USAID 2017–2021: The Journey to Self-Reliance

Conservative political appointees at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) executed reforms and policies that would have previously been dismissed as unrealistic and audacious. The agency launched a reorganization that established a new structure to “end the need for foreign aid,” while remaining true to America’s humanitarian impulse to help people in need. Traditional American values suffused agency programs with a culture of life and family and religious freedom as a first freedom. Under the Trump Administration, USAID confronted the challenge posed by an aggressive communist China (and those of other malign global actors) and served as responsible stewards of Americ..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

U.S. Arms Transfer Policy Should Not Be Handcuffed by the Arms Trade Treaty

The Biden Administration is reviewing its Conventional Arms Transfer Policy (CATP), which governs conventional weapons export. A State Department official has indicated this review would determine “the proper relationship of the United States to the Arms Trade Treaty.” Incorporating the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in a revised CATP would be a grave error. The ATT would raise serious barriers to the conduct of U.S. foreign policy—and transform difficult questions of arms export policy into matters of law. The ATT is used solely to constrain the U.S.’s democratic allies: Most of its members do not take it seriously. The U.S. should continue to have a CATP that allows policymakers to weigh ..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

Key Priorities for the U.S. at the 2021 Meeting of the Interpol General Assembly

The 89th annual meeting of the Interpol General Assembly to be held this November 23–25 in Istanbul, Turkey, will be dominated by the election of a majority of Interpol’s Executive Committee, including a new president of Interpol, and the election of all seven members of Interpol’s appellate body, the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files. The United States should work with other democratic nations to form a democratic caucus in Interpol to ensure that qualified candidates from law-abiding democracies fill these positions. While the agenda for Interpol reform is wide, the United States should recognize that the autocracies are bidding in particular to win Interpol’s presid..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

The U.S. Should Recognize Somaliland

The U.S. should recognize Somaliland as an independent country. In practice, the territory is not now, nor is likely to be, a part of Somalia. Acknowledging that reality would allow Washington to create more effective policy in an important and contested region. A strong relationship with an independent Somaliland would hedge against the U.S. position further deteriorating in Djibouti, which is increasingly under Chinese sway. It would demonstrate the benefits Washington confers on those who embrace representative government and would allow the U.S. to better support the territory’s tenacious, but still-consolidating, democracy. An independent Somaliland would be a stable partner that has ..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

The U.S. Development Finance Corporation Is Failing to Counter China

To attract conservative support, proponents of the BUILD Act argued that the U.S. Development Finance Corporation would be an effective counterweight to growing Chinese Belt and Road Initiative investments and influence through the BRI. Regrettably, the act did not specifically require that the DFC fulfill this purpose, and the evidence indicates that it is not being emphasized in DFC project selection. A properly focused Development Finance Corporation could play a useful role in serving U.S. strategic interests and foreign policy goals. However, to ensure this focus, Congress needs to instruct the DFC to focus on countering investments by U.S. adversaries, particularly China, and prioritiz..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

U.S. Policy Options for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

The 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place in Beijing—despite the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) well-documented and gross human rights violations. Whenever concerns over human rights arise during the Olympics, the international community defaults to the idea of a boycott, despite its ineffectiveness during the Moscow 1980 Olympics. The desire to act, and not grant unintended approval to atrocity crimes as the U.S. did when Nazi Germany hosted in 1936, is a good impulse. However, there are other options—that do not punish American athletes, and also do not fail to hold human rights violators accountable. The U.S. should consider and explore policy options beyond a boycot..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

ICAO: U.S. Should Repair Chinese Damage and Refocus the Organization

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) codifies international aviation law, standards, and practices to ensure safety and security. Regrettably, the organization has been hindered by poor management, a lack of transparency, a tolerance for slipshod compliance with its standards, a climate of harassment and fear for whistleblowers, and other problems that have negatively impacted its effectiveness. These problems have been compounded under the leadership of Secretary General Fang Liu, who has abused her position to advance policies dictated by Beijing and conceal breaches that threatened the security of ICAO, the member states, and the aviation industry. The United States should..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

