March 11, 2013

Lieberman will join Jon Kyl in new bipartisan foreign policy project

Sen. Joseph Lieberman will join the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington research group, as co-chair of an effort to "rebuild and reshape a bipartisan consensus around American global leadership and engagement."

Lieberman, who represented Connecticut in the U.S. Senate before retiring earlier this year, has been considered one of the Democrats' strongest voices for a muscular defense. His co-chair at AEI will be former Sen. Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican who also left the Senate in January.

"Senator Joseph Lieberman’s knowledge, deep commitment and vision for American greatness is all too rare in Washington," said AEI president Arthur C. Brooks. "The American Internationalism Project, under the leadership of Senator Lieberman and Senator Jon Kyl, is critical to opening a discussion about the challenges facing America in the coming decades--and strategizing about how to meet them."

Lieberman, the Democratic party's 2000 vice presidential nominee, had serious differences with the party over the Iraq war. Lieberman was a vocal supporter, and Democratic opposition cost him the party's 2006 Senate nomination. He ran as an independent and won, and caucused with Democrats during his term.

"There is an urgent need to rebuild a bipartisan -- indeed non-political -- consensus for American diplomatic, economic, and military leadership in the world," Lieberman said in a statement.

January 31, 2013

Joe Biden heads to Europe with Syria on the agenda

Vice President Joe Biden heads to Europe tonight with the ongoing violence in Syria likely to top his agenda, along with meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

At a security conference in Munich on Saturday, Biden will meet with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, the United Nations and Arab League joint special envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, and leaders of Syria's opposition council. 

"We expect a heavy focus on Syria," said Tony Blinken, Biden's National Security Advisor.

The conversations come as renewed violence in the country has increased calls for the U.S. to become more aggressively involved. Conversations are likely to include U.S. humanitarian aid, political and non lethal support to the Syrian opposition and "the political way forward," said Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor For Strategic Communications.

From Russia, Rhodes said, the U.S. is hoping to hear "an acknowledgement that (Syrian president) Bashir al-Assad must go."

Biden will be joined by his wife, Jill. In France, Biden will have lunch with Hollande, with an agenda that includes Syria, as well as the U.S.'s "strong support" for the French-African mission in Mali, Blinken said.

Continue reading "Joe Biden heads to Europe with Syria on the agenda" »

September 06, 2012

Ex-Secretaries of State make the case for Romney

Mitt Romney is staying off the campaign trail this week, taking it easy in New Hampshire and Vermont and preparing for the fall's debates.

But his surrogates are active, and Thursday, four former Republican Secretaries of State urged people to consider Romney as a potential commander-in-chief.

The nation "cannot be strong militarily, politically or diplomatically unless we are strong economically. These past few years, we have experienced an anemic economic recovery, one that has weakened our influence in the world and shaken the confidence of our friends and allies," wrote George Shultz, James Baker, Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice.

"We need pro-growth strategies that will renew our ailing economy, just as they did when Ronald Reagan took over in 1980. If the U.S. economy continues to stagnate, then predictions of an American retreat from greatness could come true."

 The former officials' piece was run in the Washington Times. They continued:

"That is why we have endorsed Mitt Romney for president. He has the experience, strategy and temperament to lead a robust economic recovery and rein in the mounting federal debt that threatens our future. And he fully understands that our prosperity at home is inextricably linked to our influence abroad.

"Mr. Romney has laid out a strong and mature vision of American leadership during his campaign. It is based on a consistent theme that peace abroad depends on American vitality.

"Mr. Romney understands that the world remains a dangerous place. He is a staunch supporter of our alliances around the world. He believes in maintaining our military strength. He is committed to expanding free trade and investment. He will oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And he knows that no American president should ever be ashamed of espousing the democratic principles upon which our nation was founded.

"Most of all, he recognizes that America is at its best when it assumes a leadership role on the world stage. Mr. Romney will devote himself to building an America that remains the hope of the world — a world of peace, justice and democracy."


August 01, 2012

Romney, back in U.S., keeps talking about culture and prosperity

Mitt Romney caused a stir in Israel Monday when he suggested Israel's culture had helped it prosper, contrasting Israel with areas managed by the Palestinian Authority.

