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Advice to the new administration: UM foreign and domestic policy guide

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The incoming administration will confront an array of threats and challenges as serious as any ever faced by an American president, says Steve Fetter, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. To help whoever won, Fetter asked six experts on his faculty with deep research and government expertise to create policy briefs recommending steps to address key challenges.

Most of the foreign policy and security experts conclude that the nation is ill-equipped to deal with the changing nature of 21st century threats. In general, they recommend multi-agency and multi-national approaches to security and a foreign policy that stresses international cooperation and a diplomacy-first approach.

The domestic policy brief on the financial crisis calls for additional federal spending to help endangered businesses accompanied by reforms. The health reform brief recommends a compromise step-by-step approach the kind that has worked at the state level.

Foreign Policy and National Security Recommendations, In Brief

Secretary of State: To restore U.S. international standing, begin by embracing treaties such as Kyoto and the International Criminal Court; renew multi-level, expert negotiations on a limited range of topics of mutual concern with allies and adversaries; and demonstrate to key allies, especially in Europe and Asia that we are serious about consultation and cooperation.
Catherine M. Kelleher,

National Security Adviser: A vital role, second only to the president, in determining the success or failure of the next administration's foreign policy. The president should pick someone who will follow the example of Bush 41's adviser, Brent Scowcroft, and build trust and interagency cooperation with other cabinet members and advisers, as well as a close relationship with the president.
Mac Destler, and Ivo Daalder,

Defense and National Security: To meet the changing nature of our security threats, a former top Pentagon official calls for a major "cultural change" in our national security and defense operations, creating a much greater level of integration of Defense, Homeland Security, State and Treasury coordinated through the president and his national security adviser. The financial crisis will limit spending.
Jacques Gansler,

Peacekeeping and Defense: The changing nature of security threats will require more military "stability operations" peacekeeping operations, for example; efforts to return civil order rather than defeating an enemy. While the Department of Defense has recognized the need and begun to integrate State Department civil and humanitarian resources into its new Africa Command, this does not go far enough. Evidence shows that these types of military operations are most successful in support of a political settlement. This translates into a need for expanded diplomatic and humanitarian resources.
Daniel Levine,

Domestic Policy Recommendations, In Brief

Treasury secretary/financial crisis: Don't take this job without the full trust and support of the president. The first order of business: provide additional federal funds to distressed businesses, accompanied by reforms.
Carmen Reinhart,

Health care reform: Congress should quickly enact a series of small step compromises incorporating elements of both candidates' health care plans.
Jack A. Meyer,

The six short readable essays are available online:

See below for bios and contact information.

Some Specific Recommendations

Carmen Reinhart, University of Maryland economist, an expert in financial crises and co-author of a forthcoming book on the history of financial crises.

"The most important single piece of advice for anyone who might be tapped to be the next secretary of the treasury is simple: Do not take the job unless the authority and influence associated with having the trust of the president comes with it. Under those conditions it can be an important, indeed critical assignment at a time of great national need."

Reinhart adds:

  • The first order of business may well be to provide additional federal funds to distressed businesses. "My research suggests that the longer that infusion is delayed, the higher ultimately will be the resolution cost." These expenditures may severely limit ambitious spending plans and tax relief proposed during the campaign.
  • Such aid will only be tolerated if accompanied by significant financial reforms.
  • The average drop in economic output is over two percent and recovery takes about two years.
  • "We should not go backward in the decade-long efforts to strengthen the international trading system."

Jack A. Meyer teaches health policy in the School of Public Policy and the University's School of Public Health.

"Presidents from both parties have proposed 'grand designs' with many moving parts for about 60 years, all without success in the legislative areaStateshave achieved much progress through step-by-step approaches with bipartisan support. It may be time for federal policy makers to do likewise."

