Foreign Policy Newsletter of April 27, 2012
What is a Foreign Policy Newsletter?Our Foreign Policy Newsletter is a digest of this week major statements by U.S. public officials on the Foreign Policy issues of the moment.
President Barack Obama tours the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., with Sara Bloomfield, museum director, and Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor, April 23, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
A Digest of this Week's Major Statements
Secretary Clinton @ at the first-ever Global Impact Economy Forum: "We believe expanding economic opportunity is fundamental to achieving our own national interest. We want more prosperous societies (Apr. 26, 2012)
[...] You’re here because you know that we have an opportunity with the convergence of the recognition on the part of government, the private sector, civil society, that we can be so much more effective working together than working at cross-purposes. And for me, this is a great moment to look at where we stand in the world in the pursuit of economic growth and prosperity that is broadly inclusive and sustainable. You know the statistics as well as anyone: One out of three people in the world today living on less than $2 a day; the challenges we face from finite resources, climate change, and other environmental degradation; looking at how people themselves are being empowered from the bottom up in large measure because of the phenomenon of social media. And it’s not only happening somewhere out there, it’s happening everywhere.
And the fact is, these trend lines, apart from the headlines that we all spend most of our time looking at, are profoundly important to foreign policy and national security of all of our countries, because governments everywhere, including most particularly our own, are grappling with what challenges like these mean for our citizens. We believe expanding economic opportunity is fundamental to achieving our own national interest. We want more prosperous societies. We want to see people moving into the middle class. We want to see that creativity and entrepreneurial spirit fostering growth. And we have been working within the Obama Administration to bring our various institutions together to try to put forth that as a focus for us.
Increasingly, we are seeing signs of resilience: Americans returning to work, banks lending, corporate profits surging, and deleveraging proceeding faster than in many other countries. The U.S. recovery is getting stronger, but its strength remains sensitive to events beyond our shores. We are working multilaterally and bilaterally to protect our recovery by addressing risks in Europe and by encouraging a more sustainable patter of demand growth within and across the major economies. On this point, China is central.
Europe remains the greatest risk to the U.S. recovery as well as to the global economic outlook. Our economic stake in Europe is immense. The euro area accounts for over 13 percent of U.S. goods exports and over 20 percent of U.S. service exports. Europe's financial system has extensive reach to markets in every region. And sentiment in the United States remains sensitive to financial headwinds emanating from Europe.
European leaders have signaled their intent to do whatever it takes to reinforce the foundations of their currency union. And they have taken significant steps to do so -- steps that would have seemed out of reach only a few years ago. But the euro area is in the initial stages of what is likely to be a long and difficult path of adjustment, reform, and institutional development, and important risks remain.
Over the past year, people throughout the Middle East and North Africa have demanded their universal rights and human dignity. As you celebrate your Independence Day and changes continue to sweep across the region, know that the United States stands with you to embrace new opportunities and address difficult challenges. And we will continue to work with you and your neighbors to achieve the shared goal of a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East. Congratulations and best wishes for peace and prosperity in the years to come.
U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority is essential to preserving and building on the PA’s institutional gains and expanding economic opportunities for the Palestinian people, says U.S United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice.
[…] State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters April 11 that the Obama administration believes the funding of Palestinian institutions is important not only so they can provide services to the Palestinian people, but also because “it’s very important to empower moderate politicians within the Palestinian political system and to have them be able to deliver services to the Palestinian people as a way of deterring radicalism.”
By the time I finish next January, I guess I’ll have traveled a million miles, visited more than 100 countries. And I know a couple of things. One, the world remains a dangerous place, but I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished. We have integrated the three pillars of American foreign policy: diplomacy, development, and defense. And we have worked hard to restore America’s standing, especially by repairing alliances and deepening relationships, and paying a lot of attention to the so-called rising powers. And also putting together coalitions to do things like protect civilians in Libya, or to try to, through pressure and sanctions, influence behavior in Iran. Putting people at the center of our foreign policy, especially those long pushed to the margins like women and young people, religious and ethnic minorities, the LGBT community, civil society. That was important because we want to make clear that America’s values of inclusivity and democracy, of fairness and equality of opportunity really were at the core of who we are and who we will be. So we determined to make innovation and partnerships the foundation of what we did.
