WASHINGTON – Twenty-two former government officials are calling for a “more respectful process” among lawmakers in formulating national security policies.
While partisanship seems to be a timeless element of U.S. democracy,former senators with international experience and diplomats are crossing party lines to encourage current members of Congress to do the same.
“We hope to address the urgent need for greater bipartisanship,” Jamie Metzl,president and co-chairman of the Partnership for a Secure America,said at a National Press Club news conference Wednesday.
Members who served in Democratic administrations include former national security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski,of the Carter administration,and Samuel R. Berger,of the Clinton administration; and former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke,also a Clinton appointee.
Republican officials include John C. Whitehead,a Reagan administration deputy secretary of state; William Weld,the former Massachusetts governor; and former Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker of Tennessee and his wife,former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker of Kansas.
The group formed from a desire to promote more open discussion,not because of any specific issue or stance of the current administration,said Charles N. Andreae,the group's co-chairman and a former chief of staff for Sen. Richard Lugar,R-Ind.
Americans are sick of politics,and the group,which is “militantly bipartisan,” hopes to stop the public's alienation with government,Metzl said. Increasing bipartisanship could combat lower voting rates,he added.
Bipartisanship has a 100 percent approval rating among Americans,said Lee Hamilton,vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission and a former Democratic congressman from Indiana.
The group hopes that members of Congress see the advantages of bipartisanship as well. U.S. foreign policy is more effective when policy makers are unified,said Metzl,who served on the National Security Council in the Clinton administration.
The group will issue monthly statements about how it thinks government officials and policy makers should act when creating and crafting national security policies.
“I don't think there is anything more important than this,” said former Sen. Warren B. Rudman,R-N.H. “I have seen deterioration in ability to work across the aisle.”
While the group acknowledges that public officials will not agree on all issues,there is a “huge partisan divide” right now that needs to be resolved,Rudman said.
“What are the probabilities of success? I don't know,” Rudman added. “I do know it is worth trying.”
The group is funded by the Century Foundation,a non-profit group that conducts public policy research.
For a complete list of members or to sign the group's petition,go to http://www.PSAonline.org