NDN Blog

Invite: Today, Thur, April 19 - The Future of Internet Governance

Please join NDN and the New Policy Institute at noon on April 19th for a timely discussion about the future of internet governance.  Our three expert panelists will draw upon their extensive and diverse experiences to explore the policy approaches and governance structures that are best adapted to the rapidly changing and growing Internet platforms and services that are so critical to billions of people around the world. Lunch and the panel will take place in NDN's newly renovated event space at 729 15th St. NW, in Washington DC. Leading this discussion will be:

Daniel Weitzner - Deputy Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Tom Tauke - Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy, Verizon

Karen Rose - Senior Director of Strategic Development and Business Planning, The Internet Society

This discussion is the third in a series of events and papers NDN/NPI has held in recent weeks looking at the global telecom revolution.  Our first event focused on the employment impact of the move from 2G to 3G and on to 4G.  The second took an in-depth look at the explosion of mobile technology and featured former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and the State Department's Suzanne Hall. 

Please RSVP here. You can direct any questions to Brad Bosserman at bbosserman@ndn.org.

Lunch will be served at noon and the program will begin at 12:15pm. We look forward to your participation in this exciting event.

If you cannot make it in person feel free to watch live here.

Iran Comes Back to the Nuclear Table and Brazil’s President Faces Complex Economic Challenges

Iranian Nuclear Negotiations to Commence on Friday

Iran has agreed to come back to the table for another round of nuclear talks that will begin Friday in Istanbul. I wrote an essay last week describing the way in which this is largely the result of a concerted and successful multiyear strategy by the Obama Administration. The negotiations have previously always collapsed over two main issues: How much uranium Iran will enrich and at what levels, and allowing international inspectors free access to verify compliance. In advance of the negotiations, the Iranian nuclear chief spoke out about the possible parameters of an agreement they'd be willing to accept, saying that they might be willing to give up continued enrichment at the 20% level;  When "the need is met, we will decrease production and it is even possible to completely reverse to only 3.5 percent." Even if the Iranians are willing to cease enrichment above the 3.5% level, their likely insistence on maintaining their existing stockpile -- in addition to a history of resistance to verification regimes - stand a good chance of sinking the talks once again.

This is not to say that talks are in vain. An understanding of the long-running patterns in the US-Iranian relationship suggests that Tehran coming to the table at all is a sign of their weakened international and economic position. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has concluded that he does not "believe that this amount of sanctions and pressure will bring the Iranian leadership to the conclusion that they have to stop their nuclear military program." Both American and Israeli intelligence report that Iran has not yet made a decision to pursue a nuclear weapons program, but Barak's pessimism is well founded. It is the willingness of the United States to keep the diplomatic option open, however, that creates the political space for convincing other countries to adopt increasingly restrictive sanctions. Iranian intransigence during these negotiations, then, could lay the groundwork for yet another round of sanctions - further tightening the noose around the Ayatollah's neck. 

Brazilian President Meets with Obama

Brazillina President Rousseff is in Washington today meeting with President Obama for what might appear to be a bit of a victory lap. Brazil has experienced tremendous economic growth over the last several years, brought an enormous number of poor into a burgeoning middle class, and ascended to new levels of international influence as one of the premier BRIC nations. This has all contributed to President Rousseff's enviable 77 percent approval rating.

Bill Hinchberger takes to the pages of Foreign Policy, however, to point out that while the good times may not be over for Brazil, they're likely to be winding down in the near future. The problem is with the fundamentals. Brazil's meteoric economic rise was largely on the back of what Tyler Cowen might describe as eating the low hanging fruit. The economy was bolstered by the ability to export enormous amounts of extractive natural resources to a hungry Chinese market and reap the efficiency gains of urbanization and technological innovation. These dynamics, though, lose their value over time and won't support 7% growth indefinably. In fact, GDP growth is now down closer to 2%. The aggressive export promotion has led to an overvalued currency which is now beginning to lead to deindustrialization in other key manufacturing sectors. As minerals become increasingly scarce, foreign direct investment will be more difficult to secure as a decaying industrial base combines with a regulatory environment that is ranked as one of the worst in the world. With the right investments, there's no reason to think that Brazil cannot solidify the gains of the last decade and cement its position as a significant regional power. In order avoid stagnation, however, they will need to pursue sound industrial policy, economic reforms,  and be willing to make the tough decisions to adjust to changing economic dynamics. Hopefully President Rousseff is prepared to use her substantial well of political capital to do just that. 

