On November 1, Partnership for a Secure America and the United States Institute of Peace hosted an off-the-record briefing on Nigeria’s consequential upcoming elections.
On October 25, Partnership for a Secure America and the United States Institute of Peace hosted an off-the-record briefing on the strategic implications for U.S. interests around the Middle East powers’—Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and Turkey—increasingly aggressive competition for influence in the Horn of Africa alongside an expanding Chinese and Russian presence.
On October 3, Partnership for a Secure America hosted an off-the-record Bipartisan Negotiation Panel to provide practical lessons in effective negotiation and bipartisan policy development. The panel was led by Lara Flint, former Chief Counsel for National Security for Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Bart Forsyth, former Chief of Staff for Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).
The first of the Bipartisan Negotiation Panel series, this dinner event focused on the negotiation tactics behind the creation and passage of the USA FREEDOM ACT of 2015. As key architects, Lara Flint and Bart Forsyth evaluated their own roles and strategies in the passage of the Freedom Act. This series will build off of the knowledge obtained by Congressional Partnership Program participants during their negotiation training. Dinners will feature candid, deep-diving conversations with accomplished former and current senior Congressional Staff to explore the “mechanics of a deal” behind bipartisan legislation in national security and foreign policy arena.
Lara Flint is the Associate Director for Oversight and Congressional Capacity at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Lara leads the Governance Program’s work to strengthen safeguards that ensure our government is transparent and accountable to the public.
Lara is a skilled advocate with more than 15 years of legal, public policy and government experience, including a decade on Capitol Hill. Most recently she served as chief counsel for national security to then-Chairman Patrick Leahy of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she led the committee’s work on national security, privacy, and technology, and was instrumental to enactment of the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 — the first major surveillance reform legislation in decades. Previously, Lara served as senior counsel on the Judiciary Committee to Senator Russ Feingold.
Between her Senate positions, Lara joined the State Department Office of the Legal Adviser, where she advised senior State Department officials on counterterrorism, law of war, and use of force issues. Prior to her government service, Lara worked on policy at the intersection of technology and national security at the Center for Democracy & Technology, and conducted a broad range of litigation at the law firm of Jenner & Block. Lara is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and Harvard Law School.
Bart Forsyth currently serves as a deputy vice president with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. He began his career in Washington as an Attorney Adviser at the Department of Labor. He later served as legal counsel to four House congressional committees: Foreign Affairs, Science, Judiciary, and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, the latter of which he was also chief of staff.
From 2012-2017, he was the chief of staff to Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. In this role, he had the pleasure of staffing several major legislative efforts, including the USA FREEDOM Act—a bill to institute sweeping intelligence reforms—and the Voting Rights Amendment Act—a modernization of the historic civil rights legislation. More recently, he helped spearhead the Judicial Redress Act, a law that facilitated the sharing of law enforcement information between countries by providing citizens of designated countries access to U.S. courts. Bart graduated magna cum laude from Washington and Lee University School of Law.
On September 26, Partnership for a Secure America and the United States Institute of Peace hosted an off-the-record dinner on the war in Afghanistan.
On Monday, July 30th, Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record roundtable dinner for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program to discuss trade, the growing use of tariffs, and the potential for a larger trade war. The conversation focused on how the U.S. and Congress can respond to help American workers without damaging relationships with allies.
Trade and Tariffs
Beginning in 2018, President Trump imposed significant tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports in addition to 25% tariffs on all imported aluminium and 10% tariffs on all imported steel. Both China and close trading partners such as the European Union and Canada responded swiftly, imposing their own retaliatory tariffs on a variety of American goods. The country is divided in regards to this shift in American trade policy. These divisions – unlike with many other issues – are not necessarily partisan but are based largely on the economic prospects for various industries in the context of a trade war.
Trade Expansion Act of 1962
- Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president the unilateral authority to alter tariff levels on certain imports if an investigation by the secretary of commerce determines that these imports threaten American national security. The Trump administration cited this law as the legal authority for the imposition of new tariffs without congressional approval.
- March 2018
- President Trump announces that his administration will impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminium. U.S. stock markets fell sharply in response with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping 420 points on the same day and the NASDAQ and S&P each dropping 1.3%.
- May 2018
- President Trump applies tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. These countries had initially been exempted from these barriers.
- June 2018
- President Trump releases the final list of Chinese imports that will be targeted by 25% tariffs – a total value of approximately $34 billion in goods. China immediately responds with retaliatory tariffs.
- July 25
- President Trump meets with President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Junker to negotiate a deal to avert a trade war between the United States and the European Union. In a joint press release, the two announced they would work together to remove tariffs and other trade barriers.
On July 16th, Vice President of the Middle East and Africa Center at the United States Institute of Peace Mike Yaffe and Senior Analyst and Africa Team Lead for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute Emily Estelle discussed evolving efforts in Libya and Tunisia to counter terrorist operations across the region.
On June 4th, the Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record dinner for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program with General Philip Breedlove to discuss today’s pressing foreign policy challenges and U.S. relations with Europe. Gen. Breedlove served as the Commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 2013-2016.