Time to End Russia’s Veto on Georgia’s NATO Membership

Russia’s malign actions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova—and the inability of the transatlantic community to push back—has given Moscow a de facto veto on any future NATO membership. Simply out, Georgia cannot join NATO because the Kremlin wants to keep Georgia out of the alliance more than the alliance wants Georgia in. NATO and Georgian policymakers can either get creative to chart out a realistic and reasonable path to get Georgia into NATO, or they can continue to allow Russia to veto NATO enlargement. Now is the time for fresh thinking and bold ideas to allow Georgia to join NATO. The United States should push for Georgia’s membership by temporarily amending Article 6 of the 194..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea

Contrary to claims by proponents of U.S. ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the U.S. does not need UNCLOS to protect its navigational rights and freedoms around the world. In fact, joining UNCLOS would cost the U.S. significantly—through required transfer of oil royalties and baseless environmental lawsuits (all at U.S. taxpayer expense)—so that the costs would outweigh any benefit. For the U.S., UNCLOS is irrelevant at best.

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

The Biden Administration Must Defend Americans Targeted by the ICC

If the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor persists in pursuing its case against American citizens, the Biden Administration will need to act. The Administration’s actions should include challenging the ICC’s jurisdiction and admissibility for American citizens, reiterating the United States’ intention to remain a non-party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and ending all cooperation with the ICC in other cases that are unrelated to the United States. Taking these steps is the minimum that the Biden Administration can do to protect American sovereignty and prevent U.S. citizens from legal harassment and persecution by a foreign court.

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

U.S. Should Get Real at 2021 U.N. Programme of Action on Small Arms Meeting

The last meeting of the U.N.’s Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA), held in 2018, violated the PoA’s principle of working by unanimous consent. The PoA has few, if any, achievements. U.S. participation in it merely lends it a credibility it does not deserve: The only reason for the U.S. to participate is to prevent the PoA from making bad decisions. Now that the PoA has abandoned the principle of unanimity that allowed the U.S. to prevent bad outcomes, the U.S should not participate in the 2021 meeting of the PoA unless the PoA is reoriented to focus on specific, realistic, and relevant goals.

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

U.S. Leadership Needed in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov

In the spring of 2021, Russia conducted a sizeable military buildup along its border with Ukraine and in occupied Crimea. Most of these deployments were spontaneous and unrelated to any scheduled training exercises. Russia’s activity has not been limited to the land. There has also been a Russian buildup at sea. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Moscow has essentially turned the Sea of Azov into a Russian lake—and hopes to do the same to the Black Sea. This is a direct threat to U.S. and NATO security interests. Many of the recent initiatives regarding the Black Sea at the NATO level have not met expectations. The U.S. needs to be a leader inside NATO to help Ukraine enhance..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

UNCLOS: China, India, and the United States Navigate an Unsettled Regime

The United States, one of the few major powers not to ratify UNCLOS, has ironically become the de facto guardian of the UNCLOS regime as it regards freedom of navigation and overflight. China, the non-compliant signatory, has emerged as the greatest potential threat to that regime. Straddling a position somewhere in between, India’s approach to UNCLOS and freedom of navigation has begun evolving in ways that are aligning more closely with the U.S. and the established law of the sea. For India and the U.S., freedom of navigation has become yet another geopolitical fault line over which the two democracies find themselves increasingly, albeit imperfectly, aligned. However, the escalating Chi..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

The Central Arctic Ocean Fishing Agreement: A Challenge for U.S. Diplomacy

The Agreement to Prevent Unregulated Commercial Fishing on the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean, signed by the U.S. in October 2018 and ratified in August 2019, seeks to apply precautionary conservation and management measures to ensure the sustainable use of fish stocks in Arctic waters outside the jurisdictions of the signatory nations. The agreement has a laudable goal and is largely sensible, but it suffers from defects of both substance and process: It is vulnerable to free-riding and, by the rules of the State Department, should have been a treaty. The agreement is acceptable only as an interim measure. The U.S. should seek to replace it with a multilateral treaty that binds all m..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

Biden Administration Should Move Quickly to Help Canada Become a Stronger Ally

The Biden Administration has an opportunity and a common ideological kinship to influence Canada’s Trudeau government on long-standing mutual security concerns. It should take advantage of that opportunity before inevitable challenges cause U.S.–Canada relations to bog down over other issues and the United States is forced to concentrate on other areas of concern. The five most important things that President Biden can do on critical mutual national security matters are to encourage Canada to maintain and increase defense spending, quickly choose a replacement for its CF-18 fighter, move more quickly on the Canadian Surface Combatant program, promote cooperation on North Warning, and ban..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

