DipNote: The Week in Review

Posted by Luke Forgerson
March 7, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testified last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Secretary Clinton spoke about the President's FY 2012 Budget for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which furthers U.S. national security, advances America's economic interests, protects Americans at home and abroad, and elevates America's global leadership. Speaking before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary Clinton said, "Just two years after President Obama and I first asked you to renew our investment in development and diplomacy, we are already seeing tangible returns for our national security."

She continued, "...In Iraq, almost 100,000 troops have come home, and civilians are poised to keep the peace. In Afghanistan, integrated military and civilian surges have helped set the stage for our diplomatic surge to support Afghan-led reconciliation that can end the conflict and put al-Qaida on the run. We have imposed the toughest ever sanctions to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions. We have reengaged as a leader in the Pacific and in our own hemisphere. We have signed trade deals to promote American jobs and nuclear weapons treaties to protect our people. We have worked with Northern and Southern Sudanese to achieve a peaceful referendum and prevent a return to civil war. We are working to open up political systems, economies, and societies at a remarkable moment in the history of the Middle East, and to support peaceful, orderly, irreversible democratic transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. Our progress is significant, but our work is far from over. These missions are vital to our national security, and I believe with all my heart now would be the wrong time to pull back."

In her testimony, Secretary Clinton also spoke about her recent travel to Geneva, where she delivered remarks to the Conference on Disarmament and the United Nations Human Rights Council.

On Monday, February 28, addressing the UN Human Rights Council, Secretary Clinton said, "Today the world's eyes are fixed on Libya. We have seen Colonel Qadhafi's security forces open fire on peaceful protestors again and again. They have used heavy weapons on unarmed civilians. Mercenaries and thugs have been turned loose to attack demonstrators. There are reports of soldiers executed for refusing to turn their guns on their fellow citizens, of indiscriminate killings, arbitrary arrests, and torture. Colonel Qadhafi and those around him must be held accountable for these acts, which violate international legal obligations and common decency. Through their actions, they have lost the legitimacy to govern. And the people of Libya have made themselves clear: It is time for Qadhafi to go -- now, without further violence or delay.”

The following day, March 1, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously agreed to suspend Libya's membership from the UN Human Rights Council. The United States applauded this decision and joined international efforts to provide critical humanitarian aid to people fleeing the crisis in Libya.

Last week, U.S. officials also underscored America's commitment to work with the international community to create a more food-secure world, especially given the rise in food prices over the past several months. As Secretary Clinton told Congress, "These challenges not only threaten the security of individuals, and increasingly in our world, individuals here at home, but they are the seeds of future conflict. If we want to lighten the burden on future generations, we have to make the investments that will make our world more secure."

In Haiti, USAID is working to advance food security by investing in projects that increase farmer productivity and reduce Haiti's environmental, infrastructural, and economic vulnerability. U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince Political Counselor Peter Kujawinski reminded us that good governance and rule of law underpin successful development efforts and told us how the United States is supporting these two critical areas in helping Haiti build back better.

Young people in Nigeria are looking at issues of good governance and democracy as they prepare for their country's elections in April. More than 150 young Nigerians met last week with Under Secretary Maria Otero and told her how they are taking action to promote free and fair elections, volunteering to register voters, and participating in voter education projects. Meanwhile, university students in Afghanistan are examining rule of law issues as they prepare for the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, a contest that will be held in the United States in late March and will draw teams from 80 countries.

Students in Sri Lanka can now visit a new American Corner in Jaffna and learn about opportunities to study in the United States. Anyone who has participated in the Fulbright Program, America's flagship international educational exchange program, can stay connected through an official LinkedIn group.

The United States and China are expanding exchanges between U.S. state governors and Chinese provincial party secretaries and governors, with the first visit by a Chinese provincial leader taking place last week under a memorandum of understanding signed by Secretary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in January concerning the establishment of a U.S.-China Governors Forum.

U.S. business owners are also building relationships with counterparts in Asia. Through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2011 Roadshow program, Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs Lorraine Hariton spoke with American small and medium-size enterprises about pursuing export opportunities and overcoming challenges in doing business abroad. Assistant Secretary Robert Blake traveled to Tashkent, where he led a delegation to participate in the first U.S.-Uzbekistan Business Forum.

