The House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to mark up a fiscal 2012 State Department and foreign assistance authorization bill July 20, which proposes sweeping changes to the security assistance provided to several governments that have rocky relationships with the United States.
The draft version of the bill, obtained by The Cable, would prevent the allocation of any funds that fall under the State Department's jurisdiction to the government of Pakistan until the administration can reassure Congress that Pakistan is assisting with the investigation into who helped hide Osama bin Laden, a step that will include making bin Laden's relatives available to the U.S. government. Islamabad must also demonstrate that it is not holding up visas for U.S. personnel who are set to go to Pakistan and not diverting U.S.-provided weapons for purposes other than fighting terrorists along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
That would effectively defund the Kerry-Lugar aid program, which allocated $1.5 billion in fiscal 2012 and another $400 million in foreign military financing. $800 million in U.S. aid was also suspended earlier this month -- but those funds came from the Pentagon's coffers, not the State Department.
The bill would also prohibit the use of any State Department funding to assist the government of Lebanon until the White House certifies to Congress that no member of Hezbollah or any other terrorist group serves in a policy position in the Lebanese government -- a step that would currently be impossible, because Hezbollah is a major coalition partner in the current government. The Obama administration would also need to certify that Lebanon's security services are free from Hezbollah members, that all Lebanese government ministries are financially transparent, and that the Lebanese government is dismantling all foreign terrorist organizations, which includes Hezbollah
In other words, no foreign military financing or international military education and training (IMET) funding for Lebanon would be permitted if this bill, authored by HFAC Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), were to become law.
Similar restrictions on funding for the Palestinian Authority (PA) make it equally unlikely that any State Department assistance to the Palestinian Authority would be allowed. The bill would condition the aid on the president certifying that the PA is doing several things, including that they have "halted all anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian Authority-controlled electronic and print media and in schools, mosques, and other institutions it controls, and is replacing these materials, including textbooks, with materials that promote tolerance, peace, and coexistence with Israel."
Funding for Yemen would also face a series of difficult restrictions, including the stipulation that the president must certify that the Yemeni government "is not complicit in human rights abuses." Hundreds of protesters have been killed since the 5-month old uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is still recovering in Saudi Arabia.
Ros-Lehtinen's bill doesn't stop at restricting foreign assistance to countries that have fraught relations with the United States. The bill would also set into law that it "shall be the policy of the United States to uphold and act in accordance with all of the reassurances provided by the President in an April 14, 2004, letter to the Prime Minister of Israel."
That's a direct swipe at Obama's May 19 declaration that Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations should be based on 1967 borders with agreed swaps. The bill would also require the State Department to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
On China, Ros-Lehtinen's bill would call for a U.S. consulate in Tibet and a Tibet interest section in the U.S. embassy in Beijing. It would also eliminate the East-West Center in Hawaii, a think tank studying U.S.-China relations, and prohibit funding for the U.S.-China Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security that the two countries agreed to establish in January.
The bill also includes language on reinstating the "Mexico City Gag Rule," which would prevent funding for any non-governmental organization that discusses abortion. Republican members of HFAC are also expected to introduce amendments on everything from the United Nations to Libya.
Of course, the bill could change before Wednesday's markup. In fact, this is only the latest of several drafts that have been provided to The Cable over the last couple of weeks. We're told that this draft is close to what the final version that will be presented to the committee.
But that doesn't mean the bill will become law any time soon. Assuming the House leadership gives the bill floor time, it would still have to be reconciled with a version being drafted by the Senate. And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led by John Kerry (D-MA), isn't about to put forward a bill that contains such dramatic limits on the Obama administration's foreign policy.
HFAC staffers insist that they want to devise a strategy for their bill to become law by working with the Senate.
The last time a State Department authorization bill actually became law was 2005, although the House did pass one in 2009. Regardless, insiders see the bill as guidance for House appropriators, who plan to mark up the State Department and foreign assistance appropriations bill July 27. That bill could actually become law if Congress ever resolves the current budget crisis and tackles government funding levels for next year.
For those readers out there who aren't budget geeks, the authorization bill simply sets out policy and is not binding when it comes to dollar amounts. The appropriations bill sets funding, and as such actually places money in the State Department's coffers.
The State Department and USAID are facing their toughest budget season ever as the GOP looks to international affairs accounts for major cuts. But the new Deputy Secretary of State for Management Tom Nides said that the State Department's argument this year will be that international affairs spending is crucial for America's national security and therefore can't be sacrificed.
"Taxpayers want to understand where our money is going. Our view of this is very simple, it is a national security budget," Nides told The Cable in an exclusive interview in his new office on the 7th floor of State's Foggy Bottom headquarters. "Our budget should be looked upon no differently than the department of defense's budget. The DOD budget is a national security budget, the State Department and USAID, likewise."
The Obama administration has long considered State and USAID spending part of the "security" budget, a view that congressional Republicans don't share. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been calling for a unified budget that would combine the Pentagon and State Department budgets into one big account, but that idea has yet to gain traction.
Some senior lawmakers, such as House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee ranking Democrat Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Senate Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee ranking Republican Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have been arguing that certain parts of the foreign aid budget are certainly crucial to national security, especially the programs in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
Nides argues that all the funding should now be defended on national security grounds -- regardless of whether or not they are directly related to countries where the United States has troops on the ground.
"Let's be clear, the State Department and USAID have a national security mandate. We are helping countries through Feed the Future, Global Health Initiatives, climate change, economic support funding -- we're doing that because we're building up these countries to be more self reliant and have stronger economies. By doing that, that helps our national security," Nides said.
Already, the Obama administration has subjected the State Department to a disproportional amount of cuts compared to other departments when making budget deals with congressional Republicans. State's fiscal 2011 budget was cut by $8 billion in the budget deal the administration struck in April to avoid a government shutdown.
Meanwhile, the long-term budget announced in April by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would cut the budget for international affairs and foreign assistance by 29 percent in 2012 and 44 percent by 2016 -- while increasing the defense budget by 14 percent over the same timeframe.
Administration officials believe their $53 billion fiscal 2012 budget request reflects their first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Reivew (QDDR), an effort modeled after the Pentagon's QDR, and aligns resources with national security objectives while making tough choices in a difficult fiscal climate.
But there are signs that State is already thinking about giving up some authorities that it struggled to take from the Pentagon as part of the QDDR's overall drive to put diplomats and civilians back in charge of foreign policy. For example, State gave back control of the Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capability Fund (PCCF) in the 2011 budget deal in order to take that money off of its ledger. Nides said that was a one-time deal and State would take back that program next year.
"Fiscal year 2011 was an extraordinary year. The transfer back of [PCCF] funding for fiscal year 2011 [to the Pentagon] was just for fiscal year 2011 only. We don't believe it's an ongoing policy decision," he said.
He also pledged to keep a robust civilian presence in Afghanistan going forward, despite that Clinton recently said that the buildup of civilians there has peaked.
"We've got to keep all this in perspective. There are 100,000 military boots on the ground. We had 300 [civilians in Afghanistan], we're now at approximately 1,140 civilians. It's not easy to sustain the level of civilians in a voluntary situation of the level of talent that we need. Over time, we will see a leveling off to a more normalized number of diplomats," said Nides.
Of the 1,140 civilians in Afghanistan now, about 500 are from State, 300 are from USAID, and the rest come from various other government agencies.
Overall, State will continue to make the argument that international-affairs spending comprises only 1 percent of the federal budget and helps produce new economies that can become markets for American companies and goods.
But the main focus will be to identify America's diplomats and development experts and the front line soldiers in the ongoing battle to keep the country safe and secure, especially as instability due to food shortages and economic turbulence increases around the world.
"You have hungry people, which destabilizes your country. You have a destabilized country, all sorts of bad things happen. State and USAID work to prevent that," Nides said. "This is a very important frame and a very important view.
President Barack Obama officially announced his intention to nominate Wendy Sherman to be the next undersecretary of state for political affairs today.
The Cable first reported in May that Sherman, a long time confidant of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had emerged as the "leading candidate" to replace Bill Burns as the fourth-highest ranking official in Foggy Bottom. Burns has been nominated as principal deputy secretary of state. Currently the vice chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, Sherman was counselor to Secretary of State Madeline Albright, where she also served as North Korean policy coordinator. She served as assistant secretary of State for legislative affairs from 1993 to 1996 under Secretary of State Warren Christopher. She is also chair of the board of directors of Oxfam America and serves on the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Policy Board.
After Clinton was tapped by Obama as secretary of state, Sherman played a major role in her nomination preparation and transition teams. She served as an agency review lead for the State Department's transition after the 2008 election, along with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. As an official with experience dealing with East Asia policy, she will help fill the void left by departed Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg, a State Department official said.
She faces a tough, but perhaps not insurmountable, confirmation fight in the Senate. Even before her nomination was announced, detractors in the Republican Party began a campaign to question her suitability for the post and her record both inside and out of government. Her confirmation hearing is sure to focus on her time dealing with Pyongyang, which is seen by her critics as a period of appeasement of the North Korean regime.
Senate offices are also planning to dig into Sherman's client base while she worked at Albright-Stonebridge. Her public clients -- which include Coca-Cola, BMW, and Pew Global Attitudes Project -- all seem innocuous, but lawmakers will want to know more about her undisclosed clients. There are suspicions that she represented Chinese interests, but no direct evidence to that effect has surfaced.
Lastly, senators will certainly make an issue out of the fact that Sherman was head of the Fannie Mae Foundation from 1996 to 1997. Her defense will be that Fannie Mae Foundation was a tax-exempt, non-profit organization when she worked there, and moreover that she was never paid directly by Fannie Mae.
Sherman was confirmed for her position as State Department counselor in 1997 by a GOP-controlled Senate, and a Senate Foreign Relations Committee led by Jesse Helms. Administration officials said that they are confident they can make a strong argument for Sherman and get her through the confirmation process.
We'll see. The State Department is also facing tough confirmation fights on a series of nominees, for a variety of reasons. Other nominees facing scrutiny include current National Security Council Senior Director for Russia Mike McFaul, who has been nominated as the next ambassador to Moscow, Mara Rudman as the new USAID assistant administrator for the Middle East, and David Adams to replace Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Richard Verma.
"As I know from years of working by her side, Wendy Sherman has a keen intellect, is deeply knowledgeable, incredibly hard-working and fully dedicated to the protection of U.S. interests and the success of American leadership across the globe," Albright said in a statement e-mailed to The Cable. "She is the perfect candidate for the job of Under Secretary for Political Affairs. I urge my friends in the Senate to act promptly and positively on her nomination."
A senior GOP aide reacted by saying, "We will check very carefully to understand all of her clients with [former U.S. National Security Advisor] Sandy Berger and Albright."
GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty will deliver a major address on foreign policy on Tuesday in what his top aides are billing as a rebuttal to what they see as President Barack Obama's flawed May 19 speech on the Middle East.
All the Republican presidential candidates are being forced to sharpen their foreign policy chops as the primary race heats up, but Pawlenty has been vocal on several key foreign policy issues for some time. His campaign may for now be light on foreign policy infrastructure, but it's heavy on policy positions and ideas, several of which he plans to lay out tomorrow morning when he addresses the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
"There's a frustration the governor feels with President Obama, that there's no strategic coherence to his foreign policy. Whether it's the Arab Spring, the Middle East peace process, Iran, or Syria there's an ad hoc approach to what they're doing. And the learning curve never seems to get flatter," Pawlenty's senior foreign policy advisor Brian Hook told The Cable.
