Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in South Sudan and Uganda on Friday with Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, and Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills. Clinton met with President Salva Kir and Foreign Minister Nhial Deng in Juba, South Sudan, before meeting with President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala, Uganda.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is traveling to Senegal, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, and South Africa through August 10. She is accompanied by Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, and Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.
Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is traveling to Senegal, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, and South Africa through August 10. Wednesday, the Secretary met with Senegal President Macky Sall in Dakar. She is accompanied by Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan, Assistnat Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, and Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.
There's a battle going on among the standard-bearers of the Tea Party over their foreign policy message. But at the rank-and-file level, Tea Partiers have no unified view on major foreign policy issues. They are all over the map.
Sarah Palin, who spoke at Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally on the Mall Saturday, would like the Tea Party to endorse her quasi-neoconservative approach to national security policy. She advocates aggressive unilateralism, ever-rising defense budgets, unfailing support of Israel, and a skeptical eye toward China, Russia, and any other possible competitor to the United States.
Ron Paul, a founding leader of the Tea Party who has seen the movement slip away from him somewhat, wants the movement's focus on thrift to extend to foreign policy, resulting in an almost isolationist approach that sets limits on the use of American power and its presence abroad.
In over a dozen interviews with self-identified Tea Party members at Saturday's rally, your humble Cable guy discovered that, when it comes to foreign policy, attendees rarely subscribed wholeheartedly to either Palin or Paul's world view. Despite claiming to share the same principles that informed their views, Tea Partiers often reached very different conclusions about pressing issues in U.S. foreign policy today.
Understandably, most Tea Party members at the rally viewed foreign policy through the prism of domestic problems such as the poor economy and the movement of jobs overseas. Almost all interviewees expressed support for U.S. troops abroad and a connection to Christianity they said informed their world view.
But that's where the similarities ended. Some attendees sounded like reliable neocons arguing for more troops abroad. Others sounded like antiwar liberals, lamenting the loss of life in any war for any reason. Still others sounded like inside the beltway realists, carefully considering the costs and benefits of a given policy option based on American national security interests.
For example, The Cable interviewed Danny Koss, a former Marine from Grove City, PA, who was measured when it came to talking about the war in Afghanistan.
"If we are going to stay, I suggest we really win," he said. "I'm not convinced that some of our leadership is ready for that. I know our generals are."
Koss, sounding like a realist, said that he saw China as a near-term economic threat but not a near-term military threat. A strike against Iran was not a good option, he argued, although he said it was wise of President Barack Obama to publicly state that all options are on the table.
When it came to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, however, Koss seamlessly switched to a religious frame.
"You've got to go back and read the Bible, see who had it first. If you believe the Bible and who God gave it to, the rest is history," he said.
Later, we ran into Cecilia Goodow from Hartford, NY, who said that her foreign policy views were determined exclusively by her faith. This led her to regret the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq.
"It sounded so reasonable at the time. But Holy Father John Paul II was against the war; he said it would just be an awful thing and many people would be killed," she said. "I always supported the troops, but we know history and we know that wars are sometimes perpetrated by evil people for evil reasons that the average person doesn't even know about or understand, so I can't wait for it all to stop."
Goodow said she wants Obama to stand up for America more and fight the forces of evil, which include Iran, but she doesn't support military intervention, even in Afghanistan.
"Sometimes that's cloudy -- why are we there? Barack Obama ran on the promise that he was going to bring everybody home. That's what we all sat around the table talking about. Maybe if there's a new presidential policy maybe we can have peace again, maybe we can bring our kids home," she said. "War begets more war."
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, we found Larry Maxwell of Patterson, NY. Dressed in full Revolutionary War regalia and holding a huge American flag, he was as much historian as activist, engaging passersby in debates about America's past.
While he supported the decision to go war in Iraq and largely believes claims that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, Maxwell lamented the cost of the Iraq war and the danger of bolstering Iranian influence in the region.
But while Maxwell was concerned about the tensions surrounding Iran and its nuclear program, he didn't believe that a military strike is the best option.
