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  • Author: Michael Shank, Marwan Kabalan
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) apparently has a penchant for badness. For visiting Syria, the Speaker received a harsh reprimand by Vice President Dick Cheney who thought it “bad behavior.” Though the Speaker remained relatively un-phased by the scolding, Cheney made his point. The warning contained a deeper meaning—one that the Speaker understood immediately and that may explain why she passed on House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Lantos' (D-CA) recommendation to do the same with Iran. Take a closer look at Cheney's criticism and two questions arise. Does bad behavior connote an undermining of U.S. foreign policy, i.e. that U.S. officials should not engage in direct dialogue with adversaries? Or, does bad behavior suggest that the legislative branch should not, under any circumstances, challenge the executive branch? According to Cheney, it's the latter. In a radio appearance, the veep said, “The President is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.” But before examining the schism widening between legislative and executive branches on foreign policy issues, the former point—i.e. should the U.S. dialogue with adversaries—needs attention.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Zunes
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Even as American officials reluctantly agreed last month to include Syrian representatives in multiparty talks on Iraqi security issues, the Bush administration continues to block Israel from resuming negotiations with Syria over its security concerns. In 2003, President Bashar al-Assad offered to resume peace talks with Israel where they had left off three years earlier, but Israel, backed by the Bush administration, refused. Assad eventually agreed to reenter peace negotiations without preconditions, but even these overtures were rejected.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Jason Yossef Ben-Meir
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The new strategy of the United States in Iraq does not include an extensive overhaul of reconstruction efforts at this critical time. Very little money is now being appropriated for reconstruction. As the Iraq Study Group Report explains, of the $21 billion to date that has been appropriated for the “Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund” (IRRF), $16 billion has been spent and the remaining funds have been committed. The administration requested $750 million for 2007, and President Bush's new proposal is to add $1.2 billion to that.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Zunes
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The election of a Democratic majority in the House and Senate is unlikely to result in any serious challenge to the Bush administration's support for Israeli attacks against the civilian populations of its Arab neighbors and the Israeli government's ongoing violations of international humanitarian law.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Humanitarian Aid, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Peter J. Middlebrook, Sharon M. Miller
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The forthcoming “London Conference” on Afghanistan (January 31-February 1, 2006), to be attended by President Hamid Karzai, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and Paul Wolfowitz, head of the World Bank, brings together high ranking dignitaries from the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the international development community to endorse a new multilateral agreement to be known as the “Afghanistan Compact,” the successor of the Bonn Agreement.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, London
  • Author: Peter Middlebrook, Mark Sedra
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The Bonn Agreement, signed on December 5, 2001, provided the road map for the transformation of the Afghan state, culminating in the September 18, 2005 legislative elections. The landmark polls, which proceeded largely peacefully, have elected an Afghan Parliament for the first time in more than three decades. Although the Bonn political process has made great strides toward facilitating Afghanistan's transition to democracy, the costs and challenges associated with the reform agenda are immense and continue to spiral. With a narrow revenue base, Afghanistan will remain dependent on support from the international community for many years to come, not just to cover the capital costs associated with reconstruction and poverty reduction but also to underwrite core operating expenditures. Once funding for Coalition military operations is factored in, the cost of maintaining relative peace and stability in Afghanistan could exceed the $16-18 billion per year currently being spent—a prohibitively high figure in light of creeping donor fatigue. With the security situation in the country still volatile, regional posturing intensifying, and the United States signaling that troop withdrawals are imminent, Afghanistan's transition remains fragile and uncertain. Senior Washington officials already quietly acknowledge that the reform process has failed to maintain the critical momentum that the Afghan government's landmark report, Securing Afghanistan's Future: Accomplishments and the Strategic Path Forward, appeared to generate when it was launched at the spring 2004 Berlin Donors Conference.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Zunes
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: It is doubtful that the Bush administration will be very successful advancing America's image in the Islamic world as long as its representatives have such trouble telling the truth. A case in point took place on October 21, when U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes was talking before a group of university students in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country. As she has found elsewhere in her visits in the Islamic world, there is enormous popular opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the ongoing U.S. counter-insurgency war.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, America, Indonesia, Middle East, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Stephen Zunes
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The election of the hard-line Teheran mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over former President Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani as the new head of Iran is undeniably a setback for those hoping to advance greater social and political freedom in that country. It should not necessarily be seen as a turn to the right by the Iranian electorate, however. The 70-year old Rafsanjani — a cleric and penultimate wheeler-dealer from the political establishment — was portrayed as the more moderate conservative. The fact that he had become a millionaire while in government was apparently seen as less important than his modest reform agenda. By contrast, the young Teheran mayor focused on the plight of the poor and cleaning up corruption.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Tom Hayden
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: In January 2005, a group of fifty peace activists from the Vietnam and Iraq eras issued a global appeal to end the war (online at http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/20996/). The appeal proposed undermining the pillars of war (public opinion, funding, troop recruitment, international allies) and building the pillars of peace and justice (an independent anti-war movement linked to justice issues, a progressive Democratic opposition, soldiers and families against the war, a global network to stop the US empire). This is an update on implementation of the strategy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Roger Howard
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Imagine your reaction if, during last November's presidential contest, the mullahs of Iran had suddenly launched a tirade of criticism against the American system of democracy and beamed their message onto our television sets and radios for all of us to hear: democracy in the United States, the mullahs might perhaps have claimed, is a corrupt process that is determined largely by the influence of the wealthiest donors, and a process that wholly fails to address the religious needs of a secular, materialist culture.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Iran, Middle East