"The governor's speech will set forth a strategically coherent approach to the Middle East and he will discuss a better way forward in the Middle East peace process."
Pawlenty will lay out a set of principles that the United States should adhere to in the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Pawlenty will also put forth his own views tomorrow for how the United States should respond to the Arab Spring. He will divide the countries of the region into categories -- those that are struggling for democracy, entrenched monarchies, anti-U.S. regimes such as Syria and Iran, and Israel. He will then argue that there's no one-size-fits-all solution for the problems plaguing the Middle East.
Hook, a former assistant secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, also worked as an advisor to two U.S. ambassadors: Zalmay Kalizad and John Bolton. He emphasizes that on foreign policy, Pawlenty is a "Reagan Republican" when it comes to the broad strokes.
On specific issues such as the president's approach to Israel, U.S. policy toward Iran, or U.S.-Russia relations, Pawlenty often shares the views of leading GOP hawks in the Senate such as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). But Pawlenty doesn't want to be identified as a neoconservative, and doesn't want his views to be tied to those senators in particular.
"I wish you could think of another way to describe this wing of the party, other than McCain and Lindsey Graham. I love John, but that's like saying we're embracing Nelson Rockefeller on economics," Pawlenty joked during his interview with Bloomberg News.
The other major foreign policy voice so far in Pawlenty's campaign is former Minnesota congressman and campaign co-chair Vin Weber, who was a member of the neoconservative group Project for a New American Century and an early supporter of the invasion of Iraq
But Hook said Pawlenty's foreign policy identity is his own.
"Governor Pawlenty believes in an exceptional America. He believes that a President must provide strong and decisive leadership to the forces of democracy, and President Obama has repeatedly failed at this basic task," he said.
Pawlenty mostly sticks to that forward-leaning approach, particularly in regard to Obama's intervention in Libya, a topic that he will also address on Tuesday. Pawlenty was among the first to call for a no-fly zone over Libya and for Muammar al-Qaddafi to go, but he's not satisfied with the way the Obama administration has handled the war.
"A quick, decisive decision by Obama in days, not weeks, to impose a no-fly zone would have given us a very different result. But once the president of the United States says that Qaddafi must go, you just can't let him sit there indefinitely and thumb his nose at us. He's a third-rate dictator who has American blood on his hands," he said.
Pawlenty's staff is aware that there is a fractious internal debate going on inside the GOP on foreign policy. The influx of Tea Party candidates in Congress has conflated foreign policy with calls to slash the budget, and candidates like Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are now questioning the continued commitment to Afghanistan. But Pawlenty is unmoved by the politics of the moment.
"Some foreign policy positions are not politically popular today, but the governor bases his decisions on principle and American values -- not what the polls say this week or next," Hook said.
On April 15, the State Department notified Congress that it wanted to send $25 million of non-lethal military aid to the Libyan rebels, but as of today that money is being held up by the White House and no funds or goods have been disbursed.
The State Department's congressional notification about the aid funds, first reported on Tuesday by the Washington Times, stated that the aid would include "vehicles, fuel trucks and fuel bladders, ambulances, medical equipment, protective vests, binoculars, and non-secure radios" -- all items identified by the Libyan opposition's National Transitional Council (NTC) as urgently needed to protect civilians from Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi's forces in cities such as Misrata.
"One of the reasons why I announced $25 million in nonlethal aid yesterday, why many of our partners both in NATO and in the broader Contact Group are providing assistance to the opposition - is to enable them to defend themselves and to repulse the attacks by Qaddafi forces," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on this morning.
"There's an urgent situation here and they need our help," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Wednesday.
But as of today, six days after the State Department notified Congress it planned to give the aid, the White House has still not signed off and none of the aid has begun its journey to the rebels, despite that intense fighting is ongoing.
"Yesterday's announcement of the 25 million in drawdown assistance was not fully cooked. That still needs to head to the White House, be confirmed or ratified by the president, and then we can begin implementing it," Toner explained at Thursday afternoon's State Department briefing.
So what's the hold up? National Security Staff spokesperson Tommy Vietor declined to comment on why the White House was holding up the funds or when a decision would be made.
Meanwhile, a State Department official said that the State Department's top official in Libya Chris Stevens continues to work with the NTC to figure out what they need and whether the U.S. can provide specific items of assistance.
If the aid is approved by the White House, Libya rebels could be soon wearing U.S. military uniforms, although without the U.S. flag stitched on them.
"Many places around the world people wear old NYC police uniforms, they won't be the current uniforms, they have old stocks," the official said.
The U.S. and other countries are readying further measures to increase pressure on Qaddafi through further sanctions on the regime's oil business and tighter enforcement of existing sanctions, the official said.
When asked if the U.S. was considering military advisors to Libya, as the British and French are doing now, the official said, "No."
President Barack Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres discussed how the Israeli-Palestinian peace process fits into the wave of democratization sweeping through the Arab world during a working lunch and then a 40 minute one-on-one meeting on Tuesday..
"We had an extensive discussion about what's happened in the Middle East," Obama said at a press conference after the meetings. "I think he and I both share a belief that this is both a challenge and an opportunity; that with the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it's more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis."
At the working lunch, Obama was joined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, NSC Chief of Staff Brooke Anderson, NSC Senior Director Dennis Ross, incoming U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, and NSC Senior Director Puneet Talwar.
Both presidents expressed the opinion that bringing the Arab-Israeli conflict to a resolution would help the United States and Israel support democratic change in the Middle East.
"We see it as a clash between generations, a clash between those who want democracy and those who want to go backwards," an Israel official who was present at the lunch told The Cable. "One of the ways to make sure the right side wins is if there could be progress in the peace process."
The most immediate issue for Israel how to set good relations with the next government in Egypt. Obama said the two presidents discussed ways for both countries to support Egypt's economic development as a means of supporting the Egyptian youth. Peres believes restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would also help Israel navigate its changing relationship with Egypt.
"Peres' message is that Palestinians and Israel now have a common interest to get to negotiations, because both sides want Egypt to continue to support the peace process," the Israel official said.
But Obama, following the breakdown of the direct negotiations he and Clinton worked so hard to push forward in 2010, warned Peres that he would only try again if he first saw increased commitment from both parties.
"Obama said he's willing to help, he's willing to push forward, but... he wants to see that a serious effort is being made and then he will add his weight," the official explained.
Obama and Peres also addressed the issue of Iran at their meetings. Peres noted that dealing with Iran is also a moral issue, because the Islamic Republic heads the anti-democratic camp in the region. The two presidents also agreed on continuing cooperation on missile defense against the Iranian threat and the necessity of maintaining economic sanctions on Tehran. .
According to the Israeli official, Peres told Obama that Israel is increasingly concerned about the flow of Russian strategic weaponry into the region and said that Israel wants to purchase an additional 20 F-35 fighter jets.
U.S. officials at the lunch raised the touchy issue of continued Israeli settlement building, but Peres didn't give any ground.
"Look, our policy hasn't changed," the official said, referring to Peres's position. "We have our differences with the administration but this has been our policy all along. We don't agree on everything."
Peres also asked Obama to consider clemency for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, and he reminded the U.S. president that he has an open invitation to visit Israel whenever he wants.
Obama acknowledged both points but gave "no sort of reply one way or the other," the official said.
As Congress struggles to negotiate a budget deal to keep the government running, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) told lawmakers Wednesday that the GOP version of the budget bill would result in the deaths of at least 70,000 children who depend on American food and health assistance around the world.
"We estimate, and I believe these are very conservative estimates, that H.R. 1 would lead to 70,000 kids dying," USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah testified before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee.
"Of that 70,000, 30,000 would come from malaria control programs that would have to be scaled back specifically. The other 40,000 is broken out as 24,000 would die because of a lack of support for immunizations and other investments and 16,000 would be because of a lack of skilled attendants at birth," he said.
The Republican bill, known as H.R.1, was passed by the House, and would fund the government for the rest of fiscal 2011. It would effectively cut 16 percent from the Obama administration's original fiscal 2011 request for the international affairs account.
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) pointed out that H.R. 1 would provide $430 million for the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account, which is 50 percent below the president's fiscal 2011 request and 67 percent below fiscal 2010 levels.
Shah said that such a cut "would be, really, the most dramatic stepping back away from our humanitarian responsibilities around the world in decades." The IDA account supports 1.6 million people in Darfur, so halving the account would place 800,000 people at risk, he said.
"[T]his would lead to a significant amount of reduction in feeding programs, medical programs and food and water programs for people who are incredibly vulnerable," he added.
Shah was also testifying in defense of the administration's fiscal 2012 budget request, which also faces the axe on Capitol Hill. Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) opened the hearing by announcing that the administration's fiscal 2012 request was dead on arrival.
"While I understand the value of many of these important programs, the funding request for next year is -- is truly unrealistic in today's budget environment," she said. "We simply cannot fund everything that has been funded in the past. And we certainly cannot continue to fund programs that are duplicative and wasteful."
Granger said she would support USAID programs that have national security implications or contribute to the ongoing missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Her Democratic counterpart, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), said that national security is threatened by instability in other parts of the world as well.
"Drastic cuts to USAID would risk a great deal in stability and security around the world which could spawn the kinds of threats that cost this country the lives of men and women in uniform and billions in treasure," she said.
Shah argued that foreign assistance is crucial to the long term economic recovery because it helps develop markets for American goods.
"USAID's work also strengthens America's economic security. By establishing links to consumers at the bottom of the pyramid, we effectively position American countries to enter more markets and sell more goods in the economies of the future, promoting exports and creating American jobs," he said.
Following two days of intensive discussions in Brussels, NATO has agreed to support -- but not command -- operations in Libya. Meanwhile, France has proposed a high-level international "political steering committee" to actually run the war. But does the Obama administration support that idea?
"NATO has now decided to launch an operation to enforce the arms embargo against Libya," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement from Brussels on Tuesday evening. He said U.S. Admiral James Stavridis was activating NATO ships and aircraft to "monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries."
NATO has also "completed plans to help enforce the no-fly zone" that will be brought into force "if needed, in a clearly defined manner," to support the effort to protect the Libyan people," Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen didn't say whether NATO would perform the command-and-control function of the no-fly zone, something that Turkey has objected to because the "all necessary measures" language of Security Council Resolution 1973 includes the bombing of Libya. France objected to NATO being in command of the war operations on a day-to-day basis and has now proposed a new "political steering committee," made up of foreign ministers from the United States, European, and Arab states, to oversee the war.
A French diplomat told The Cable that the details of the proposal would be worked out over the next few days. "It was always understood that there would be two stages of operations. The one that started on Saturday and a second phase in which NATO would play a role," the French diplomat said.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé announced on Tuesday that the British are in agreement with the proposal but the French government has not said anything about the position of the Obama administration.
So is the Obama administration on board? White House spokesman Tommy Vietor did not respond to a request for comment on the French proposal. Obama spoke with Sarkozy Tuesday and "the two Presidents agreed on the means of using NATO's command structures to support the coalition," the French government said in a read out.
It's not clear how the French steering committee would be in operational control of the war, but the proposal includes that the committee would be in charge of the "strategic decisions" involving military action, the diplomat said.
If enacted, the proposal would allow President Barack Obama to fulfill his pledge to transfer leadership of the war out of American hands within "a matter of days," as he said Monday.
