Archive | American Politics

Donald Trump Cabinet Roundup: How Rich, How Conservative, How Canada-Friendly

Posted on 29 December 2016 by admin

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump has now named most of his cabinet picks, including the senior positions. Here’s what the next U.S. administration looks like:

—Quite conservative

Trump is only occasionally a conservative. Some members of his team are true believers.

His proposed education secretary, billionaire Betsy DeVos, promotes alternatives to public schools. Conservative favourite Ben Carson would lead housing and urban policy. His pick for energy secretary, Rick Perry, once proposed eliminating his future department. A climate-change skeptic will be leading climate policy as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The labour secretary studied replacing human workers with robots, and fought minimum-wage increases, as a restaurant-chain owner. The pick for health secretary, Tom Price, has advocated a more laissez-faire approach than Obamacare.

The attorney general choice, Jeff Sessions, has fought against the trend of relaxing drug penalties. He recently said this about marijuana: “It is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about … good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

The vice-president-elect, Mike Pence, once supported federal funding for gay-conversion therapy — though he’s never called for it. Trump, himself, has suggested he’ll appoint pro-life judges.

—A generals’ club

Trump says he’s fond of senior military figures. It shows in his picks. Michael Flynn will be his national security adviser. His defence pick is James Mattis, a blunt-talking, well-regarded, well-read retired Marine. Retired general John Kelly is his choice for Homeland Security secretary.

Kelly appeared at the Halifax Security Forum in 2014. In a panel discussion, he accurately predicted that the so-called Islamic State would begin to suffer reversals once it tried holding territory, and was drawn into traditional combat.

But he added that the group would learn, and adopt new techniques.

“Warfare is first and foremost an intellectual activity,” Kelly told that audience in Canada.

“You learn from the people you’re fighting … It’s chess.”

—Very rich

The Washington Post began a story noting that George W. Bush’s cabinet was called the team of millionaires, then added: “Combined, that group had (a) … net worth of about $250 million — which is roughly one-10th the wealth of Donald Trump’s nominee for commerce secretary alone.”T

That’s Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor. Cabinet picks includes heirs to the Ameritrade and Amway fortunes, one of whom, Todd Ricketts, also owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

The transportation pick is a member of the U.S.’s 39th-richest family, according to Forbes. The labour secretary is restaurant chain owner Andy Puzder. The next Treasury secretary is a relative pauper, compared to some of these people. Hedge-fund manager Steve Mnuchin is reportedly worth a mere $40 million.

“Almost no one going into this administration … isn’t making an economic sacrifice, big-time, in order to do so,” Ross told CNN. “We want to give back and help the country.”

—Not devoid of Democrats

Not everyone is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. The commerce pick, Ross, used to be a Democrat and donated in the 1990s to Bill Clinton and senators Ted Kennedy and Sam Nunn. He flipped to the Republicans in the early 2000s, and generally favours deregulation. The former general, Flynn, also was a Democrat.

In fact, much of Trump’s family fits that description. Politico reports his daughter, Ivanka, intends to play a First Lady-like role and champion climate change causes, after already having pushed her father to announce plans for a parental-leave program.

—Loyalists and outsiders

The top White House staffers will be fellow travellers from Trump’s campaign — Republican chair Reince Priebus and strategist Steve Bannon. The commerce secretary, Ross, wrote Trump’s anti-NAFTA trade platform.

The picks for treasury, attorney general, and national security adviser are all early Trump supporters.

However, Trump has gone outside the tent.

Secretary of state pick Rex Tillerson was a surprise choice. Perry was an early Trump critic. He’s appointed another ex-critic, Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, as UN ambassador.

—Open to racial controversies

At his Senate confirmation hearing, Sessions will certainly be asked about his last confirmation hearing. The chamber refused to make him a federal judge three decades ago because of remarks about blacks, including one possible joke about supporting the Ku Klux Klan. He’s a foe of undocumented immigrants, and supports voter-ID and prison policies that disproportionately affect blacks.

Flynn has often made disparaging remarks about Islam.

The Canadian angle

A binational business lobby group says Canada has gotten a good draw. Scotty Greenwood of the Canadian American Business Council says the cabinet is stacked with people with productive ties to Canada.

People with military and business backgrounds deal often with Canada — more than most career politicians, she said.

“Military people — more than almost anyone — really love Canada … If I had to pick a category of (Americans) who love Canada the most: generals,” she said.

“The second most: business people.”

Businessman Ross wants to revamp NAFTA, although it’s unclear how Canada fits into that. Haley’s parents lived briefly in Canada, upon moving from India. Tillerson runs Exxon Mobil, has addressed Alberta’s Spruce Meadows club, and, according to former U.S. ambassador Gary Doer, he expresses pride in his company’s considerable oil investments in Canada.

As noted, Kelly has attended the Halifax Security Forum.

The Russian connection

Trump’s team also has close ties to Russia — which could come up at congressional confirmation hearings. Tillerson, as an oil CEO, has had a friendly, years-long relationship with Vladimir Putin and questioned sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Flynn once dined with Putin and received an unspecified sum to appear at an event for the Kremlin-run Russia Today network.

Other members of the team are more hawkish on Russia.

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Donald Trump Seeks ‘Extreme Vetting’ Of Immigrants To U.S.

Posted on 18 August 2016 by admin

Donald Trump called Monday for “extreme vetting” of immigrants seeking admission to the United States, vowing to block those who sympathize with extremist groups or don’t embrace American values. He said the policy would first require a temporary halt in immigration from dangerous regions of the world.

Speaking in swing state Ohio, Trump also said his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton lacks the “mental and physical stamina” to take on the Islamic State. He said destroying the terror group would be the centerpiece of his foreign policy and he would partner with any countries that share that goal — specifically singling out Russia as a nation the U.S. could have a better relationship with.

“Any country that shares this goal will be our allies,” Trump said. “We can never choose our friends, but we can never fail to recognize our enemies.”

Ahead of Trump’s address, Clinton and Vice-President Joe Biden vigorously challenged the Republican nominee’s preparedness to be commander in chief. Biden called Trump’s views “dangerous” and “un-American” and warned that Trump’s false assertions last week about President Obama founding the Islamic State could be used by extremists to target American service members in Iraq.

