Swoop: Washington’s World: April 12th – April 18th, 2010

Swoop: Washington’s World: April 12th – April 18th, 2010
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“With a series of foreign policy initiatives, President Obama has moved to regain some of the authority he had conceded during the messiness surrounding the health care vote.

He is enjoying a number of successes: the signing of a new START Treaty with the Russians, the launch of a new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and the promise of better relations with China.

The public sparring with Afghan President Karzai (which continues to arouse behind-the-scenes disquiet) has done little to dent this round of apparent progress.

The April 12th-13th Nuclear Security Summit will allow him to dominate the headlines for another week. White House officials are also suggesting privately that the Administration will re-engage more actively in the Middle East peace process by moving away from its current “proximity talks” approach to proposing its own plan. This flurry of foreign policy activity arises partly from a coincidence of timing. However, it also reflects a deliberate decision by the White House to use the Presidency’s inherent primacy in foreign affairs to seize the political initiative back from the Republicans. This includes some risk taking and strong political headwinds.

While the NPR contained some harsh language for Iran and North Korea, it is also clear that the Administration views Israel’s presumed nuclear arsenal with much less sympathy than any of its predecessors.

In the face of strident Republican criticism and potential defeat in the Senate where the treaty will require a super majority of 67 votes to pass, it is not backing down. This is not to imply that the traditional US role as Israel’s ultimate guarantor is in doubt; it does suggest that a significant shift in tactics is underway.

In relation to China, the Treasury’s decision to postpone its currency report has alleviated the immediate tensions in that relationship. Underneath this decision lay a calculation that confrontation with China is counter-productive. The decision thus implied further recognition by the Administration of China’s near equality status. Once the spotlight returns to domestic issues, Obama will encounter stiffer headwinds. The political alignment for the November midterms elections remains deeply unfavorable for him and the Democrats.”

Source: Swoop