The French position is that the steering committee idea would allow NATO to bring its military capabilities to bear without putting an exclusively Western label on the military intervention. Qaddafi has called the campaign a "colonial crusade" by western nations.
"The only constraint is that we need to keep the Arabs involved," the French diplomat said. "In order to do that we need to use NATO capabilities and we need to [provide so that] Arab countries stay involved."
The NATO meetings on Monday were contentious. The French and German representatives reportedly stormed out of the meeting, albeit for very different reasons. France was upset at Rasmussen for openly criticizing France in the meeting and questioning their reliability as an ally. Germany is opposed to the military intervention altogether.
"We do not want to be sucked into a position of eventually seeing German soldiers fighting in Libya," Germany's foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said.
"There was confusion yesterday but we are safely now going in the right direction," the French diplomat reported.
Our sources also report that Washington has made it clear that they want to see the transfer of leadership for the Libya mission leave U.S. hands by the end of the week. Whether the Obama administration and the Defense Department are comfortable with a French led international steering committee making decisions about the actions of U.S. military forces remains to be seen.
The State Department is funding a project for a think tank to host diplomatic talks in Vienna, angering top lawmakers at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who believe the project undercuts their role.
The State Department funded project, which will cost U.S. taxpayers 60,000 euros, or about $83,400, will give representatives of OSCE countries a forum to meet outside of the OSCE's formal structures to work on various regional disputes. The OSCE is mainly run by the Secretariat , the Permanent Council, and the Parliamentary Assembly (PA). The contract dispute has pitted the PA against the both the Secretariat and the State Department.
Top PA officials have been trying to stop the project due to their concerns that the money was awarded without competition to a Canadian researcher who has previously been critical of OSCE parliamentarians.
"The main concern that we have had is the fact that the contract was not put out for competitive bid, the money just appeared on the table," OSCE PA Secretary General Spencer Oliver said in an exclusive interview with The Cable.
He also objected to taking important diplomatic functions away from the OSCE's formal structures and giving them to an NGO.
"It looks like they're outsourcing a major diplomatic function of the OSCE chairmanship, which would be a very bad precedent to set," Oliver said.
The State Department funds are being given to an organization called the International Peace Institute, which opened up a shop in Vienna only recently. The man in charge of the project is Canadian Walter Kemp, who has worked on OSCE issues for over 10 years. Kemp previously served as a speechwriter for the Secretariat, and has made several enemies among the OSCE PA.
Kemp advocated taking away some of the parliamentarians' power regarding OSCE election monitoring in an IPI paper published last October, and also disparaged their role at the 2010 OSCE summit in Astana.
"Parliamentarians parachuted in to read out headline grabbing statements undercut the credibility of long term and constructive election monitoring," Kemp wrote.
Canadian Sen. Consiglio Di Nino, the head of the Canadian delegation to the OSCE PA, was so angry with Kemp that he wrote to him about the article. "If the comments reflect your opinion, this would indicate a serious lack of understanding of a complex matter and calls into question your reputation as a fair and knowledgeable person," he said.
"We know Kemp and he's been doing this for years," Oliver told The Cable. "He's always shown an extreme bias against parliamentarians."
Oliver also said there was a conflict of interest in the contract award because OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Brichambaut is on the board of IPI.
Several U.S. Congressmen connected to the OSCE PA have complained to the State Department about the contract, including Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Jim Costa (D-CA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), and Alcee Hastings (D-FL). Their objections convinced State to hold up the funds for a time, but a State Department official told The Cable that State has now decided to let the funds go through.
The State Department official said that the project would be managed by the upcoming Lithuanian chairmanship of the OSCE, and that the State Department felt the project was a useful way to provide a forum for talks that can't occur in the formal structures of the OSCE.
"We support this project. We were not aware of this impolitic comment by this researcher Walter Kemp," the official said. "We know Walter well, he's been involved with the OSCE for 10 years. He's a really sharp guy. The Lithuanians thought he was the right guy to run these workshops."
The money was awarded without competition but is not technically a no-bid contract because it's an extra budgetary project of the OSCE, the official said. The official promised that State would exercise vigorous oversight.
"We understand that people in the PA are upset and we're upset that this researcher wrote what he did. But when he wrote it he wasn't under contract by the OSCE and he has the right to write what he wants. He's going to be on a very short leash," the official said.
Amb. Ian Kelly, the top U.S. representative to the OSCE, has been handling the dispute in Vienna. Kelly called Oliver last week to give him assurances State would keep tabs on the project.
"As you know, some members of the Parliamentary Assembly... raised some questions about the goals of the project, and the implementing partner," Kelly wrote in a March 4 letter to Lithuanian Amb. Renatas Norkus. "As a result, it is particularly incumbent upon us to ensure maximum transparency with, and maximum participation of, the Parliamentary Assembly in the workshops, to the extent possible and appropriate."
"This is an important project and we are happy to help you implement it," Kelly wrote.
The Empire State Building will be lit up red, white, and blue tonight, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's creation of the Peace Corps.
"Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy," Kennedy said on March 1, 1961. "But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps -- who works in a foreign land -- will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace."
Kennedy set a goal of recruiting 500 Peace Corps volunteers that year. In 2011, the Peace Corps has 8,675 volunteers who serve in 77 countries. Its alumni include author Paul Theroux (Malawi, 1963-65), Chris Matthews (Swaziland, 1968-70), Sen. Chris Dodd (Dominican Republic, 1966-68), former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala (Iran, 1962-64), Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson (Tanzania, 1965-68), former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher R. Hill (Cameroon, 1974-76), and four other members of Congress.
Tonight's commemoration in New York City kicks off over 4 months of Peace Corps events, culminating in a featured program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on June 30 to July 11.
The Peace Corps received $400 million in fiscal 2010 from Congress, and has been largely immune from the slash-and-burn mood of many House Republicans, who have proposed large cuts in rest of the international affairs budget. The House GOP's version of funding for the rest of fiscal 2011 would keep the organization's funding at 2010 levels.
In addition to its alumni representation on Capitol Hill, the Peace Corps has been able to stay out of the budget debate -- in part because the organization is spread out over the country and therefore has advocates in many districts. The Obama administration has asked for $439.5 million for fiscal 2012, but the debate over that request has yet to begin.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement today praising the Peace Corps' role in preparing people for careers in diplomacy and development.
"Every day, I work with dedicated colleagues at the State Department and USAID, many of whom paved the foundation for their careers in the Foreign Service and Civil Service with their years in the Peace Corps," she said. "The Peace Corps taught them compassion, patience, and continues to bridge cross-cultural divides."
Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps' first leader, died in January. Here's a video of then Senator Kennedy pitching his idea to University of Michigan students on Oct. 14, 1960, about three weeks before he was elected President.
The White House announced on Friday afternoon that the United States will take punitive measures against the government of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi, including a weapons embargo, and individual sanctions against key government officials -- but not a no-fly zone.
"We're finalizing the sanctions that we will pursue. The universe of effective sanctions is pretty well known," said White House press secretary Jay Carney, declining to give specifics of the sanctions. He said that these steps could be followed by more steps in the near future.
A skeptical White House press corps asked Carney why the administration would have any confidence that sanctions could influence the decision making of Qaddafi, as he continues to slaughter his own people in a desperate bid to hold on to power.
"Targeted sanctions that affect senior leadership of a country like Libya have been shown to have an effect," Carney responded.
He also indicated that the lack of White House action to pressure the regime until this point was due to the need to maintain ties with the Libyan government until all U.S. personnel were evacuated.
"The focus [President Obama] has had is on our obligation to protect American citizens and also getting the policy right," Carney said, arguing that the administration has acted "with great deliberation and haste" and "there's never been a time when this much has been done this quickly."
Carney declined to call for Qaddafi to step down, but did say that the Libyan people deserve a representative government of their own choosing and that "the status quo is neither tenable nor acceptable."
The State Department-sponsored ferry finally left Tripoli on Friday for Malta after being delayed by bad weather. It carries 39 U.S. government personnel, 144 U.S. citizens, and 155 international citizens. A U.S. charter aircraft also left Libya on Friday for Istanbul with more U.S. and international citizens on board.
"Americans who wanted to be evacuated were evacuated," Carney said.
Also on Friday, the State Department "shuttered" the U.S. embassy in Tripoli.
"The flag is still flying, the embassy is not closed, but operations are suspended," said Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy. "We did not break diplomatic relations."
The Libyan embassy in Washington is still up and running, a State Department official said.
Interactions between State Department officials and the Libyan government continue. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns spoke twice over the last two days with Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa and Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman has spoken with Kusa several times, the State Department said.
Spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Thursday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to call Kusa earlier this week, but that the call could not be completed due to technical reasons. No attempts have been made to talk with Qaddafi directly, he said, but the State Department has passed him messages through unidentified third parties.
Clinton and Obama have also been working the phone, contacting friends and allies to coordinate the international response to the escalating tragedy in Libya. Obama spoke on Thursday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.
Clinton will travel to Geneva on Monday to attend a meeting of the Human Rights Council, which issued a new resolution on Friday condemning the Libyan government and calling on the U.N. General Assembly to suspend the country from the commission. AFP reported that the European Union has also decided to impose various sanctions on the Libyan government.
The EU sanctions roughly match the U.S. sanctions, although neither has disclosed the details. But EU leaders have gone further than the Obama administration in calling for Qaddafi's departure. French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said France and England will combine to call for Qaddafi to be tried in the International Criminal Court.
And on Friday, Sarkozy told a news conference, "Mr Qaddafi must leave."
Vice President Joseph Biden argued on Thursday for forceful and early international intervention to prevent governments from committing atrocities, but didn't explicitly make the case for such intervention in Libya.
"I got in trouble when I said, during the Bosnia crisis, coming back from meeting Milosevic... that when a state engages in atrocity, it forfeits its sovereignty," Biden told an audience at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., where he was speaking at an event honoring the late Congressman Tom Lantos.
"And it was viewed at the time as somehow being contrary to the notions of the principles of the United Nations Charter that you forfeit your sovereignty," Biden said. "I remember the first person to call me as I was being roundly criticized was Tom Lantos, [who said,] ‘Keep it up, Joe.'"
Biden lauded the Obama administration for creating a senior-level position inside the National Security Council to coordinate what he referred to as new, stronger policies on preventing, identifying, and responding to mass atrocities and genocide.
"Too often in the past, these efforts have come too late, after the best and least costly opportunities to prevent them have been missed," Biden said. "First, we must recognize early indicators of potential atrocities and respond accordingly, rather than waiting until we are confronted by massacres like those in Rwanda or in Srebrenica."
He referenced the same two examples of genocide that Anne-Marie Slaughter, former top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, referred to when calling for international intervention in Libya. Biden criticized the international community for waiting so long to stop the killing of civilians in those cases.
"It's amazing how in the Balkans it took so long," Biden said. "Our administration also believes that holding perpetrators of mass atrocities accountable is an essential component of our prevention efforts. And that's why we have to reinvigorate efforts to bring some of the worst war criminals to justice."
While Biden lamented the international community's slow response to past instances of atrocities, he didn't explicitly name Libya's Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi as a candidate for such a response or explain how the administration's atrocity prevention policy would be applied in the current Arab world crisis. Rather, he repeated the administration's message that the international community must uphold three overarching principles with regards to Libya: an end to violence, protection of universal rights, and progress toward political reform.
"The Holocaust and the legacy are not only a part of our country's history, this country's history, but they continue to inform our approach to events today. They stiffen our resolve and our conscience, God willing, in the face of atrocities wherever and whenever they occur," Biden said.