Returning the International Labor Organization to Business of Defending Workers

The focus of the International Labor Organization should be to champion the “freedom of workers to flourish.” This is best done not through heavy regulation but by guaranteeing basic rights and protections that are universally observed and allowing nations to adopt and adapt details to their unique circumstances. The ILO practice of promulgating standards in a voluntary manner and serving as a forum to combat the worst forms of labor abuses serves U.S. interests. If the ILO departs from this approach on conventions and recommendations or if it allows political agendas tangential to its core mission to overwhelm its original mission and purpose, it should jeopardize U.S. support.

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

U.S. and South Korean Policy Differences Require Deft Alliance Management

The U.S.–South Korean alliance has played an indispensable role in maintaining peace and stability in northeast Asia. Seoul has also been a stalwart ally in providing troops for security and peacekeeping operations far from its shores. Maintaining the alliance as part of the broader bilateral relationship is critically important for achieving U.S. strategic objectives in Asia. There will be differences in views on the policies and priorities of military and diplomatic policies. At times, these have seemed insurmountable and relations were severely tested. But the alliance always prevailed and will do so again. Both countries’ well-being and security depend on it.

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

The Biden Administration Must Provide Clarity on Its Approach to Afghanistan

The Biden Administration, like the two Administrations before it, has inherited a complex situation in Afghanistan that defies easy solutions. While the Administration will naturally be preoccupied with domestic concerns, not least recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Afghanistan will demand its attention as negotiations enter a critical phase. The U.S. military, America’s NATO allies, the Afghan government, and the Afghan people are now looking to the Biden Administration for clarity on how it intends to approach and resolve America’s longest war.

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

Slavery and the Constitution

Frederick Douglass, the foremost black abolitionist in the 1840s, once asked, “If the Constitution were intended to be by its framers and adopters a slave-holding instrument, then why would neither “slavery,” “slave-holding,” nor “slave” be anywhere found in it?” Yet that is not the focus of those who challenge the integrity of the Constitution. Some who challenge it say the Constitution is weakened by the existence of slavery in the United States at the time the Constitution was adopted. Slaveholders took part in the framing of the Constitution, and the naysayers say slaveholders, in their hearts, intended to secure certain advantages in that instrument for slavery. As Ameri..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 is the most radical piece of immigration legislation ever introduced in America and seeks to reward illegal aliens at the expense of American citizens. It is a bold attempt to trade American national security, sovereignty, and well-being for perceived political benefit. America deserves immigration laws that prioritize Americans, lawful immigrants, U.S. sovereignty, and national and economic security, not illegal aliens, smugglers, cartels, gangs, and breaking the law. The USCA would erase the distinction between legal and illegal immigration, includes no border security, would increase both illegal and legal immigration, would skyrocket costs for the America..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

The Facts About H.R. 1: The “For the People Act of 2021”

H.R. 1 would federalize and micromanage the election process administered by the states, imposing unnecessary, unwise, and unconstitutional mandates on the states and reversing the decentralization of the American election process—which is essential to the protection of our liberty and freedom. It would (among other things) implement nationwide the worst changes in election rules that occurred during the 2020 election; go even further in eroding and eliminating basic security protocols that states have in place; and interfere with the ability of states and their citizens to determine the qualifications and eligibility of voters, ensure the accuracy of voter registration rolls, secure the f..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

President Biden Should Lead a Firm G7 Stance Against Communist China

On February 19, 2021, President Biden will join the other G7 leaders for a virtual meeting. As the President seeks to establish himself as the leader of the free world, no task is more important than rebuilding the world’s economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital that President Biden encourage other G7 leaders to continue and deepen the coordination of pro-growth policies, including those proven successful under his predecessor. The President should also insist that the G7 lay down clear markers to signal to communist China that the U.S. and its closest (and most economically powerful) allies remain resolved to stand firm against China’s aggressive mercantilism and its..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

Congress Should Reject Efforts to Restore “Welfare as We Knew It” by Expandin...

