Wednesday, March 31, 2004

NYT: Starved for Safety:

"So far the U.N. Security Council hasn't even gotten around to discussing the genocide. And while President Bush, to his credit, raised the issue privately in a telephone conversation last week with the president of Sudan, he has not said a peep about it publicly. It's time for Mr. Bush to speak out forcefully against the slaughter."

Check out this great piece on genocide in Sudan. What obligation does a US president have to "speak out against slaughter"? Does he/she have an obligation to do even more? If so, what?

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

The news of the evening--Bush agrees to let Rice testify in public before the Commission investigating Sept. 11. He also agreed to have him and Cheney meet, in private, together, with the full commission.
Just last week, as we were discussing in class, Bush was making a separation of powers and executive privilage argument against the testimony. After a week of bad political fall out, that argument evaporated today. I find that fasinating.

Does this relate to Thursday's class? I would say yes:
One of the key things about the CIA and Intelligence Community is secrecy. The whole idea of covert and clandestine operations is that no one is supposed to know. Yet, this penchant for secrecy runs smack into the desire for openness, transparency, and accountability in government that a Democracy needs to function. It is necessary to have some secrets in order to protect the greater good. But that power is easily abused.
Now, we are wrestling with the line of how much to keep secret and how much transparency and accountability we need to properly come to terms with the events that led up to Sept. 11. The president needs to know things, needs classified intelligence that remains classified, and needs confidential advice from his closest advisors. But, he and the administraiton also need to answer to the American people for what happened. How we negotiate this balance, between openess and secrecy, is a fundamental and defining moment for our democracy.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Hello from the Windy City.... Chicago is such a cool town.

So, to follow up on our discussion of HIV/AIDS, the NYT today reports on what the administration is and is not doing...

The topic of the day, however, is not the fact that Mark Prior will be out until june (that is the talk of Chi-town). Our issue is Defense Transformation and what the military should look like in the years to come.
Its actually a tough question, one that you cannot answer in isolation. Part of the idea of Military Transformation depends on what you think the military should be doing. If you take the pre-sept 11 Bush strategy, you want a future, tech-savy, deployable, expeditionary force. If you look at the post-sept 11 requirements of occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, you want more military police, civil affairs detachments, and medium-weight urban-capable infantry units. You can't discuss capabilities outside of mission and how the US will use force to protect its interests.
so, what do you think?

Friday, March 26, 2004

This Dick Clarke story really has legs-- lots of play in the press. The Bush Administration is fighting it hard-- I don't recall them mobilizing a PR effort like this one on any national security event previously. Condi Rice is everywhere on this.

Defense Transformation is an interesting thing. Everyone wants to change DoD. Next to no one succeeds. Its actually quite notable that Rumsfeld has been able to cancel not one, but two so-called "legacy" systems--the Comache helicopter and the Crusader mobile artillery piece (Legacy means developed for the cold war but built now with no mission). Could a Gore administration have done that? Interesting question.

The whole thing about technology, mobility, special ops forces, lighter and smarter units and a different basing strategy-- its a big deal for how the military operates.
So, how much do we transform the military?

by the way, as a side note, today is the last day of the best radio show on the air, the Tony Kornhieser show on ESPN radio. Not that any of you may listen or even care, but I do love the show and will be sad to see it go. Its the smartest thing on radio.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Excellet discussion of foreign aid-- keep that one going.

I too saw the interview with Clarke on 60 Minutes last night. I was amazed, honestly, at the raw anger Clarke had about the whole process.
The charges that Clarke makes are very serious, and he is one who knows a whole lot about this stuff, having worked on it for Reagan, both Bushes and Clinton. What hints at the seriousness of the charge is the force with which the administration is responding--they are deploying thier heavy hitters.
Its something that cannot go without discussion, so i emphasize Nick's post on it and open a forum here.
but also keep up the foreign aid chat, that's good too.

Read the Washington Post story on it here.
Condi Rice responds with an op-ed in the Post here.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Did anyone else see this 60 minutes interview with Richard Clarke? Did Bush Press for Iraq-9/11 link? What do you think? If Clarke is telling the truth (and I think he is), then I really don't know where to begin.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Its really really cold in Montreal-- snow, wind and all.
Right now you should all be taking your midterm, Good luck, i hope the candy helped.

