The following is a sneak preview of a full page New York Times ad that the United Nations Foundation and Better World Campaign will take out today, when the members from both presidential campaigns visit New York. Help spread the word. MEMORANDUM TO: The McCain-Palin & Obama-Biden campaigns FROM: The United Nations Foundation DATED: September 23, 2008 SUBJECT: Background for Your Visit to the United Nations Your visit to the opening session of the 63rd United Nations General Assembly underscores the UN's value as the world's platform for bringing together world leaders to tackle shared global challenges, from terrorism and proliferation of nuclear weapons to climate change, HIV/AIDS, health and poverty. Today, President George W. Bush will address the UN General Assembly for the last time, highlighting America's partnership with the United Nations, which is now more important than ever. Balancing America's military strength with creative diplomacy is essential for keeping the United States secure and prosperous. And the UN is the indispensable venue for exercising U.S. diplomacy and leadership, and for sharing the burdens and rewards of creating a better, safer world. The UN is not a partisan issue. President Bush and his administration- like its Democratic and Republican predecessors - have relied extensively on the United Nations to advance U.S. security, economic, humanitarian and environmental interests. Next January, a new American President will be inaugurated, opening a new chapter in the U.S. - UN relationship. The next U.S. President will have an opportunity, on day one, to present a new face to the world, help strengthen the United Nations, and enhance America's reputation by exercising U.S. leadership on the great global challenges of the 21st Century. Opportunities for the Next Administration * Leading international cooperation on nuclear proliferation, terrorism, climate change, health and poverty alleviation so that the UN is in the forefront of security challenges the U.S. and all countries face today. * Strengthening our partnership with the UN in Iraq and Afghanistan, where UN experts are playing a key role in political reconciliation and reconstruction which will help reduce sources of terror. * Working constructively to strengthen the UN's management and budgetary practices to meet 21st Century standards and improve transparency, efficiency and effectiveness. * Supporting international peacekeeping by providing the resources and expertise needed to help the UN manage its important and difficult assignments stemming conflicts in the world's most dangerous places. * Paying off the U.S. $1 billion debt at the UN and eliminating barriers that stand in the way of the United States honoring its UN commitments on time, in full and without condition. Again, welcome to the United Nations. Whatever the results of this November's election, we trust that you will visit the UN frequently to help the United States work with the international community on behalf of a better, safer, more prosperous world for Americans and all people.
VP nominee Sarah Palin delivered the keynote speech tonight, and the majority of the the substantive section focused on energy policy. (Transcript from the RNC below.) The gist: The U.S. needs energy independence from "dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart," like Russia, Venezuela, and Iran, as well as terrorists in Saudi Arabia. I know that drilling won't solve the problem, but it is a good step in the right direction. To truly solve the problem America also needs to foster nuclear power, clean coal, and renewables. Though I'm not sure the drilling is truly helpful in the short term, the rest of her strategy is on point (although admittedly vague). Two quick points:
- This sentence doesn't work: "With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus, and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers"...unless the antecedent of "ourselves" is "the U.S. and our allies," which doesn't seem to be what she intends in this instance. Russia's control of oil flow to Europe is a strategic issue for the U.S., but it has little to do with America's dependence on foreign oil.
- She says, "But the fact that drilling won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all," presumably to imply that Obama's energy policy is nothing at all. In fact, it is remarkably similar to what Obama suggested in his acceptance speech. The U.S. is lucky to have so many potential leaders committed to robust reform of its energy policies.
The nomination of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be the Republican nominee for Vice President has thrust an obscure Alaskan secessionist party into the spotlight. What's interesting to me is that the Alaska Independence Party looks squarely to international law for a redress of grievances. As Lynnette Cark, AIP's chairperson tells ABC News:
"We are a state's rights party," says Clark, a self-employed goldminer. The AIP has "a plank that challenges the legality of the Alaskan statehood vote as illegal and in violation of United Nations charter and international law."Though the connection between Palin and AIP now seem more tenuous than first reported, I still hope that means we could rely on similar support of the UN and international law from a Vice President Palin.
Yesterday, at the Humphrey Institute symposium, Richard Fontaine, a foreign policy adviser for John McCain, laid out a snapshot of what foreign aid might look like under a McCain presidency. Fontaine says that what he's done in the past gives a good idea of how he will act in the future. McCain:
- Pushed for full funding of the "150 account," the international affairs budget, which Fontaine says is an expression of U.S. leadership in the world, of our soft power and moral position.
- Cosponsored the $50 billion version of the Pepfar bill and has been a supporter of Pepfar from the beginning.
- Strongly supports the Millennium Challenge Corporation, along with clear benchmarks.
Bill McInturff is now giving a presentation at the Humphrey Institute on the polling that we previously posted on. One of the most striking things he highlighted were the convergence of views by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents on international concerns (slide 5 below). "American's Dependence on Foreign Oil," "The Global Economy and Trade," and "Terrorism" were in each group's top three. This bodes well for building consensus to move forward on each. This is true for "America's dependence on foreign oil" in particular, which was listed as the top priority by twice as many voters (33% vs. 67%) in July 2008 as in September 2007 (slide 3 below).
Day two at the Humphrey Institute's symposium has begun. Bright and early, we're discussing the "Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next Administration" with Edward Alden, Kim Holmes, Michael Levi, Benn Steil, and Richard Haas. Holmes (from Heritage) is taking unfair (and untrue) shots at the UN, saying that it has depreciated value for the U.S. because of our limited influence there. I think it's pretty clear that the U.S. has tremendous influence at the UN (even beyond the fact that they hold one of five veto spots in the Security Council). If the U.S. is not getting the results it needs, it's because its representatives are not engaging enough. That includes paying our dues in full, as is included in the Republican platform (Mark will write more on this later). What is interesting is that Holmes has a laundry list of UN accomplishments on his Heritage Foundation bio page, including:
At a panel on the future of U.S. foreign assistance, Oxfam President Raymond Offenheiser just pulled out an One Day 1 type suggestion that the next president develop a National Foreign Development Strategy (like the National Security Strategy) soon after entering office. Such a strategy doesn't currently exist. I thought I was on the ball when I emailed my colleagues at On Day One to suggest they get a video from Offenheiser. Already done. I should be more plugged into On Day One, so should you.