04 20 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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Research shows that this generation of young people, no matter of their race, are likely to do less well than their parents did.  Shackled by a trillion dollars worth of student loans and a flat labor market, the New York-based Demos organization says the student loan burden prevents young people from buying homes and amassing wealth.  While there are some racial gaps, many young people enter the labor market already behind the space their parents occupied.

As I spend time with young people, especially young African Americans, I understand their frustration.  They want to know what the civil rights generation has done to pass the baton of activism and improvement to them.  They want to know how they should move forward.  While they are willing to participate in marches and civic action, they want to know what's next.  And they want to know why their voices are not heard in Black leadership.

Those who are seasoned offer their history of activism as proof that they should lead. They forged the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and didn't ask their elders for permission.  They pushed elders to move to a more active position and when elders would not meet them, they pushed themselves.  There was no shame in their game.  Whether militant or moderate, they embraced parts of the Black Panther Party political program, which begins with these words, "We want freedom, we want the power to determine our destiny."  Too many of us, African Americans, young people, progressives, do not determine our destiny now.  We flow with the wind.

Too many have dropped the baton, but continue to act as if they are clasping it.  Too many mouth their interest in young leaders, but fail to bring them to the table.  Too many who are 40 and 50 describe themselves as young, but if you tell the truth and shame the devil, these folks are solidly middle aged.  So where are their protégées, those who will take, not snatch, the torch from them?

As I move around the country to speak, organize, motivate, I am stunned by events that focus on youth, but have only a few (and often no) young people present.  Imagine if young people had the opportunity to have meaningful exchanges with their elders. Too often young people are segregated into a "youth" program when interaction with adults would be both motivating and stimulating to them.  If we kick young people to the curb, we drop the baton that was handed to us.  We baby boomers have a responsibility to both Generation X and Generation Y.  We have shirked that responsibility.

I do not know how to describe Rev. Cecelia Bryant.  I could call her mentor, role model, or friend.  Or I could say that she is a great inspiration and, in a simple sentence, she has encapsulated the work that we must all to do move our community forward.  You have to replicate yourself seven times, she said, and you have to ask those you replicated to replicate themselves seven times.  In other words, there has to be an embrace, and a responsibility to embrace the next generation not only politically but also personally.

Who are the people who will come behind you?  Who will incorporate your work into their own? Who will understand that you put your hand on them because somebody put their hand on you, and who will feel obligated to put their hand on others?

The civil rights generation made massive progress, but in many ways they dropped the ball.  While they made it clear that there was work to be done, too many of them did not choose those who would do it.  Too much energy and focus has been placed on one or two people, and we need cohorts of the next generation to work together.

My Baby Boom generation has dropped the ball as well.  We have been beneficiaries of the Civil Rights Movement, but we have not passed our largess or our lessons on.  The Baby Boom generation has been, in many ways, one of the most economically privileged generations of African American progress.  So why do so many of us, who enjoy the legacy of this progress, fail to recognize the people and organizations that have brought us to this place.

Rev. Willie Barrow says that we are not as much divided as disconnected.  When the baton has been dropped, what can we expect but a generational disconnection?

 

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer.  She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.

 

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