Swoop: Washington’s World: July 25th – 31st, 2011 – Debt, Middle East & ASEAN

Swoop: Washington’s World: July 25th – 31st, 2011 – Debt, Middle East & ASEAN
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“As last week, national attention is being monopolized by the unresolved wrangling over the debt ceiling and the associated procession of proposed solutions, no one of which seems able to command a majority in the Congress. As a senior State Department official stationed overseas commented to us: “It is almost as though the outside world is irrelevant to the US. The only debates we are having are with ourselves. The domestic context is the only one that matters.”

An example might be the Middle East peace process where disagreement among the US parties prevented an agreement statement after the July 12th session of the Quartet. A National Security Council adviser explained to us: “The Administration is always looking to its Congressional relations on the pressing domestic priorities. It can’t afford to buck the very strong pro-Israel opinion on Capitol Hill.” This opinion will intensify should the UN in September vote in favor of Palestinian statehood.

Staying in the Middle East, a similar hesitancy to force the peace may be observed over the Arab Spring. While Secretary of State has intensified her criticism of Syria and attempts to accelerate reform in Yemen continue, the Administration finds itself in two minds over Egypt. Concerns arising from intelligence reports on the resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood are keeping US policy aligned with the Egyptian military.

In Southeast Asia, by contrast, the US is acting more confidently. Behind the scenes at the US-ASEAN ministerial meeting, Clinton steered carefully between support for the US’s allies and any antagonizing of China. This continued the recent US line in seeking a deeper base of understanding with China. Of longer-term impact on US foreign policy, it remains to be seen how any budget reductions will cut into defense spending. There is little doubt that defense spending has lost some of its traditional protected status. Some reductions in spending, for example for aircraft carriers, could result in strategic power projection implications.”

Source: http://theswoop.net

Photo Credit: PLA-N Zhenghe By Crouchy69 /FlickR – Zhenghe class training ship Zhenghe of the PLA-N (Chinese Navy) sails into Sydney harbour.