“The threat to their life has gone up a couple clicks,” he said.

While Trump has been harshly critical of Obama’s handling of the threat posed by the Islamic State, his own policies for defeating the group remain vague. His most specific prescriptions centred on changing U.S. immigration policy to keep potential attackers from entering the country.

Trump’s campaign aides said the new ideological test for admission to the United States would vet applicants for their stance on issues like religious freedom, gender equality and gay rights. The government would use questionnaires, social media, interviews with friends and family or other means to determine if applicants support American values like tolerance and pluralism. The U.S. would stop issuing visas in any case where it cannot perform adequate screenings.

Trump did not clarify how U.S. officials would assess the veracity of responses to the questionnaires or how much manpower it would require to complete such arduous vetting. Nor did the campaign say whether additional screenings would apply to the millions of tourists who spend billions of dollars visiting the United States each year.

The Republican nominee’s foreign policy address comes during a rocky stretch for his campaign. He’s struggled to stay on message and has consistently overshadowed his policy rollouts, including an economic speech last week, with provocative statements, including his comments falsely declaring that Obama was the “founder” of the Islamic State.

Blames Obama, Clinton for ISIS

Trump spent much of the speech building a case that Obama and Clinton are to blame for the creation of the terror group that has roiled the Middle East and carried out attacks in the West. He specifically highlighted the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in late 2011, arguing the move created a vacuum for terror groups to thrive.

Reiterating a favourite criticism of Republicans, Trump also panned the Obama administration for not using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe sympathizers.

Obama, Clinton and top U.S. officials have warned against using that kind of language to describe the conflict, arguing that it plays into militants’ hands.

Set to release list of ‘terror countries’

Trump’s immigration proposals were the latest version of a policy that began with his unprecedented call to temporarily bar foreign Muslims from entering the country — a religious test that was criticized across party lines as un-American. Following a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June, Trump introduced a new standard, vowing to “suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats.”

That proposal raised numerous questions that the campaign never clarified, including whether it would apply to citizens of countries like France, Israel, or Ireland, which have suffered recent and past attacks. Trump had promised to release his list of “terror countries” soon. But aides say the campaign needs access to unreleased Department of Homeland Security data to assess exactly where the most serious threats lie.

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McCain denounces Trump’s comments on family of Muslim soldier

Posted on 04 August 2016 by admin

In a remarkable and lengthy rebuke of his party’s presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain sharply criticized Donald Trump’s comments about the family of a fallen Muslim Army captain, providing an opening for other vulnerable Republican senators to do the same, even though they all stopped short of rescinding their endorsements of him.

 “While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us,” said McCain, a war hero whose service and capture in Vietnam were also once derided by Trump.

Within an hour, other embattled Republican senators, who like McCain are trying to stand between the windy forces of Trump and those he offends, offered their own condemnations.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., whose husband is a veteran of the Iraq war and who is fighting to win a second term, said Monday that she was “appalled” by Trump’s comments. A spokeswoman for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also weighed in, as did Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. They denounced Trump’s words but did not reverse their endorsements.

“I remember how much I worried about my son Matt during his years of active duty,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. “The Khans have made the greatest possible sacrifice for our country; they deserve to be heard and respected.”

But Trump on Monday morning continued to criticize Khizr Khan, whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004. Trump complained that Khizr Khan had become a ubiquitous presence in the media since his Thursday address at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in which he excoriated the Republican presidential nominee.

“Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over TV doing the same,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Nice!”

In a second post Trump shifted course and said the campaign should be focused on terrorism. “This story is not about Mr. Khan, who is all over the place doing interviews, but rather RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM and the U.S.,” he wrote. “Get smart!”

Even as pressure increased from establishment Republicans who have been calling for repudiation of Trump, neither House Speaker Paul D. Ryan nor Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has pulled his support for Trump’s candidacy. They offered statements Sunday in support of the Khan family, but did not mention Trump by name.

For congressional Republicans, Trump’s inflammatory remarks are a vexing challenge. On one hand, they want to distance themselves just enough to try to grab support from voters of both parties who do not intend to vote for Trump but may split their tickets. But they do not want to outright flip on their prior endorsements of Trump because they need his supporters’ votes to win, too.

Many experts agree. “According to polling thus far, voters don’t automatically couple Donald Trump with Republican candidates or hold other Republicans responsible for Donald Trump’s sins,” said Nathan L. Gonzales, editor of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter.

McCain is the embodiment of the internal conflict Republican candidates face. Reverence for the military has been at the core of McCain’s career — he was his party’s nominee for president in 2008 and serves as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — and he has a close allegiance to families of those killed in conflict.

“I wear a bracelet bearing the name of a fallen hero, Matthew Stanley, which his mother, Lynn, gave me in 2007 at a town-hall meeting in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire,” McCain wrote. “His memory and the memory of our great leaders deserve better from me.”

“Make no mistake: I do not valorize our military out of some unfamiliar instinct,” he wrote. “I grew up in a military family, and have my own record of service, and have stayed closely engaged with our armed forces throughout my public career. In the American system, the military has value only inasmuch as it protects and defends the liberties of the people.”

He added: “I claim no moral superiority over Donald Trump. I have a long and well-known public and private record for which I will have to answer at the Final Judgment, and I repose my hope in the promise of mercy and the moderation of age. I challenge the nominee to set the example for what our country can and should represent.”

McCain’s family has also been critical of Trump. His daughter, Meghan McCain, said on Twitter Saturday: “I would ask what kind of barbarian would attack the parents of a fallen soldier, but oh yeah it’s the same person who attacks POW’s.”

Despite the intensifying criticism from Republican Party leaders, Trump on Monday showed no sign of relenting in his clash with the Khan family. He has not apologized for his suggestion that Ghazala Khan might have been forbidden to speak at the Democratic convention, and he has not yet acknowledged the mounting criticism from respected Republicans like McCain.

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Hillary Clinton chooses Tim Kaine as her running mate

Posted on 27 July 2016 by admin

HILLARY CLINTON’S choice of Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her vice-presidential running-mate should cheer Americans despairing at an election season steeped in vitriol, division and fear-mongering. It should be balm to centrists’ souls to hear Senate colleagues from both parties agree that Mr Kaine is a thoroughly decent and reasonable man. One of the first reactions came from a Republican senator, Jeff Flake of Arizona, whose own decency has to date left him unable to endorse his party’s demagogic nominee, Donald Trump. “Trying to count the ways I hate Tim Kaine, drawing a blank,” Mr Flake tweeted. “Congrats to a good man and a good friend.”

