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The United States and South Korea—A Legacy of Foreign Assistance Success


President Obama’s visit to South Korea in April 2014, was considered particularly important for two reasons. First of all, it was to highlight the importance of the alliance between the two countries, and second of all, it was to emphasize its success as one of the greatest achievements in American history when it comes to foreign aid. To be more precise, the fact that South Korea became a global partner with an 11-percent increase in foreign assistance budget says a lot about their success, which, again, implies that the US foreign assistance can contribute to security, as well as economic prosperity.


The Korean War had a detrimental impact on South Korea, especially on its population, along with economic and military capacity. So, the United States invested about $35 billion in economic foreign assistance with the aim of getting the country back on the road to its recovery, but also to protect it from North Korean aggression that could possibly come in the future. And, of course, the job was done successfully, as the economy of South Korea flourished soon afterward, while Seoul became a major bulwark of security and stability in the Asia-Pacific.

Not only did South Korea’s transformation prove to be a diplomatic triumph for the US, but it was also a smart investment for American businesses. How is that possible? It’s quite simple – those $35 billion they provided, in fact, “amount to less than what the United States exports to South Korea annually.” All in all, as a result of such an economic miracle, South Korea became the tenth largest export market for US goods. Furthermore, Seoul implemented the US-South Korean free trade agreement (which was reached two years earlier, in 2012) only helped the country develop even more and import even more goods from the US.

Navigating Careers on Capitol Hill


Last year, the panel was held on the topic “Navigating Careers on Capitol Hill.” The moderator of this panel was Rachel Hoff while the two panelists were Tim Morrison and Roger Zakheim. The attendees had a chance to hear different points regarding careers on Capitol Hill.

Rachel Hoff has a rich career behind her. She has been the Foreign Policy Initiative’s Director of External Affairs but before that she actually worked on Capitol Hill as Legislative Assistance and Research Analyst for Congressman Mac Thornberry. Her specialties were foreign affairs and national security problems. Rachel was also working for the American Enterprise Institute where she conducted research regarding the Middle East and anti-terrorism strategies.


The two panelists, Tim Morrison’s and Roger Zakheim’s resumes are just as impressive. For instance, Morrison was in Senator Kyl’s office in 2007 where he advised the Senator on defense, foreign affairs, and intelligence policy. Before entering the service of Senator Kyl, Time Morrison was Legislative Director for Congressman Mark Kennedy, and he holds a Juris Doctor degree from the George Washington University Law School.

On the other hand, Roger Zakheim was the Deputy Staff Director and General Counsel for the Committee on Armed Services of the US House of Representatives a few years ago. A part of his job includes developing and overseeing legislative activities of the Armed Services Committee. He has a BA degree from Columbia University, and he completed an M. Phil in International Relations from Cambridge University.

Defending Defense: Setting the Record Straight on us Military Spending Requirements


After the Cold War, both the Republicans and Democrats have reduced the funding of the military, and instead of replacing worn out equipment and fixing what needed to be fixed, they did little. Today’s wars which happen on and off require a nation to be prepared, but they also call to cut the Defense Department’s budget. Read on to see what are the myths and what are truths about the military spending?


The US spends more on defense than half the world combines, which means that no more should be invested.


The United States is the most powerful country in the world, and the military is here not only to protect the citizens of its country but to keep the world peace and be the world policeman. What is important is that overall cost is compatible with the size of the country’s economy. Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation wrote: “Defense spending is near historic lows… Between 2010 and 2015, total defense spending is set to fall from 4.9 percent to 3.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), even though the nation has assigned more missions to the military over the past two decades.”



During Bush Administration, Pentagon spent heaps of money.


This was not entirely true. America was waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more money was being spent at the time. But AEI’s Gary Schmitt and Tom Donnelly summed up the situation: “The budget increases that have occurred…are largely tied to fighting the wars. When Bill Clinton left the White House, and Dick Cheney told the military that “help [was] on the way,” the defense burden stood at 3 percent of GDP—a post-World War II low. When George W. Bush headed out the door, the figure for the core defense budget was about 3.5 percent. This is an increase, to be sure, but not one to make the military flush after a decade of declining budgets and deferred procurement.”

The goal during this time is to return the military to pre-war readiness level, and this was difficult to achieve. Part of the money was used to increase the number of the US ground forces. Also, the moral obligation needed to be considered as well. The families of those who fought in the Middle East had to be tended. However, they had to receive an amount of money which would motivate them to answer the call to service.



Additional earnings can be made in Pentagon by cutting waste and excess. This would make up for shortfalls.


According to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, it was necessary to reform defense acquisition and reduce overhead costs, which is why he started an initiative. Even if this was put into practice, it wouldn’t do much to close the gap. The requirements would still be great and resources scarce. The bipartisan Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel stated:

“[T]hose savings will be insufficient for comprehensive [military] modernization. We cannot reverse the decline of shipbuilding, buy enough naval aircraft, recapitalize Army equipment, modernize tactical aircraft, purchase a new aerial tanker, increase our deep-strike capability and recapitalize the bomber fleet just by saving the $10 billion-$15 billion the Department hopes to achieve through acquisition reform….Meeting the crucial requirements of modernization will require a substantial additional investment that is sustained through the long term….Although there is a cost to recapitalizing the military, there is also a potential price associated with not recapitalizing – and in the long run, that cost is much greater.”


