U.S. Politics

One Senator is Blocking a Bill to Support Peace Efforts in Northern Uganda

Senator Tom Coburn versus victims of war crimes.

Courtesy of Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, millions of Americans have seen how a single United States senator can use procedural chicanery to prevent important legislation from moving forward.  By withholding his "consent" from a resolution extending unemployment benefits to out of work Americans last week, Bunning prevented social security checks from reaching many thousands of people in need. 

The ACLU is Suing USAID

A lawsuit by the ACLU against USAID over abstinence education raises some important questions about U.S. foreign assistance.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing USAID, the US Agency for International Development, for refusing to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests. The ACLU is seeking documents from July and September 2009 that relate to abstinence education programs supported by USAID.

What the QDR Says about the UN

Every four years, the U.S. Department of Defense, by Congressional mandate, is required to publish its strategies and priorities in a document known as the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). Your guide inside.

The U.S. Department of Defense just released its most recent edition of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a Congressionally mandated run down of U.S. defense strategies and priorities.

US Aid Reshuffling on Haiti Shows the Need for a Contingency Disaster Fund for Humanitarian Relief

The lead agency in charge of foreign humanitarian assistance is facing across the board cuts to pay for its efforts in Haiti.

The Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) is the lead American agency on humanitarian relief efforts like the one underway in Haiti. The problem is, it is just one office within the relatively small U.S.

Defense Contractors and International Development – What’s Going on Here?

Last week, it was announced that DynCorp – a major private security firm - had acquired an international development company. What does that mean for U.S. foreign assistance policy?

Last week, it was announced that DynCorp – a major private security firm - had acquired Casals Associates, an international development company.

Susan Rice's Spokesperson calls out John Bolton's former Spokesperson

Susan Rice's spokesperson takes to the pages of HuffPo to call out John Bolton's former spokesperson for the latter's inane attacks on Susan Rice.

Last week, the communications director for the past four Republican U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations wrote a scurrilous attack on Susan Rice on Huffington Post. I call the attack "scurrilous," because as I noted at the time, the author completely mis-characterized the findings of a report to suggest that Rice was insufficiently engaged at the United Nations.  

Why the Sudden Criticisms of Susan Rice?

There's been some recent criticism of Ambassador Rice suggesting that she is somehow neglecting her duties at the UN.

There's been some recent criticism of Ambassador Rice suggesting that she is somehow neglecting her duties at the UN.

Roundup: SOTU Foreign Policy Reacts

Though many, including me, have said that Obama didn't say much in terms of foreign policy (and related policies) last night, there has been a lot said about the little he did say.

Though many, including me, have said that Obama didn't say much in terms of foreign policy (and related policies) last night in his State of the Union, there has been a lot said about the little he did say. Find a sample of those reactions below.

The Obama Administration's First Year in International Development Policy

One year in, what has President Obama accomplished in US foreign assistance? So far, we’ve seen a lot of delays and a handful of impressive promises.

One year in, what has President Obama accomplished in US foreign assistance? So far, we’ve seen a lot of delays and a handful of promises. They’re good promises, but it’s going to take at least another year before we see how well those promises are kept.
The Delays

Congressional American Engagement Caucus Formed

Russ Carnahan, a Democrat and Anh "Joseph" Cao, a Republican launched the "American Engagement Caucus" at an event on Capital Hill this morning.

Members of the U.S.

Losing a Voice for International Justice in the Senate

Senator Chris Dodd announced today that he will not be running for re-elecion. He was one of the Senates staunchest supporters of international justice and the United Nations.

Senator Chris Dodd announced today that he will not be running for re-election as U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Dodd was first elected to the Senate in 1980, and in during his 30 year career on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he emerged as one of the more thoughtful voices of constructive U.S.

Dodd leaves Senate one Americas expert short

Senator Dodd's somewhat surprise decision not to stand for re-election leaves the Senate Foreign Relations Committee without its resident Latin America expert.

Boy am I annoyed that FP Passport beat me to the punch on this one, though Obama missed it too.

What About Additional Screening for Entrants from Visa Waiver Countries?

UPDATE: An expert on the Visa Waiver Program weighs in.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is mandating that airline passengers from a few countries will be selected for special screening.   From the Washington Post:

Susan Rice articulates a brave new way of approaching global stability

Susan Rice delivered a blockbuster speech titled A New Course in the World, a New Approach at the UN at New York University. Excerpts don't do it justice, but these few graphs articulate an important and profoundly new way of viewing international relations. (NB a link to her full speech is not yet available. I'll post the link as soon as it goes online.)

Bill Clinton chooses diplomacy over nuclear self-destruction

On Bill Clinton's successful diplomatic trip morally repugnant capitulation to North Korea, Spencer Ackerman's satirical take is all you really need to consult:

The problem of crony ambassadorships

Scott Horton sounds a clarion call against the regular phenomenon of presidents' rewarding campaign supporters with choice ambassador positions. He writes, "The process cheapens our diplomatic relations and sends a bad message to the states to which these ambassadors are sent. And it’s getting cruder and greedier."  I agree, but there is also a less stated reason for objecting to this process: the toll it takes on the foreign service bureaucracy.   

Diplomats accuse Congressional Coup Caucus of stoking Cold War fears

To mark the one month anniversary of the military coup that deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, select press, think tankers, members of the diplomatic (including at least a dozen ambassadors "from Canada to Chile") gathered at the Argentine Embassy in Washington for a reception for the Minister of Communications for the "Constitutional Government of Honduras" Enrique Reina.  

Victory for the Save Darfur movement, or the next challenge?

If you haven't looked at Mark's thoughtful consideration on the place of the Darfur advocacy movement in today's world of Sudan policymaking, read it now.
I largely agree with Mark's analysis, but I'd offer a different possible conclusion: instead of the end of the "Save Darfur" community's role, this may be a make-or-break moment for Darfur advocacy, or even for foreign policy advocacy writ large.

Cooperative foreign policy

I disagreed with Peter Scoblic on another point earlier, so I have to give him credit for nailing the essence of Hillary Clinton's speech yesterday:

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