And America’s global leadership is not a birthright. It has to be earned by each successive generation. So putting the common good ahead of narrow interests is what I think is not just a nice thing to do, but essential. And that’s as true at home as it is abroad. To be innovative, integrated, visionary, it’s all critical to the kind of future we want.
And there is no substitute for American leadership. I feel it everywhere I travel, every time that big blue and white plane with the words United States of America on the side touches down in another country. And yes, I appreciate greatly our military and material might. But at bottom it is our values and our commitment to fairness and justice, freedom and democracy that has set us apart and hopefully, God-willing, will always set us apart. It’s what makes American leadership so exceptional.
So let me leave you with just one final thought. Because as much as the world changes, this will always be true: Sometimes nations must be willing to do what is right no matter the odds or the costs. We must be prepared to act strongly and decisively, with every tool and, even occasionally, weapon at our disposal.
In both its words and actions, Burmese officials have demonstrated increasing signs of interest in political, economic, and social development, and national reconciliation. Although we assess this nascent opening as real and significant, we also believe it is fragile and reversible – as Secretary Clinton said on April 4, “the future in Burma is neither clear nor certain” —and therefore, we need to carefully calibrate our approach to encourage continued progress. Additionally, the impact of Burma’s reform efforts has not extended far beyond the capital and major cities. This is particularly true in ethnic minority areas: Fighting continues in Kachin State, coupled with reports of severe human rights violations. In Rakhine State systematic discrimination and denial of human rights against ethnic Rohingya remains deplorable. Overall, the legacy of five decades of military rule --repressive laws, a pervasive security apparatus, a corrupt judiciary, and media censorship -- is still all too present.
The initial reforms are only the beginning of a sustained process and commitment required to bring Burma back into the international community and toward more representative and responsive democratic governance.
Porous borders and weak security institutions have heightened the threat posed by violent groups in East and West Africa, and the United States is working with countries in both regions to counter the threats, not only by empowering their security forces, but also by promoting better governance, human rights practices and economic opportunities, a senior State Department official told U.S. lawmakers.
[...] “Our regional partners have consistently emphasized that Africa’s security is the responsibility of the Africans themselves and it is vital that the United States and other partners maintain supporting roles,” he said.
“Human trafficking will not be tolerated … a ‘zero-tolerance, one-strike’ approach has taken hold,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says in remarks at a lecture series event in Little Rock, Arkansas, on human trafficking. (April 24, 2012)
As Attorney General, and as the father of three teenage children, advancing current efforts to identify and prosecute human traffickers – and to support those who serve and assist victims – is both a professional and personal priority. For today’s Justice Department, our commitment to this work has never been stronger. Our approach has never been more effective. And our message that – in this country, and under this Administration – human trafficking will not be tolerated – and that a “zero-tolerance, one-strike” approach has taken hold – could not be more clear.
By adopting this approach, over the last three years, we’ve achieved significant increases in human trafficking prosecutions – including a rise of more than 30 percent in the number of forced labor and adult sex trafficking prosecutions. And in just this past year, we charged nearly 120 defendants – a record number – in human trafficking cases.
Today, we commemorate the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. In doing so, we honor the memory of the 1.5 million Armenians who were brutally massacred or marched to their deaths in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. As we reflect on the unspeakable suffering that took place 97 years ago, we join millions who do the same across the globe and here in America, where it is solemnly commemorated by our states, institutions, communities, and families. Through our words and our deeds, it is our obligation to keep the flame of memory of those who perished burning bright and to ensure that such dark chapters of history are never repeated.
I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915. My view of that history has not changed. A full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all of our interests. Moving forward with the future cannot be done without reckoning with the facts of the past. The United States has done so many times in our own history, and I believe we are stronger for it. Some individuals have already taken this courageous step forward. We applaud those Armenians and Turks who have taken this path, and we hope that many more will choose it, with the support of their governments, as well as mine.
