News Feature

The latest reporting on timely discussions at USIP as well as news developments related to violent conflicts and approaches to preventing or resolving these existential struggles.

Under Trump, U.S. Will ‘Lead’ and ‘Engage Partners’

National Security Advisor Designate Michael Flynn last week predicted a Trump administration foreign policy cognizant of “the strength of … alliances” when he spoke at the U.S. Institute of Peace. At USIP’s Passing the Baton conference, the retired Army lieutenant general expanded on his description in an interview shortly after his address. The United States under President Trump will exercise leadership by “globally engaging our partners around the world,” Flynn said.

USIP Staff

Here is the key text of Flynn’s response January 10 to a question about his reading of the conference’s bipartisan discussions on foreign policy and national security:

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 16:26
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'Political Peace' Is Possible, Says AEI President

Arthur Brooks, an economist and musician who is president of the American Enterprise Institute, said the cause of the current U.S. political rifts has been misdiagnosed and outlined a prescription for achieving “maybe the most elusive kind of peace of all around the world today.” In a presentation at Passing the Baton, a conference at the U.S. Institute of Peace that was co-sponsored by his think tank and four others, Brooks declared, “Political peace is possible.”

“The reason we have so much political animus is not anger; there’s always been anger. It’s contempt,” Brooks said at the Jan. 10 conference. “Contempt, according to social psychologists, is defined as the utter conviction of the worthlessness of another person. That is the perfect way for you to make a perfect enemy.”

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 16:55
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Will the Trump Era Uphold U.S. Global Leadership?

At USIP’s Passing the Baton conference, former Obama administration officials Michéle Flournoy and Jacob Sullivan suggested that President-elect Donald Trump has raised unsettling questions about how he will conduct foreign policy and whether he will continue to meet historic U.S. commitments to institutions such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The incoming deputy national security advisor, KT McFarland, argued that new approaches by Trump, combined with a nimble attitude, will create opportunities for increased leverage abroad.

“The new president is seizing an historic moment,” McFarland said in the last of three panel discussions that made up part of the conference Jan. 9 and 10. “That will create options.” She predicted that cheap energy along with regulatory and economic policy reforms will spark an “economic renaissance” strengthening Trump’s hand in world affairs.

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 16:44
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Agenda: ‘Global System,’ Cyber War, Defense—and Tweets

When ABC News’ Martha Raddatz asked four national security thinkers to list top priorities for the new administration, discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace “Passing the Baton” conference swung quickly to the pros and cons of disruption—specifically, President-elect Trump’s spontaneous declarations, via Twitter, on foreign affairs. 

“I’m going to try to be polite,” said former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in the first of three panel discussions that made up part of the conference Jan. 9 and 10. “I’m very concerned about the tweets.” Policies are shaped by careful work and explained to other governments via diplomatic channels to ensure clarity and accuracy, she said. The tweets risk “destroying” systematic work of government systems, Albright said.

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 16:20
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On Security, Expect Surprise, Plan for the Shocks

The next administration is sure to face unforeseen and disruptive crises such as unknown diseases, natural disasters or sudden shifts in the world’s strategic landscape, panelists said at the U.S. Institute of Peace “Passing the Baton” conference on Jan. 10. Where these challenges will arise is uncertain, according to a retired general, a World Bank leader, a homeland security expert and a think-tank scholar. Attempts at forecasting threats are helpful, they said, but most critical is to improve protocols for crisis response and ensure underlying strength for recovery. 

History suggests “we will fail miserably” in being prepared and predicting accurately what kind of “strategic surprise” the Trump administration will face, said retired Army General Jack Keane. In the second of three panel discussions in the day’s events, he flagged areas he would watch.

“Preparing to prepare is the best hedge against uncertainty.” – James Carafano, vice president, Heritage Foundation

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 15:47
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Senator Graham Urges Trump to Back Development Aid

Senator Lindsey Graham said President-elect Donald Trump needs to understand that foreign assistance is a critical tool for fighting terrorism around the world and requires a jolt in spending no less than his proposed boost for the military. Speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace’s “Passing the Baton” conference on Jan. 10, the South Carolina Republican said that, without more resources for intelligence and for humanitarian and development aid, the new administration “will miss the boat on what it takes to win the war.”

Graham, in a conversation with USIP President Nancy Lindborg, said that in 35 trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, he has come to see that combat operations yield limited benefits.

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 15:04
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Flynn Thanks Rice, Affirms Value of U.S. Allies

At the center of the “Passing the Baton 2017” conference, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and her successor, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, exchanged declarations of bipartisan cooperation in their transition—and, to applause, a prolonged handshake. Flynn then laid out a vision for national security policy in the Trump administration in his most extensive public remarks since being named for the position.