He also quoted Lantos on the issue.
"‘The veneer of civilization is paper-thin,' Lantos often said. We are the guardians, and we can never rest."
The Obama administration is considering a range of options for pressuring the Libyan regime to stop massacring civilians -- including sanctions, asset freezes, and perhaps even the establishment of an international no-fly zone. But according to a senior NSC official, armed intervention in Libya is not on the table.
The calls are increasing in Washington for the Obama administration to take new, stronger measures to punish the Libyan government led by Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi for atrocities and to protect Libyan civilians.
Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) implored Obama on in a press conference to establish a no-fly zone in Libya, abandon its recognition of the Qaddafi government, transfer recognition to a transitional government formed by the rebels as soon as possible, and provide the opposition with support, including weapons.
"The government of Libya, epitomized by Muammar Qaddafi is massacring some of his people. There is very little doubt about Mr. Qaddafi's commitment to remaining in power no matter how much blood has to be shed," McCain said on behalf of both senators at a Friday press conference in Jerusalem.
"When a government massacres its own people, it loses its legitimacy. So, we should no longer recognize the existing government of Libya."
Lieberman added that the no-fly zone should be organized by NATO and he compared the ongoing killing of civilians in Libya to the genocide perpetrated by Serbia during the 1990s that eventually resulted in a NATO bombing campaign.
"I think in that sense it is very important that we not just make statements about the massacre that is occurring in Libya but that we lead an international coalition to do something," Lieberman said. "What is happening in Libya today reminds me what happened in the Balkans in the 1990s. We in the United States decided that we could not simply stand by and watch a government massacre its people."
Back in Washington, Vice President Joseph Biden lamented on Thursday that NATO intervention in the Balkans didn't come sooner, when it could have saved more lives.
"It's amazing how in the Balkans it took so long," Biden told an audience at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. "First, we must recognize early indicators of potential atrocities and respond accordingly, rather than waiting until we are confronted by massacres like those in Rwanda or in Srebrenica."
Former State Department Policy Planning Chief Anne-Marie Slaughter also compared the violence in Libya to the Balkans and the 1994 Rwandan genocide in a Thursday tweet.
"The international community cannot stand by and watch the massacre of Libyan protesters. In Rwanda we watched. In Kosovo we acted," Slaughter tweeted.
Also on Friday, a bipartisan group of senior mostly-Republican foreign policy experts penned an open letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to make good on his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, when he said, "Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later."
The experts asked Obama to call on NATO to urgently develop plans to establish an air and naval presence in Libya, freeze all Libyan government assets in the U.S. and Europe, consider halting Libyan oil imports, pledge to hold Qaddafi responsible for any atrocities, and speed humanitarian aid to the Libyan people.
"With violence spiraling to new heights, and with the apparent willingness of the Qaddafi regime to use all weapons at its disposal against the Libyan people, we may be on the threshold of a moral and humanitarian catastrophe," the experts wrote. "Inaction, or slow and inadequate measures, may not only fail to stop the slaughter in Libya but will cast doubt on the commitment of the United States and Europe to basic principles of human rights and freedoms."
The letter was signed by several senior GOP former officials, including Elliott Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, Eric Edelman, Eliot Cohen, Jamie Fly and Scott Carpenter, human rights activities David Kramer and Neil Hicks, and Clinton administration official John Shattuck.
"The United States and our European allies have a moral interest in both an end to the violence and an end to the murderous Libyan regime. There is no time for delay and indecisiveness," they wrote. "The people of Libya, the people of the Middle East, and the world require clear U.S. leadership in this time of opportunity and peril."
Full text of the letter after the jump:
A host of top U.S. military officials held a secret day-long meeting with Pakistan's top military officers on Tuesday in Oman to plot a course out of the diplomatic crisis that threatens the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.
The United States was represented by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Adm. Eric Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, Stars and Stripes reported. The Pakistani delegation included Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan's chief of army staff, and Maj. Gen. Javed Iqbal, director general of military operations.
The meeting was planned long ago and covered various aspects of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, but a large portion was dedicated to the diplomatic crisis surrounding Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor who was arrested in Lahore, Pakistan, last month after fatally shooting two armed Pakistani men.
"Where do you go to think seriously and bring sanity to a maddening situation? Far from the madding crowd to a peaceful Omani luxury resort of course. So that's what the military leadership of the US and Pakistan did," wrote Gen. Jehangir Karamat in a read out of the meeting obtained by The Cable and confirmed by a senior Pakistani official. Karamat is a former chief of Pakistan's army, and also served as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2004.
"The US had to point out that once beyond a tipping point the situation would be taken over by political forces that could not be controlled," Karamat wrote about the meeting, referring to the reported split between the CIA and the Pakistani Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) that erupted following the Davis shooting.
In Oman U.S. officials implored the Pakistani military to step up its involvement in the Davis case, following the Pakistani government's decision to pass the buck to the judicial system on adjudicating Davis' claim of diplomatic immunity. However, their concerns also went beyond this most recent diplomatic spat.
"[T]he US did not want the US-Pakistan relationship to go into a free fall under media and domestic pressures," Karamat wrote. "These considerations drove it to ask the [Pakistani] Generals to step in and do what the governments were failing to do-especially because the US military was at a critical stage in Afghanistan and Pakistan was the key to control and resolution."
"The militaries will now brief and guide their civilian masters and hopefully bring about a qualitative change in the US-Pakistan Relationship by arresting the downhill descent and moving it in the right direction."
A senior Pakistani official confirmed the accuracy of Karamat's analysis to The Cable. The official said that the Davis incident would hopefully now be put on a path toward resolution following a feeding frenzy in the Pakistani media, which has reported on rumors of an extensive network of CIA contract spies operating outside of the Pakistani government's or the ISI's knowledge.
"The idea is to find a solution whereby the Davis incident does not hijack the U.S.-Pakistan relationship," the official said. The most probable outcome, the official explained, is that Davis would be turned over to the United States, following a promise from the U.S. government to investigate the incident.
The United States would also compensate the families of the two Pakistani men killed by Davis, and a third man who died after two other U.S. embassy personnel ran him over while racing to the scene of the shooting. Negotiations between U.S. officials and the family members are already underway, the official said.
Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, said that it was the responsibility of the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, led until recently by Shah Mahmood Qureshi, to resolve the Davis case. Qureshi was removed as Foreign Minister after reportedly refusing to go along with the government's plan to grant Davis immunity.
"It's really the Foreign Ministry's responsibility," said Nawaz, "But in the absence of action by the civilian government, if the military can help persuade them to resolve this matter and find the way, that's all for the better."
But once the Davis case is resolved, there's still much work to be done in repairing the relationship between the CIA and the ISI. The ISI is widely suspected of airing its anger with the CIA in both the Pakistani and U.S. media. The latest example was Wednesday's Associated Press story that featured a never-before released ISI "statement" that said the Davis case was putting the entire ISI-CIA relationship in jeopardy.
The CIA and the ISI are talking, the Pakistani official said, but the path toward reconciliation will be a long one.
"It's a spy game being played out in the media and the CIA has told the ISI to cut it out," the official said. "The relationship remains testy. But after the meeting between Mullen and Kayani the likelihood of some resolution has increased."
Inside the Pakistani government, the Davis case has exacerbated internal tensions between the civilian government, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, and the ISI. Pakistani news agencies have been reporting that the Pakistani embassy in Washington has approved hundreds of visas for American officials without proper vetting, increasing the ease with which covert CIA operatives could enter the country.
Pakistan's Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani has denied that any visas had been issued from his embassy without proper authorization. An analysis of Pakistani visas granted to U.S. government employees, conducted by the Pakistani government, shows there has been no significant increase in the number of visas issued since 2007.
Regardless, the gentlemen's agreement between the ISI and the CIA that the two organizations would keep each other informed on each other's actions in Pakistan has now broken down.
"It's a vicious circle. Davis was in Pakistan because Pakistan can't be trusted. But Davis getting caught has increased the mistrust," the Pakistani official said. "Their interests are no longer congruent. Eventually the ISI and the CIA will have to work out new rules of engagement."
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo was planning to spend $667,200 on a youth soccer mentorship program in Egypt, to be run through the Egyptian Ministry of Interior. However, it withdrew its funding request following the Interior Ministry's brutal crackdowns on Egyptian youth during the anti-regime protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak earlier this month.
The State Department's Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Richard Verma sent out the initial congressional notification about the Egyptian soccer program on Jan. 25, the same day that the massive popular protests broke out in Egypt. The money was to come from the State Department's account for nonproliferation, anti-terrorism, demining, and related programs (NADR) from fiscal 2010 and was to be given to U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey. The program would have operated in conjunction with the Egyptian Ministry of Interior and the Egyptian police.
But on Tuesday, Verma sent a letter to Congress, obtained by The Cable, withdrawing the notification.
"Based on the events of the past week, questions have arisen about the appropriateness and feasibility of proceeding at this time with the proposed youth soccer mentorship program in Egypt," Verma wrote, also noting that embassy personnel were preoccupied now and could not oversee the program.
"Moreover, there are questions about the role of the Egyptian Ministry of Interior and the Egyptian Police in recent events. Before proceeding with a youth engagement activity involving the two organizations, additional time for the situation to settle is needed."
The State Department could resubmit the request for soccer program funding at a later date, Verma wrote.
For longtime critics of the State Department's relationship with the Egyptian government, the fact that a soccer program was being planned in conjunction with the Interior Ministry shows a lack of understanding of the body's relationship with the Egyptian population.
"You could forgive someone for thinking this congressional notification came straight from The Onion," said Danielle Pletka, vice president of the American Enterprise Institute. "If it weren't so pathetic -- in a nutshell what's wrong with U.S. foreign aid -- it would be hysterical."
As protests rage in Bahrain and Libya, the U.S. government's stance toward democracy in the Arab world is evolving, even in Congress. On Wednesday, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said that the United States must abandon its decades-old habit of supporting autocrats.
"The old days of ‘as long as we can make a positive relationship with the autocrat who's running the place, then we are friends with the country' are dead and gone," Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) told a group of reporters over breakfast on Wednesday.
"We have to be much more interested in trying to get the actual populations in those countries to be supportive of us," Smith said. "What we have to start thinking about in the foreign policy establishment is what shifts in our foreign policy do we need to make to target the populations."
Smith said that over the last decades, the U.S. policy of supporting regimes that abused power turned many Arabs against the United States and bolstered often violent opposition movements, some of which could now be poised to take power.
"It was a long term bad strategy... We were winning the battle but losing the war," Smith said. "There's a reason we opted in the past for the ‘Let's just make friends with the autocrat' approach. It's much easier."
But Smith, who represents the district where the U.S. Army base of Fort Lewis is located, defended military aid to countries including Jordan, Pakistan, and Israel as useful tools of American influence.
Smith also said that military aid to Cairo must continue while the Egyptian military undertakes the process of reform. "Where Egypt is concerned, it's going to depend on what their government ultimately looks like," Smith said. "Right now, today? Yes."
Smith admitted the difficulty of supporting popular Arab movements while also defending U.S. interests, laying out several concerns he had about the largest and most organized Egyptian opposition group -- the Muslim Brotherhood.
"One of the things to understand about [the Muslim Brotherhood's approach in Egypt... their ultimate goals haven't changed," Smith said. "I don't think the people of Egypt want to trade one totalitarian group for another... we have a definite interest in making sure that doesn't happen."