The Republican presidential candidate is back in the United States now, but still pressing the point.

"But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture? In the case of the United States, it is a particular kind of culture that has made us the greatest economic power in the history of the earth," he wrote Wednesday in the National Review.

Here are his comments:

"During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it. In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy.

"But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture? In the case of the United States, it is a particular kind of culture that has made us the greatest economic power in the history of the earth. Many significant features come to mind: our work ethic, our appreciation for education, our willingness to take risks, our commitment to honor and oath, our family orientation, our devotion to a purpose greater than ourselves, our patriotism. But one feature of our culture that propels the American economy stands out above all others: freedom. The American economy is fueled by freedom. Free people and their free enterprises are what drive our economic vitality.

"The Founding Fathers wrote that we are endowed by our Creator with the freedom to pursue happiness. In the America they designed, we would have economic freedom, just as we would have political and religious freedom. Here, we would not be limited by the circumstance of birth nor directed by the supposedly informed hand of government. We would be free to pursue happiness as we wish. Economic freedom is the only force that has consistently succeeded in lifting people out of poverty. It is the only principle that has ever created sustained prosperity. It is why our economy rose to rival those of the world’s leading powers — and has long since surpassed them all.

"The linkage between freedom and economic development has a universal applicability. One only has to look at the contrast between East and West Germany, and between North and South Korea for the starkest demonstrations of the meaning of freedom and the absence of freedom.

"Israel is also a telling example. Like the United States, the state of Israel has a culture that is based upon individual freedom and the rule of law. It is a democracy that has embraced liberty, both political and economic. This embrace has created conditions that have enabled innovators and entrepreneurs to make the desert bloom. In the face of improbable odds, Israel today is a world leader in fields ranging from medicine to information technology.

"As the case of Israel makes plain, building a free society is not a simple task. Rather, it is struggle demanding constant courage and sacrifice. Even here in the United States, which from our inception as a nation has been blessed with freedom, we faced monumental challenges in harmonizing our ideals with our institutions. We fought a bloody civil war against slavery and it took a nonviolent civil-rights movement to bring political and social equality to all Americans. In these epic struggles we changed our “culture” and vastly improved it.

"I have just returned from a trip abroad. I visited three lands — Israel, Poland, and Great Britain — which are defined by their respective struggles for freedom. I met with some of the greatest heroes of those struggles. I am always glad to return to American soil. On this occasion, I am only strengthened in my conviction that the pursuit of happiness is not an American right alone. Israelis, Palestinians, Poles, Russians, Iranians, Americans, all human beings deserve to enjoy the blessings of a culture of freedom and opportunity."

July 31, 2012

Romney praises Poland as example of freedom, economic vitality

Mitt Romney wrapped up his foreign trip Tuesday with a rousing address to Poland’s foreign policy
community, praising the country’s economy and its commitment to freedom and insisting
it should be a model for the world.

“Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade, and live within its means,” the Republican
presidential candidate said in remarks prepared for delivery. “Your successtoday is a reminder that the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society.”

Romney traced Poland’s recent history, and found it offered hope for other nations.

“Unfortunately, there are parts of the world today where the desire to be free is met with brutal oppression: Just to the east of here, the people of Belarus suffer under the oppressive weight of dictatorship,” Romney was to tell an audience of about 400 people at the University of Warsaw Library.

The speech was to be his last major event of a six-day trip that’s taken him to Great Britain and Israel. Each stop has generated controversy—he questioned the British preparation for the Olympics, and angered Palestinian officials by suggesting Israel’s culture helped it prosper.

In Poland, controversy has been minimal. Early Tuesday, traveling press secretary Rick Gorka angrily told a reporter to “shove it,” and told another to “kiss my ass,” when they tried to shout questions at Romney after a ceremony at the solemn Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Gorka later

The day’s main event was the Romney address.

“The Arab world is undergoing a historic upheaval, one that holds promise, but also risk and uncertainty. A ruthless dictator in Syria has killed thousands of his own people. In Latin America, Hugo Chavez leads a movement characterized by authoritarianism and repression.  Nations in Africa are fighting to resist the threat of violent radical jihadism.  And in Russia, once-promising advances toward a free and open society have faltered,” he said.