Obama's Iran Strategy Is Working


The latest development in the U.S.-Iran relationship is an apparent backdoor diplomatic gesture made by the White House and leaked to David Ignatius at the Washington Post. According to senior officials in the Obama administration, "President Obama has signaled Iran that the United States would accept an Iranian civilian nuclear program if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can back up his recent public claim that his nation 'will never pursue nuclear weapons'." The messenger appears to have been Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who is playing an increasingly high-profile role in regional diplomacy. 

Critics of the Obama administration's Middle East strategy will inevitably decry this move as yet more evidence of the President's supposed weakness, though it's important to understand that his Iran strategy has, thus far, been fairly successful.

From the beginning, President Obama has pursued a dual-track strategy that used the offer of diplomatic engagement, and the Iranian rejection of it, as a tool to lay bare the true intentions of the regime in Tehran. It is exactly this position that was necessary to create widespread international support for robust multilateral sanctions, especially among key allies in Europe and Asia who have been traditionally much more reliant on Iranian energy resources than the U.S. Unilateral sanctions have very limited impact on a country whose primary export markets are far from North America, and when the U.S. asks its allies to implement sanctions that require real sacrifices on their part, they want to know that American policymakers have exhausted all other tools.

Most experts and analysts agree that the sanctions organized by the Obama administration have contributed (along with fundamental macroeconomic weakness and government mismanagement) to an Iranian economy that, while not spiraling out of control, is certainly ailing. If there is a real chance of regime change in Iran, it's going to have to be domestically driven, and key constituencies in the middle class and business sector won't be motivated to get off the sidelines until it becomes clear that the only path to avoiding sustained economic calamity is to usher in a new regime. Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities and other clearly external attacks on the country, however, would likely consolidate domestic support for the Ayatollah, serve as a much more credible scapegoat for their economic torpor, and delay the attitudinal and organizational shifts needed to inspire sustainable resistance to the leadership in Tehran. In addition,  such strikes would likely fail to significantly derail the nuclear program. For these reasons, most experts oppose military action at this point.

It's also important to understand that the intelligence community has consistently determined that no decision has been made in Iran to pursue a nuclear weapons program. It's easy to lose sight of this fact amidst sensationalized media reporting. While IAEA reports certainly indicate that Iran is expanding its enrichment capability and is determined to be less than fully-open to inspectors, these decisions must be understood within the context of objective intelligence assessments and the broader, historical, strategic relationship between Iran and the West. The U.S. and Israel both have a long history of gamesmanship with Iran, but a central cause of the perceived daylight between the two countries on their Iran policies stems not from personal antipathy between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama, but a real difference in the type of threat that Iran posses to the two nations.

The U.S. and Israel have fundamentally different priorities and red lines with Iran, which is only logical as the relationship between those two countries has different historical dynamics, and regional proximity makes Iran a legitimate medium-term threat to Israel, whereas the same geography makes the threat of Iran to Americans a pretty tough sell. American interests in Iran are primarily based on the regional, geo-strategic, energy, and economic implications of Iranian behavior and policy. In this context, an Iran that possesses a regulated civilian nuclear program but is contained, decaying from within, and ensconced in a stable regional environment, would be an acceptable -- if suboptimal -- situation for the U.S. Israel obviously views that situation very differently.