Meyer proposes that Congress could combine elements from each of the candidate's plans and enact small but important steps:

  • Reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program for 10 years in 2009. Neither presidential candidate would want to veto such an effort so early in office.
  • Republicans must agree to new public coverage limited to the poor while Democrats must agree to tax incentives to boost private market coverage.
  • Help states set-up "insurance exchanges" along the lines of the program in Massachusetts.

Catherine M. Kelleher is a College Park Professor in the School of Public Policy and senior advisor to the Geneva Center on Security Policy.

To the secretary of state-designate: "You have little to build on from the last eight yearsYour biggest challenge must be to restore the standing of the pastThe easiest arena for instant credibility will not be a rapid round of travel but an enthusiastic embrace of treatiesKyoto and climate change are obvious priorities"

Kelleher offers "basic prescriptions for action," to re-energize America's post-World War II tradition of international engagement, democratic norms and serious diplomacy, such as:

  • Make diplomacy the administration's international interest of first resort "speak softly but clearly first" and use force as a last resort.
  • Return to JFK's principle: never fear to negotiate or negotiate out of fear alone. Foster careful, regular and expert multilevel discussions on a limited set of topics with friends and adversaries.
  • Rediscover the effectiveness of multilateralism and show key allies, especially in Europe and Asia, that we are serious about consultation and cooperation.

I.M. "Mac" Destler and Ivo Daalder. Destler is the Saul I. Stern Professor and director of the School of Public Policy's Program on International Security and Economic Policy. Daalder is a professor of public policy at the school and a senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

"No individual, save the president, will be more important to the success or failure of the next administration's foreign policy than the next assistant to the president for national security affairs."

Destler and Daalder argue that the job of president's national security adviser is vital because she or he sits at the "crossroads of power." The say that a successful national security advisor will follow the "Scowcroft Formula" the approach used by George H.W. Bush's adviser, Brent Scowcroft.

  • Quickly establish a trusting relationship with the president's other advisers and cabinet members, meeting regularly with them, scrupulously reporting their views fully and faithfully to the president, and not intruding on their jobs.
  • Build interagency cooperative policy making in the government.
  • Get close to the president.

Jacques S. Gansler, former undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, is a professor and holds the Roger C. Lipitz Chair in Public Policy and Private Enterprise in the School of Public Policy.

"The security world has changed dramaticallyPerhaps the most obvious is the change from the bipolar, relative stability of the Cold War to the extreme unpredictability of worldwide security conditions today (requiring agility, rapid responsiveness and broad-based capability). In addition, it is clear that future security concerns will be multiagency and multinational."

Gansler calls for a "significant cultural change" on the part of the security community to adjust to the 21st century realities, all the while recognizing that the nation's financial crisis will reduce discretionary defense funding and Bush-era annual supplementals. To bring about this cultural change, he proposes:

  • An integrated national security strategy of the departments of State, Defense Homeland Security, Intelligence and Treasury led directly by the president and his national security adviser.
  • A series of internal Department of Defense restructuring.

Daniel H. Levine is an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy and an assistant research scholar in the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy

"If we continue to think that building America's might means only building America's military, we are in real danger of losing the next decade's important wars."

Levine argues that our military has mastered conventional maneuver warfare, yet is unlikely to spend most of its time engaged in these fights. Indeed the Department of Defense has made "stability operations" a core priority. These involve a range of operations from peacekeeping to counter-insurgency. Generally they involve lower levels of force and focus on restoring order and security to the civilian population rather than defeating an enemy.

This involves more than simply integrating civil and humanitarian aid resources from the State Department into the military operation. In the context of stability operations, military force tends to be successful when used in support of an existing political arrangement.

"The next administration, if it is serious about making the U.S. military effective in stability operations, needs to recognize that establishing peace and security requires putting military force in a broader political context. Force can be used to convince armed groups to remain within the process, but it cannot substitute for genuine resolution of the conflicts that led to violence in the first placeOur first priority should be finding a way of reconciling parties to the conflict, not identifying enemies to defeat. This means expanding our diplomatic and humanitarian resources"


Contact: Neil Tickner
University of Maryland

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