Mr Kaine is the son of a Kansas City welder whose brains took him to Harvard Law School and whose social conscience led him to become a Catholic missionary in Honduras (picking up fluent Spanish) then a civil rights lawyer, popular mayor of the racially-divided city of Richmond, governor of Virginia and now senator.

But the pick says something encouraging about Mrs Clinton’s plans for defeating Mr Trump this November, too. Political campaigns can be boiled down to two tasks, one nobler than the other. The first involves maximising turnout on voting day. This can be a grim business if a campaign pursues a core-vote strategy of pandering and stoking the partisan passions of their base. The second task is persuasion. At its noblest, this involves finding arguments or candidates so reasonable or appealing that they can lure voters out of partisan trenches to cross party lines.

In choosing Mr Kaine, Hillary Clinton is placing a bet on persuasion over turnout. Mr Trump has gone the other way—his Republican National Convention, just ended in Cleveland, was a four-day bet on turnout, with a succession of bleak, angry speeches describing an America plunged in chaos and violence, its streets stalked by “illegal alien” murderers set free by corrupt and uncaring elites, while overseas American enemies mock and cheat the fallen superpower at every turn.

Divided America still harbours some pockets of swing voters: think of married mothers of school-age children who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but lost faith in him as he seemed to expand government too far, turning to the Republican Mitt Romney in 2012. They may be found in such places as the suburban “collar counties” that surround Philadelphia and Denver, or in the leafy cul-de-sacs of Fairfax or Loudon counties in Virginia, where weekends unfold to a sound-track of buzzing lawnmowers, children’s soccer games and church bake-sales.

Many such suburban voters dislike and distrust Mrs Clinton, thinking her dishonest. They are anxious about terrorism and long to feel safe. That could be an opening for Mr Trump, but with his splenetic, testosterone-fuelled convention, at which speakers called Mrs Clinton a fan of Lucifer and an accomplice to murder, and the air rang with chants of “lock her up” and cries of “hang the bitch”, the Republican offered them nothing, choosing instead to stoke the passions of his core voter blocks, and notably white men without a college education.

Mrs Clinton has her own angry ideologues to worry about on the left, starting with millions of Democrats and leftists who voted for her rival in the presidential primary contest, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Partisans on the left insist that the path to victory in 2016 lies in picking an economic populist who opposes free trade and wants to slap punitive taxes on Wall Street banks and the rich, using the proceeds to fund free college for young people, increase old-age pensions through Social Security and expand the role of government in healthcare. They wanted Mrs Clinton to pick such populist pin-ups as Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, or the Labour Secretary Thomas Perez, who is much-liked by trade unions.

Leftists reacted with dismay and anger to the choice of Mr Kaine. They hold against him that he is a white, middle-aged man. They are furious that he is a long-standing supporter of free trade. In 2007 he chided protectionists who want to erect trade barriers for a “loser’s mentality” and in 2015 he voted to give the next president fast-track trade promotion authority to approve new trade deals. They dislike the fact that as a devout Catholic he is personally opposed to abortion, and deplore the fact that as governor he presided over executions in Virginia. Some leftist websites quickly called him a friend to big banks, after he backed bipartisan Senate measures to ease capital requirements on regional banks. A few tried to call him a friend to the National Rifle Association (NRA). To be clear, what such leftists wanted was for Mrs Clinton to pursue her own version of a turnout strategy, choosing a running-mate who would excite and energise unhappy Sandernistas and anti-globalisation blue-collar voters in the Rust Belt—and forget trying to persuade those suburban swing voters in Loudon County.

Left-wingers attacking Mr Kaine should check his record. Though personally opposed to abortion, he says that such decisions fall in the sphere of personal morality, and has voted to uphold the right of women to choose abortions. Though he calls Jesuits his moral heroes, his is a rather Latin American social justice Catholicism, with a whiff of Pope Francis to it. He has been an early supporter of gay rights, and a defender of refugees. As mayor of Richmond Mr Kaine sent his children to tough, mostly-black city schools—an act which was itself an example of history rhyming: he married the daughter of the moderate Republican governor of Virginia from 1969 to 1973, A. Linwood Holton, who ended his state’s ferocious resistance to civil rights and desegregated schools.

Mr Kaine opposes the death penalty in person but bowed to the law as governor of Virginia, a once-rural state with a stern conservative heritage, now trending more towards suburban moderacy. He won bipartsan plaudits for his handling of a gun massacre in 2007 on the campus of Virginia Tech, a college, though Republicans in the state house blocked his attempts to ensure background checks on buyers at gun shows. He has an “F” rating from the NRA. As a senator he has specialised in national security and foreign policy, clashing with Mr Obama—of whom he was an early endorser—by joining Senator John McCain, a Republican, in insisting that Congress should formally authorise the use of military force against Islamic State.

Mr Trump, who specialises in insulting epithets, has quickly labelled Mr Kaine “Corrupt Kaine”, referring to $160,000 worth of gifts that the Virginian accepted as governor. Much of that sum involves flights paid for by donors or by the Obama presidential campaign as Mr Kaine flew around the country as a campaign surrogate for Mr Obama in 2008. But the total includes the loan of a Caribbean holiday home by a Democratic donor, valued at $18,000. Though the gifts were reported and were legal under his home state’s loose ethics laws, Republicans sense an opening, not least because a former Republican governor of Virginia was recently convicted of corruption for accepting gifts from a businessman (though that conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court).

In private, Mr Kaine is notably thoughtful, with nuanced views about America’s place in the world. Amidst noisy debates about whether America should be the “indispensable nation” or should pull back from global responsibilities, Mr Kaine calls himself a believer in President Harry Truman and his doctrine of extending aid and support to democracies threatened by authoritarian regimes. A self-declared “boring” man, Mr Kaine is known to like quiet, unflashy words to describe his vision of America—urging his country to be “magnanimous” and to strive to be “’exemplary” so that it can earn its status as an indispensable nation. He is not the most exciting or aggressive choice that Mrs Clinton could have made. But in this election cycle, many will feel there is more than enough aggression to go around.

