Third Way Perspectives
December 13th, 2012
This piece was originally featured on The Hill.
Two widely respected Pentagon leaders have issued two sets of warnings about grave risks to our national security. The problem: both claims are dire but seem diametrically opposed. However, they can be reconciled if the President and congressional negotiators resolve the apparent tension in ways that both protect our national security and help to restore our economic strength.
The first warning comes from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who has said that the cuts to the Pentagon budget that would result from sequestration would be “devastating.” He warned that such cuts could “hollow out the force.”
The second is from Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has repeatedly warned that “the greatest threat to our national security is our debt.” He started making that claim during his tenure in the Pentagon and has repeated it often since his retirement last year. His point is that the U.S. is running unsustainable ratios of debt-to-GDP, and our weakened economy has impacted our ability to influence and move global events. The Department of Defense, which consumes about half of all discretionary federal spending, must face some fairly large budget cuts. Read the rest of this entry »
December 7th, 2012
This post was originally published in Foreign Policy.
For Republicans, the recent U.S. presidential election was supposed to be 1980. They would paint President Barack Obama as Jimmy Carter—weak on the economy and weak on national security. High unemployment and low growth? Check. National security? Democratic presidential candidates—from Carter to John Kerry—were often hobbled by public doubts about their fitness to protect the United States from foreign threats (see: “Dukakis, tank“).
But not this year. For the first time in decades, Democrats had a presidential candidate with an advantage on these issues. Obama entered the 2012 election with a successful foreign-policy record: The U.S. war in Iraq was over, the war in Afghanistan was winding down, Osama bin Laden was dead, al Qaeda’s top ranks were decimated, Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi was toppled, and an international coalition had been assembled to impose the toughest-ever sanctions on Iran. Read the rest of this entry »
July 30th, 2012
This piece was originally posted on The Washington Post.
Dozens of college students murdered in their classrooms; a member of Congress shot at point-blank range; innocents gunned down in a movie theater. Then, in the aftermath of a mass gun crime, the same ritual: national shock and anger, traumatized communities asking how this could happen, followed by … nothing. At least, no progress on gun safety.
In a speech to the Urban League on Wednesday, President Obama called for a conversation on youth violence and more steps to keep guns away from criminals and the mentally ill. But everyone, including Obama, has been pretty frank about it: No major new gun laws will result. Read the rest of this entry »
March 29th, 2012
This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.
The World Trade Organization currently has 153 members, ranging from the United States and China, to Uruguay and Ukraine. The WTO is not an exclusive club. Venezuela, run by America-hating strongman Hugo Chavez, is a member. And plenty of other WTO countries have kings, presidents-for-life or juntas that are not making names for themselves as statesmen or democrats. Still, despite its varied membership, the WTO does play a vital role in opening markets and enforcing rules against unfair trade.
This summer, Russia will become the WTO’s newest member. Congress will have no say in the matter. But Russia’s WTO accession will nevertheless pose a quandary for Congress and for American exports. Current U.S. law would put American companies at a real disadvantage in exporting to Russia once it joins the WTO. Unless Congress acts to change the law, as President Obama and Congressional leaders have urged, American jobs in companies doing business with Russia — and the potential for tens of thousands more — will be at risk.
Read the rest of this entry »
January 27th, 2012
This piece first appeared in The Huffington Post.
As we approach the March 11th anniversary of the T?hoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, one focus in this country has been the impact of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and its implications for nuclear energy facilities in the United States. Watching the coverage of the tsunami’s impact on the Fukushima plant was undeniably frightening, and some now have concluded that nuclear energy is just too risky for use in the United States. We believe that the opposite is true: that it is far too risky for the U.S. not to keep nuclear energy as a significant part of our electric power mix.