As the GOP primaries give way to a general election campaign, criticism of U.S. policy toward Iran will be streaming even faster from the mouths of conservative pundits and politicians. The calls for military action, however, are not only far less prudent than the President's current strategy, but also face skepticism from the American public. A recent report from Third Way found that "even the men most supportive of military action express some concerns about the burden on the U.S. The focus groups suggest a great deal of worry over the threat Iran poses, but also caution about the U.S. taking direct military action to confront that threat." This public sentiment, along with the success of the current strategy, and actual strategic environment suggest that the Obama administration should continue to resist calls for military action in Iran, work with their Israeli allies to help build a secure regional environment, and stay the course with aggressive sanctions and increasing international isolation. 


Foreign Policy Chat - Macedonia Seeks NATO Membership And A Deal Is Made On Night Raids

Macedonia Vies for NATO Membership

In advance of next month's high-level NATO meeting in Chicago, there is a renewed push to finally extend an official invitation to the Balkan country of Macedonia. The small country has been unable to secure membership in the Alliance despite making it past all of the relevant hurdles more than a decade ago. The President is on record supporting membership, as is the House, the Senate, and nearly all of the current NATO members. A letter signed by 54 Members of Congress highlighted Macedonia's involvement in supporting the NATO missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as basing troops in the nineties. So what's the problem? Their name.  Greece maintains that it will continue to object to Macedonia's membership in the alliance until they change their to something other than Macedonia. The Greek position is that the name of the small eastern European state implies some kind of territorial claim over a small Greek municipality that is also called Macedonia. The Macedonian government does not actually make any claim to any part of Greece, and the International Court of Justice overwhelmingly found the Greek position on this issue to be in violation of their treaty obligations. Yet, Macedonia remains outside the NATO tent, and it appears likely to stay there unless their government shows up to the Chicago summit having changed the country's name to Candy Land.

US - Afghanistan Near Agreement on Night Raids

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that sources in both the Afghan and US governments have indicated that the two countries are on the brink of signing an agreement over "Night Raids," which would pave the way for a long-term agreement on the protracted role of US forces in Afghanistan.  The two governments were able to strike a deal last month over the issue of detainees, which left night raids as the last major stumbling block to a long-term partnership framework. A US official told the AFP that "An agreement is days away," on the unpopular practice of deploying US Special Forces to capture suspected insurgents in their homes. The new agreement, it appears, would require Afghan judges to sign off on warrants for these types of raids and bring Afghan military forces into a more central position in leading and executing the operations. As US and NATO forces are scheduled to fully withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, putting in place a long-term agreement on the US role in counter terrorism there is a top priority for American policy makers. 

Foreign Policy Chat - Clarke Talks Cyber And Burma Steps Toward Democracy

 Richard Clarke speaks out about Cyber and Stuxnet

In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, former counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke warned of the looming cyber threat to the US and articulated why he believes the Stuxnet worm that attacked an Iranian nuclear facility was designed and launched by the United States. The offensive cyber attack that temporally damaged the Iranian nuclear centrifuge at Natanz has long been rumored to have originated with the US or Israel. Clarke's claims about the worm's  American origins obviously wasn't a disclosure of any classified information, but does draw on his considerable experience at the highest levels of counter terror policy. One indication, Clarke says, "was that it very much had the feel to it of having been written by or governed by a team of Washington lawyers...The lawyers want to make sure that they very much limit the effects of the action. So that there's no collateral damage." Clarke believes evidence of that can be found in the way the worm was constructed.