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Last-Ditch Rebellion Against Donald Trump Fails

Posted on 21 July 2016 by admin

Chaos erupted on the floor of the Republican National Convention Monday as fervent opponents of Donald Trump fought and lost an ugly, public rebellion to derail him.

New Hampshire delegate Gordon Humphrey, who has been working with the Delegates Unbound and Free the Delegates groups, tried to force party leaders on Monday to approve their rules for the convention on a roll-call vote, rather than a voice vote as is normally done.

The idea was that with a public roll call, a majority of delegates might defect.

“Donald Trump is so ignorant of anything that he hasn’t a clue what is going on here in general or in detail,” said Humphrey, a former senator who backed Ohio Gov. John Kasich during the primary season.

The bid for a roll-call vote failed, but caused an ugly moment in Trump’s march to the nomination.

The unrest began when Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack took up the resolution to approve the rules and asked for a voice vote, as the anti-Trumpers lined up behind behind microphones waiting to demand a roll-call vote. Many delegates cried “Aye!” but were soon followed by a roar of “No!” from the crowd. Womack then declared “without objection” that it had passed ― even as delegates from Virginia, Utah and a handful of other states screamed in protest.

Virginia delegate Ken Cuccinelli led dozens of his state’s delegates in chanting “point of order” and then “roll-call vote,” as Trump supporters in other states chanted “USA” and “We want Trump.”

Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), who was about to officiate the moment, did not take to the podium while the pro- and anti-Trump factions delivered their competing chants.

One delegate from Tennessee wearing a Trump button said, “I wish it came down to a fistfight. That would be easier for me.”

 “I have never seen anything like this. There’s no precedent for this,” Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) told reporters on the floor. “The podium has been abandoned. No one is standing at the podium. I want a roll-call vote.”

Humphrey and his cohort nearly got the vote because they had managed to get majorities of nine state delegations to ask for one. The rules required seven states to ask.

The Trump campaign and RNC leaders, though, demonstrated the power of holding the gavel. While the stage was empty, RNC officials apparently convinced enough delegates to rescind their demands, leaving just six states seeking the vote.

About 20 minutes later Womack reappeared, redid the voice vote, again declared that it had passed, but this time offered the Utah delegation the opportunity to ask for the roll-call vote. He informed them, however, of the delegates who had changed their minds and had withdrawn their support for a roll-call vote ― dropping them below the threshold they needed. “Accordingly, the chair has found insufficient support for a recorded vote,” he said.

“That was the plan that was developed over the course of the day,” one top RNC official said on condition of anonymity.

Although C-SPAN reported that state delegates from Iowa and Colorado had staged walkouts in the wake of the voice vote, the state pens for Iowa and Colorado were never fully emptied in dramatic fashion.

However, a group of delegates did at least try to spark a mass walkout through the time-tested organizing tool of a group text.

Eric Minor, a delegate from Washington, which was rumored to be considering a walkout too, told reporters that all the Trump opponents wanted was a vote.

Humphrey had said the roll-call vote would have given him and like-minded Republicans one last chance to empower their fellow delegates to get rid of Trump.

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Obama’s Immigration Smorgasbord

Posted on 17 May 2011 by admin

Members of Congress may be motivated by politics or otherwise believe deeply in taking one approach or the other toward reforming the nation’s immigration laws.  But it appears the public believes in doing both.

A very recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed that 72 percent of the American public supports providing a way for illegal immigrants currently in the country to gain legal citizenship if they pass background checks, pay fines and have jobs.  Slightly more (78 percent) support stronger enforcement of immigration laws and border security.  If you do the math, at least half of all Americans support both legalization and stronger enforcement.

 

 

President Barack Obama’s speech once again laid out a smorgasbord of policies for how to reform U.S. immigration policy. While he jested about moats and alligators along the border in El Paso, President Obama has been beleaguered by immigration reform, as was his predecessor, but the problem may not be with the occupant of that office.

During and since the collapse of the Bush administration’s failed 2007 immigration overhaul effort, the debate has typically been framed by two polarized and opposing policy strategies: “enforcement-first” versus “comprehensive.”

In the enforcement camp, proponents focus on the rule of law, strengthening border security, keeping out illegal immigrants, and new strategies for worksite verification. With this accomplished, only then, per this view, should we start the discussion about other issues, including legalizing the millions of immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

Comprehensive reform includes all of the above measures, but also focuses on changes to the immigration admissions system and an earned legalization program. This perspective emphasizes the point that in order to have a system that works properly all of these components must be operating at once. The biggest dividing line between the two positions is that the comprehensive reform camp supports a legalization program for immigrants who are already in the United States if they pass a background check, pay a fine and are working. Enforcement-first backers often morph into “enforcement only” supporters at this suggestion.

Members of Congress may be motivated by politics or otherwise believe deeply in taking one approach or the other toward reforming the nation’s immigration laws.  But it appears the public believes in doing both.

A very recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed that 72 percent of the American public supports providing a way for illegal immigrants currently in the country to gain legal citizenship if they pass background checks, pay fines and have jobs.  Slightly more (78 percent) support stronger enforcement of immigration laws and border security.  If you do the math, at least half of all Americans support both legalization and stronger enforcement.

But that’s the national picture.  If you did the same poll state by state, metro by metro, county by county, you would find a lot of variation.

On enforcement, there are states such as Arizona and Georgia that want more than the federal government is offering and have proposed and implemented their own policies. There are other states like Illinois and New York that are unhappy about the Secure Communities Initiative, a federal enforcement program that requires local enforcement agencies to share biometric information for every detained person with federal immigration officials. (They are subject to deportation if they are in this country without authorization).

Then there is Utah.  They have a state enforcement policy similar to Arizona’s but also have designed their own program that would allow immigrants who are illegally present to be certified to work in Utah.

State action is putting multiple pressures on federal lawmakers.  In acknowledging Congress as perhaps the biggest obstacle in front of immigration reform, the president enlisted the American people to add their voices to the debate, giving out the White House web address to “sign up to help.”