Latin America, U.S. Face Common Challenges, Panetta Says (April 24, 2012)
One goal of the U.S. defense strategy is to build innovative partnerships and alliances that will strengthen relationships in places like Europe, Africa and Latin America, Defense Secretary Panetta says on his first trip to South America, with visits planned in Colombia, Brazil and Chile.
Secretary Clinton tells U.S. university students that trying to promote universal human rights values and democratic practices can be challenging, especially when cultural or other factors cause others to see women's empowerment and LGBT rights very differently than Americans do (April 24, 2012)
I think democracy and human rights is who we are as Americans and also what we have stood for historically. But it’s quite challenging to take what are heartfelt values that we care deeply about and implement them everywhere, every time that we possibly can, because there is a lot of challenges with explaining democracy to people. If you’ve never lived it, you have no idea how it affects you. You don’t have the sort of years and years of perfecting our union that we’ve gone through. Democracy can mean different things to different people. And there are different forms of electoral systems, different forms of parliamentary systems that claim to be democracy. Iran claims to be a democracy.
[...] And when it comes to the protection of human rights, I mean, we issue an annual Human Rights Report that tries to shine a bright light on the problems that exist around the world. And for the first time, when I became Secretary, I said, look, if we’re going to be judging the rest of the world, we need to judge ourselves because otherwise, people are not going to pay attention. They’ll say, well, there go the Americans again, criticizing everybody else, but what about Guantanamo and what about this and what about that?
[...] The other aspect to this is when you have human rights standards that are so foreign to other cultures. I’ll give you three quick examples. If you’re someone, as I am, who believes strongly in the empowerment of women and talk about the rights of women everywhere I go – I’ve done this now internationally for 17 years. Honestly, a lot of – in a lot of places, it’s just not understood. “Of course, we take good care of our women. We don’t let them out of the house, so that they never get into trouble.” (Laughter.) “We don’t let them drive cars, so that they can never be taken advantage of. So we are protecting the human rights of our women.” You can imagine the conversations that I have. (Laughter.)
Or we believe that you should not be discriminating against or permitting violence against the LGBT community in your country. And in many places, in particularly Africa and Asia, that is just a totally foreign concept. I mean, the first response is, “We don’t have any of those here.” (Laughter.) Second response is, “If we did, we would not want to have them and would want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. And it’s your problem, United States of America, that you have so many of those people. So don’t come here and tell us to protect the rights of people we don’t have or that we don’t want.” (Laughter.)
U.S. Focuses on Grass-Roots Partnerships with Youth (April 23, 2012)
When youth speak, the U.S. government listens. The United States is focusing on “grass-roots partnerships” with young people around the world, making youth issues part of its foreign policy, says Ronan Farrow, special adviser on global youth issues to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Speaking with journalists at the U.S. Foreign Press Center in New York City on April 23, Farrow said U.S. embassies around the world are developing youth councils with local young people who offer their insights into the effects of U.S. foreign policy on their communities. These councils exist in some 40 countries, he said, and perform constructive work by providing the embassies with formal policy recommendations.
“All around the world, we’ve been making a concerted effort to stand by young people,” Farrow said. “That conversation is not always easy. We don’t walk into communities and expect young people everywhere to trust and agree with the United States. … But I think that we have made strides towards bringing young people to the table and giving them a serious role in our policy process.”
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, President Obama made it clear that "preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States.” (April 23, 2012)
We must tell our children. But more than that, we must teach them. Because remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing. In this sense, "never again" is a challenge to us all -- to pause and to look within.
For the Holocaust may have reached its barbaric climax at Treblinka and Auschwitz and Belzec, but it started in the hearts of ordinary men and women. And we have seen it again -- madness that can sweep through peoples, sweep through nations, embed itself. The killings in Cambodia, the killings in Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, the killings in Darfur -- they shock our conscience, but they are the awful extreme of a spectrum of ignorance and intolerance that we see every day; the bigotry that says another person is less than my equal, less than human. These are the seeds of hate that we cannot let take root in our heart - Fact Sheet on U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Atrocities
A White House fact sheet explains an executive order that authorizes a new program of sanctions aimed at those who facilitate serious human rights abuses in Syria and Iran through information technology.