We are spending too much on defense.



The defense budget is relatively small compared to the federal budget. Pentagon keeps spending less and less in real dollars, but you cannot eliminate the spending entirely. Even if Pentagon had done that at some point, the deficit of the country would still be in trillions. The US national debt has exceeded $20 trillion recently, and the budget used for defense is just one drop in the ocean. Once again, Mackenzie Eaglen noted:

“The substantial decline in the defense share of the budget largely reflects the dramatic growth of entitlement spending. Entitlements now account for around 65 percent of all federal spending and a record 18 percent of GDP. The three largest entitlements—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—eclipsed defense spending in 1976 and have been growing ever since. If future taxes are held at the historical average, these three entitlements will consume all tax revenues by 2052, leaving no money for the government’s primary constitutional obligation: providing for the common defense.”


The USA has a role of the “world’s policeman,” and that needs to stop.


After the Cold War, Europe has entered the durable peace which lasts today. Countries in East Asia have grown stronger economically and millions of people have exited poverty. However, this peace couldn’t have been achieved by itself. It was partly due to America’s involvement and the fact is that no-one would be able or would want to assume the role of the USA. According to the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, the future is:

” …likely to place an increased demand on American “hard power” to preserve regional balances. While diplomacy and development have important roles to play, the world’s first-order problems will continue to be our security concerns….As the last 20 years have shown, America does not have the option of abandoning a leadership role in support of its national interests….Failure to anticipate and manage the conflicts that threaten those interests…will not make those conflicts go away….It will simply lead to an increasingly unstable and unfriendly global climate and, eventually, to conflicts America cannot ignore.”

In other words, the USA cannot afford to recover all that it has achieved or lose it altogether. Repairing such damage would be too expensive even for the US and preserving the “world-policeman” role is cost-effective.


Winning the current wars should be the country’s primary concern. The defense spending must be focused on that primarily.


America’s role is too big to focus on just one or two wars the country is in. They need to defend the homeland, plus there is the newly-created cyberspace which is a hotbed of conflicts and the US nation needs to be dominant here as well. Furthermore, its military must assure access to the seas, in the air and space. The US has been fighting for the common good for years, and that means fighting on numerous fronts. Europe is stable and peace is preserved, while currently, America is building peace across the Middle East. They also need to be ready for the rise of the countries in the Asia-Pacific, such as China. To quote former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates once again:


“As I look around the world and see a more unstable world, more failed and failing states, countries that are investing heavily in their militaries—as I look at places like Iran and North Korea and elsewhere around the world—as I look at the new kinds of threats emerging from cyber to precision ballistic and cruise missiles and so on—my greatest worry is that we will do to the defense budget what we have done four times before. And that is, slash it in an effort to find some kind of a dividend to put the money someplace else. I think that would be disastrous in the world environment we see today and what we’re likely to see in the years to come.”

Beyond Af-Pak: The War Against Al-Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia


On Monday, April 19, 2010, the Foreign Policy Initiative and the Critical Threats Project of the American Enterprise Institute organized a panel. The group was assembled to talk about Al-Qaeda and their operations in countries such as Yemen and Somalia. The moderator of this panel is Charlie Szrom, the program manager for the Critical Threats Project. Some of the names included Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the director of the Center for Terrorism Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, John Kiriakou, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer and Chris Harnisch, an AEI Research Analyst.


Szrom opened this panel with the truth, which may have been concerning at the time. He pointed out that al-Qaeda has spread across the world and they were present on the Arabian Peninsula, while al-Shabaab was in Somalia. This meant that the war against al-Qaeda could not end in Afghanistan, near the border of Pakistan. Iraq’s al-Qaeda was the most notorious one, but the two groups Szrom mentioned were considered a threat to the American homeland.

Meanwhile, Harnisch pointed out that excellent communication characterized the relationship between the central leadership of al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Yemen and Somalia. In Yemen, there were 200-500 operatives, and then-President Saleh showed reluctance to act. The US was debating whether President Saleh should be considered an enemy, but they saw him as the partner in the War on Terror. On the other hand, there was Al-Shabaab, which was a cross between al-Qaeda and the Taliban. They were a much greater threat, with 2,500 operatives that spread terror through Somalia and imposed ideology upon people in this country. They also threatened to attack the American homeland.


Daveed Gartenstein Ross noted that the American government knew little of what was going on in Somalia. Since the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, the US neglected this region and this shouldn’t have happened. Last but not least Kiriakou outlined the situation in Yemen. People were facing poverty, living on less than $2 per day, while the country experienced lack of oil and drinking water problems in the capital. President Saleh wanted to leave al-Qaeda in order to draw the United States in this, but he quickly realized that they were an imminent threat to his rule.

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