May 8, 2013 by Riley Aronson
Currently more than 12 million people around the world are enslaved. Of those, about 9.8 million are victims of sex trafficking, while others are involved in agricultural work, mining, or labor in small factories. This modern slavery unravels economies, incites violence, infringes upon families, undermines the notion of an individual’s inalienable rights, weakens public health, affronts the value of human life, and is one of the fastest growing criminal industries. This debasement to humanity is a worldwide, $32 billion industry and remains prevalent in 177 countries.
Despite numerous organizations, existing international partnerships, and legislation that targets the cessation of human trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center states that there are approximately 800,000 to 4 million men, women, and children transported across international borders and coerced into labor annually. The time has come to actively work to eradicate this repulsive crime.
President Barack Obama emphasizes that human trafficking “ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.”
April 10, 2013 by Scott Firsing
It was a story that many people missed. United States president Barack Obama met with four African leaders in Washington in late March 2013: President Sall from Senegal, President Banda from Malawi, President Koroma from Sierra Leone, and Prime Minister Neves from Cape Verde.
A positive step in the right direction for America in Africa, but it is time for Obama to return the favor and once again set foot on the continent. It was announced late last year that Obama was planning a long overdue African tour sometime in 2013. As a specialist in US-Africa relations and an American living in Africa, I remember thinking simply “Amen!”
There are dozens of reasons why Obama needs to be “here,” but to only mention a few. Firstly, there has been a large amount of key personnel changes when it comes to American foreign policy and its African “leadership.” It would prove beneficial for these individuals to accompany Obama on Air Force One for the ride across of the Atlantic, which in turn would help smooth the transition.
March 8, 2013 by John Lyman
“If we don’t run Chris Christie, Mitt Romney will be the nominee and we will lose.”
– Ann Coulter, speaking at CPAC in 2011
The fortieth Conservative Political Action Conference begins Thursday amidst growing questions about its relevance. One ominous sign has been the fracas over invites or lack thereof, both this year and last, to particular groups and individuals to participate in the convention. This controversy has been front and center in large part due to the declining stock of the Republican brand among the U.S. electorate.
Under the leadership of Texas lobbyist Al Cardenas, the conference has grown. However, attendance was already growing; David Keene, now of the National Rifle Association presided over a continuous growth in conferees despite allegations of mismanagement prior to Cardenas’ takeover. This steady growth in attendance has resulted in the second change of venue for the gathering in five years, abandoning the convenience of Northwest Washington, D.C. for the National Harbor development south of the capital in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Yet, despite its growth, the once consequential gathering of conservative activists from across the United States appears by some accounts to be stuck in the past.
February 22, 2013 by John Price
A U.S. congressional delegation on Monday made a one-day visit to the Malian capital of Bamako. Headed by Sen. Christopher A. Coons, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa, the delegation included Sen. Johnny Isakson, Georgia Republican, and Democratic Reps. Karen Bass of California and Terri A. Sewell of Alabama.
“The United States is likely to eventually resume direct support for Mali’s military, but only after full restoration of democracy through elections,” Mr. Coons, Delaware Democrat, said, according to the Reuters news agency. He noted that “U.S. law prohibited direct assistance to Mali’s armed forces” after President Amadou Toumani Toure was overthrown in a military coup in March, but U.S. military aid will resume after democracy is fully restored. ”We are committed to ensuring support…in the ongoing fight against extremism,” Mr. Coons said.
The delegation’s one-day visit to Mali was reminiscent of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 10-day visit to nine African countries in August. The common threads in Mrs. Clinton’s remarks were the building blocks for democratic institutions, good governance, the rule of law and security. Mali was not on the itinerary and was barely mentioned.
February 21, 2013 by John Price
The French liberation of northern Mali from embedded Islamists has finally put Mali on everyone’s radar screen. In the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last week, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, testified about the crisis in the West African nation and what the U.S. and other countries should do. Mr. Carson noted that the “crisis is one of the most difficult, complex and urgent problems West Africa has faced in decades.” He further noted: “The March 2012 coup and subsequent loss of northern Mali to Islamic extremists demonstrates all too clearly how quickly terrorists prey upon fragile states,” referring to the presence of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
The U.S. could have subdued the AQIM in 2003 when its fighters fled Algeria to Mali’s northern frontier region, which has become a safe haven for al Qaeda-linked Islamists from Mauritania, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Somalia and as far away as Pakistan and Afghanistan. The U.S. knew that northern Mali was becoming a breeding ground for these terrorists; the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative training program was launched in Mali in 2005. Two years later, special operations forces carried out additional training, and U.S. Africa Command considered setting up a base there. An ongoing program would have reduced the presence of the Islamists.
February 2, 2013 by Editors
NPR’s “On Point” with Tom Ashbrook had a really interesting discussion on Hillary Clinton’s legacy at the U.S. State Department. Ashbrook’s guests included Joan Walsh, Editor-at-Large at Salon, Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for the Washington Post and Jill Dougherty, foreign affairs correspondent for CNN.
Whether you think that Hillary Clinton’s legacy is largely favorable as she ponders her future or whether the failures over Benghazi overshadows any sort of legacy she might have, the discussion was informed.
Have a listen. It’s National Public Radio so there are no ads.
January 30, 2013 by John Price
“The Secretary of State is responsible for the overall coordination and supervision of all United States Government activities and operations abroad…. The Secretary of State must protect all United States Government personnel on official duty abroad….”