This was a closed event for alumni of the Congressional Partnership Program.
General Philip Breedlove (U.S. Air Force, Ret.)
Phil Breedlove is a proven strategic planner, motivational leader and talented communicator. He is a highly decorated retired general of the United States Air Force where he reached the highest levels of military leadership as one of six geographic Combatant Commanders and the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.
As the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the Commander of U.S. European Command, he answered directly to NATO’s governing body, the North Atlantic Council, and to the President of the United States and Secretary of Defense. He led the most comprehensive and strategic structural and policy security changes in the alliance’s 70 year history. He led the forces of 28 nations and multiple partners in ensuring the security of an alliance that accounts for more than half the world’s GDP.
As Commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces Africa, Breedlove was responsible for organizing, training, equipping and maintaining combat-ready forces while ensuring theater air defense forces were ready to meet the challenges of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime defense.
As Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, he presided over the Air Staff and served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Requirements Oversight Council and Deputy Advisory Working Group during a period of intense challenge, including devising measures to meet the requirements of the the Budget Control Act’s required $480 billion reduction of the Department of Defense budget.
He earned his Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Science in Aerospace Technology from Arizona State University. Additionally, he completed a Masters of International Security Affairs from the National War College, a Fellowship in International Security Affairs, Seminar XXI from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and completed Leadership at the Peak at the Center for Creative Leadership Colorado Springs.
Breedlove currently serves on the Georgia Tech Advisory Board, as a Distinguished Professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech, as a Senior Advisor to Culpeper National Security Solutions, and on the Board of Directors of both the Atlantic Council and the Center for a New American Strategy.
On June 4, Partnership for a Secure America hosted an off-the-record dinner for participants in the Spring 2018 Congressional Partnership Program with Joan O’Hara, Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President. Ms. O’Hara discussed the National Security Strategy, the upcoming summit between the U.S. and North Korea and the role of trade in foreign policy.
Joan O’Hara joined the OVP NSA as Deputy National Security Advisor in February 2017, and served as Acting National Security Advisor from September 2017 through April 2018.
Prior to joining the Administration, Joan served as General Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Majority Staff. As General Counsel, Joan provided legal advice to the Committee Chairman on national security matters, and played a central role in developing the Committee’s policy positions and legislative agenda. Working closely with House Leadership, Members of Congress, interagency principals, and private sector stakeholders, she shepherded bills through the legislative process from drafting to passage into law.
Before entering law, Joan enjoyed more than a decade of experience as an elite athlete and award-winning NCAA Division I Head Coach in the sport of Rowing. As a Resident Athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in California, Joan trained with the U.S. Olympic Rowing Team and was United States National Champion in the Single Sculls and Quadruple Sculls.
Joan holds a B.A. from Loyola University, an M.A. from San Diego State University, and a J.D. cum laude from New York Law School. She hails from Long Island, New York.
On April 19th, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman and former National Security Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, Jake Sullivan discussed the deteriorating US-Turkey relationship as part of the USIP-PSA congressional briefing series Dr. Graeme Bannerman moderated the discussion
On Monday, January 29th, Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record roundtable dinner for alumni of the Congressional Partnership program to discuss the growing humanitarian crisis in Burma through targeted violence and rape against the Rohingya Muslim minority group. The conversation focused on how the U.S. and Congress can respond to help end the crisis without damaging recent political and economic progress in Burma.
The Rohingya Crisis
Beginning in August 2017, the Burmese government launched widespread and brutal military operations against the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in the country. The operations, which Burma cited as a counter-terrorist response to attacks by Rohingya militants on military and police stations, have created a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. Murder, rape, and arson by Burmese military units in conjunction with nationalist Buddhist civilian mobs have forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, overwhelming refugee resources there.
1982 Citizenship Law
- Under this law, Burma denies citizenship to the Rohingya Muslims, making them one of the largest stateless populations worldwide. The government views them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
- August 2017
- Rohingya militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) target more than 30 military and police posts, prompting retaliatory operations by Burmese military units and Buddhist civilian vigilantes.
- September 2017
- The Burmese government claims that operations against militants ended, contrary to evidence that the military operations continued after this date.
- November 2017
- Sec. State Rex Tillerson labels the crisis in Burma “ethnic cleansing.”
- Bangladesh and Burma sign a deal to return all Rohingya Muslims back to Burma.
- December 2017
- The US individually sanctions Burmese general Maung Maung Soe for his role in the military operations.
- January 2018
- Bangladesh and Burma finalize details for a repatriation plan and timeframe for the Rohingya refugees. Burma agrees to accept 1,500 Rohingya each week, for a total of 2 years to repatriate all Rohingya.
- The repatriation of Rohingya Muslims back to Burma is postponed due to fears by refugees that they would be forced to return against their will. The process was slated to begin on January 23, 2018.
- US diplomat Bill Richardson resigns from an international panel set up by Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi to provide advice on the Rohingya crisis, citing a lack of moral leadership by Ms. Suu Kyi.