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), have not been shy about their desire to end all U.S. foreign aid. This week, the elder member of the Paul family is seeking a full House vote on an amendment that would cut $6 billion of U.S. aid to a host of Middle East countries.
Rep. Paul is trying to build support for an amendment to the fiscal 2011 funding bill that would end all foreign assistance to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Pakistan. The funding bill currently being debated by the House, called the continuing resolution (CR), is needed to keep the government running after March 4.
"Stop buying friends overseas, save $6 billion!" reads the headline of a Dear Colleague letter Paul sent to all House offices on Tuesday. In past years, amendments like Paul's, which is not supported by leadership, would not have received a vote because congressional leaders had limited or even prohibited amendments during spending debates. But this year, House Republican leadership decided to use an "open rule" for the CR, giving every member of Congress the right to bring an amendment and have it debated.
There are currently over 400 amendments pending to the bill, and yet somehow the House leadership wants to finish debate this week. Whether they can really do that remains unclear, but even if they succeed, the bill would go to the Senate and then perhaps back to the House once more with new changes from the Senate. House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said that another short-term temporary funding measure might be necessary to keep the government running while the legislative process continues.
Regardless, if Paul's amendment gets a vote, it would be the first time the entire House would vote on whether or not to give $6 billion to these foreign governments. The vote would come in the midst of the largest American fiscal crisis in a generation, which could increase the chance that it would attract significant support.
"Borrowing money from China -- or printing it out of thin air -- to hand out overseas in [an] attempt to purchase friends has been a failing foreign policy, as we see most recently in Egypt where there is not even a government in place!" Paul wrote in his Dear Colleague letter. "We should seek friendly relations and trade overseas, but we cannot justify lavish gifts to foreign leaders when American taxpayers are increasingly feeling the pain of our economic crisis."
Paul, along with his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), represent the libertarian wing of the Tea Party movement, which has been throwing its weight around Congress since the new session started in January. Like-minded members have also been pushing the House GOP leadership to make deeper cuts to the foreign assistance budget. For example, on Jan. 20, the 165-member Republican Study Committee put out a plan that would drastically defund the U.S. Agency for International Development.
While there is probably enough bipartisan support for aid to Israel to defeat Paul's amendment, the debate over continued funding for other Arab countries is more complex. Some GOP heavyweights, like House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), have suggested scuttling all foreign aid that is not designated for staunch U.S. allies such as Israel. House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has argued for restricting aid to the Egyptian government unless it excludes the Muslim Brotherhood from any representation in the new parliament.
Other leading Republicans, especially in the Senate, have voiced support for continuing U.S. assistance to Egypt and Jordan. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is working behind the scenes to craft an aid package to the CR that would fully fund the president's request for foreign aid to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. Aid to Pakistan, which totals over $1.5 billion each year, has strong support from Senate Foreign Relations Committee heads John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN).
Regardless, Paul's amendment represents the rising tide of opposition to foreign aid and the increased difficulty of defending such aid in Congress.
"We cannot afford to have ‘business as usual' when we are bankrupt," he wrote.
There's a raging debate on Capitol Hill surrounding huge cuts to foreign aid funding proposed in the House Republicans' latest spending bill. But several senators are looking to add a generous foreign aid package for Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and other Middle Eastern countries when the bill comes over from the House.
"A [continuing resolution] that had full year funding for the troops plus an Egypt, Israel, and Middle East stability package of full year funding would send the right signal from the United States," Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) told The Cable in an exclusive interview.
The current version of the continuing resolution, which is needed to keep the government running past March 4, is being debated in the House now. It proposes significant cuts in the State Department and foreign assistance budgets below what the president requested for fiscal 2011, which began last October.
Kirk said several senators on both sides of the aisle supported the new Middle East Stability funding package, which would fully fund foreign aid accounts for a host of countries in the region at the level requested by the president and pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well.
"There's not a need to fund the full foreign assistance program but there is a need for Egypt, Israel, and Jordan related programs to receive full funding for fiscal 2011 right now. This is being discussed and I strongly support it," Kirk said.
Back in the House, there is plenty of support for funding Israel aid, which totals about $3 billion per year, but some Republicans are looking to restrict aid to other Middle East countries, such as Egypt. House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has argued that further funding should be withheld from Egypt unless they exclude Islamist groups such as the the Muslim Brotherhood, from participating in the new government.
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Cable in an exclusive interview that new funding for Egypt was needed to bolster secular and moderate political groups that have been marginalized over the past decades under the old Egyptian regime.
Berman supports increased funding for U.S.-based organizations that promote civil society in Egypt, such as the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
"We need to educate [moderate Egyptian political groups] on how to communicate, how to build a political party, how to organize. There's a way to do that without choosing who you want but giving the secular parties some skills and some resources to get going," Berman said.
Berman said that increased aid to Egypt now should not be held up due to concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood, which he argued is not going to be particularly interested in NDI or IRI programs anyway.
"America can't decide who participates, we shouldn't, and to the extent we try to too clumsily, we are going to hurt the cause we all share," Berman said. "Mubarak is the one who drew the line, ‘it's either me or the Muslim Brotherhood.' Our job is to create an alternative."
If groups have a chance to organize, the vast majority of the Egyptian population will not be receptive to the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda, Berman said. That doesn't mean, however, that he takes the threat posed by Islamist groups in Egypt lightly."Am I concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood? You betcha," he said.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in an exclusive interview with The Cable, credited the Bush administration's Freedom Agenda with setting the stage for the current wave of revolutions sweeping the Arab world. But he also warned that Egypt and the other countries in the region could easily slip into the hands of repressive groups that have been lying in wait.
"That region does not have a long proud history of free political institutions, free economic institutions, and democracy," Rumsfeld said. "What President Bush has done in Iraq and Afghanistan is to give the people in those countries a chance to have freer political systems and freer economic systems. There's no question that the example is helpful in the region."
But now, several years later, nominally pro-Western movements throughout the Middle East have been defeated by repressive and authoritarian organizations -- a situation that could very well repeat itself in Egypt with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, Rumsfeld said, because those groups tend to be better organized and more vicious.
"So while what's happening is hopeful, all of us have to be realistic and hope the process is one, that unlike Lebanon, unlike Gaza, and unlike Iran, does not end up bringing people's hopes up and then dashed with a repressive regime," Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld criticized the Obama administration's mixed messaging during the Egypt crisis, specifically referencing the State Department's decision to send Frank Wisner as an unofficial envoy to Cairo. The Obama administration was subsequently forced to distance itself from Wisner when he publicly called for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to stay in power only days later.
"I think it's unfortunate that they appointed Frank Wisner and then within a matter of hours got cross waves between the Department of State, the White House, and their special envoy. Clearly that weakens our voice to have mixed signals," Rumsfeld said.
Regarding the role of the Egyptian military, which now has effective control of the government in Cairo, Rumsfeld said that it may or may not turn out to be a responsible steward of power and the transition to free and fair elections.
"If one had to put some money down, you would want odds, but I would take the odds favoring that [the Egyptian military] would behave in a positive and constructive way," Rumsfeld said. "One has to say that managing this process is not going to be easy."
Rumsfeld said that he believes the tidal wave of change sweeping the Arab world presents the United States with an opportunity to increase its support for the opposition movement in Iran.
"I hope there are a variety of things taking place in our government, in some instances appropriately public but in some instances private ... and that the examples that we are seeing elsewhere in the region, I would hope we would encourage in Iran," he said.
Rumsfeld has over 40 years of experience dealing with Egypt and the Arab world. In his new memoir Known and Unknown, he recounts the first time he met then Vice President Mubarak, in June 1975. At the time, Rumsfeld was serving as chief of staff to President Gerald Ford. "On a personal level, I found him animated, even ebullient," Rumsfeld wrote.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The new fiscal 2012 budget request for the State Department and USAID made some tough choices, including ending or cutting foreign assistance to dozens of countries and delaying the goal of increasing the number of foreign service officers by 25 percent for years. But those cuts could be become much more drastic when Congress takes its turn slashing diplomacy and development funding for next year.
"We recognize that these are exceptionally tight times. With the resources outlined in this budget, the State Department and USAID can continue to protect our interests, project our values, promote growth, and above all, serve our national security," Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides told reporters at Monday's State Department budget briefing.
Development advocates praised the Obama administration's new budget request, arguing that it tackled the issue of government waste while still protecting the diplomatic and development programs that are crucial to U.S. national security. But they also warned the request may be dead on arrival in Congress.
"After two years of planning, review and reform, the Obama team has readied itself to make the best case possible for a robust international affairs budget," wrote Anne Richard, vice president of the International Rescue Committee, on the Stimson Center's budget blog.
"The good news: the departments and agencies that run these programs are better prepared than ever before to justify their budgets. The bad news: that may not matter."
The State Department is comparing its fiscal 2012 budget request numbers to fiscal 2010 levels because Congress has not passed a fiscal 2011 budget, even though the fiscal year began Oct. 1. The government has been running on a continuing resolution (CR) since then, which will expire March 4. The House unveiled an extension for the CR, which would provide funding for the rest of the fiscal year. Under the CR, State and foreign operations would receive $44.9 billion in fiscal 2011.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on the Hill on Monday morning and emerged from the meeting expressing grave concerns about the House's plans to slash fiscal 2011 spending for diplomacy and development in the 2011 CR, which would set a lower baseline for the 2012 budget as well.
"We would be forced to scale back significantly our mission in the frontline states of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where we work side by side with the American military. We would also be required to roll back critical health, food security, climate change, border security, and trade promotion efforts abroad as well," Clinton said. "We certainly understand the tight budget environment... But the scope of the proposed House cuts is massive."
In a Monday letter to House Appropriations Committee chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY), Clinton wrote that the proposed cuts, "will be devastating to national security, will render us unable to respond to unanticipated disasters, and will damage our leadership around the world."
A news release by House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) praised the $44.9 billion figure and said it was a reduction of $3.8 billion, or 8 percent from total 2010 appropriations and a reduction of $11.7 billion, or 21 percent, from the president's 2011 budget request. Granger and GOP congressional leaders are promising to cut Obama's 2012 request even further.
Granger's Democratic counterpart, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), issued a statement on Monday railing against the House Republicans' bill, hammering home the argument that diplomacy and development funding are key to national security.
"Even in these difficult economic times, we cannot afford to enact broad and haphazard cuts to key pillars of our national security. We must not allow our response to an economic challenge to create a national security crisis," Lowey said.
The entire State Department and USAID fiscal 2012 budget request, which can be found here, seeks just over $47 billion, which the Office of Management and Budget notes is a 1 percent increase over fiscal 2010 levels. The president is requesting a grand total of $50.9 billion for U.S. diplomacy and development efforts, after accounting for programs outside State and USAID, such as the Peace Corps, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. That's $3.7 billion -- or 6.7 percent less -- than the $54.6 billion that was requested for the same accounts in fiscal 2011.
Obama is also requesting $8.7 billion in supplemental funding for the State Department and USAID in fiscal 2012, so that they can take on increased roles in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This represents a $2.3 billion increase over the fiscal 2011 request.
"We had to make tradeoffs. We had to cut some things to grow other things," Nides said. "The amount of money we are requesting reflects what we believe are the priorities for this department... This is a national security budget."
The State Department and USAID's plan to increase its cadre of foreign service officers by 25 percent, which was supposed to be completed in fiscal 2012, will now be delayed until at least fiscal 2014.