"Are we the world's police? We're having a lot of trouble here and a lot of problems here. I'm not sure where our role comes over there," he said. "The United Nations would be the place for that ... but nobody listens to them."
Maxwell, like Koss, also referenced the Bible to support Israel's right to the land it now occupies. "The Bible says in the last days, that the Middle East, that's going to be the center of activity," he said. "If you go back to the Bible, it says there's going to be an army of 200 million men coming out of the East to the Middle East, as part of that whole Armageddon and ‘end of days' thing."
But not all Tea Partiers reflexively took Israel's side. Brandon Malator from Washington, DC, who dressed in U.S. Army fatigues and donned a cowboy hat with a Lipton tea bag dangling from the brim, was a stalwart supporter of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not of Israel.
"[We should] stay longer. We've never left any other country and we shouldn't leave Iraq," he said, adding that the U.S. is engaged in a 100-year-war that would include a coming war with Iran and eventually a war with China, which he called "World War III." He praised Obama for sending more troops to Afghanistan. "I think we're doing what we need to do as Americans. I think if the rest of the world doesn't like it, then that's tough luck."
But when it came to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Malatore's was downright dovish. "I hope that Israel and Palestine can come to an agreement, share the land, and do whatever they need to do to stop fighting all the time. I hope that war ends; that's been going on too long."
After President Obama has rolled out his nuclear policy review Tuesday morning, he used his down time to turn his attention to another major nuclear initiative: the Nuclear Security Summit being held in Washington next week.
With 47 world leaders coming to town, Obama simply can't very well schedule one-on-one meetings with all of them -- lest international diplomacy turn into the equivalent of speed dating. Still, the least the president can do is give a phone call to the leaders he's rejecting, and that's what he was doing Tuesday afternoon.
So far, the world leaders Obama has granted an audience to are (in alphabetical order by country): President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia, President Hu Jintao of China, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan, and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev doesn't need a bilateral, because he will have lots of time to hang out with Obama Thursday in Prague when they meet there to sign the new START agreement. Obama just met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week. And British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is skipping the summit to gear up his campaign ahead of the May elections he announced this morning.
So who's not getting face time with Obama? One confirmed rejection is Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who got the consolation phone call from Obama just a few hours ago.
"President Saakashvili thanked President Obama for his invitation to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington," according to a readout of the call from the Georgian side. "President Obama thanked President Saakashvili for Georgia's exceptional commitment of troops to the international effort in Afghanistan."
What Obama didn't mention in the call Georgia's aspirations to join NATO or Georgia's concern about the French sale of a new assault ship to Russia.
Hey, maybe they'll run into each other at the buffet.
So, who are the other countries may be soon getting the rejection call? Looks like the leaders of Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
It's somewhat conventional wisdom in Washington to assume that if Taiwan moves closer to China, that might not be in the interests of the United States. Not so, argues a new report coming out Tuesday from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
What's more, the U.S. should encourage such movement, argues the report, a result of a cross-strait project led by CSIS's Bonnie Glaser that she and others will discuss at an event at the think tank Tuesday. Now is the right time for confidence building measures between China and Taiwan, despite the several internal and international obstacles that remain, the report explains.
"U.S. support for cross-strait military CBMs is consistent with the long-standing U.S. position that differences between the two sides of the strait should be settled peacefully through negotiations," the report states. The authors also talk about the belief in Taiwan "that talks with Beijing on military CBMs cannot begin without visible support from the United States, which many in Taiwan see as necessary to reduce Taiwan's sense of vulnerability and counter the impression domestically that [Taiwanese President] Ma [Ying Jeou] is tilting toward mainland China."
In an interview, Glaser said that privately, the Taiwanese are calling for more public support from the Obama administration across the board, in order strengthen their hand vis-à-vis Beijing. President Ma has made some significant movements toward rapprochement, but now faces pressure to reassert Taiwanese autonomy, according to Glaser.
"Taiwan is saying to the Obama administration, we need more visible signs of support," she said, "Although the U.S.-Taiwan relationship is strong in the military arena, it's not visible."