In Washington, President Barack Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and Secretary Clinton met with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. President Obama and Secretary Clinton also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. American diplomats and former Peace Corps volunteers joined this year-long celebration at locations across the globe, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As we look at the week ahead, the State Department's Office of the Historian will launch its inaugural special conference series on the Foreign Relations of the United States series, and people around the world will recognize the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day on March 8. We hope you join us for live webcasts this week as Secretary Clinton launches "100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls Through International Exchanges" at 1:45 p.m. (EST) on Monday, March 7 and hosts the 2011 International Women of Courage Awards Ceremony with special guest First Lady Michelle Obama at 11:00 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, March 8.

Comments

Comments

Joseph M.
|
Oregon, USA
March 7, 2011

Joseph M. in Oregon writes:

The demonstrators and opposition, have seemingly lost the "momentum needed" in overtaking Qaddafi and Tripoli.

The U.S. involvement in Libya is much more complex than simply saying "we are on the right side of human-rights, democracy, morality and the freedom of the people to assemble and to stand up to a longstanding authoritarian, autocratic ruler". They (the opposition) are dealing with a brutal dictator and his entourage, Qaddafi is irrational, who will not hesitate in killing any civilian or citizen who challenges his authority, he has had a hold on the Libyan people since 1969 and still holds a marginal percentage of the population who firmly support him, especially in Tripoli and among his tribal people.

The U.S. is already involved in five conflicts in Muslim nations and due to the monumental errors in judgement related to U.S. foreign policy, made by the Obama administration's predecessors, we are in an absolute mess now. Our continued presence in Afghanistan, Iraq and engagement in several countries like Pakistan and Yemen have created a geopolitical polarizing situation. From Afghanistan, Iraq to Pakistan and Yemen, as soon as the U.S., along with our NATO allies would intervene in a direct engagement role in Libya, no matter how good intentioned, the international community would be against us, we are still in Iraq and the international community would draw this parallel to Libya. Besides, it really is up to the demonstrators in Libya, the opposition as to what extend they would want the West or outside entities in supporting there cause.

As I have said before, they've lost the momentum needed and they are lacking in the fire power, training and organization needed for overtaking Tripoli, overtaking strategic cities in Western Libya and for toppling the Qaddafi entourage.

I like Eric's suggestion (posted on March 6th), who has eloquently suggested that the U.S. needs to take a more active role in supporting the Libyan rebels, but first we have to completely dis-engage militarily in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, before we would have greater latitude in engaging elsewhere in the Muslim world. This has turned out to be a very violent, brutal civil war, where I foresee the opposition loosing ground, taken heavy casualties. The violent nature of this civil conflict in Libya, is comparable to the conflicts experienced in Kosovo or Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1990's and has been unseen in Libya since the 1969 revolution, where Qaddafi as a young military officer gained absolute control.

Tony L.
|
United States
March 7, 2011

Tony L. in the U.S.A. writes:

I believe an important aspect of this message that is overlooked is USAID's overall budget compared to its mission. Its mission is broad "further U.S. national security, advance America's economic interests, protect Americans at home and abroad, and elevate America's global leadership." And yet its overall budget and staff is rather paultry compared to its current requirements. As the United States begins to be more deliberate in its decision to deploy US troops abroad, enablers such as USAID will be much more crucial to bringing good governance, human rights, food security, and other American ideals to the global community without needing a heavy footprint in a region. Although this is the proper direction, without the proper resourcing, it is destined to be a failed strategy.

palgye
|
South Korea
March 8, 2011

Palgye in South Korea writes:

Wake up from sleep, while continuing to think ... resignation of foreign minister in Japan, within Japan to reduce the influence of Secretary of State for the Middle East also included, is ripped off?

invasion,

Until now, the U.S. military intervention in view of the outside world, I think it was the policy to look at areas of conflict. Exceptions, but locals do not want to intervene in wars, many deaths occurred, and you get the victory, without intervention, I think it was a weak to cause. However, Libya's internal strife, has indicated that the probability of 50 percent. Difficult to win, but both government forces and militias ... But now, with the help of two external forces eager to believe. Possibility of lost time to think about intervention keojiman, lost time, as locals, eager for outside help to think. Gaddafi, the militia, also ...

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