Monday, April 5, marks the one year anniversary of President Obama's historic unveiling of his 21st century nonproliferation agenda. The week of the anniversary will be marked by significant steps. First, the signing in Prague of a New START Treaty that provides binding, verifiable limits on Russian nuclear weapons - reducing both sides' arsenals to levels not seen since the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations while improving U.S. intelligence on Russia's nuclear capabilities. Second, the Administration will unveil a Nuclear Posture Review that communicates both how this Administration views the limited but important role of nuclear weapons in ensuring our security, and how it intends to keep our arsenal safe and effective. Third, in ten days Washington will welcome forty world leaders for a ground-breaking summit on the safety of nuclear materials - in an age of terrorism, the most important security threat we face. This ambitious agenda seeks to make up for eight years of neglect from President Obama's predecessor.
Prominent conservative lawyers and Bush administration officials denounced as "shameful" a video by Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol's conservative organization Keep America Safe that suggests lawyers who defended Guantanamo Bay detainees are complicit in terrorism. Signatories include top Bush Administration attorneys and officials, even those who have vocally defended its controversial policies - as well as Kenneth Starr. Separately, Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson defended the attorneys attacked in the video. These developments dramatize the split between former Bush administration officials and the Cheneyites, who advocate for irresponsible and dangerous counterterrorism policies.
In recent weeks, international attention has been fixed on the challenge posed by pirates off the coast of Somalia. But on land, a new crisis has been unfolding with far greater ramifications. A coalition of extremist rebels, including the group al-Shabaab, has all but surrounded the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu, raising the prospect of a rebel government with reported ties to international terrorist groups taking control of Somalia. It would be easy to write this off as an inevitable addition to the long litany of crises that have plagued Somalia since 1991. But the policies and approaches of the Bush administration greatly contributed to the current crisis. The faint hope of reversing this situation lies not in the invasion that some have proposed, but in pragmatic support for political solutions that will bring Somalia a lasting respite from nearly two decades of instability.
Five years ago, Dan Rather of CBS News reported systemic abuse of prisoners under U.S. control at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The shocking photos not only brought shame to the United States but served as a tremendous recruiting tool for Al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents.
This crisis is critical to the security of the United States. Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons, has served as safe haven for al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups, has frequently gone to war with India, and holds some of the keys to U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. Yet despite Pakistan’s critical importance, we are only now emerging from eight years without a comprehensive Pakistan strategy.
The G-20 Summit represents a tremendous challenge for the Obama administration. But the US leaves London well-placed to lead continued global collaboration over the course of the year and manage disagreement productively. There would be no need for international diplomatic summits if everyone was already in agreement.
Last week the next steps in the Obama Administration’s comprehensive approach to Iran were on display, with the President’s video message saying that the U.S. is ready to begin diplomatic engagement. This message follows on a letter sent by President Obama to Iran after initially coming to office and further confirms the Administration’s readiness to engage in diplomatic negotiations. This is a dramatic departure from the approach of the Bush administration and represents a renewed recognition of the importance of diplomacy as a foreign policy tool.
Six years after the war began, a popular and political consensus has emerged on the way forward. This new consensus represents an important turning point in the debate over Iraq -- and an important early victory for the Administration’s ability to enunciate and build support for national security policies that are pragmatic, progressive and widely supported.
Six years ago President Bush launched the invasion of Iraq. Thankfully, we finally have a clear exit strategy that will redeploy all American forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Today, the National Security Network is releasing a comprehensive analysis of the legacy of the Iraq war and tomorrow we will be analyzing the changes that Barack Obama and progressives have managed to push through in the last year.