Similarly, President Obama had focused on the Chinese side of the equation, delaying a pending sales package to Taiwan until after his administration's relationship with Beijing could be set on a secure footing. Now, following his trip there, the White House is expected to go ahead with the sale as well as other actions that are likely to rile the Chinese Communist Party, such as meeting with the Dalai Lama.
"The Obama administration has got the message that Taiwan wants more. The administration's plan is to do more."
Here is President Obama's full itinerary for his trip to Asia, as conveyed by Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, Jeffrey Bader, NSC senior director for East Asian affairs, and Michael Froman, deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs:
"The overarching theme is that America is a Pacific nation, it understands the importance of Asia in the 21st Century, and it's going to be engaged in a very comprehensive way," said Rhodes.
"I think it's a common perception in the region that U.S. influence has been on the decline in the last decade while Chinese influence has been increasing," said Bader.
Thursday, November 12: Alaska
President Obama departs Washington, DC and flies to Alaska, where he will speak to soldiers at Elmendorf Air Force Base. The schedule was changed to allow Obama to attend the memorial service at Fort Hood Texas on Tuesday. Leaving Alaska Thursday evening for Tokyo.
Friday, November 13: Tokyo
Obama arrives in Tokyo and holds a bilateral meeting with new prime minister Yukio Hatoyama at 7PM, followed by a joint press conference. He'll be looking to build personal ties with the new leader, whose Democratic Party of Japan took power in a stunning August election. "This government is looking for a more equal relationship with the United States, we are prepared to move in that direction," Bader said. Don't expect any breakthroughs on the dispute over U.S. basing in Okinawa.
Saturday, November 14: Tokyo Day 2
Obama will give a speech at Suntory Hall at 10 AM, giving "his view of American engagement in Asia." Then he will have an audience with the Japanese Emperor Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko. Leaving Saturday night for Singapore.
Sunday, November 15: Singapore
First, Obama will have a bilateral meeting with Singapore president Lee Hsien Loong, followed by the APEC summit leaders' meeting. At 2PM, there will be a bilateral meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Later in the afternoon, Obama will have a multilateral meeting with all 10 leaders of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which will for the first time see American and Burmese leaders in the same room. "We're not going to let the Burmese tail wag the ASEAN dog," said Bader, saying that the previous policy of freezing out Burma has preventing U.S. interactions with ASEAN. Obama will also have a bilateral meeting with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Leaving Sunday evening for Shanghai.
Monday, November 16: Shanghai
Obama will start the day meeting with Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng. After that, he will have a dialogue with Chinese youth and then will travel to Beijing to have dinner with Chinese president Hu Jintao. "We've have a smooth transition in the U.S.-China relationship... the relationship is off to a good start," said Bader. Issues that will get the most attention are North Korea, Iran, climate change, human rights, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. "Clean energy is something where we expect to have some accomplishments to show," Bader said.
Tuesday, November 17: Beijing
There will be a morning bilateral meeting with Hu, followed by a joint press conference. Then, Obama will tour Beijing hot spot before his state dinner. Obama will raise various human rights issues directly with Hu, Bader said, including Tibet, and that message was not undercut by Obama's decision not to meet with the Dalai Lama in Washington last month. "The president has made it clear that he is ready to meet with the Dalai Lama in the future at the appropriate time," Bader said.
Wednesday, November 18: Beijing Day 2:
Obama meets with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and do some more sightseeing. Also, "We do not expect that Beijing is going to produce a climate change agreement," said Froman. That evening, Obama will leave for Seoul, South Korea.
Thursday, November 19: Seoul:
Obama will have a morning bilateral meeting with President Lee Myung-Bak, followed by a press conference. He will then visit U.S. troops in South Korea before heading back to the United States that evening. No real expectation on movement on the U.S-Korea Free Trade Agreement. "He has noted in the past that there are some outstanding issues... he is prepared to have that conversation with the Koreans," said Froman.