Clarke, who is pushing a new book on the subject, articulates a frightening world of omnipresent cyber threats that the US is unprepared to respond to. While policymakers certainly need to invest in offensive and defense cyber capabilities, Clarke is clearly guilty of one of critiques advanced by Stephen Walt, among others. Too often the conversations about cyber conflate a lot of different activities in non-nuanced and unhelpful ways. Chinese corporate espionage, hacking into commercial networks in order to gain trade secrets for Chinese firms, is a problem. But it's not the same type of problem as rogue hacker terrorists trying to take down the US power grid. Smart, strategic US policy has to counter each of these specific threats in varied and particularized ways. That policy also needs to attempt to strengthen international regimes around cyber in ways that don't create an unnecessarily hostile relationship with a Chinese government and economy which is increasingly important for long-term US interests. So cyber is a threat that should be taken seriously, but serious should mean measured rather than hysterical. 

Burma Slowly Steps Toward Spring

Bi-elections were held in Burma yesterday and all evidence points to a landslide victory for the main opposition party, the NLD. The opposition, which boycotted the last election, stands poised to claim as many as 44 of the 45 parliamentary seats up for grabs. Many pro-democracy advocates have been heartened by the results, recognizing the election as a small, but powerful step forward for a country that has long been dominated by a military autocracy. While rightfully inspiring for activists, Burma is still far from a flowering democracy-or even a budding one. Winning these 45 seats will give real voice to the democratic opposition, but they'll be sitting in a parliament of nearly 650 members-the majority of whom belong to the ruling party. Elaine Pearson, the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch, pointed out that "these by-elections should not be touted as a serious test of Burma's commitment to democratic reform. The real test is whether the new parliament can reform repressive law and civilians can assert authority over the military, which continues to commit abuses in ethnic areas." More than anything, the events of the past few days dramatically increase the stakes for the full elections scheduled for 2015. The NLD should use this newly acquired foothold to begin to build and develop popular participation in democratic institutions and civil society, to the extent possible. If they are able to patiently do the hard work of building the pillars necessary to support a more democratic society, then the real and peaceful revolution that was unimaginable a year ago may well be possible in a very short time.

Foreign Policy Chat - Are The Generals Liars And Is It Time For UN Reform?

Who's Lying? The GOP or the Generals?

Representative Paul Ryan, speaking at a National Journal Event about the defense budget, said that "We don't think the generals are giving us their true advice." Ryan is part of the chorus of Republicans who have moved from advocating for the absolute discretion of "the generals" during the Don't Ask Don't Tell debate, to openly calling those same commanders liars when it comes to the Pentagon's budget request. Ryan, of course, wants to dramatically increase the defense budget above even what the General's have requested. And he proposes to pay for this, along with his regressive tax cuts, by dramatically cutting social services and income supports for poor and middle income Americans. Ryan claims that his gripe with the latest Pentagon request is that it is not "Strategy Driven," which is a strange attack from a Member whose budget proposal cuts every part of the US national security infrastructure and operations that can't be deployed for war-fighting. A spokesman for the DoD, after reiterating that the Joint Chiefs strongly support proposed defense budget, corrected Ryan: "The secretary of Defense has been very clear with the military leadership in this department that they should provide independent military advice and be as straightforward as possible with members of Congress." Rep. Adam Smith, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, made it clear that while he also opposes sequestration, the responsible way to pay for our national security is to actually raise sufficient revenue to meet our commitments. That is the real point where the Republicans and Democrats diverge. It certainly is not a disagreement about military strategy. 

Security Council Reform

The Swiss, today,  introduced a UN resolution outlining "concrete and pragmatic steps designed to improve the work of the Security Council" by making deliberations and decisions more open to non-members and limiting the use of the veto. The recommendations were supported by a large number of General Assembly members, including the so-called "small 5." UN reform in general, and Security Council reform in particular tend to be perennial issues that never tend to garner support from the powerful countries whose support would be critical to their adoption. The recent veto by the Russian and Chinese delegations of a resolution on Libya was undoubtedly a contributing factor behind the provision of this latest reform proposal which bars veto for issues of genocide or crimes against humanity. Limitations on veto authority have always faced stiff opposition from the members who possess the ability to veto, but the other portions of the resolution aimed and opening more meetings and incorporating more countries into deliberations are more realistic. 

