Sunday, January 11, 2009

Conservative views on Hillary Clinton nomination

Key Questions for Senator Hillary Clinton, Nominee for Secretary of State, by Steven Groves
Heritage, January 12, 2009WebMemo #2201


On January 20, the incoming Administration will confront a multitude of international issues. The challenges facing the new secretary of state include intractable regional problems such as Iran, Pakistan, and the status of Taiwan; challenges to U.S. sovereignty posed by multilateral treaties and international organizations; and important national security issues such as NATO expansion and missile defense.

In order to determine where the next secretary of state stands on these crucial issues, the following questions should be put to the nominee during her confirmation hearing:

Question #1: American Sovereignty and International Organizations

What is your view regarding the status within the international system of the independent, sovereign state in general, and the importance of preserving and protecting American sovereignty in particular? Do you ascribe to traditional views of national sovereignty or to the theory of "global governance"?

Answer: There are two competing viewpoints regarding national sovereignty: The traditional view is that the sovereign state has been and should remain the basic operating entity within the international system[1] and that while states participate in international coalitions or organizations (such as the United Nations) in pursuit of goals that transcend their borders, those organizations are restricted to serving the goals of states, not governing them.[2] The competing view advocates "global governance," a system in which sovereignty is a passé notion in an increasingly interconnected world and where international organizations have the same, if not greater, authority to determine the policies of sovereign states. In fact, former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott once predicted that some day "nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single global authority."[3]

The United States should continue to act in concert with its allies to pursue ends of an international nature such as multilateral efforts to combat piracy on the high seas, stabilizing Afghanistan with our partners in NATO, maintaining open global markets, and interdicting banned weapons and technology through the Proliferation Security Initiative. The U.S. should not, however, cede to any nation, group of nations, or international organization the authority to bind the U.S. on matters relating to its national interests, including (but not limited to) nuclear arms,[4] humanitarian intervention,[5] "climate change,"[6] interpretation of the U.S. Constitution,[7] or any other matter that would erode American sovereignty.

Question #2: Pending and Proposed Multilateral Treaties

What are your views regarding several controversial multilateral treaties and efforts by the United Nations that, if supported or ratified by the United States, would erode American sovereignty?

Answer: The "international community," usually acting through the U.N. system, often seeks to influence U.S. foreign policy and constrain American power by enmeshing the U.S. in multilateral conventions such as the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and the proposed U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. Similarly, international organizations and U.N. treaty committees often seek to impose upon America their collective views on controversial and personal matters such as the care and education of children, the death penalty, abortion rights, gun control, and any number of issues traditionally left to Congress, the President, and the American people.

Efforts by international organizations to shape U.S. domestic policy should be opposed, including attempts to modify U.S. law regarding the rights of women and children,[8] the criminal justice system,[9] free speech,[10] and other matters traditionally determined by domestic democratic processes. Moreover, the U.S. must reject attempts by the international community that would limit its options to navigate the high seas and explore the deep seabed,[11] as well as its ability to arm resistance movements against tyrannical regimes.

Question #3: Afghanistan and Pakistan

How will you deal with the threat from a resurgent Taliban that is undermining coalition efforts in Afghanistan and destabilizing parts of northwest Pakistan? How will you martial U.S. diplomatic resources and assistance programs to build up Afghan institutions and convince the Pakistani leadership to stiffen its resolve against the Taliban and other violent extremist groups finding refuge within its borders?

Answer:Sending new U.S. troops to Afghanistan is a welcome step that signals continuing U.S. commitment to the region. However, Washington must also convince its NATO allies to pull their weight in overcoming the terrorist challenge in Afghanistan, which threatens all civilized nations.[12]The U.S. also needs to be cautious in attempting to engage with Taliban elements. Political reconciliation is indeed necessary to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal border areas. But Washington must avoid making statements that could embolden the Taliban leadership and dishearten the Afghan population, who do not support Taliban policies but are intimidated by their violent tactics. While the idea of peeling off lower-level Taliban who are not ideologically committed to the cause may be worthwhile, the U.S. should not overestimate the willingness of senior Taliban leaders to break ranks with their al-Qaeda allies.[13]

The U.S. should also better integrate its strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, focusing more attention on regional diplomacy and building bridges between the two nations.[14]It is essential that Pakistan and Afghanistan work together to combat terrorism, which constitutes an existential threat to both their countries. Washington needs to recalibrate its relationship with Pakistan in a way that draws the country back from the brink of political and financial collapse and convinces the military establishment that Pakistan's national security interests are no longer served by supporting extremists, whether they operate in Afghanistan or India.[15] This should be done through both a calibrated carrot-and-stick policy that targets the military's interests and through increased regional diplomacy.

