming budget and pushes restrictions on the president’s ability to conduct his foreign policies as this is written.

Second, external constraints were partly covered in our earlier post and several are looked at below and others will follow in this series. In our last look at forward strategy, we tried to take a “macro” perspective and asked: “did the institutions of our international community react, educate, and address with honesty and in comprehensive detail what these changes and trends portend for our frail planet? Does the international community know what needs to be done to safeguard the security and lives of its citizens?” Looking ahead, there are two categories of our analysis: (1) Recognizing the distinctly “macro global” trends of 2015, and (2) an attempt to understand these trends and consequences while devising possible responses to specific functional and regional problem areas.”  Another installment will be looking forward into 2015 and beyond, would be aimed specifically in key problem sectors describing the difficulties and opportunities that lay ahead for American foreign and security policy.

THE CHANGING GLOBAL AND STRATEGIC AND LANDSCAPE AND THE DECLINE OF GOVERNMENTS AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS TO ADDRESS OUR REAL AND COMING RISKS

There are many reasons why governments and international organizations seem increasingly incapable of addressing and mitigating our global challenges and high-risk dangers. Not least, as we have noted, is the growing indifference of many nations including in the United States to the plight of the most at risk and vulnerable. The recent global recession had a deep impact on the reaction of citizens who have a growing sense of hopelessness.  Encouraged in the United States  by right-wing Republicans, their billionaire backers, and their paid for media and pundits, have long pushed for disdain of role of government and international organizations in serving the well-being of common citizens in need.  These forces drove public opinion against sufficient support for preemptive action to address major dangers to national security and global stability and humanitarian crises. This means that organizations like UNESCO, UNDP, UNEP, UNHCR, World Health Organization, World Food Program, NATO, World Bank, and the UN system as a whole including the Security Council, are under funded and restricted by member states from taking effective action to address oncoming risks and conflicts. If this trend continues, the risk to American security and to the global system’s ability to address and mitigate serious major threats will continue to deteriorate and risks and costs will grow and not diminish. We need a new look on how to make these international institutions more effective and forward looking.  

TOP LEVEL THREATS: PROLIFERATION OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION AND DESTABILIZED REGIONS AND NATIONS 

Despite all the headlines about terrorism, the far greater risk to U.S. and global security at the existential level are weapons of mass destruction in the hands of rogue or unstable and confrontational nations. This includes Russia under the unpredictable President Putin and Pakistan and India with nuclear weapons; nations both of which are in conflict with each other. North Korea already has nuclear weapons and is led by an unpredictable leader, and the possibility of an Iran with nuclear weapons in a region of ubiquitous conflict and instability. Each of these problematic centers will remain well into 2015  and beyond and need a much higher level of attention by all global actors than has been seen hereto through by all nations and especially among some in Congress who seem to think “war” is the answer to every issue.  I suggest to our readers to look at the post of Secretary Kerry’s Geneva press conference for an insight into this problem with a focus on Iran and beyond.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES TOP LEVEL THREATS

As President Obama has made clear there is no more important crisis the globe faces that climate change and its consequences.  Many members of the Republican Congress do not think it exists, or do not think that it is caused by human activities, and even encourage energy sources that are among the worst polluters. This roadblock needs to be overcome with an enlightened global leadership, and the environmental community and citizens need to act. This is what the president had done by domestic legal regulations and international agreements that do not require Senate ratification. The agreement with China, the trip to India with this as a key topic, and with efforts to at last forge a global consensus on a broad range of climate impacting actions indicates some useful progress. More is still needed.  I think 2015 and 2016 will see major moves abroad with our allies on this issue while opposition by Republicans will persist.  

GLOBAL POVERTY, CIVIL UNREST, POPULATION MOVEMENTS AND GROWING COMMUNAL AND REGIONAL WARS AND TERRORISM

There is little question that America and the rest of the world will increasingly be impacted by the larger forces we have already seen arising. Frankly, they are at a cost of our past indifference to what is happening beyond our borders. Few paid attention to these forces; many of our leaders and our citizens and especially our corrupted media are giving more space and time to what the last stupid celebrity did, diverting our people from facing serious issues and solutions.

Terrorism is just one result of indifference by governments, powerful elites, and business to a larger social responsibility.  It will not go away overnight but it can be mitigated and in part overcome. The primary action needed is to give jobs to those that live in hopelessness and despair. The other is to fight the ideology of hate and those that use terrorism to achieve their aims.  Here the answer is not just military. Often here is where diplomacy and collective political and economic action can and should mitigate the conditions that breed conflict and narrow nationalism or racial hate. 

Countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, much of the conflict-ridden Middle East and many parts of Africa need greater help than has so far been given. If we do not recognize this we will be over whelmed over time by several results: more conflict, an increased spread of diseases, greater poverty, and humanitarian and natural disasters and in the end a high risk world for all.

