Swoop: Washington’s World: March 21st – March 27th, 2011

Swoop: Washington’s World: March 21st – March 27th, 2011
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“Before we turn to the dominating topics currently occupying attention, it is worth highlighting a vignette which demonstrates the changes in US priorities.

Last week General Petraeus provided congressional testimony on the war in Afghanistan. He did so to nearly empty committee rooms and to minimal press coverage. A new poll shows rising public disapproval. The key point, however, is that, a few specialists aside, Americans have lost interest in Afghanistan. If it is to be an issue in the 2012 presidential election, it will because of costs and lack of clarity over the mission. President Obama will have to take this skepticism about foreign wars into account over Libya.

It is no secret that Defense Secretary Gates and the White House National Security Advisor hold strong doubts about the wisdom of intervention in Libya.

White House contacts tell us that Obama shares some of his doubts and is at best a cautious and reluctant warrior. The political coalition supporting intervention is narrow, consisting mainly of progressive internationalists like Secretary of State Clinton, Senator John Kerry and UN Ambassador Susan Rice on the Democratic side and traditional hawks like Senator McCain among Republicans. Conservative Republicans are, however, unenthusiastic.

Top intelligence community officials have little confidence that the Libyan opposition is a good fit with US interests.

Our expectation is that the Administration will seek a diplomatic compromise if and when one appears.

On the nuclear crisis in Japan, US are conscious that they ‘got out ahead’ of the Japanese government in their public statements about the severity of the crisis. To a great extent, these tensions have now been assuaged. There is now a substantial and growing US technical team in Japan, telling the Japanese side that they face extremely serious decisions next week if cooling operations do not succeed.

Meanwhile, on the domestic front the government dysfunctionality we highlighted as one of our controlling themes for 2011 deepened with the continuing failure to adopt a federal budget. In particular funding for international civil operations remains an endangered species. Obama is showing no inclination to enter this debate.”

Source: http://theswoop.net