As the global system becomes  marked by the relative economic and political ascension of more middle-income countries, global institutions will need to democratize in order to allow these newly empowered states to express themselves on the world's stage. The US and other western powers should lead the way on this front as preserving the credibility and strength of these institutions will be essential for creating and maintaining the kind of stable international system that serves a full range of US interests. Lack of strategic vision on this front runs the risk of allowing the UN and other IGOs to become anachronistic and less relevant. Averting this fate should be a real goal for US policymakers in the near and medium term.  

The US Should Nominate The Best World Bank President, Regardless Of Nationality

Today at 6:00pm is the deadline for the US to nominate a candidate to take over for Bob Zoellick at the helm of the World Bank. Tradition has always held that while the US supports the European nominee to head the IMF, the US always gets to pick an American to run the Bank. This year, however, many international and domestic voices are calling for the White House to nominate a non-American candidate for the first time in history. Not a European, but someone from one of the developing countries of whom it is the World Bank's mission to serve. This might be more of a pipe dream if two excellent candidates had not emerged who could easily fill the position. Jose Antonio Ocampo of Colombia and Columbia has been widely discussed as having the credentials and clout to do the job. Felix Salmon, meanwhile, makes a very strong case for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian Finance Minister. Ngozi is a very well respected economist who has previously worked at the World Bank and possesses the institutional knowledge and credibility in finance circles as well as the developing world which is all too rare to find.

The emergence of highly qualified foreign candidates, however, really requires the White House to decide whether it is actually so vital to keep an American in the top seat. The US still controls the majority of shares in the world's leading development organization, and it would continue to exercise enormous influence over the body regardless of its president. Additionally, a strong case can be made that a World Bank headed by someone from the developing world would not only bring important experience to bare on its policies and programmatic work, but also be more effective in negotiating with critical non-western stakeholders. So is there a compelling reason to chose an American simply because they are American? Well the US is the largest financial contributor to the World Bank and the money that has been committed over the next few years still needs to be appropriated by Congress. Given the political environment, it's difficult to imagine that an American Bank President wouldn't be better received on the Hill and possess a more deft understanding of the lobbying needed to secure the vital funding. So the important question we're left with is determining what will be the central challenges of the World Bank over the next several years and what are the most important traits for its CEO to have?

Going forward, the Bank will be responsible for creating and maintaining global systems of capital flows and market development in ways that bring broadly-shared prosperity and rising real living standards to the worlds developing nations. This will mean navigating the highly complex and interlocking regimes around not only donor aid, but increasingly trade negations, domestic government reform, finance and credit markets, and the myriad international organizations and NGOs that operate in all of these spaces. The US should continue to shape its work in ways that promote the US strategic interest in expanding the benefits of globalization and creating opportunities for prosperity for people living in poverty. In order for the World Bank to effectively address these vital challenges, it will need a leader who not only possesses real vision and management skills, but also someone who is deeply knowledgeable about the complicated IGO, finance, and development ecosystem the Bank relies upon -and has the diplomatic abilities and stature that would allow them to shepherd various stake-holders into making difficult choices. Is it possible that a person with that rare combination of attributes could be found in the United States? Certainly. Hilary Clinton, though she's said to have removed herself from consideration, springs to mind. But it would be foolish to pass on a fantastic candidate like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who by most accounts scores highly in all of these areas, simply because she holds the wrong passport. This is independent of the innate credibility that a World Bank CEO from a developing country would garner when dealing with other developing nations.

This discussion would be largely moot if there was a fantastic US candidate in hand which the world was ready to rally behind. That, however, is not the case. Currently, the only named candidate is Jeffrey Sachs. The renowned and high-profile development economist and head of Columbia's Earth Institute began a flashy campaign for himself to head the agency a few months ago, but experts have real concerns about his skill set. Scott Gilmore took to the pages of Foreign Policy to argue that Sachs' obsession with donor-driven aid programs has become much less relevant to the core mission of the World Bank. Fifty years ago, over 70 percent of capital flows to developing nations came in the form of aid, whereas today they make up less than 13 percent. While Sachs has done amazing work, his lack of experience with market development may be a critical obstacle to his success, to say nothing of his lack of management experience on anything near the scale of the Bank's 13,000 employees.