The principle of work requirements in welfare is based on common sense. It has nearly universal public support. The public supports aid to those who need it, but they do not want welfare to be a one-way handout. The key is reciprocity. If aid is given to able-bodied individuals, they should be required to take positive steps toward self-support in exchange for the assistance given. Polls show that close to 90 percent of Americans agree that “able-bodied adults that receive cash, food, housing, and medical assistance should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving those government benefits.” The current welfare system is very far from perfect, but it would not b..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

Congress Should Stop Abrogating Its Spending Power and Rein in USDA Slush Fund

Over the past few years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set a terrible precedent by greatly expanding its use of the Agriculture Secretary’s discretionary spending authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act. This new and expansive use of the CCC creates a USDA slush fund that allows the Agriculture Secretary to spend money on almost anything. The USDA’s use of the CCC in recent years for trade aid to farmers was based on questionable authority, and now the Biden Administration may push for programs that are even less likely to be authorized under the law, such as climate change programs. Congress needs to stop abrogating its spending power and resto..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

Key Treaties That the Senate Must Oppose During the Biden Presidency

The Framers of the Constitution required a two-thirds vote in the Senate to ratify treaties. This is a constitutional requirement and cannot be changed by Senate rule or procedure. As such, bipartisan support will be necessary to join international treaties. With an evenly divided Senate, it behooves the Senate and the new Biden Administration to pursue only those international agreements that enjoy broad public support. This Issue Brief outlines key international agreements that failed in the past, which the Senate should reject again, on the grounds that they threaten the sovereignty of the United States.

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

Why the U.S. Should Support Arctic Council Observer Status for Estonia

On May 19 and 20, 2021, the 12th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting will take place in Reykjavík, Iceland. Among other issues, the eight council member states will consider the applications of non-Arctic countries and organizations seeking observer status in the Arctic Council. Estonia is one of the applicants and meets the requirements for observer status. Estonia is a valuable NATO ally, and Estonia’s growing interest in Arctic matters will serve to advance transatlantic interests in the region. As such, the United States should strongly support Estonia’s application to become an Arctic Council Observer

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

The EU–China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment

On December 30, 2020, the European Union and China concluded in principle the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). Beijing’s sudden flexibility on the terms of the bilateral investment agreement is clearly part of an effort to pre-empt improving U.S.–EU relations. Essentially, the CAI gives European investors additional market access in China in exchange for access to markets that are already more open to China than China is to the EU. The deal will be a political win for China at a time when China’s diplomatic relationships around the world are worsening. Beijing has become increasingly belligerent toward countries that want greater transparency in areas like the use of forced..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

Why the United States Needs an Atlantic Strategy

It is in America’s interest to develop a coherent and coordinated strategy for the Atlantic region. A strategy is needed to mitigate the pernicious activities of the Chinese Communist Party. The U.S. must also address the threat from Russia—especially in the North Atlantic and the Arctic. The ultimate goal of an Atlantic Strategy is to create the conditions for a stable, prosperous, and secure Atlantic area that is aligned with America’s vision for the region. The U.S. must take a leadership role in the region, rally like-minded partners and allies around this cause, continue to raise awareness of China and Russia’s malign activities in the region, break down the bureaucratic barrier..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

U.S. Economic Engagement with the Black Sea Region Must Be a Priority for 2021

The Black Sea region is home to some of America’s strongest allies and most vocal advocates of continued Euro-Atlantic cooperation and integration. Its six littoral states—Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine—are home to more than 300 million people, three NATO allies, and two countries currently on a path to NATO and European Union membership. The Trump Administration’s commitment to the region has led with U.S. support for regional security. It is in America’s national interest to double down on the successes of the Trump Administration’s regional economic engagement strategy, and establish trade and investment initiatives as the forefront of U.S. policy towa..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics

Lajes Field: Why This Airbase Is Important to U.S. Strategic Interests

The challenge posed by great-power rivals necessitates a continued commitment to America’s allies—importantly, NATO allies—as well as a robust forward presence, which allows U.S. policymakers options in a dangerous world and blocks rival nations from filling security and economic vacuums. Portugal’s Lajes Field has proven an invaluable location that has assisted the U.S. in military engagements since WWI. It remains one of America’s vital outposts today, and the fulcrum of U.S.–Portuguese bilateral relations. U.S. policymakers should view the importance of Lajes Field in strategic terms, recognizing its continued importance, while also gazing at horizons 20 to 30 years from now a..

Heritage Foundation > Global Politics