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Foreign Policy Newsletter of February 3, 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.

Photo: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta welcomes counterparts from the Balkan nations at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, Feb. 2, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley.

A Digest of this Week's Major Statements

Panetta Describes U.S. Military Transition in Afghanistan (2012-02-02).

The transition to Afghan control of security operations is part of a strategy that was developed during the 2010 Lisbon NATO Summit, Panetta said. “That’s what the hope was … we could reach a point in the latter part of 2013 that we could make the same kind of transition we made in Iraq, from a combat role to a train-and-assist role,” he said.

And that does not mean U.S. and NATO forces will not be combat ready, because they will be, he added.

“We are going to be largely transitioning to a support role for the Afghan army as they take over these different areas in the future,” Panetta said.

While the U.S. military will draw down its forces, there will continue to be a significant diplomatic and development presence across the country, spearheaded by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Under current plans, the Pentagon will draw down U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan to approximately 68,000 by the end of 2012.

President Obama at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast (2012-02-02)

[…] We know that part of living in a pluralistic society means that our personal religious beliefs alone can’t dictate our response to every challenge we face. 

But in my moments of prayer, I’m reminded that faith and values play an enormous role in motivating us to solve some of our most urgent problems, in keeping us going when we suffer setbacks, and opening our minds and our hearts to the needs of others. 

We can’t leave our values at the door.  If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries, and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union.  Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel -- the majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action -- sometimes in the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance […]

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Daniel Baer on LGBT and US Policy (2012-01-31).

[…] one of the things that we’ve tried to do in our human rights policy and recognizing that human rights is a fundamental plank of U.S. foreign policy is to embrace and acknowledge the fact that we want to lead by example and that what happens here at home reflects on our leadership in the world. And so I think there is a concerted effort across the board to be consistent in our practice and in what we advocate and the principles that we think will undergird a more stable, peaceful, and democratic world […]

Why the Global Economy Needs Businesses to Invest in Women. By Melanne Verveer and Kim Azzarelli (2012-01-30).

“There is no doubt,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, “that the increasing numbers of women in the economy ... has helped fuel significant growth everywhere. And economies that are making the shift more effectively and rapidly are dramatically outperforming those that have not.”

(Melanne Verveer is U.S ambassador for global women’s issues. Kim Azzarelli is president of the Women in the World Foundation and the 2012 recipient of the NY State Bar Association Ruth G. Schapiro Award.)

Clinton to U.N.: Act on Syria or Be Complicit in Violence (2012-01-31)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton makes remarks at a United Nations Security Council session on the situation in Syria, saying, “The United States stands ready to work with every member in this chamber to pass a resolution that supports the Arab League’s efforts.

Obama has Overseen Major Shifts in U.S. Foreign Policy (2012-1-30)

If the United States continues on the course the president has set, “I think we will see in 2016 the U.S. posture in the world will look very different than it did in 2008,” said White House Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes.

Rhodes was speaking January 30 at the Center for American Progress, a public policy think tank in Washington.

Obama campaigned on a commitment to end the U.S. military involvement in Iraq, and Rhodes said that commitment has now been met. In August 2010, 100,000 U.S. troops were removed and all U.S. combat operations ended in the country, and in 2011 the last American forces were withdrawn, fulfilling the U.S. drawdown agreement with the Iraqi government.

The drawdown has not only allowed an opportunity for the United States and Iraq to build a new bilateral relationship as sovereign states, but it has also enhanced U.S. efforts against the international terrorist group al-Qaida.

Daniel Benjamin, the U.S. State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Speaks on U.S. Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism (2012-01-30)

[…] One of the unsung successes of the past decade has been the extraordinary level of international cooperation we have achieved in counterterrorism. Although we have not been able to prevent all terrorist attacks, we have disrupted dangerous conspiracies, taken bad actors off the street, and broken up capable networks. Much of that cooperation was the result of intelligence work and law enforcement cooperation. Much of it was bilateral. Some of it occurred in relatively small groups. As a global community, there is much to be proud of – we have become exceptionally effective at tactical counterterrorism.

But having said all that, the challenges that violent extremism presents are not fading with the international community’s success against al-Qaida (AQ), its affiliates, and its adherents, as well as other terrorist groups. The loss of Usama bin Laden puts AQ on a path of decline that it probably cannot reverse. However, the factors that make some populations vulnerable to internalizing the worldview expressed by the AQ and other violent extremist narratives are still present in many communities. As we know, even more than its financing, what sustains terrorist groups is the steady flow of new recruits. They replace the terrorists that are killed or captured, and then go on to plan new attacks[…].

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