Will we reach consensus on the best way to reform federal immigration policy across America? President Obama convincingly argued for a need to balance the strong and effective enforcement efforts with something for the other side.  As he put it, “So, the question is whether those in Congress who previously walked away in the name of enforcement are now ready to come back to the table and finish the work we’ve started. We have to put the politics aside.”

Once Congress tires of arguing the same debates, perhaps we can talk sensibly and rationally about the best way to move ahead with immigration reform.

Source: http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2011/0511_immigration_singer.aspx

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Islamophobia Can Create Radicalization

Posted on 25 March 2011 by admin

America has prided itself on being different. Being “American” is not the possession of a single ethnic group, nor does any group define “America.”  Not only do new immigrants become citizens, they also secure a new identity. More than that, as new groups become American and are transformed – the idea of “America” itself has also changed to embrace these new cultures.

What they should also know, is that in the process of targeting a religion in this way and engaging in this most “un-American activity” King and company are, in fact, opening the door for increased alienation and future radicalization. Al Awlaqi must be smiling from inside his cave.

Let me state quite directly: Islamophobia and those who promote it are a greater threat to the United States of America than Anwar al Awlaqi and his rag-tag team of terrorists.
On one level, al Awlaqi, from his cave hide-out in Yemen, can only prey off of alienation where it exists. Adopting the persona of a latter-day Malcolm X (though he seems not to have read the last chapters of the “Autobiography” or learned the lessons of Malcolm’s ultimate conversion), he appears street-smart, brash, self-assured and assertive – all of the assets needed to attract lost or wounded souls looking for certainty and an outlet for their rage. Like some parasites, al Awlaqi cannot create his own prey. He must wait for others to create his opportunities, which until now have been isolated and limited – a disturbed young man here, an increasingly deranged soldier there.
Islamophobia, on the other hand, if left unchecked, may serve to erect barriers to Muslim inclusion in America, increasing alienation, especially among young Muslims. Not only would such a situation do grave damage to one of the fundamental cornerstones of America’s unique democracy, it would simultaneously rapidly expand the pool of recruits for future radicalization.
I have often remarked that America is different, in concept and reality, from our European allies. Third generation Kurds in Germany, Pakistanis in the UK, or Algerians in France, for example, may succeed and obtain citizenship, but they do not become German, British, or French. Last year, I debated a German government official on this issue. She kept referring to the “migrants” – a term she used to describe all those of Turkish descent, living in her country, regardless of the number of generations they had been there. Similarly, following their last election, a leading British newspaper commented on the “number of immigrants” who won seats – without noting that many of those “immigrants” were third generation citizens.
America has prided itself on being different. Being “American” is not the possession of a single ethnic group, nor does any group define “America.”  Not only do new immigrants become citizens, they also secure a new identity. More than that, as new groups become American and are transformed – the idea of “America” itself has also changed to embrace these new cultures.
Within a generation, diverse ethnic and religious groups from every corner or the globe have become Americans, dramatically changing America in the process. Problems remain and intolerant bigots, in every age, have reared up against new groups, but history demonstrates that, in the end, the newcomers have been accepted, incorporated and absorbed into the American mainstream.
This defines not only our national experience, but our defining narrative, as well. When immigrant school children in Europe learn French, German or British history – they are learning “their host’s” history. In the U.S., from the outset, we are taught that this is “our new story” – that it includes all of us and has included us all, from the beginning.
It is because new immigrants and diverse ethnic and religious communities have found their place and acceptance in the American mainstream that the country, during the last century, survived and prospered despite being sorely tested with World Wars, economic upheaval and bouts with internal strife. During all this time we had to contend with anti-black, anti-Asian, anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant, and anti-Japanese movements. In the end, after creating their moment of pain, these efforts have always lost.
They lose, but they do not always go away. The Islamophobia we are witnessing today is the latest campaign by bigots to tear apart the very fabric of America. We know the groups promoting it. First, there is the well-funded “cottage industry,” on the right, of groups and individuals with a long history of anti-Arab or anti-Muslim activity. Some of the individuals associated with these efforts have been given legitimacy as commentators on “terrorism,” “radicalization” or “national security concerns” – despite their obvious bias and even obsession with all things Arab or Muslim (in this, they remind me of good old-fashioned anti-Semites who never tired of warning of Jewish threats or conspiracies or who while always claiming to like individual Jews, rallied against any and all Jewish organizations).
If these “professional bigots” have provided the grist, the mill itself was run by the vast network of right-wing talk radio and TV shows and websites and prominent preachers who have combined to amplify the anti-Muslim message nationwide. Their efforts have done real damage. They have tormented descent public servants, created protests that have shuttered legitimate institutions, fomented hate crimes and produced fear in the Muslim community.
In just the past two years, we have seen a dramatic upsurge in the activity of these bigots. More ominously, their cause has been embraced by national political leaders and by elements in the Republican Party – who appear to have decided, in 2010, to use “fear of Islam” as a base-building theme and a wedge issue against Democrats for electoral advantage.
In the past only obscure or outrageous Members of Congress (like: North Carolina’s Sue Myrick who expressed nervousness and insecurity because of “who was owning all those 7/11′s”; or Colorado’s Tom Tancredo who once warned that he “would bomb Mecca”) were outspoken Islamophobes. After the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee embraced opposition to Park 51 as a campaign theme, it is hard to find a leading Republican who has not railed on some issue involving Islam or Muslims in the U.S.
The net impact here is that this current wave of Islamophobia has both played to the Republican base, while firming up that base around this agenda. The polling numbers are striking and deeply disturbing. Fifty-four percent of Democrats have a favorable attitude toward Muslims, while 34% do not.  Among Republicans, on the other hand, only 12% hold a favorable view of Muslims, with 85% saying they have unfavorable views. Additionally, 74% of Republicans believe “Islam teaches hate” and 60% believe that “Muslims tend to be religious fanatics”.
The danger here is that to the degree that this issue has become a partisan and, in some cases, a proven vote getter for the GOP, it will not go away any time soon. The longer we are plagued by this bigotry, and the displays of intolerance it breeds (the anti-mosque building demonstrations or the anti-Sharia law efforts now spreading across the country) the longer young Muslims will feel that the “promise of America” does not include them – and they will feel like aliens in their own country.
It is this concern that has prompted many inter-faith religious groups and leaders and a diverse coalition of ethnic and civil rights organizations to so vigorously oppose Congressman Peter King’s (R-NY) hearings that will deal with the radicalization of American Muslims. They know, from previous statements made by King, of his personal hostility to American Muslims. They also know that what King is doing will only aggravate an already raw wound, creating greater fear and concern among young Muslims – who have already witnessed too much bigotry and intolerance.
What they should also know, is that in the process of targeting a religion in this way and engaging in this most “un-American activity” King and company are, in fact, opening the door for increased alienation and future radicalization. Al Awlaqi must be smiling from inside his cave.

