It’s official: Republicans have chosen an Orange County Congressman to lead the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Ed Royce was the odds-on favorite to chair Foreign Affairs, since he had the blessing of the outgoing chairman. Royce sees nuclear proliferation as a top threat. And he’d like to see foreign aid tied to results.
Royce, who's served in the House since 1993, says he knows the foreign aid budget will likely be smaller. He says when you look at the budget deficit, it’s a safe bet that everything’s going to be affected.
"The military budget’s going to shrink, the foreign aid budget’s going to shrink some," he said in an interview Wednesday. "Our goal has to make certain that we do the best with what we have left in the budget."
Royce wants the U.S. to work with the international community to bring African war lords like Joseph Kony to what he calls the “bar of justice.” Royce says that doesn’t mean he supports the International Criminal Court. The U.S. withdrew its support of the ICC over concern U.S. soldiers would be accused of war crimes.
But Royce says his top priority is Iran — both pressuring Tehran with sanctions to stop what he calls its “march to nuclear weapons,” but also using soft diplomacy to affect change. He says he'd like to see the Arab Spring "move north into the Persian communities in Iran."
Royce says Radio Free Europe was able to communicate a different vision for the future to those behind the Iron Curtain — one that became a reality: "What I’d really like to see is young Iranians able to communicate with their brethren in a way that really told them the story everyday of what is going on inside Iran and going on in the outside world."
There is such a broadcast service already. Voice of America, which predates Radio Free Europe, broadcasts into Iran 5 hours a day. And RFE, as it is now known, broadcasts into Iraq and Afghanistan. Voice of America says Gallup data shows one in five adult Iranians watches its Persian satellite TV channel at least once a week.
Correction: VOA was described in the original story as an offshoot of Radio Free Europe; it actually predates it.