The Obama Administration, however, should avoid falling into the trap of trying to "resolve" Kashmir. Any effort to inject a direct U.S. role in the Indo-Pakistani bilateral peace process risks encouraging both Pakistani adventurism and unrealistic expectations for a settlement in its favor.[16] Moreover, the Indians would be unreceptive to attempts at direct U.S. mediation and would assume that Washington is reverting back to policies that view India only through the South Asia lens, rather than as the emerging global power it has become.

Question #4: A Nuclear Iran

What is your view on how the United States can best take action to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program?

Answer: The U.S. should mobilize an international coalition to significantly boost the diplomatic, economic, domestic political, and potential military costs to Tehran of continuing on its present path toward acquisition of nuclear weapons. This coalition should seek to isolate Iran's radical theocratic regime, weaken it through targeted economic sanctions, explain to the Iranian people why their government's nuclear policies will impose growing economic costs and military risks on them, cooperate to contain and deter Iran's military power, encourage democratic change within Iran, and prepare for the use of military force as a last resort.[17]

Unfortunately, the U.N. Security Council is a diplomatic dead end whose actions will likely continue to be insufficient to stop Iran's drive for nuclear weapons.[18] Past U.S. and European efforts to ratchet up sanctions against Iran in the council have been blocked by Russia and China, which have lucrative trade relationships with, and strategic ties to, Tehran. Britain, Germany, and France have entered a diplomatic dialogue with Tehran to dissuade it from continuing its nuclear program by offering substantial economic and political incentives. But diplomatic carrots alone will not work because for Tehran, attaining a nuclear weapon is the biggest carrot of all.

Therefore, tougher disincentives for Iran's suspected nuclear efforts are needed. When Tehran perceives the costs of a continued nuclear program to be very high, as it did after the overthrow of regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, it will be more likely to make concessions and freeze its uranium enrichment program. The Obama Administration should press its European allies--particularly Germany, which is Iran's biggest trading partner--to increase economic sanctions outside the U.N. framework.[19] To give diplomacy a chance, the U.S. and its allies must credibly threaten to impose rising costs on Tehran, particularly in ways that endanger the regime's highest priority--its hold on power.

Question #5: The Visa Waiver Program

Please describe your views regarding the Visa Waiver Program's role in America's overall public diplomacy strategy, including ongoing efforts to strengthen the program. What opportunities and challenges do you see to its continuance in the next Administration?


Question #6: China and Taiwan

While you are secretary of state, will the Administration reaffirm that Taiwan's status remains unsettled and that the U.S. therefore does not accept the sovereign right of any third country to use force of any kind against Taiwan?

Answer: While current U.S. relations with China make it impossible to declare that Taiwan is a state, nothing can justify the assertion that Taiwan is not a state. Under the 1933 Montevideo Convention, Taiwan possesses all the attributes of a state, and under any interpretation the U.S. tacitly accepts that Taiwan functions in the international community as a sovereign state. All treaties in force between the U.S. and Taiwan prior to January 1, 1979, remain in force, and the U.S. continues to conduct defense and security affairs, including arms sales, with Taiwan as an entity wholly autonomous from the People's Republic of China.[30]

The U.S. must reaffirm that Taiwan's future rests on the assent of the Taiwanese people. While current U.S. diplomatic formulas include assertions that the Taiwan issue is a matter for "the Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait" to resolve, the context of such positions must be clarified. As President Ronald Reagan pledged, the U.S. "will not ... prejudice the free choice of, or put pressure on, the people of Taiwan" about their future. As a reflection of America's democratic values, the U.S. must give preferential weight to the people of Taiwan in determining their own future.[31]

Question #7: Missile Defense

The NATO Alliance recently recognized in its Bucharest communiqué "the substantial contribution to the protection of Allies from long-range ballistic missiles to be provided by the planned deployment of European-based United States missile defence assets." Will you stand with our NATO allies and reaffirm the importance of missile defense?