The administration eliminated or scaled back requested funding for dozens of small foreign assistance programs around the world. The request would eliminate funding for bilateral programs for six countries: North Korea, Tonga, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, for a total savings of $4.5 million. The funds allocated for North Korea -- which was being used to fund non-governmental organizations, not the North Korean government -- could still come out of general funds.
International Military Education and Training (IMET) program funding in the budget was abandoned for nine countries: Equatorial Guinea, Iceland, Kuwait, Madagascar, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and the UAE. These cuts represent a savings of under $1 million. Foreign Military Financing was eliminated in the request for Chile, Haiti, East Timor, Malta, and Tonga, for a savings of about $5 million.
"We're trying to move our budget toward less very small programs, because we are going to have less money down the road to allocate and we want to make sure we allocate it to the highest priorities," a State Department official said. "So the savings from these cuts are very small but you have to start somewhere."
Funding requested for Mexico assistance is $335 million, $250 million less than fiscal 2010, $282 million of which is designated for the Merida initiative. $400 million is requested for aid to Columbia. Both of these accounts were reduced because the programs are being transferred to more local control, a State Department official said.
Big cuts were proposed to development assistance to over 20 countries, including many in Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia.
"Countries like Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Cyprus, Poland, are all countries that we think we just can't afford to give the kind of assistance we have in the past," a State Department official said. "We can't fund everything, everywhere, any longer."
The administration requested $1.55 billion in aid to Egypt and $100 million in aid for the Lebanese Armed Forces, both at about the same levels as fiscal 2010.
President Obama's newly released budget request for fiscal 2012 proposes cuts to a wide range of State Department and foreign-operations programs, including the complete elimination of foreign assistance and military training to several countries.
The White House's fiscal 2012 budget seeks just over $47 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which the Office of Management and Budget notes is a 1 percent increase over fiscal 2010 levels. The president is requesting a grand total of $50.9 billion for U.S. diplomacy and development efforts, after accounting for programs outside State and USAID, such as the Peace Corps, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. That's $3.7 billion -- or 6.7 percent less -- than the $54.6 billion that was requested for the same accounts in fiscal 2011.
The bill that would determine fiscal 2011 funding has not yet been passed because both Democrats and Republicans have failed to pass a budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2010. The government has been running on a temporary continuing resolution (CR), which has kept spending at fiscal 2010 levels. The extension of the resolution, set to expire on March 4, has been at the center of the debate of how to slash non-security discretionary funding for the rest of fiscal 2011.
Obama is also requesting $8.7 billion in supplemental funding for the State Department and USAID in fiscal 2012, so that they can take on increased roles in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. This represents a $2.3 billion increase over the fiscal 2011 request.
Inside the regular budget, the State Department eliminated foreign aid to several countries and slashed requested 2012 funding for assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia by $115 million from the fiscal 2011 request.
"Although not subject to a freeze in funding, the department is committed to finding efficiencies, cutting waste, and focusing on key priorities. Accordingly, foreign assistance to several countries has been eliminated," the summary sheet on the State Department's request stated, adding that the cuts were made "in order to focus funding on regions with the greatest assistance needs."
The cuts will not only affect development aid, but also the United States' military-to-military relationships across the globe. If the president's budget is enacted, five countries will no longer receive Foreign Military Financing and nine countries will no longer receive support for joining the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, which is where foreign military officers receive training in the United States and forge bonds with their American counterparts. The countries for which the State Department will no longer seek funding will be made public when the full State Department budget request is released Monday afternoon.
"Several countries will no longer receive bilateral security assistance funding, as resources are being focused on countries with strategic significance," the document stated. "Requested security assistance funds will become more focused on key priorities including program funding for Israel, Pakistan, and other coalition partners and allies, as well as programs that are critical to containing transnational threats including terrorism and trafficking in narcotics, weapons, and persons."
Requested funding for African Development and Inter-American Foundations was reduced by 20 percent in the new budget. Compared with the president's 2011 budget, many other programs face significant reductions in the State and foreign-ops request.
The president requested $3.54 billion for international organizations and peacekeeping, $239 million less than requested for fiscal 2011. One of the largest proposed cuts came from the economic support fund, a program to support countries moving toward democracy, which would receive $5.97 billion in fiscal 2012 -- $1.84 billion less than last year's request. The International Law Enforcement and Narcotics Bureau (INL) would only receive $1.51 billion in the 2012 request, $624 million less than was requested for 2011.
Although overall USAID funding remained largely flat, some parts of the organization actually received increases in the 2012 request. The president's budget proposal requested $1.5 billion for operating expenses, slightly higher than last year, and $8.7 billion for global health and child survival -- about $200 million more than was requested for fiscal 2011 and about $900 million more than what was allocated in fiscal 2010.
Of course, nobody knows what the fiscal 2011 funding levels will be, because congressional Democrats failed to pass an appropriations bill before the fiscal year began on Oct. 1. The House Republican leadership released its overall allocations for the next CR on Feb. 11, which would provide a total of $44.9 billion for the State Department and foreign operations for fiscal 2011.
A news release by House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) praised the $44.9 billion number and said it was a reduction of $3.8 billion, or 8 percent from total 2010 appropriations and a reduction of $11.7 billion, or 21 percent, from the president's 2011 budget request. Granger and GOP congressional leaders are promising to cut Obama's 2012 request even further.
"The reductions made to my section of the bill are a good start. As long as I am Chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, I will ensure that our foreign aid is not used as a stimulus bill for foreign countries. This bill is about our national security and the funding levels reflect that," Granger's statement read.
The new continuing resolution still has a long way to go before it becomes law. But if enacted as the House GOP leadership wants, it would slash U.S. funding for international financial institutions, eliminate U.S. contributions to several international funds, and cut allocations for global health and childhood survival programs by $784 million compared with fiscal 2010. USAID would also face a $121 million cut to its operating budget as compared with fiscal 2010 under the current House GOP plan.
Funding for international financial institutions was hit especially hard in the GOP bill, with a cut of $892 million from fiscal year 2010 levels. Funding for global health and childhood survival programs also took a hit, losing $784 million compared with 2010.
"Targeted cuts to the bill were partially made by rescinding funds from appropriations that remain unspent, freezing federal employee pay raises at the State Department, not funding programs that require authorizations, scaling back contributions to the United Nations and other international organizations, and eliminating wasteful, duplicative and ineffective programs," Granger said.
The lawmakers proposed keeping aid to Egypt and Israel intact. However, the continuing resolution would cut off foreign aid to the Lebanese armed forces unless Secretary of State Hillary Clinton certifies such funding is in the United States' national security interest.
Typos corrected, 13:25, Feb. 14, 2011
The Obama administration was caught by surprise on Thursday night when President Hosni Mubarak spoke to the Egyptian people and initially declined to step down as leader of the country. Following the speech, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen quickly phoned their counterparts in the Egyptian military.
Today, the military assumed control of the Egyptian government and Vice President Omar Suleiman announced in a recorded statement that Mubarak had stepped down from the presidency. "Secretary Gates spoke with [Defense Minister] Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi again last night," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell confirmed to The Cable.
"It was his fifth phone conversation with the Egyptian defense minister since the situation in Egypt began."
Captain John Kirby, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs, confirmed to The Cable that Mullen called Egyptian Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Sami Anan following the Mubarak speech. Mullen and Anan have spoken four times since Jan. 25, and the last call before Thursday night was on Saturday, Feb. 5, Kirby said.
Both Morrell and Kirby declined to give details on the substance of the calls.
Press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Friday morning that President Barack Obama did not call Mubarak after the speech. The last reported call between Vice President Joseph Biden and Suleiman was Feb. 8, when Biden pressed Suleiman to expand his dialogue with opposition groups.
The Gates and Mullen phone calls are emblematic of the sustained but quiet engagement with their military counterparts that the Pentagon has been undertaking throughout the crisis. That effort has been especially important in recent days, as the military's role has increased and its allegiances have come under closer scrutiny.
The Pentagon even sent out a quiet request to scores of U.S. military officers last week, asking them to contact any Egyptian military members they might know through past associations at American military colleges, the Washington Post reported.
The officers weren't told to deliver any specific messages. The outreach has been rather about collecting information from the Egyptian military and making sure that the military-to-military relationship remained intact, a Pentagon official said, adding that similar outreach has occurred between the Pentagon and its interlocutors in other countries, including Israel.
The White House and the State Department have disagreed on how much pressure to place on Mubarak and Suleiman. The Pentagon has sided mostly with State, arguing for more support of existing Egyptian institutions of power, especially the military. Some observers see the Pentagon as inclined to favor supporting the Egyptian military due its own interests and natural institutional biases.
"The Pentagon is simply so used to letting the Egyptian military have what they want," said one former U.S. official who dealt with the Pentagon on Egypt. "The Pentagon has wanted to keep their involvement at a strictly military-to-military level. So they are reluctant to be part of diplomacy at the top level, but insistent in being engaged in their own diplomacy for their own interest."
Regardless, the direct intervention of top Pentagon and U.S. military officials at key times throughout the crisis may have influenced the Egyptian military's behavior at key junctures, such as when the Egyptian military was implicated in the crackdown of journalists and human rights activists last weekend. Pentagon officials believe their outreach contributed to the relative restraint of the Egyptian Army.
It's unclear whether Gates and Mullen's telephone diplomacy last night actually influenced the events that unfolded only hours later. But the Pentagon's relationships with the Egyptian military are now among the most crucial avenues of communication and influence for U.S. policy toward Egypt going forward.
As reports streamed out of Cairo that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may cede power to the Egyptian military this evening, several senior administration officials happened to be testifying on Capitol Hill and were questioned directly about the reports.
"Like you I have heard there's a strong likelihood Mubarak will step down this evening," CIA Director Leon Panetta told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in its first hearing under new chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI). A CIA spokesman quickly clarified that Panetta was not independently confirming this fact.
Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg, testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which is holding its second hearing under new chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), refused to comment on the latest reports regarding Mubarak. His opening statement before the committee reiterated the administration's support for a gradual transition in Egypt -- an idea that may soon be overtaken by events.
"Changes must come [in Egypt], but we must be mindful that transitions can lead to chaos, or forms of intolerance, or backsliding into authoritarianism," Steinberg said. "We are urging Egypt's government and opposition to engage in serious and inclusive negotiations to arrive at a timetable, game plan, and path to constitutional and political reform. And as they do, we will support principles, processes, and institutions, not personalities."
Ros-Lehtinen was scathing in her criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the crisis, arguing that it has not been supportive enough of the protesters, that there was no contingency planning done by the NSC to prepare for Mubarak's departure, and that the administration's policy over the last two weeks has been constantly changing and unclear.
Steinberg acknowledged the difficulty of establishing and then communicating a clear policy while the events on the ground continued to unfold.
"What is critical as we see this unfolding dynamic is that we remain in our principles, as well as the values and interests that we bring forward, while remaining nimble to adapt to changing circumstances," he said. "It's a little bit like having a good game plan but also knowing when to call an audible."
Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy was originally scheduled to testify at the hearing, but was removed from the list yesterday.
Meanwhile, the situation on the ground in Cairo
remains fluid. Egypt's
armed forces said on Thursday they have started taking
"necessary measures to protect the nation" and "support the
legitimate demands of the people."
Howard Berman (D-CA), the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, voiced the concerns of many in Congress about the role of the Egyptian military and its intentions regarding democracy and transparency.