– President George W. Bush, January 2002, (Excerpts-Letter of Instruction to U.S. ambassadors)
As former United States ambassador to three island nations in East Africa, I had a number of attack threats to deal with during my service from 2002-2005. I am appalled that Secretary Hillary Clinton would minimize the importance of the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens stating: “What difference at this point does it make”. Madam Secretary, a U.S. ambassador is dead—you were his boss, and should have had security measures in place to minimize the risk of a fatal attack. A chief of mission knows there are risks serving in conflicted areas, but with the on-going jihad against the United States, the State Department needed to be better prepared to protect the diplomatic troops.
January 23, 2013 by Editors
December 28, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
President Obama is still working on remaking his foreign policy and national security team, but it looks like John Kerry will be the next Secretary of State. Inside Washington, John Kerry has been a leading voice on foreign policy for decades. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for twenty-seven years, John Kerry has built up a vast network of contacts abroad. John Kerry understands the politics of the Middle East. And he has already travelled extensively for the Obama administration – going to places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
December 20, 2012 by John Price
On December 11, 2012, Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra was removed from office by Mali’s military. This comes on the heels of the March ousting of President Amadou Toure, by a junta led by Captain Amadou Sanogo. Mali’s destabilization is the result of the Arab Spring that led to the conflict in Libya–where regime change was the goal–without an endgame plan. Large caches of weapons were left unprotected, which reached radical Islamists in northern Mali.
On December 11, 2012 the Foreign Policy article, Rice: French plan for Mali intervention is ‘crap’, noted, “The crisis in Mali underscores the rising threat…Islamic militancy in North Africa and the Sahel [is] the clearest evidence of blowback from the U.S.-backed military campaign that toppled Qaddafi”. The article also noted that France wanted swift military action in Mali, “with a rapid deployment of an African stabilization force”.
November 30, 2012 by John Lyman
In light of Susan Rice’s less-than stellar coming out party as a possible nominee to replace Hillary Clinton at State, the Obama administration would do well to find a consensus candidate. Among those mentioned, the one that seems the most obvious is Jon Huntsman, Obama’s former ambassador to China until he stepped down to run for the GOP presidential nomination only to come in 3rd in New Hampshire. Al Gore, the soon to be former Sen. Richard Lugar, Colin Powell and a smattering of other former policymakers and politicos have also been mentioned as possible nominees to replace Clinton.
November 29, 2012 by John Price
The Arab Spring led to the overthrow of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, which unleashed the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi Islamists in their quest to take control of the country. President Mohammed Morsi assumed office on June 30, 2012, supported by Islamists. His goal is to establish an Islamic state ruled under Sharia, the Islamic law. The ultraconservative Salafists also want to participate in the governing process.
More bloodshed in Egypt can be expected, since democracy in a Muslim society will be difficult to attain. The protesters have said they wanted ‘change’, which the U.S. interpreted as our form of democracy. In reality the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists both observe narrow tenets of early orthodox conservatives, which are not compatible with the tenets of democracy. The State Department has defended the regime change noting, “It was the process that matters, not the ideologies of those taking part,” and that, “[We] trained and gave guidance to the Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalist candidates in the electioneering process.”
November 24, 2012 by Ramzy Baroud
Many key phrases have been presented to explain Israel’s latest military onslaught against Gaza, which left scores dead and wounded. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is flexing his muscles in preparation for the Israeli general elections in January, suggested some. It is Israel’s way of testing the administration of Egyptian President Mahmoud Morsi, commented others. It was a stern message to Iran, instructed few. Or that Israel is simply assessing its ‘deterrence’ capabilities. And so on.
November 22, 2012 by Conn M. Hallinan
Africa is probably the single most complex region of the world and arguably its most troubled. While the world concerns itself with the Syrian civil war and the dangers it poses for the Middle East, little notice is taken of the war in the Congo, a tragedy that has taken five million lives and next to which the crisis in Syria pales.
Africa represents 15 percent of the world’s population, yet only 2.7 percent of its GDP, which is largely concentrated in only five of 49 sub-Saharan countries. Just two countries—South Africa and Nigeria—account for over 33 percent of the continent’s economic output. Life expectancy is 50 years, and considerably less in those countries ravaged by AIDS. Hunger and malnutrition are worse than they were a decade ago.
November 20, 2012 by Peter Lee
According to Russia’s TASS news agency, a grim milestone was achieved in Syria a few days ago: several peaceful demonstrators in Aleppo were massacred. The twist is that the demonstrators were calling for protection by the Syrian army to end the destruction of the city; they were shot by insurgents.
A single, thinly sourced news item is not needed to demonstrate the profound moral and strategic disarray afflicting the Syrian insurrection as the country totters toward collapse. A handier and more reliable reference point is the abrupt and forcible reorganization of the overseas Syrian opposition at the behest of the United States.
The Syrian National Council (SNC) is now just a junior partner in a broader opposition grouping, the “Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces” (SNCORF). Reportedly, this new group was formed at the insistence of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She is retiring in a few weeks and apparently wished to pull the plug on the ineffectual SNC and replace it with something less overtly Sunni/Muslim Brotherhood-esque. The SNC’s major sponsor, Qatar, and the great minds at the Doha branch of the Brookings Institute responded with the marvel that is SNCORF.