Let me state quite directly: Islamophobia and those who promote it are a greater threat to the United States of America than Anwar al Awlaqi and his rag-tag team of terrorists.On one level, al Awlaqi, from his cave hide-out in Yemen, can only prey off of alienation where it exists. Adopting the persona of a latter-day Malcolm X (though he seems not to have read the last chapters of the “Autobiography” or learned the lessons of Malcolm’s ultimate conversion), he appears street-smart, brash, self-assured and assertive – all of the assets needed to attract lost or wounded souls looking for certainty and an outlet for their rage. Like some parasites, al Awlaqi cannot create his own prey. He must wait for others to create his opportunities, which until now have been isolated and limited – a disturbed young man here, an increasingly deranged soldier there.Islamophobia, on the other hand, if left unchecked, may serve to erect barriers to Muslim inclusion in America, increasing alienation, especially among young Muslims. Not only would such a situation do grave damage to one of the fundamental cornerstones of America’s unique democracy, it would simultaneously rapidly expand the pool of recruits for future radicalization.I have often remarked that America is different, in concept and reality, from our European allies. Third generation Kurds in Germany, Pakistanis in the UK, or Algerians in France, for example, may succeed and obtain citizenship, but they do not become German, British, or French. Last year, I debated a German government official on this issue. She kept referring to the “migrants” – a term she used to describe all those of Turkish descent, living in her country, regardless of the number of generations they had been there. Similarly, following their last election, a leading British newspaper commented on the “number of immigrants” who won seats – without noting that many of those “immigrants” were third generation citizens.   America has prided itself on being different. Being “American” is not the possession of a single ethnic group, nor does any group define “America.”  Not only do new immigrants become citizens, they also secure a new identity. More than that, as new groups become American and are transformed – the idea of “America” itself has also changed to embrace these new cultures.Within a generation, diverse ethnic and religious groups from every corner or the globe have become Americans, dramatically changing America in the process. Problems remain and intolerant bigots, in every age, have reared up against new groups, but history demonstrates that, in the end, the newcomers have been accepted, incorporated and absorbed into the American mainstream.This defines not only our national experience, but our defining narrative, as well. When immigrant school children in Europe learn French, German or British history – they are learning “their host’s” history. In the U.S., from the outset, we are taught that this is “our new story” – that it includes all of us and has included us all, from the beginning.It is because new immigrants and diverse ethnic and religious communities have found their place and acceptance in the American mainstream that the country, during the last century, survived and prospered despite being sorely tested with World Wars, economic upheaval and bouts with internal strife. During all this time we had to contend with anti-black, anti-Asian, anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant, and anti-Japanese movements. In the end, after creating their moment of pain, these efforts have always lost.They lose, but they do not always go away. The Islamophobia we are witnessing today is the latest campaign by bigots to tear apart the very fabric of America. We know the groups promoting it. First, there is the well-funded “cottage industry,” on the right, of groups and individuals with a long history of anti-Arab or anti-Muslim activity. Some of the individuals associated with these efforts have been given legitimacy as commentators on “terrorism,” “radicalization” or “national security concerns” – despite their obvious bias and even obsession with all things Arab or Muslim (in this, they remind me of good old-fashioned anti-Semites who never tired of warning of Jewish threats or conspiracies or who while always claiming to like individual Jews, rallied against any and all Jewish organizations).If these “professional bigots” have provided the grist, the mill itself was run by the vast network of right-wing talk radio and TV shows and websites and prominent preachers who have combined to amplify the anti-Muslim message nationwide. Their efforts have done real damage. They have tormented descent public servants, created protests that have shuttered legitimate institutions, fomented hate crimes and produced fear in the Muslim community.In just the past two years, we have seen a dramatic upsurge in the activity of these bigots. More ominously, their cause has been embraced by national political leaders and by elements in the Republican Party – who appear to have decided, in 2010, to use “fear of Islam” as a base-building theme and a wedge issue against Democrats for electoral advantage.In the past only obscure or outrageous Members of Congress (like: North Carolina’s Sue Myrick who expressed nervousness and insecurity because of “who was owning all those 7/11′s”; or Colorado’s Tom Tancredo who once warned that he “would bomb Mecca”) were outspoken Islamophobes. After the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee embraced opposition to Park 51 as a campaign theme, it is hard to find a leading Republican who has not railed on some issue involving Islam or Muslims in the U.S.The net impact here is that this current wave of Islamophobia has both played to the Republican base, while firming up that base around this agenda. The polling numbers are striking and deeply disturbing. Fifty-four percent of Democrats have a favorable attitude toward Muslims, while 34% do not.  Among Republicans, on the other hand, only 12% hold a favorable view of Muslims, with 85% saying they have unfavorable views. Additionally, 74% of Republicans believe “Islam teaches hate” and 60% believe that “Muslims tend to be religious fanatics”.The danger here is that to the degree that this issue has become a partisan and, in some cases, a proven vote getter for the GOP, it will not go away any time soon. The longer we are plagued by this bigotry, and the displays of intolerance it breeds (the anti-mosque building demonstrations or the anti-Sharia law efforts now spreading across the country) the longer young Muslims will feel that the “promise of America” does not include them – and they will feel like aliens in their own country.It is this concern that has prompted many inter-faith religious groups and leaders and a diverse coalition of ethnic and civil rights organizations to so vigorously oppose Congressman Peter King’s (R-NY) hearings that will deal with the radicalization of American Muslims. They know, from previous statements made by King, of his personal hostility to American Muslims. They also know that what King is doing will only aggravate an already raw wound, creating greater fear and concern among young Muslims – who have already witnessed too much bigotry and intolerance.What they should also know, is that in the process of targeting a religion in this way and engaging in this most “un-American activity” King and company are, in fact, opening the door for increased alienation and future radicalization. Al Awlaqi must be smiling from inside his cave.

