Tomorrow, the Senate Armed Services Committee is holding a closed door hearing on progress toward the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, with Special Envoy for Guantanamo Bay Ambassador Daniel Fried and senior officials from the Departments of Defense, Justice, and the intelligence community. Closing the prison, which has become a recruiting tool for terrorists worldwide, is part of the Administration's broader counterterrorism strategy.
This weekend saw a continuation of two parallel trends. First, Generals Colin Powell and David Petraeus continued the trend of America's top national security experts supporting the Obama administration's national security policies. Powell and Petraeus expressed support for a range of policies including prosecuting terrorists through civilian trials, closing Guantanamo Bay, and ending the use of torture or "enhanced interrogation techniques." The annual meeting of the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) conference demonstrated the second trend: conservatives politicizing national security.
It is the responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief to ask the tough questions and challenge our military and civilian bureaucracies to look past their own perspectives to provide the best answers. Even as these important debates continue, prominent neoconservative pundits remain bent on blasting the Administration for ‘dithering’ on its strategy. Not only does this reckless commentary ignore the complex reality of Afghanistan – one that can’t be reduced to an exclusive focus on troop numbers – but it runs against the emerging bi-partisan consensus that the President has behaved shrewdly in taking a deliberate approach to his strategy.
With only two weeks left until the election, John McCain had another difficult week on the national security front. From Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama, to the Iraqi government's undermining McCain's position on withdrawal of US forces, to the Al Qaeda web-video vote for the Republic nominee for President, the Maverick has had a rough couple of days.
For the past thirty years, the Republican party’s foreign policy establishment has consisted of an uneasy alliance between Neoconservatives and pragmatists. The Iraq war put the alliance under great strain. The decision of Colin Powell, long a leader in the pragmatic conservative camp, to endorse Barack Obama is the strongest of recent signals that the alliance is broken for good.
In the upcoming debate on Friday, John McCain will cite his assertive and immediate condemnation of Russia’s attack on Georgia as evidence of his good judgment. Unfortunately for John McCain, three former Republican Secretaries of State – Henry Kissinger, James Baker, and Colin Powell – at a forum last week strongly disagreed with his rash reaction as well as his past calls for a broadly confrontational approach toward Russia.
Yesterday five former American secretaries of state including Republicans Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and James Baker all reaffirmed their support for direct talks with Iran. Kissinger went as far as to say that there must be high-level talks with the Iranians “without conditions.”