Other than Sachs or Clinton, it's difficult to see the rest of the field of American candidates being better than Ngozi on the merits. Larry Summers lacks the experience or disposition to be anything less than a disaster. Susan Rice and Laura Tyson, while being smart and capable, simply don't bring to the table the same combination of skills, credibility, and profile that Ngozi does. But at the end of the day, political realities, tradition, and the ability to successfully lobby Congress will probably win the day and one of these American candidates will probably be put forward. This would, however, be a conservative move and a missed opportunity to work toward democratizing one of the leading global institutions. As US global hegemony shifts to accommodate the relative rise of other nations, the American role in IGOs and international regimes will have to make room for more international voices. American leadership can and should continue to be a powerful source of good, but it will need to recognize the realities of the 21st century. Allowing for the World Bank to be headed by the most qualified candidate, regardless of nationality, would be step down that path. 

Foreign Policy Chat - Escaping Sanctions, The GOP Budget, And The Top FoPo Twitter Feeds

State Department exempts 11 countries from Iran - related sanctions

Secretary Clinton announced that 11 countries had made reductions to their import of Iranian oil sufficient to earn a waiver from the expanded sanctions that Congress passed as part of the National Defense Authorization bill. Clinton hailed the move, recognizing that these countries "had to rethink their energy needs at a critical time for the world economy and quickly begin to find alternatives to Iranian oil, which many had been reliant on for their energy needs." The sanctions are part of the Obama Administration's multilateral strategy to contain Iran by tightening the economic noose around the regime's neck. This latest round, however, initially received some push-back from the White House because a number of countries whom the US has no interest in sanctioning would find it very difficult to comply within the timeframe allotted by Congress. This means that on March 30th the President will need to decide whether or not to sanction China, Turkey, India, and South Korea. He will almost certainly make a determination that avoids imposing those sanctions, but it will require some amount of procedural gaming. The Administration's Iran strategy appears to be inflicting real economic damage and the Congress should defer to Treasury and resist adding new layers or requirements which may well have unintended consequences for our allies.

Ryan Budget

Representative Paul Ryan released his House Republican budget yesterday and the wonks went to quick work moving beyond the platitudes and analyzing the impact this GOP vision would actually have on the country. The broad sketch of Ryan's proposal is to institute a large tax cut, increase defense spending, and pay for those things by making very deep cuts in income and healthcare supports for poor Americans. While avoiding sequestration and increasing defense spending appears to some as a real investment in the US foreign policy posture, the details of the plan actually tell a more complicated story.

The increased funding for the Defense Department is accompanied by fairly dramatic reductions in funding for the State Department and the US development infrastructure. Rep. Berman argued convincingly that Ryan's vision "fails to recognize that diplomacy and development are essential to protecting our national security, alongside defense." But it's not all roses for the Pentagon and intelligence community either. Ryan's drastic reduction in the Federal workforce could inadvertently force the national security bureaucracy to shed as many as 100,000 employees. And these are only the immediate results of this plan. The long-term effect of the GOP budget would be to functionally eliminate all nonhealthcare, nondefense undertakings of the Federal Government. That means no more foreign aid, development programs, the State Department missions; etc. With that in mind, it's difficult to understand how any serious person interested in the national security of the United States would endorse the Ryan Plan.

Top Foreign Policy Twitter Feeds

Time Magazine just released a list of its top 140 Twitter feeds in a range of categories. While there are many note-worthy listings for shopping and fictional characters, there are also a number of great feeds for the foreign policy-focused twitterati. Twitter has become a nearly indispensable tool for policy wonks and interested observers to stay connected to the fast-moving world of international affairs, so below are some of Time's favorite feeds that should be a must-follow for anyone reading this blog.