THE SO-CALLED RISE OF MAJOR “NEW” ACTORS ON THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE

A lot has been written about the rise of “new” powers like China, India, and, for some, Russia.  This concept is often joined by the so-called “decline” of America and Europe. Frankly, this has both a part of truth but also a lot of nonsense.  Yes, India and China are growing but each has still deep-seated weaknesses, which will undermine their inherent potential for decades due not least to the large inequality that exists and social, racial, and ethnic divisions within each society. For Russia, despite all the aggressive and destructive actions, it is a state of concealed but deep crisis and decline that seems, under Putin, to reject modernity or even rationality and has destroyed its citizens meaningful participation in their collective decisions. This can’t last in the present equilibrium that is unstable over the long run. Putin is an historical tragedy for Russia at this time.  But the West and the rest of the world need a strategy to draw Russia over time into a community of cooperating and responsible states and we should never give up this goal. 

Some European leaders recognize this, but the silly forces on the right seem to think unneeded war with a nuclear-armed irrational nation is a bit of a lark. In 2015, Obama seems to know this and is struggling to find the right balance of restraint and prevention of aggression and the “inducement” of diplomacy, economic gain, and cooperation. We are likely to see more of this but Ukraine is the testing ground for both sides in 2015 and beyond and the only “good” solution requires Ukraine to remain a viable independent and unified state that can choose its destiny in the long run.

More on specific challenges will come in future posts and a look a creating a more effective international structure and the ability to foresee earlier coming dangers and respond.  

We welcome your comments!

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY’S TESTIMONY ON THE 2016 FOREIGN AFFAIRS BUDGET

John Kerry during his testimony of the 2016 Foreign Affairs Budget on February 25, 2015. (Photo: Zimbio)
John Kerry during his testimony of the 2016 Foreign Affairs Budget on February 25, 2015. (Photo: Zimbio)

“In the United States, we get 1 percent of the entire budget of the United States of America. Everything we do abroad within the State Department and USAID is within that 1 percent–everything. All the businesses we try to help to marry to economic opportunities in a country, all the visas, the consulate work, the diplomacy, the coordination of DHS, FBI, ATF. I mean, all the efforts that we have to engage in to work with other countries’ intelligence organizations, so forth, to help do the diplomacy around that is less than 1 percent.

I guarantee you more than 50 percent of the history of this era is going to be written out of that 1 percent and the issues we confront in that 1 percent. And I ask you to think about that as you contemplate the budgets. Because we’ve been robbing Peter to pay Paul and we’ve been stripping away our ability to help a country deal with those kids who may be ripe for becoming part of ISIL. We’ve been diminishing our capacity to be able to have the kind of impact we ought to be having in this more complicated world…”

To read more of Secretary Kerry’s Testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on February 25th, follow the link to the full text https://cipnationalsecurity.wordpress.com/resources/full-text-pieces/ 

We Welcome Your Comments!

POST ELECTION RESULTS: IMPACT AND SIGNIFICANCE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

obama and putin
President Barack Obama talks with President Vladimir Putin as they join other leaders en route to the APEC Family Photo at the International Convention Center in Beijing, China, Nov. 11, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

By Harry C. Blaney III

No one should doubt that the result of the 2014 Midterm elections will have a major impact on America’s international role. It will make more difficult for President Barack Obama to conduct America’s business abroad, but it will not stop him from carrying out a vigorous foreign affairs and national security agenda. The constitution gives the president wide powers in this field. This includes his authority to make policy and take action by executive order on foreign affairs and domestic issues; and he has much room to promote U.S. goals globally.

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The Russian Bear – A Long Dark Night of Repression and Hibernation?

More and more reports are coming out of Moscow that President V. Putin is intent on a salami slicing process of deep repression and authoritarian Soviet style rule. His actions have included repression against NGOs in Russia that take money from abroad and those that don’t, the passing of legislation that limits freedom of expression, including the protests against them, criticism of the Kremlin, and  the clamping down on freedom of the press.  The goal is a top down government from the Kremlin.

In the realm of foreign affairs the probation of adoption by American families of orphans, along with indications that Putin is perhaps in an angry mood toward America and the West, seems to be pursuing a series of policies that are at cross purposes with those of the U.S. and of other Western democracies.

Now, news comes out that further legislation aimed at cutting the ties of Russians with the outside world are in the process. These may include a ban on Russian officials having connections abroad, such as wives and children living or being educated outside of Russia and the former Soviet Union. Putin has also closed down local broadcasting by VOA in Russia. Corruption is endemic and tolerated especially if it is by Putin’s favorites.

Beyond these moves is a decidedly strong trend towards the kind of extreme xenophobia and the suppression of anything that smacks of “Western” or the culture of and civic support for real “democracy.”