“General Flynn inherits a vital job at a challenging time,” Rice said in opening the midday session of the Jan. 10 conference. Her remarks commended the “exemplary handoff” from the administration of President George W. Bush to that of President Barack Obama and reviewed the current administration’s challenges on national security.

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 14:32
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Cooling Iraq’s Conflict With Community Dialogue

The violence of extremists—and the chaos they spawn—takes place in towns, villages, streets and homes, not along some far-off front line. That’s where extremist groups seek recruits and where residents they victimize plot revenge, said the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Sarhang Hamasaeed in a Ted Talk-style presentation during the Jan. 10 “Passing the Baton” conference. While national and international efforts to bring peace to such areas can help, dialogue and mediation at the community level has proven to be a successful key to curbing conflict, he said. 

USIP’s experience supporting negotiations between Shiites and Sunnis in a violence-torn region of Iraq provides a case study for the possibilities of building peace through a well-designed process of conflict analysis and mediation.

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 11:18
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Secretary Kerry Defends Obama Foreign Policy

Secretary of State John Kerry contested what he called “revisionist commentary” about the Obama administration’s foreign policy, laying out a defense of achievements such as a global climate change agreement and the Iran nuclear accord, as part of the U.S. Institute of Peace’s “Passing the Baton” conference on Jan. 10. Kerry also shared his concerns about what he called the “fact-less political environment” and the President-elect’s penchant for communicating foreign policy positions on Twitter. 

“What troubles me a little bit is that people are not separating a remarkable transformation that has taken place globally, naturally, from things that we’re really responsible for,” Kerry said in a discussion with Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour. “Arab Spring -- we didn’t start the Arab Spring. We couldn’t have stopped the Arab Spring. We couldn’t have put a lid on it.”

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 11:12
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U.S. National Security Chiefs Talk Leadership, Partners

The national security advisors to President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump stood shoulder-to-shoulder on a stage at the U.S. Institute of Peace yesterday and shook hands to a standing ovation at a two-day conference on foreign and national security policy. In speeches, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and her designated successor, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, struck a tone of cooperation on the transition between administrations. The conference, called “Passing the Baton,” included Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator Lindsey Graham and hundreds of incoming, outgoing and former officials as well as independent experts. 

USIP Staff

Discussions at the conference focused on laying foundations for a bipartisan foreign policy after an extraordinarily divisive election campaign. Rice and Flynn outlined what they said has been intensive work to ensure a smooth transition of national security functions with the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Trump. Rice said her office “has produced more than 100 memos” for Flynn’s incoming team.

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 15:25
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January 17, 2017
By USIP Staff

National Security Advisor Designate Michael Flynn last week predicted a Trump administration foreign policy cognizant of “the strength of … alliances” when he spoke at the U.S. Institute of Peace. At USIP’s ...

January 13, 2017

Arthur Brooks, an economist and musician who is president of the American Enterprise Institute, said the cause of the current U.S. political rifts has been misdiagnosed and outlined a prescription for achieving “...

January 13, 2017

At USIP’s Passing the Baton conference, former Obama administration officials Michéle Flournoy and Jacob Sullivan suggested that President-elect Donald Trump has raised unsettling questions about how he will...

January 13, 2017

When ABC News’ Martha Raddatz asked four national security thinkers to list top priorities for the new administration, discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace “Passing the Baton” conference swung quickly to the...

January 13, 2017

The next administration is sure to face unforeseen and disruptive crises such as unknown diseases, natural disasters or sudden shifts in the world’s strategic landscape, panelists said at the U.S. Institute of Peace...

January 12, 2017

Senator Lindsey Graham said President-elect Donald Trump needs to understand that foreign assistance is a critical tool for fighting terrorism around the world and requires a jolt in spending no less than his...

January 12, 2017

At the center of the “Passing the Baton 2017” conference, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and her successor, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, exchanged declarations of bipartisan cooperation in their transition...

January 12, 2017

The violence of extremists—and the chaos they spawn—takes place in towns, villages, streets and homes, not along some far-off front line. That’s where extremist groups seek recruits and where residents they victimize...

January 12, 2017

Secretary of State John Kerry contested what he called “revisionist commentary” about the Obama administration’s foreign policy, laying out a defense of achievements such as a global climate change agreement and the...

January 11, 2017
By USIP Staff

The national security advisors to President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump stood shoulder-to-shoulder on a stage at the U.S. Institute of Peace yesterday and shook hands to a standing ovation at a two-...