The Swoop: Washington’s World: April 25th-May 1st

The Swoop: Washington’s World: April 25th-May 1st
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“The opposing dynamics underlying US policy toward Libya – humanitarian interventionism and realist caution – remain on display in the decision to commit predator drones to the NATO operations.

While the military leadership continues to resist deeper involvement, an emerging coalition of liberal and conservative ‘hawks’ is pushing President Obama to remain engaged. Our White House contacts report that he is unenthusiastic. Nonetheless, the difficulties being experienced by the non-US members of NATO make it difficult for him to turn his back completely. We expect, therefore, a continuation of the present approach of background support rather than operational leadership.

US officials are more concerned by the developing crises in Syria and Yemen. Additionally, negations about longer-term US military presence in Iraq are not making progress. Finally, with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu due to visit Washington next month for an address a joint session of Congress and with the prospect of a vote on Palestinian statehood looming at the forthcoming September session of the UN General Assembly, Obama’s advisers are debating whether he should step in with a new offer of more hands-on US commitment to the peace process. Privately senior officials tell us that, while a presidential speech is in draft, the White House political staff does not believe that Obama should risk political capital at this stage by too high a profile on this issue.

We believe that those waiting for a substantive new proposal from the US will be disappointed. Increasingly Obama is devoting priority to his reelection bid, conducting six fund-raising events during a recent 2-day visit to the West Coast. While these are early days, Obama remains the man to beat – albeit that his own poll numbers are only modest. He can take encouragement from a gradually improving domestic economy and continuing tensions between pragmatic Republican leaders and their more ideologically rigid foot soldiers.  As we have noted before, these will play out in the upcoming debate about the federal debt ceiling. Top Democratic and Republican officials are trying to work our a deal, but grass roots opposition mean that it is by no means sure that they will succeed.”