Wael Ghonim @Ghonim

He's the Google executive who disappeared during the early days of the Egypt protests, only to reappear as one of the faces of change as the government fell. Wael Ghonim's Twitter account offers a fascinating, opinionated look at the struggles of finding a government to fill the vacuum.

Felix Salmon @FelixSalmon

This Reuters journalist runs one of the best business blogs in the business-blog business - intelligent, thoughtful and fun.

Stephen Colbert @StephenAtHome

As host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert never shies away from a witty one-liner. He quips about current events and follows up jokes on his nightly fake newscast.

Blake Hounshell @BlakeHounshell

Few are better at combing through the endless stream of global news updates than Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine. 

Andy Carvin @Acarvin

Operating out of the Washington area, Andy Carvin has pulled 16-hour days in the virtual trenches of the Arab revolutions. Following the Tunisian protests closely and leaning on his contacts from a 2010 trip to North Africa, his curated feed provides an unequalled content stream of analysis and on-the-ground reports. 

Nick Kristof @NickKristof

Nick Kristof, a columnist for the New York Times, offers a smart take on world affairs informed by experience - he was on the ground in Egypt during the revolution, the latest stop in the well-traveled journalist's trips to crisis zones and impoverished areas around the world.

Cutting Off Aid To Egypt Would Be A Real Mistake

The State Department, last week, leaked its intention to continue providing financial aid to the Egyptian government. Some preemptive hand-wringing has begun to trickle in from Congress and human rights groups who are uncomfortable with Secretary Clinton using a national security waiver to bypass a new Congressionally-imposed requirement that aid must be made conditional upon meeting targets for good-governance and human rights. Amnesty International opposed the move and penned a letter highlighting many of the abuse accusations against the transitional government in Cairo. While some of the actions of the SCAF have certainly left much to be desired, the State Department and White House are making the correct decision. Congress wrote the national security exemption into the recent law for a reason, and what we're talking about is providing lasting economic engagement and aid to countries struggling with powerful and fundamental political transitions, in a region whose stability and growth should be a top priority for the United States.

A spokeswoman for the State Department highlighted this reality, expressing that "our goal, as we go forward with this process that the secretary has to make a decision on, is to satisfy the intent of the legislation while maintaining the strongest possible foundations for the U.S.-Egyptian relationship going forward." This issue of securing $1.5 billion in US aid comes at the same time that Egyptian officials are negotiating over a $3.2 billion dollar loan agreement from the IMF, whose funds require compliance with a separate set of conditions. It is widely thought that if Egypt is able to secure financial backing from the US and IMF, it will unlock billions more from international donors and lenders operating under the Deauville Partnership, a framework established last year to provide financial support to transition governments in order to promote development and stability. The presence of these other players means that the US cannot expect to abandon their economic relationship with these countries without losing regional influence at this critical time.

Security, economic prosperity, and political development are all inseparably linked. As Egypt and other governments move forward we should expect them to occasionally stumble. There will inevitably be bumps in the road as recently emancipated populations learn to express their political will in more democratic ways. This only makes it more important for the US to be patient with these governments and continue to systematically work to build stronger civic institutions, markets that provide broad-based prosperity, and to forge deep and lasting ties. Retreating from this front is simply not a realistic option. Robust engagment is the only path forward.

NDN's Brad Bosserman Speaking At The Millennial Voices Conference

Join the Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline and the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network on Saturday March 24th for the Millennial Voice Conference, which will feature interactive conversations and breakout sessions on issues facing the Millennial Generation including citizenship, foreign policy, the economy and entrepreneurship, and education. NDN's Bradley Bosserman will be speaking at 2:00 on a panel about America's Role In The World. The conference is being hosted by American University and is open to the public. Find more information here

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