Answer: At NATO's April 2008 Bucharest Summit, NATO leaders endorsed U.S. plans to install 10 long-range, ground-based missile defense interceptors in Poland and a mid-course radar in the Czech Republic--the "third site."[32] At NATO's December 2008 foreign ministerial summit in Brussels, all 26 members of the alliance re-endorsed the third site deployment. These endorsements represent a major success both for American diplomacy and transatlantic security.[33] If the United States abandons its Central and Eastern European allies as well as its obligations to NATO, it will not only make itself vulnerable to rogue nations and non-state actors seeking ballistic missile capabilities, but it will also reduce America's influence within the transatlantic alliance.

The threat of ballistic missile attack has grown exponentially, with 27 nations now possessing such capabilities, nearly double that of 15 years ago.[34] It is incumbent upon the United States to consider these growing threats seriously by taking steps to protect itself, its forward-deployed troops, and its friends and allies. As a purely defensive capability, U.S. missile defense plans for Europe will also act as a deterrent to bad actors from acquiring ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction in the first place.

It is further incumbent upon the United States to stand by its existing commitments to Warsaw and Prague, as well as to the NATO alliance as a whole. Mr. Obama should begin his presidency by reaffirming the Bucharest communiqué, as well as his vow to rebuild a strong NATO.

Question #8: NATO Expansion

Do you support President-elect Barack Obama's statement that "Ukraine and Georgia ... have declared their readiness to advance a NATO Membership Action Plan. ... They should receive our help and encouragement as they continue to develop ties to Atlantic and European institutions"?[35]


Question #9: Public Diplomacy

How do you intend to improve the effectiveness of the United States's public diplomacy and strategic communication, and would you support the creation of a new government agency to take the lead on these issues?


Question #10: Durban II and the U.N. Human Rights Council

In its first few months, the Obama Administration will decide whether to change existing U.S. policy to attend the Durban Review Conference (Durban II) and fully participate in the United Nations Human Rights Council by seeking a seat in the upcoming May election. Would you recommend that the President continue current policy or reverse it?


[References can be seen at the original link]

Steven Groves is Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation. The following Heritage Foundation analysts contributed to this report: Daniella Markheim, Lisa Curtis, James Phillips, Jena Baker McNeill, James Dean, John J. Tkacik, Jr., Sally McNamara, Helle C. Dale, Baker Spring, and Brett D. Schaefer.

Lee Myung-bak will not demand a new apology from Tokyo for its 1910-45 invasion and rule of Korea

Japan, S Korea agree to boost economic cooperation
Japan Today, Monday 12th January, 06:31 AM JST

SEOUL — The leaders of South Korea and Japan agreed Sunday they must boost bilateral cooperation to weather the ongoing global financial storm, as the neighbors try to move beyond their bitter shared history.

Prime Minister Taro Aso, who arrived in Seoul early Sunday, is expected to discuss economic cooperation and international efforts to end the North Korean nuclear standoff at a summit with President Lee Myung-bak on Monday.

Since taking office 11 months ago, Lee has been pushing for improved ties with Japan and has held five summits with Japanese leaders. He has also resumed top-level visits, which were suspended in 2005 to protest then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s repeated trips to a controversial Tokyo shrine that honors war dead, including convicted war criminals.

Lee has also said he will not demand a new apology from Tokyo for its 1910-45 invasion and rule of the Korean peninsula. Japanese leaders have repeatedly issued apologies about their country’s colonial past, but many South Koreans say the apologies are insincere.

Addressing a meeting of Korean and Japanese business leaders at his presidential mansion Sunday, Lee called for the two countries to increase their “substantial cooperation” to cope with difficulties arising from the international financial meltdown and jointly tackle other global issues.

Aso told the meeting he felt ties between the traditional rivals had “greatly” improved since Lee came to power.

He earlier told a business forum that Japan and South Korea should cooperate to surmount the financial crisis.

South Korea and Japan are key trade partners with two-way trade reaching $82.6 billion in 2007.

The two countries have taken steps toward restarting stalled free trade talks—which ground to a halt in late 2004 over disagreements on how much to lower trade barriers on agricultural goods. The sides held working-level meetings twice last year to prepare for reopening negotiations.

Aso said both Japanese and South Korean governments have been receiving requests from businessmen to reach the deal.

Bilateral trade has favored Japan with South Korea recording a nearly $30 billion trade deficit with Japan in 2007.

Yasuhisa Kawamura, deputy press secretary at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters in Seoul that South Korea’s trade deficit is “definitely one of the issues, challenges” that free trade talks have to address.