For the protocol-obsessed Japanese, scheduling a cabinet-level meeting and then canceling it is a rare occurrence. But that's exactly what happened today when the State Department had to withdraw its announcement that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would meet Friday with Japanese Foreign Minister Katusya Okada.
The diplomatic SNAFU is emblematic of the shifting ground underneath the U.S.-Japan alliance. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which took over the government in September, campaigned on a pledge to reform relations with the U.S., but now in power, they are battling internally to determine how far and wide those changes should go. The latest twist certainly won't dampen the view of those who've proclaimed a "crisis" in the U.S. relationship with Japan since the elections; a State Department official told The Cable that Clinton was still holding time in her Friday schedule, just in case Okada is able to make the trip.
Reports out of Japan suggest that Okada wanted to secure a deal on his pet issue, the Futenma air base in Okinawa, ahead of President Obama's trip to Tokyo next week. But Okada is being reined in by Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who doesn't want Okada gallivanting around making policy while the issue is still a matter of intense internal discussion within the Japanese government.
And both sides are trying to recover from a tumultuous couple of weeks in the relationship following the Tokyo visit of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was seen as focusing too much on Futenma, a minor issue for the U.S. but a major emotional hot button for the Japanese.
More broadly, the center of gravity in the U.S.-Japan relationship may be shifting from the Defense Department to the State Department. While Okada might have wanted to focus on Futenma, administration sources said that Clinton's goal was much broader. She wanted to start engaging the new Japanese leadership on a larger set of strategic issues, from Afghanistan to China and everything in between.
The agenda shows the Obama administration's desire to focus less on incremental military issues such as military basing and start bringing the discussion with the new Japanese government around to larger strategic issues. But the Obama administration is unable to advance the conversation due to the ongoing foreign policy fight within the Japanese cabinet.
Hatoyama is refereeing a complex battle between various elements of his party and his cabinet over the direction of Japanese foreign policy, especially with regard to the U.S.-Japan alliance. Okada's interests may lie in making things for Hatoyama as difficult as possible, hence the (maybe) cancelled trip.
Inside the Japan policy infrastructure in Washington, the officials in charge of managing the relationship are taking a two pronged-approach. The first element of their strategy is "wait and see," letting the new DPJ government settle internal disputes and then come to the U.S. side with policy positions, negotiating stances, and the like.
The second part of the approach is "Don't blink," meaning that the U.S. interlocutors are trying to avoid overreacting to what some see as antagonistic or contradictory statements on the alliance coming out of different DPJ leaders. Also, the U.S. managers are determined not to negotiate away any of their positions while the new Japanese government is going through its growing pains.
"We're waiting for them to give us some indication of where they see the path as leading from here," said one senior U.S. official dealing with the U.S.-Japan alliance.
There is also a feeling among Obama administration Japan managers that the reports about the "crisis" in U.S.-Japan relations have been way overblown and that while a number of issues in the alliance are now up for discussion, which is new, that is not necessarily a bad thing.
"You can take any of this stuff and make a story out of it, but none of these issues are unmanageable," the official said, "The U.S. and Japan still rely on each other in a lot of fundamental ways."
The official said that there is a pretty clear path out of the current tense situation, whenever the Japanese are ready to take it. For example, on the issue of the plan for the relocation of the Futenma air base, U.S. officials believe that ultimately there is no real alternative to the current plan. Okada's idea, to combine Futenma with the Kadena air base, is seen as a non-starter inside the Obama administration.
However, there are "sweeteners" that could alleviate some concerns of Okinawa residents and allow Hatoyama and Okada to save face by claiming they got concessions before ultimately accepting the bulk of the current plan as is.
But the talks between the United States and Japan haven't gotten to that stage and probably won't by the time Obama visits Tokyo next week. Obama himself is said to be too far above the issue to negotiate such details and is likely to simply affirm the strength of the alliance, mark its 50th anniversary, and leave the negotiations for lower officials to resume after the trip.
Traditionally, the Japan relationship inside Washington more heavily managed by the Defense Department as compared to relations with other countries. There are historical and logistical explanations for this phenomenon, but with new administrations on both sides, a change might be in store.