There seems at the same time, a trend by Putin, to increase defense/military spending at the expense of the funding of domestic needs like health care, which is already appalling.  Also, Putin has instituted his stronger control over the regional governments at the expense of local autonomy.

In the background, there is a growing resentment by the middle class of Putin’s policies and a desire for a more open society. In the end, it will be the citizens of Russia that will likely move the regime or rid it of its authoritarian overlay. Meanwhile, this increasingly corrosive overlay of society is accompanied by public cynicism or even support. There are signs of a more open debate of resentment and opposition to the authoritarian and corrupt elements. My guess is that this desire for a modern and open society will in the end carry the day, but at a very high cost to the Russian people who have waited centuries for some sense of dignity and real civil rights.

The question for America and its allies is what can be done, if anything, to persuade Vladimir Putin and not least the Russian people that both repression at home and belligerence abroad is not in their own interests? The Russian Federation now faces not only years of possible reaction, but also possible loss of inward investment, and a possible loss of its main revenue if either oil or gas prices fall or non-Russian supplies are supplanted from other regions.

The first thing that should not be done is to overreact ourselves mindlessly and preemptively act in ways that would only reinforce Putin’s obsessions and other right wing nationalists and play into their hands in creating an isolated and besieged Russia. This would give “rational” to the Kremlin to adapt authoritarian acts to “defend” its sovereignty and “Security” interests.

Those in America who wish to isolate Russia and make them a forever “enemy” and recreate a new “Cold War” are as much a danger to wise policy and the integration of Russia into the community of responsible nations. These “neocom” right wing “war hawks” wanted a mindless war with Iraq, they wanted us to confront China rather than engage them and push the “inevitable” coming conflict with China, and now they want to do the same with Russia.

What is needed instead is a wise long-term strategy of encouraging cooperation and confidence of the Russian people and also, especially of the growing better educated elite and middle class to recognize that Putin trajectory means only greater poverty of its people, less growth in modern technology and knowledge, and will destine Russia forever to be backward and solitary.

Our first step must be to once again reassert to the Russian people that we desire partnership and collaboration for the benefit of both our nations and to continue our “reset” dialogue with Russian leaders even when it seems almost hopeless to persuade them of its efficacy to their own interests. We need to devise a comprehensive agenda of useful initiatives and to hold out its benefits and break down the walls of communication between our society and theirs – even over the heads of the current regime if necessary.

Obama will be visiting Russia in the fall for a G-20 meeting and before that meeting there needs to be a major focused effort to engage in the kind of diplomacy, which reconnects our two nations and emphasizes those areas of mutual interest. Also, there should be an emphasis on a “full court press” of public diplomacy and the use of what many call “third tract” “back door” and a quiet effort to reach Russian citizens directly with the theme that America is not their enemy, but rather that together we can have the kind of cooperation that respects Russian’s real interests. The issues to be addressed early on in a quiet way include missile defense in Europe, Iran’s nuclear weapons, Syria, North Korea, our exit from Afghanistan, trade opportunities, investment and above all nuclear weapons and non-proliferation. That short list illustrates the still importance of the reasons behind the original “reset.”  Secretary Kerry and President Obama now need to put enough attention and energy into this necessarily long-term strategy, which for a host of reasons is of the greatest importance to global security for everyone.

After reading this article, be sure to look at our Student National Security-Foreign Policy Solutions Essay Contest page to submit your essay today!

Diplomacy and National Security- One More Shot

Five months ago, I pledged that I had rested my case against political appointments to American ambassadorial posts.  A new story in today’s press (February 26) compels me to break my word.  And another visit to the web-site of the American Foreign Service Association reveals facts and figures that speak much louder than words.  I urge readers to consult “Policy Issues” and “Ambassador Project” at http://www.afsa.org and decide for themselves whether President Barack Obama is really any different from his predecessors in one important respect:  the disregard for national security so blatantly evident in entrusting American interests to financial supporters irrespective of their qualifications for the job. Continue reading

Washington Post Editorial 02/24/11: A Broader Approach to National Security

Opinion article in the Washington Post, by Conor Williams, argues the importance of focusing on human security in the international arena instead of solely addressing national security in military terms.  The United States spends about one percent of the federal budget on foreign assistance, compared to the twenty percent spent on the military.  The new budget cuts could mean the United States will spend even less money on foreign aid in the future.

“As several of the world’s dictators have learned recently, political stability is about more than just military strength. Economic desperation and ineffective political institutions breed dissatisfaction that can eventually lead to uprisings.”

“It’s much cheaper to address desperate poverty and humanitarian crises before they lead to security challenges that involve military intervention. It’s also easier to help develop markets and trading partners than it is to slay all of America’s enemies. It’s in our national interest to promote human security across the globe.”