But, Romney added, “In a turbulent world, Poland stands as an example and defender of freedom.”

He noted that Poland “went from foreign domination to the proud and independent nation you are today. And now, for both our nations, the challenge is to be worthy of this
legacy as we find a way forward.  The false gods of the all-powerful state claim the allegiance of a lonely few.  It is for us, in this generation and beyond, to show all the world what free people and free economies can achieve for the good of all.”

That economy, Romney said, should serve as a beacon to the world.

“From the depths of those dark times, this nation’s steady rise is a shining example of the prosperity that economic opportunity can bring,” he said. “Your nation has moved from a state monopoly over the economy, price controls, and severe trade restrictions to a culture of entrepreneurship,
greater fiscal responsibility, and international trade.”

“The world should pay close attention to the transformation of Poland’s economy. A march toward economic liberty and smaller government has meant a march toward higher living standards, a strong military that defends liberty at home and abroad, and an important and growing role on the
international stage. “


Romney press spokesman: "Shove it"

Morning tension in the Romney press corps....

After a solemn ceremony at Warsaw's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, reporters tried shouting questions at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Romney, who has had no media availabilities on his six day foreign trip since Thursday, ignored the questions, which included some about the gaffes and controversies that have marred his visits to Great Britain and Israel.

Traveling Press Secretary Rick Gorka, though, was livid that reporters would ask such questions at such a site.

"Show some respect," he said. "Kiss my ass. This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect."

He also told a reporter to "Shove it."

Gorka later apologized to the reporters for using such language.


July 30, 2012

Lech Walesa sort of endorses Mitt Romney

Lech Walesa gave Mitt Romney a near-endorsement Monday.

Depends how you interpret his glowing remarks to the Republican presidential candidate.

"I wish you to be successful because this success is needed to the United States,
of course, but to Europe and the rest of the world, too. Governor Romney, get
your success, be successful!” Poland's former president said, according to a translation provided to a media pool.

The two men met in Gdansk, where Walesa led the movement that eventually helped end Soviet domination of Poland. Walesa has been cool to President Barack Obama, turning down an invitation to meet with him last year.

Romney in Gdansk: Big crowds, but support for Ron Paul, Obama

Mitt Romney got a welcome sight, and a not so welcome sight, as he entered Gdansk, the Poland city where the Solidarity movement helped lead the nation to freedom from Soviet domiation.

According to media pool reports, he found big crowds--though some were apparently there for an arts festival.

But he also was greeted by a huge banner saying, "Polish Choice-R.Paul," a reference to his Republican presidential primary rival Ron Paul. And some in the crowd were chanting "O-bam-a"

Romney may be in Poland, but he wants Americans to remember his economic message

Mitt Romney may be heading for Poland, but his campaign team is sending out constant reminders that the economy is sluggish and the Republican presidential candidate wants to do something about it.

Polls say that Romney's strongest appeal to the voters lies in his economic message, not foreign policy.

Monday, spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg sent out this comment;

“Twenty-three million Americans are struggling for work and the nation is experiencing its ‘worst economic recovery’ – but you wouldn’t know it listening to President Obama, who thinks his economic policies have ‘worked.’ After three and a half years, it’s clear President Obama just isn’t up to the task of delivering the economy that he promised.”

Earlier Monday, the campaign released a new web video featuring businessmen explaining how they built their businesses--without the kind of government help Obama has said may be needed.

Romney will find plenty of familiar sites in Warsaw

Will Mitt Romney realize he's in Poland?

The Republican presidential candidate is due in Warsaw later Monday, and his entourage will be staying at a downtown high-rise that's across the street from a Starbucks.

Walk up that street and there's a Subway sandwich shop and a KFC, and five blocks later, a massive shopping mall whose signs trumpet an H & M clothing store and the Marks and Spencer chain.

Ah, but here's one difference. The mall boasts T.K. Maxx, not T. J. like back in the states. A small touch of Europe...


"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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