Starting Monday, we get back to the fun stuff, foreign aid and HIV/AIDs and the like.

The real interesting question that the day raises is this: USAID is the primary way in which the US government offers help to other nations around the world.
The US has a vast amount of power and wealth, and we only give a very small percentage of that away (you could think of it as international charity, you could think of it as a softer power way to extend US influence) each year.

How much should the US aid others? do we have an obligation to do so? Is it in our interests to do so?
Or, is USFP best served through other means?

see you all monday!

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

washingtonpost.com | If Foriegn Leaders Could Vote in US Elections

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Well spring break is over, and we are back to school.
Too bad those Eagles lost to Leighigh. it woiuld have been cool to have AU in the tourney..... March Madness. But, if you all had wanted that you would have gone to Maryland (what a game today....).

So, Monday we are debating the US and its ongoing role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and negotiations, otherwise known as "the Middle East Peace Process"

This should make for an interesting debate....

Clinton was very involved in this, and at a personal level. He did have some notable successes and he did have some notable failures. Bush has been less involved, though, in part, he is dealing with a very different Israeli government in Sharon. Sharon clearly has his own "plan" to deal with the issue.
Interestingly enough, Sharon is trying to get out from the most troublesome territories and construct a physical separation between the Israelis and Palestinians. The US is officially opposed to this plan, but we aren't doing much to come up with an alternative.

An interesting Op-Ed from today's Washington Post covers this very issue.

So, what should we be doing? Start the debate here, continue in class, and of course, feel free to come back to post more later.
after all, that's what the blog is for.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

I hope break was good for everyone. Monday we get the exciting debate on the Middle East Peace Process.

The giant crab story is indeed real.
(in case any of you were doubting it)

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Its spring break!!!
I hope you all are having a fun vacation. I am catching up on work, writing a paper, grading papers, and other fun things like that.

On the foreign policy front.... After watching the "primaries" this past Tuesday (not real, for the contest is over, but each side used it to trot out early election themes), you saw Kerry and Bush going at it over foreign policy. I think this is not just cool, but good. Being a foreign policy person, I like the fact that they are making it central to the race. Will foreign policy decide the presidency come November? Probably not completely, but its clear that it will have more impact than anyone might have once thought.

So, rest up, have a good vacation. Is anyone doing anything exciting? Feel free to take a break and put up a spring break story in the comments.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

So today we are on to the state department and then you are all off for spring break.
State is always a fun agency to study. Not nearly as big as the Pentagon, frequently misunderstood by its critics, and yet, the senior and most important department for running the day to day foreign affairs of the country.

one of the most rewarding experiences I had when i was in grad school was the time i spent as a state department intern. I worked in the Near East bureau in the office of Lebanon, Syrian, and Jordan affairs. A fascinating time to be there, I got to work on an Albright trip to Lebanon and write about stuff happening in Syria. I highly recommend that you all give it a shot if you are at all interested in foreign policy. The foreign service officers with whom I worked were fantastic-- all so smart, dedicated, and good at thier jobs. The foreign service is perhaps the most elite of all government workforces.
So, I am a big fan of the State Department. If you haven't already played on thier web site, you should. Tons of great and fascinating stuff there.
Any of you have any encounters with State?

In other news, there is a great article in today's Post about the CIA operations in Baghdad.
The NYT also has a great Intel story about how several nations tracked cell phones to arrests terrorists.
We're not quite to Intel yet, but insight like this is too good to pass up--its not every day you get a detailed description of how covert ops actually work in a target rich environment.
Fascinating stuff.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Now Aristide is saying he was kidnapped!
(the beauty of this story is that it ties together Monday's and Thursday's class all in one crazy coup)
The State Department took Aristide to the CAR and Aristide calls several members of Congress to plead his kidnapping case. Why Congress? Well, he has a few members who will listen to him (like Rangle) and they have enough of that agenda-setting power to bring the claims public and force people to pay attention.
At the other end of this is the State Department, implementing US diplomacy world wide. Who runs this show on the US side? The Ambassador to Haiti. That's what State does.

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