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Growing Religious Intolerance in Pakistan Spells Demise of Democracy

Posted on 10 March 2011 by admin

By Lisa Curtis, Washington

I was in Lahore, Pakistan, two weeks ago, and it’s clear that the thin layer of liberal thinkers in Pakistan is getting thinner by the day. Academics and moderate politicians express fear about the current situation in the country and a sense of not knowing what’s coming next.

The murder of Pakistani Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti by religious extremists establishes a pattern of growing religious intolerance. It is undermining Pakistan’s struggling democracy by shutting down free speech and political expression in the name of a ruthless ideology disguised as religion.
The murderers left pamphlets at the scene of the crime, explaining that they killed Bhatti because of his opposition to controversial blasphemy laws, which are often misused against Pakistan’s religious minorities. Some Pakistani officials had sought to argue that the murder of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer at the hands of his own security guard in January was an anomaly and unreflective of broader societal trends. They were wrong.
I was in Lahore, Pakistan, two weeks ago, and it’s clear that the thin layer of liberal thinkers in Pakistan is getting thinner by the day. Academics and moderate politicians express fear about the current situation in the country and a sense of not knowing what’s coming next.
The case of Raymond Davis, the American embassy officer who is accused of killing two Pakistanis in late January, has energized the religious political parties in the country. They carry out regular protests shouting down America and are beginning to tie the issue of support for blasphemy laws with that of the jailed American. The rapidly developing political dynamics in Pakistan are a dangerous witch’s brew that could portend a significant shift in Pakistani politics to a regime that is more insular, less engaged with the international community, and more repressive toward its own people.
There are signs that the opposition Pakistan Muslim League/Nawaz (PML/N) Party may seek to exploit the Davis case to its political advantage. Last week the party dismissed all Pakistan People’s Party leaders from the Punjab provincial cabinet, which it controls. This signals that the PML/N may be preparing to make a power grab for the center. Riding on the coattails of public anger over Davis would spell disaster for the future of U.S.–Pakistan relations.
The rising tide of extremism gripping the country—as evidenced by the assassination of the second top official in Pakistan over the blasphemy issue in the space of less than two months—demands that the civilian leaders of Pakistan who still value the principles of democratic governance stand together to keep the country from lurching further toward lawlessness and instability.
Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia at the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation

The murder of Pakistani Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti by religious extremists establishes a pattern of growing religious intolerance. It is undermining Pakistan’s struggling democracy by shutting down free speech and political expression in the name of a ruthless ideology disguised as religion.The murderers left pamphlets at the scene of the crime, explaining that they killed Bhatti because of his opposition to controversial blasphemy laws, which are often misused against Pakistan’s religious minorities. Some Pakistani officials had sought to argue that the murder of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer at the hands of his own security guard in January was an anomaly and unreflective of broader societal trends. They were wrong.I was in Lahore, Pakistan, two weeks ago, and it’s clear that the thin layer of liberal thinkers in Pakistan is getting thinner by the day. Academics and moderate politicians express fear about the current situation in the country and a sense of not knowing what’s coming next.The case of Raymond Davis, the American embassy officer who is accused of killing two Pakistanis in late January, has energized the religious political parties in the country. They carry out regular protests shouting down America and are beginning to tie the issue of support for blasphemy laws with that of the jailed American. The rapidly developing political dynamics in Pakistan are a dangerous witch’s brew that could portend a significant shift in Pakistani politics to a regime that is more insular, less engaged with the international community, and more repressive toward its own people. There are signs that the opposition Pakistan Muslim League/Nawaz (PML/N) Party may seek to exploit the Davis case to its political advantage. Last week the party dismissed all Pakistan People’s Party leaders from the Punjab provincial cabinet, which it controls. This signals that the PML/N may be preparing to make a power grab for the center. Riding on the coattails of public anger over Davis would spell disaster for the future of U.S.–Pakistan relations. The rising tide of extremism gripping the country—as evidenced by the assassination of the second top official in Pakistan over the blasphemy issue in the space of less than two months—demands that the civilian leaders of Pakistan who still value the principles of democratic governance stand together to keep the country from lurching further toward lawlessness and instability.Lisa Curtis is Senior Research Fellow for South Asia at the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation

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After Egypt: Arab Voices Matter

Posted on 25 February 2011 by admin

Will the military cede space and open the political process to real reform? Will they be more responsive to the growing aspirations of their young who are demanding: jobs in an expanding economy where wealth is shared; an opportunity to participate in the shaping of the future of their country; and the freedom to express their discontent with and seek to change policies they find deplorable, without fear of repression?

Bahraini demonstrator lies injured on a stretcher as unrest continues throughout the region. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP

If one lesson is to be learned from the remarkable events unfolding in Egypt, it is that Arab public opinion matters. For too long Arab voices have not been listened to, nor have Arab sensibilities or aspirations been respected. The Egyptian people have not only risen up, demanding to be heard, they have challenged other Arabs and the West to pay attention to what they are saying.
On Thursday night I watched a remarkable scene unfolding on television. As my dinner partner, Patrick Seale, and I sat transfixed watching the BBC, there, on one half of a split screen, was President Hosni Mubarak making a last ditch effort to save his rule. On the other half screen were throngs in Tahrir Square. The disconnect was so real. Mubarak was talking, but he simply wasn’t listening. He played every card at his disposal: the caring father, the patriot, the xenophobe, the reformer and more. Maybe, I thought, he was reaching out beyond the Square to those he thought might also be listening. But if his imagined and hoped for audience was there, they were not responding. The crowd in the Square was listening and his lack of responsiveness to their concerns only served to inflame them and deepen their resolve.
It was the immovable object squaring off against the irresistible force. In the end, the force won. The protesters rejected Mubarak’s promises and his appeals as “too little, too late,” and began to pour out beyond the Square to take new space and demonstrate their discontent.
Now the president is gone. The throngs have won this round and they are empowered to seek more change. It is not the end, just the beginning of a process, the outcome of which is still uncertain. With the military in charge, it will now be up to them to listen. Questions remain. Will the military cede space and open the political process to real reform? Will they be more responsive to the growing aspirations of their young who are demanding: jobs in an expanding economy where wealth is shared; an opportunity to participate in the shaping of the future of their country; and the freedom to express their discontent with and seek to change policies they find deplorable, without fear of repression?
In some ways, after February 11th, much has changed. In other ways, the struggle remains the same. A movement that has won a round now becomes a potentially formidable force. But a regime that fears losing control is also a force which must be reckoned with. In the weeks and months ahead we will see this drama play out in the streets and in negotiations. The constitution must be changed. President Mubarak has promised as much. The concerns of the demonstrators have been acknowledged by the military, who have said they are listening. Now we will see if they, in fact, were.
The problem of not listening to Arab voices is not only a problem for those Presidents who have fallen or those who are still at risk; it is a problem for the West, as well. For too long, the U.S., Great Britain, and others have ignored the concerns and sensibilities of Arab people. Arabs have been treated as if they were pawns to be moved about on the board. While we paid attention to our own needs and politics, Arabs were left to make do or accommodate themselves to realities we created for them, as we sought to protect our interests, not theirs.
This is not a new phenomenon. The cavalier dismissal of Arab voices began with Lord Balfour who famously rejected the first survey of Arab opinion, conducted for U.S. President Woodrow Wilson at the end of World War I. While the survey found Arabs overwhelming rejecting the European powers’ plans to carve up the Arab East into British and French mandatory entities, and the creation of a Jewish National Home in Palestine, Balfour balked saying “we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country… Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad…is of far greater import than the desire and prejudices of the Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”
As blatant as that rejection was, this practice of ignoring Arab concerns did not end. Until this day, all too often the West has acted across the Middle East as if Arabs were objects without sensibilities or concerns. We invaded Iraq without understanding the impact this might have on Arab opinion. We have continued to ignore Palestinian suffering and aspirations (recall Condolezza Rice’s dismissal of the plight and rights of Palestinian refugees with a casual “bad things happen in history”). And we have engaged in wide-spread profiling and other forms of deplorable treatment of Arabs and Muslims, paying no attention to the toll that these and other wildly unpopular policies were having on the legitimacy of Arab governments who were our friends and allies.
Now all this must of necessity change. When the Egyptian people organized themselves demanding to be heard they introduced a new and potentially transformative factor into the political equation of the region. It will no longer be possible to operate as if Arab public opinion doesn’t matter. It will no longer possible to act as if policies can be imposed and blindly accepted. No longer will we be able to consider only the Israeli internal debate or the consequences on Israeli opinion in our calculations. Arabs have been inspired by Egypt and empowered to believe that their voices must be heard and respected. It will make life more complicated for Western and some Arab policy makers. But if this complication is a good thing and it represents change, that has been a long time coming. As President Obama said, this is just the beginning and after today, nothing will be same. The reality is that this transformation will not only affect Egypt. The change that is coming will be bigger than any of us can imagine.

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Dangers in U.S.-Pakistan Rift

Posted on 25 February 2011 by admin

Jayshree Bajoria
Washington

U.S. goals for a stable and democratic Pakistan are also frustrated by recurring tensions between India and Pakistan that threaten a regional conflict, and by the Pakistani army’s continuing support for some militant groups as strategic assets in its foreign policy, as this Crisis Guide notes. A persistent thorn in Washington’s side is the army’s refusal to send troops into the militant stronghold of North Waziristan.

The diplomatic spat between the United States and Pakistan over U.S. Embassy employee Raymond Davis’s arrest by Pakistani authorities on murder charges has led to Washington postponing high-level talks with Pakistani and Afghan officials scheduled for next week. Davis has confessed to killing two Pakistani men in Lahore in an act of self-defense. The Obama administration says he has diplomatic immunity and has asked Islamabad to hand him over. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) arrived in Islamabad Tuesday to smooth over tensions (AP), seek Davis’s return to the United States, and reaffirm Washington’s commitment to a strategic partnership with Pakistan.
This U.S.-Pakistan dispute comes at a time when Pakistan is increasingly challenged by growing violence, a teetering economy, political factionalism, large numbers of displaced people from last year’s floods, high rates of inflation and unemployment, and widespread corruption. Strained relations with Islamabad add to problems the United States already faces in trying to ensure stability in Pakistan–a nuclear-armed country crucial to the ongoing war in Afghanistan and U.S. national security interests. In a Foreign Policy survey, fifty-one out of sixty-five terrorism experts questioned said Pakistan posed the greatest terrorist threat to the West.

The Davis case has fanned anti-Americanism (PressTV) among many Pakistanis who distrust the United States for what they see as meddling in their affairs, a charge largely fueled by the CIA-operated drone attacks in the country. “What is euphemistically called a trust deficit (PDF) has for some time defined the U.S. relationship with the elites and public of Pakistan, and will continue to influence the partnership,” writes Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution. U.S. goals for a stable and democratic Pakistan are also frustrated by recurring tensions between India and Pakistan that threaten a regional conflict, and by the Pakistani army’s continuing support for some militant groups as strategic assets in its foreign policy, as this Crisis Guide notes. A persistent thorn in Washington’s side is the army’s refusal to send troops into the militant stronghold of North Waziristan.
This week, the Obama administration proposed to Congress $3.1 billion in financial assistance (PTI) to Pakistan for 2012. This includes $1.5 billion for the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, which is largely aimed at strengthening Pakistan’s economy, infrastructure, and democratic institutions. But as an officialU.S. government assessment notes (WSJ), the civilian aid program has “not been able to demonstrate measurable progress.” In this essay, Nancy Birdsall and Wren Elhai of the Washington-based Center for Global Development suggest some measurable targets that could help the United States and Pakistan meet shared goals for effective and transparent development.
The foremost challenge for the United States in dealing with Pakistan has been balancing long-term goals with response to immediate threats such as al-Qaeda. “My sense is that we are playing to the short term at this point,” says CFR Senior Fellow Daniel Markey in a video interview. One policy recommendation to address this challenge, says Markey, is to open up trade between the United States and Pakistan. “It’s that kind of bigger, more long-term thinking that’s going to be a tough lift,” he says, but it will help both in near term and over the long term.

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