"Given the military's influence over the regime - a regime that was born in the military, and whose entire leadership is composed of military men -- the democratic transition will happen if, and only if, the military does play a constructive role," he said.
The White House and the State Department have been sending out different messages over the past few days regarding the U.S. position on Egypt. The seeming disparity between the focus and tone of remarks by officials from each part of the government has the Washington community wondering if there's a rift between Pennsylvania Avenue and Foggy Bottom and who's really in charge.
Internal disagreements on how closely to align the United States with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman and his self-interested reform process emerged into public view last weekend, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Munich Security Conference that the U.S. is calling on the international community to support the process initiated by Suleiman. Clinton also had to distance herself from the comments of the State Department's chosen "envoy" Frank Wisner, who called for Mubarak to stay in power when he spoke at the conference in Munich.
Then, three days later, Vice President Joseph Biden spoke with Suleiman and gave him a list of further steps the U.S. wants him to take to open up the process, clearly expressing the official administration position that Suleiman's process is not acceptable in its current form.
On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, the NSC's Ben Rhodes said that the White House and the State Department have been "very closely aligned" and said that the difference between what Clinton said in Munich and what Biden told Suleiman three days later was a reflection of the changing circumstances on the ground.
"[Clinton] was just stating [in Munich] the matter of fact that Vice President Suleiman is the person conducting these negotiations for the government... Our response on Monday and Tuesday was in reaction to [Suleiman's] statements and it was to say that those statements alone were insufficient because they didn't constitute concrete action," Rhodes said. "I think it's entirely consistent to again state support for a process of negotiation... but to then hold the government accountable in terms of identifying the kinds of steps that we believe need to take place and that the Egyptian people are calling for."
Clinton's deputy chief of staff and new director for policy planning, Jake Sullivan, argued that the White House and the State Department have been aligned on the three core principles the U.S. government has been advocating for throughout the crisis: non-violence, respect for universal rights, and the need for political change.
"The theory of the case has remained consistent...and it's something on which the Secretary, the president and all of the other national security team members have been aligned on. And that's been true in the true public messaging. It's been true in the private messaging as well, " Sullivan said. "The situation is changing day by day even as we maintain the same basic core to our approach."
Experts close to the administration agreed with that to some degree, but said that mixed messaging from State and the White House was muddying communication of those core principles. The biases are based in institutional cultures, they said, and the gaps between the two camps are real.
"You had a similar dynamic in the later years of the Bush administration. There was President Bush and [NSC senior director] Elliott Abrams at the White House still trying to push the freedom agenda and Condoleezza Rice at the State Department very much trying to play it down," said Michelle Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "The messages out of the administration have been extremely confusing and I think they realize that."
Abrams told The Cable that there are probably divisions in both places. "Where the State Department came out of its internal debate is in one place, where the White House has come out is in a different place," he said. "In the end it's about winning the hearts and minds, not of the Egyptian people, but of Obama, Biden, Clinton and Gates."
Deeper down in the administration, several official are playing influential roles in how the policy is being formed on each side. On the White House side, NSC Director Dan Shapiro, NSC Senior Director Samantha Power, and Rhodes have been leading the White House's outreach with the foreign policy expert community and held their latest meeting with experts on Tuesday.
Attendees reportedly included Dunne, Abrams, WINEP's Scott Carpenter, New America's Steve Clemons, CSIS's Jon Alterman, USIP's Dan Brumberg, Johns Hopkins' Fouad Ajami, and Human Rights Watch's Tom Malinowski.
Inside the State Department, Clinton is being advised on Egypt by several officials who have deep experience with Egypt, including Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns, who had suggested Wisner be sent to Cairo to deal with Mubarak, and Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, among others.
"The people whispering in her ears are people like Bill Burns, who is preoccupied with most often trying to save us from ourselves," Carpenter told The Cable. "Burns is legitimately concerned with how this all unfolds, but his interest is in preserving as much of the status quo with the current government of Egypt as possible. Meanwhile, the White House is saying that it's in our interest to build a new relationship because if we don't it's going to lead to something worse when the next government comes. So that leads them to conclude that they have to save State from themselves."
Feltman, a former ambassador to Lebanon, is increasingly seen as someone who understands the wider risks to U.S. foreign policy of being tougher on Suleiman and President Hosni Mubarak but is nevertheless looking for creative ways to square that circle.
"Some people on the inside say ‘Thank God for Feltman,'" because he's trying to prepare State for a changed relationship with Egypt after Mubarak leaves and trying to look over the horizon, Carpenter said.
On the specific policy toward Egypt, the difference between the current thinking at the White House as opposed to at the State Department surrounds exactly how much leeway Suleiman should have in setting up the committees that will negotiate and then oversee the political reform process leading up the elections.
On his blog the Washington Note, Clemons wrote that a senior White House official told him they want to see the emerging transitional process look like a "potluck dinner," where everyone brings their own ideas and has real power off the bat, rather than a hosted "dinner party" where Suleiman decides the guest list, the agenda, and thereby the results.
"The State Department is advocating a hosted dinner, where the power still resides with the incumbents," Clemons told The Cable. "That's not good enough for the White House."
Today's first hearing of the Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee was dominated by the question of how much the United States should fear the empowerment of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and what leverage should be used against the Egyptian military to get them to behave in accordance with U.S. interests.
Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) opened the hearing with a broad criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the crisis in Egypt, which she said is now tilting too far in support of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and is failing to counteract the threat posed by the rise of Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
"Instead of being proactive, we have been obsessed with maintaining short-term, personality-based stability -- stability that was never really all that stable, as the events of the recent week demonstrate," she said.
"Now the White House is reportedly making matters worse by apparently re-examining its position on dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood, but also stating that a new Egyptian government should include a whole host of important nonsecular actors. The Muslim Brotherhood had nothing to do with driving these protests, and they and other extremists must not be allowed to hijack the movement toward democracy and freedom in Egypt."
Ros-Lehtinen repeated her argument that the United States should try to impose strict criteria on the process to ensure only "responsible actors" can participate in Egyptian governance, which she defined as those who renounce violent extremism and pledge to uphold Egypt's international commitments, including its peace treaty with Israel.
Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Ros-Lehtinen's Democratic counterpart, didn't have any nice things to say about the Muslim Brotherhood either.
"Like many I am skeptical about the Muslim Brotherhood's commitment to democracy. The Brotherhood wants Egypt to be governed by religious law rather than man-made law, a problematic position for a democrat. It has a bloody history," he said. "Even in the best-case scenario where the Brotherhood proves itself fully committed to democracy, there is every reason to believe it will try to influence the Egyptian government in ways that undermine U.S. interests and that will make Egypt a regressive, less-tolerant place."
Prior to the start of the hearing, Berman formally announced the names of the new ranking Democrats on the various subcommittees, including Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) on the Middle East subcommittee. Ackerman offered the most scathing criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the Egypt crisis at the hearing.
"In Egypt I fear that we are snatching failure from the jaws of success," he said. "The Obama administration now appears to be wavering about whether America really backs the demands of the Egyptian people or just wants to return to stability, which is a facade."
Ackerman turned the hearing into a discussion of the Egyptian military's role and the trustworthiness of Vice President Omar Suleiman, the former head of Mubarak's national intelligence agency. Ackerman criticized what he sees as a gap between the administration's rhetoric and its policy, and called on the White House to suspend military aid to Egypt now.
"The people yearn to be free. We must plant ourselves firmly on their side," he said. "We need to suspend our aid to Egypt. We simply cannot afford to be seen in Egypt as being a bankroll to oppression."
For his part, Berman disagreed with Ackerman and said that the United States should continue to use aid as leverage against the military, in order to pressure Suleiman and others to act in ways that support U.S. interests and values.
The foreign-policy experts that appeared before the committee largely agreed that military aid should be continued for the time being, but not if the Egyptian military proves to be impeding rather than advancing the course of reform.
"The Army may not have made up its mind yet. Now is the time to signal to them this aid is conditional," said former National Security Council official Elliott Abrams.
"The United State doesn't have so many levers," said Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "Why would we throw away this arrow before it's absolutely apparent that the Egyptian Army has made a choice to suppress and refuse change? That seems to be unwise."
The experts disagreed on how the United States should handle the Muslim Brotherhood. Abrams said that "conditions that forbid religious parties are actually quite useful." Satloff urged a middle-of-the-road approach.
"Don't exaggerate [the danger of the Brotherhood], and also don't be naive," he said.
Lorne Craner, president of the International Republican Institute, argued that there are plenty of other secular political organizations in Egypt for the United States to work with besides the Muslim Brotherhood.
"We have to stop presenting ourselves with the choice that Mubarak gave us. There are groups in the middle," he said.
But Ackerman was skeptical that those groups were ready to take on a leadership role after decades of suppression. "If you over-pesticide your garden, you only get the weeds that survive," he said.
The other ranking Democrats on the committee announced today were Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) on the subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation, and trade; Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) on the subcommittee on oversight and investigations; Donald Payne (D-N.J.) on the subcommittee on Africa, global health, and human rights; Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) on the subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific; Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) on the subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia; and Elliott Engel (D-N.Y.) on the subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
Berman also announced a plan to introduce the "Hezbollah anti-terrorism act of 2011," which would limit U.S. foreign assistance to Lebanon until President Obama certifies that none of the funds will go to Hezbollah-controlled agencies and that the Lebanese government is dismantling Hezbollah's military infrastructure.
Uber-diplomat Frank Wisner won't be making any public remarks on the crisis in Egypt anytime soon; the Obama administration has directed him to steer clear of the press following his command performance in Munich, where he went off the reservation of the Obama administration's policy and forced the administration to distance itself from him and his remarks.
Wisner is back in New York at his day job at Patton Boggs, the lobbying law firm where he has worked since February 2009. He had a busy week, which began Jan. 31 with being dispatched by the Obama administration to deliver a direct message to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He reportedly delivered Obama's tough message that Mubarak must start the transition of power "now." The week ended with him telling the entire Munich Security Conference, which included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the audience, that Mubarak must stay in power to oversee changes in government.
"I believe that President Mubarak's continued leadership is critical -- it's his chance to write his own legacy," Wisner told the conference.
The remarks were so far off of the administration's message, which at this moment is that it's not the U.S. government's place to weigh in on Mubarak's future, that Clinton was forced to clarify on the plane ride home that Wisner was a private citizen and in no way spoke on behalf of the U.S. government.
But was the State Department even aware of what Wisner was going to say in Munich? "He did not give us a heads-up," a State Department official told The Cable.
Wisner was suggested for the "envoy" assignment to talk with Mubarak by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns, two administration officials confirmed. Burns is the highest-ranking Foreign Service officer at State and has known Wisner for decades.
Inside the administration's policy process on Egypt, Burns is a key player, having been U.S. ambassador to Jordan and assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. He wrote a book called Economic Aid and American Policy Toward Egypt, published in 1985, just before Wisner was named ambassador to Cairo.
But Wisner's embrace of Mubarak goes even further than Burns's position. "The implication that Bill agrees with [Wisner's] public statements since [Wisner's trip to Cairo] … is just plain wrong," an administration official told The Cable.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Monday that the administration knew about Wisner's work for the lobbying firm Patton Boggs, which does business in Egypt, and that his long relationship with Mubarak was an asset, not a detraction.
"We're aware of his employer.… And we felt that he was uniquely positioned to have the kind of conversation that we felt needed to be done in Egypt," Crowley said.