At the National Security Council, the Japan policy is managed by Jeffrey Bader, a former Ambassador and senior State Department official and Daniel Russel, former State Department Japan office director.
At the State Department, Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell is in charge of all things Japan, aided by Japan desk chief Kevin Maher. Campbell has been back and forth to Tokyo several times since assuming his post and is scheduled to stop in Tokyo on Thursday on his way home from Burma.
The Japan team at the Pentagon is centered around Assistant Secretary Gen. Chip Gregson, Principal Deputy Derek Mitchell, Deputy Michael Schiffer, and Japan desk officer Suzanne Bassala.
Photo: Pool/Getty Images
Sarah Palin made huge news when she spoke yesterday to a group of Hong Kong business types with former McCain campaign foreign-policy guru Randy Scheunemann in tow. The speech included some of the most critical statements about the Chinese Communist Party by an American political leader in years.
Now The Cable brings you previously unreleased extended excerpts of Palin's speech, which give a window into the foreign-policy persona she is crafting in anticipation of 2012.
Palin on the post Cold War international order:
Later this year, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - an event that changed not just Europe but the entire world. In a matter of months, millions of people in formerly captive nations were freed to pursue their individual and national ambitions.
The competition that defined the post World War II era was suddenly over. What was once called "the free world" had so much to celebrate - the peaceful end to a great power rivalry and the liberation of so many from tyranny's grip.
Some, you could say, took the celebration too far. Many spoke of a "peace dividend," of the need to focus on domestic issues and spend less time, attention and money on endeavors overseas. Many saw a peaceful future, where globalization would break down borders and lead to greater global prosperity. Some argued that state sovereignty would fade - like that was a good thing? -- , that new non-governmental actors and old international institutions would become dominant in the new world order.
As we all know, that did not happen.
On the so-called Global War on Terror:
This war - and that is what it is, a war - is not, as some have said, a clash of civilizations. We are not at war with Islam. This is a war WITHIN Islam, where a small minority of violent killers seeks to impose their view on the vast majority of Muslims who want the same things all of us want: economic opportunity, education, and the chance to build a better life for themselves and their families. The reality is that al Qaeda and its affiliates have killed scores of innocent Muslim men, women and children.
On the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan:
We can win in Afghanistan by helping the Afghans build a stable representative state able to defend itself. And we must do what it takes to prevail. The stakes are very high.
On the U.S. defense budget and federal spending:
We need to go back to fiscal discipline and unfortunately that has not been the view of the current Administration. They're spending everywhere and with disregard for deficits and debts and our future economic competitiveness. Though we are engaged in two wars and face a diverse array of threats, it is the DEFENSE budget that has seen significant program cuts and has actually been reduced from current levels!
First, the Defense Department received only ½ of 1 % of the nearly trillion dollar Stimulus Package funding -- even though many military projects fit the definition of "shovel-ready." In this Administration's first defense budget request for 2010, important programs were reduced or cancelled. As the threat of ballistic missiles from countries like North Korea and Iran grow, missile defense was slashed.
On the Chinese military:
China has some 1000 missiles aimed at Taiwan and no serious observer believes Taiwan poses a military threat to Beijing. Those same Chinese forces make our friends in Japan and Australia nervous. China provides support for some of the world's most questionable regimes from Sudan to Burma to Zimbabwe. China's military buildup raises concerns from Delhi to Tokyo because it has taken place in the absence of any discernable external threat.
China, along with Russia, has repeatedly undermined efforts to impose tougher sanctions on Iran for its defiance of the international community in pursuing its nuclear program. The Chinese food and product safety record has raised alarms from East Asia and Europe to the United States. And, domestic incidents of unrest -- from the protests of Uighurs and Tibetans, to Chinese workers throughout the country rightfully make us nervous.
On democracy and human rights:
I am not talking about some U.S.-led "democracy crusade." We cannot impose our values on other counties. Nor should we seek to. But the ideas of freedom, liberty and respect for human rights are not U.S. ideas, they are much more than that.
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.