Lee’s diplomatic overtures toward Japan took a hit in July when Tokyo announced it would recommend that a government teaching manual include Japan’s claim to uninhabited islets claimed by both countries.

South Korea temporarily recalled its ambassador in Tokyo and heightened security near the islets. Activists staged near-daily protests in front of the Japanese Embassy and many scholars and newspaper editorials demanded Lee toughen policy on Japan.

In 2000 about 150,000 people moved into California - in 2008, 135,000 people got out

California's Gold Rush Has Been Reversed. By Devin Nunes
Entrepreneurs are fleeing heavy taxes in the state.

WSJ, Jan 10, 2009


Tulare, Calif.

On Jan. 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall found gold at Sutter's Mill, in Coloma, Calif., sparking a mad rush of some 300,000 people desiring to strike it rich. San Francisco grew from a tiny hamlet to a boomtown in no time, and in 1850 California entered the Union as the 31st state.With this history at their back, state leaders might have understood that people have a propensity to get up and move when a better life is to be had elsewhere. But no. After more than 150 years of being a destination, California is becoming a place entrepreneurs, investment capital and the hardy workers who made it a global leader in agriculture, technological innovation and scientific research are fleeing. This exodus is the marker of something deeper than a national recession. It's a sign that the attempts by state leaders to spend their way back to prosperity are killing California.

While it has the sixth highest tax burden in the nation, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, California is facing a breathtaking $40 billion budget deficit this year. This comes on the heels of a decade-long spending spree. Last year the state budget was $131 billion, up from $56 billion in 1998.

Citizens are burdened by all manner of state regulations. To mention just one example, this year a new law enacted by ballot initiative bans cages chicken farmers use on the grounds that it is inhuman to put birds in cages that prevent them from spreading their wings. [...] that will force us to buy our eggs from other states and, possibly, others nations, such as Mexico.

And just as a fallen tree can divert the flow of water in a creek, bad economic policies divert the flow of investment. Entrepreneurs and investors, seeking the path of least resistance, leave when it becomes easier to make a living in more business-friendly states. In 2000, according to the state's Department of Finance, about 150,000 people moved into California. But in the years that followed the in-migration slowed, and in 2005 it reversed, when a net 52,000 people moved out. In 2008, the outflow topped 135,000 people.

Consequently, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming all have unemployment rates around 5% at a time when California is suffering an unemployment rate of 9%. Californians are moving east and creating jobs in their new home states.

Over the past few years, we've witnessed the state government's response to the capital and entrepreneur flight out of our state: Taxes remain high, and lawmakers employ all the tricks in the book to produce "balanced" budgets from shifting expenses around to borrowing ever larger sums of money.

It's now time to turn to the ballot initiative and enact needed reforms that elected representatives in Sacramento have been unwilling to tackle on their own. We're on a dangerous fiscal course, and the people themselves will have to fundamentally change state government to correct it.

Two broad reforms are needed. The first is that we must create a part-time, nonpartisan citizen legislature -- a model that has proven effective in states like Texas (part-time) and Nebraska (part-time and nonpartisan). Californians need to be able to elect leaders whose primary interest is public service, not furthering political careers.

The second fundamental reform is on taxes and spending. Other states have passed a Taxpayers' Bill of Rights. We need to do the same, so I and others will soon be launching a campaign to enact the following:

- Two-year budgeting. [...]
- End budget stalemates. [...]
- New spending controls. [...]
- Refund budget surpluses. When the state government is flush with funds, taxpayers should get some of their money back. We need a mandate for the state to send tax-rebate checks to all taxpayers when surpluses exceed the rate of inflation. Had this reform been law in 2001, that year's $10 billion budget surplus would have yielded each taxpayer a rebate of about $667.

My family has farmed the San Joaquin Valley for three generations. And my first lesson in capital flows came when I was 14. I had cracked open my piggy bank to buy seven head of young cattle to raise and sell. I had two choices: I could buy feed or I could fix fences in exchange for free grazing. Like water flowing down a furrow, my cattle went to pasture where I could make a higher profit.

These are big reforms, but we need to stop buying feed to eat for today and start mending fences to make the state better off in the long term. California commerce can again be the envy of the world if we fix the problems that created the financial and economic crisis.

The bottom line is that we should let the water of prosperity flow again unobstructed into our state. If it does, investors, businesses and jobs will return to the Golden State.

Mr. Nunes, a Republican, is a congressman from California.