A spokesman for Patton Boggs told the New York Times that Patton Boggs was not doing significant work on behalf of the Egyptian government and that Wisner "has no involvement and has not had any involvement in Egyptian business while at the firm."
The White House on Monday argued that Wisner dutifully completed his assigned task in Cairo, which was "to deliver a specific, one-time message to President Mubarak," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Cable.
"He is not and was not a U.S. envoy. He was not sent to negotiate. He is an individual who has a long history with President Mubarak and thus could deliver a clear message. He spoke to President Mubarak once, reported on his conversation, and then came home," Vietor said.
Nevertheless, don't expect the Obama administration to send any more one-off, high-level envoys anytime soon.
"We are completely confident in our ability to communicate directly with the government of Egypt at the White House, State Department, Pentagon and through our embassy," Vietor said.
CORRECTED: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Patton Boggs was part of the PLM Group, a lobbying entity comprising firms led by Tony Podesta, Bob Livingston, and Toby Moffet. Patton Boggs is not part of the PLM group, which has lobbied extensively on behalf of the Egyptian government.
As the Obama administration works to encourage the Egyptian government and opposition groups to sit down together and chart a path forward, they are grappling with problem of what to do about a legal system in Egypt that is inherently unfair but that remains the law of the land.
The Obama administration's message is that the path forward in Egypt must be negotiated between all of the stakeholders in Egypt rather than imposed from abroad. However, the administration also has concrete ideals and standards its wants to see included in that process and officials are involved in discussing those details with the Egyptian government.
"The future of Egypt will be determined by its people... That transition must initiate a process that respects the universal rights of the Egyptian people and that leads to free and fair elections. And the details of this transition will be worked out by Egyptians," President Barack Obama said Friday. "What we can do, though, is affirm the core principles that are going to be involved in that transition."
Behind the scenes, administration officials are in fact getting into the details of the process. "[O]fficials from both governments are continuing talks about a plan in which Mr. [Omar] Suleiman, backed by Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the defense minister, would immediately begin a process of constitutional reform," the New York Times reported.
The details of that constitutional reform are crucial because they will determine the transition of power and whether or not the coming presidential elections are free and fair. Also, the process of constitutional reform will be the first test of whether the regime led by President Hosni Mubarak is actually allowing opposition groups to participate in a substantive manner.
The Obama administration, which has placed itself somewhere between the positions of the Egyptian government and the protesters by calling for a transition of government now but not calling for Mubarak's immediate departure, is well aware of these realities, according to experts close to top officials.
"The White House recognizes that there's a legal nightmare looming and that the establishment in Egypt is putting its bet on the fact that its fortunes rise the longer those knots remain tied," said the New America Foundation's Steve Clemons.
He said that the White House would like to see the immediate establishment of a governing council -- made up of a cross section of groups representing various Egyptian political entities -- that would take temporary stewardship of the government and be caretakers as the path forward is determined.
"You either do government and legal reform in one massive fell swoop, which none of the parties will agree to, or you basically say that the current system is so broken, you must give super powers to an anointed group of rivals and co-task them with the responsibility of getting from here to there," Clemons said.
But it will be a Herculean task untangling the Egyptian constitution and legal framework, seeing as so much is weighted toward the regime. For example, Article 5 would need to be amended to allow religiously based political parties to participate. Article 76 must be amended if independent candidates are to be allowed. Law No. 40 for 1977 needs to be changed to ensure that the committee that vets political parties is independent and not filled with government ministers. Law No. 174 for 2005 would have to be amended to allow monitors at election stations.
Voter registration in Egypt is also plagued with problems. The emergency law in place since 1981 significantly constrains political activity that could impact any future elections. Laws and regulations on campaign finance have to be enforced. And the list goes on and on.
The Brookings Institution's Robert Kagan said that basing the next round of elections on exiting Egyptian law is a recipe for disaster. "You wouldn't expect to have elections in Russia after communism based on Soviet laws, would you?" he said in an interview with The Cable.
The Egyptian government can't be left to its own devices to decide what those changes might be, Kagan said.
"This is a transition, there's going to have to be some agreement on the rules of the road. Maybe some of it can be based on Egyptian law," he said. "There's going to have to be agreement from the government, the military and the opposition on how to move forward."
How much of a role the U.S. can play in that process is not yet determined, but in order to support democratic values as well as to try and promote an outcome that protects U.S. interests of regional stability, the Obama administration has to at least try, said Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"What's most important is for us to have a set of principles for an Egyptian government to support," Satloff said. "The U.S. has a possibility to help Egypt build a new system that is democratic and stable. Those things are not mutually exclusive and the U.S. should help them build it."
Congress is out ahead of the administration in calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down and for the United States to cut off military aid to his regime. But while some believe the White House is using Congress to send Mubarak tough messages they don't want to -- or can't -- send themselves, it appears that Congress is reacting to events independently from the administration.
Thursday evening, all 100 senators passed a resolution that calls on Mubarak to immediate transfer power to an interim caretaker government, for that government to immediately begin a transparent process toward a free election, for the presence of international election monitors on the ground in Egypt, and "expresses deep concern over any organization that espouses an extremist ideology, including the Muslim Brotherhood."
The resolution was led by two unlikely bedfellows, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Republican John McCain (R-AZ).
Congress's stance is markedly more assertive than that of the Obama administration, which still won't publicly call for Mubarak to leave office immediately. And the administration is not going anywhere near making comments about the Muslim Brotherhood.
Experts said the administration actually benefits from having a Congress that sends stronger messages and places outside pressure on the Egyptian government.
"Whether it's a conscious or unconscious, there's a useful good cop bad cop element to all this. The administration doesn't have to overtly threaten aid to the military, but it's very useful for the Egyptian military to know that their aid could be cut off," said the Brookings Institution's Robert Kagan. "I wouldn't be surprised if the administration, without engineering this, welcomes the pressure from Congress."
But both the White House and the Senate argue strenuously that any benefits from this dual messaging are purely accidental, and Congressional moves such as the Kerry-McCain resolution are not being coordinated with the White House.
"This legislation was crafted by Senators Kerry and McCain without input from the White House," National Security Staff spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Cable.
"The White House was not consulted. The resolution was the product of an agreement between Senator Kerry and Senator McCain," SFRC spokesman Frederick Jones said to The Cable.
Even Kerry's Feb.1 op-ed in the New York Times, which was also out ahead of the administration's message at that time in calling for Mubarak to step aside, was not coordinated with the White House, Jones insisted.
So what about McCain's call on Wednesday for Mubarak to step aside now? At the time, due to McCain's meeting with Obama earlier that day, that seemed like an idea coordinated with the White House. But no, both sides insist that was not a move planned in conjunction with the White House.
"Senator McCain has been closely monitoring the situation in Egypt and the region as a whole - its McCain being McCain," said McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan, who pointed out that McCain sponsored a similar resolution last year with Sen. Russ Feingold. The Cable reported this week that resolution died during the lame duck session.
There are other signs that Capitol Hill's tough message on Egypt is not following a White House lead. On Thursday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Ops, declared that U.S. aid to Egypt was on hold until the crisis gets sorted out.
"The fact of the matter is, there's not going to be further foreign aid to Egypt until this gets settled," Leahy told Congressional Quarterly. "Certainly I do not intend to bring it through my committee."
That's exactly the opposite of the message administration officials are sending to Egypt, considering that they are depending on their relationship with the Egyptian military to provide leverage in helping guide the crisis back to some measure of stability.
"We will evaluate the actions of the government of Egypt in making and reviewing decisions about aid. That continues," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Feb. 3.
The administration's position on aid to Egypt was supported on Thursday by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is expected to become the next ranking Republican on Leahy's subcommittee. On the Senate floor on Thursday, Graham asked lawmakers to "consider the consequences of such an action. Give the Egyptian people a chance to work this out."
Experts who are in touch with the administration agree that while the administration has been consulting with Capitol Hill, the notion that the two branches are working together on coordinating the U.S. government's message to Egypt just isn't true.
"Congress is just being Congress," said the New America Foundation's Steve Clemons.
Four Republican senators are calling on the Obama administration to place a sensitive missile defense-related radar site in Georgia, rather than in Turkey, as is currently planned.
"We believe that the U.S. should deploy the most effective missile defenses possible -- in partnership with our allies -- that provide for the protection of the U.S. homeland, our deployed forces, and our allies," began a Feb. 3 letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), James Risch (R-ID), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and James Inhofe (R-OK).
The senators are responding to statements from the Turkish government that it would only agree to host the new radar, known as TPY-2, if the United States agrees not to share with Israel any of the information gathered by the radar site, which is part of a NATO system discussed at the recent Lisbon summit. Turkey also wants command and control over the radar and wants NATO to remove any references to Iran as the threat targeted by the missile shield.
For all these reasons, the senators think Georgia would be a better option.
"We believe that the Republic of Georgia's geographic location would make it an ideal site for a missile defense radar aimed at Iran, and would offer clear advantages for the protection of the United States from a long range missile as compared to Turkey," the senators wrote. "What's more, the Republic of Georgia should be a significant partner for future defense cooperation with the U.S."
The senators asked Gates to tell them if Georgia was under consideration as a possible host for the radar site and, if not, what other alternatives the Pentagon is considering.
The prospects of NATO or the Obama administration actually placing a missile defense radar site in Georgia are slim, considering that Georgia is not in NATO and that the consequences for U.S. -Russia and NATO-Russia relations could be devastating.
But the letter is a sure sign that the new Congress is prepared to ramp up its advocacy of restoring defense cooperation with Georgia, which has slowed to a crawl since the 2008 Russian invasion. Other senators who are calling for more military support and cooperation for Georgia include John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Richard Lugar (R-IN), the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"The United States, under substantial Russian diplomatic pressure, has paused the transfer of lethal military articles to Georgia, and no U.S. assistance since the war has been directly provided to the Georgian Ministry of Defense," Lugar wrote in a December 2009 report. "Consequently, Georgia lacks basic capacity for territorial defense."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) just became the most senior foreign-policy figure in Washington to outwardly call for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down from power now.
"Regrettably the time has come 4 Pres. Mubarak 2 step down & relinquish power. It's in the best interest of Egypt, its people & its military," he tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
McCain, who met with President Obama at the White House Wednesday, went further than either the administration or Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who have called for Mubarak not to run again for president but have stopped short of calling for him to relinquish power at this time.
The message from McCain was not some coordinated communications strategy cooked up with the White House, according to our sources, but simply represented McCain's latest analysis of the ever worsening situation on the ground in Egypt and the handling of the crisis by Mubarak and his regime.
Only yesterday, McCain was supporting the administration's official line. On Tuesday, he praised Obama's call for Mubarak to begin an orderly transition to democracy and to not run for reelection.
"I'm not going to try to second-guess the president at this difficult time," McCain told reporters. "I think there should be a transition and an orderly one."
McCain's call for Mubarak to step aside immediately is also notable because McCain has been arguing strenuously in recent days that the Muslim Brotherhood, which stands to benefit from a free election, is a dangerous and violent organization.
"Have no doubt about the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood. They're a radical organization, they support Hamas, and they would be very bad for Egypt," McCain said Tuesday.
Last fall, McCain led a drive to pass a Senate resolution calling on Mubarak to advance political reform and calling on the Obama administration to press Mubarak on human rights. That resolution died before reaching a vote on the Senate floor.
"We've got to be on the right side of history," McCain told The Cable Tuesday. "If you're on the right side of history, everything will turn out OK."
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