Swoop – Elections & Defense Spending Priorities: Washington’s World: August 15th – 21st, 2011

Swoop – Elections & Defense Spending Priorities: Washington’s World: August 15th – 21st, 2011
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“Now that the opening shots in the Republican presidential nomination race have been fired, foreign policy will face further competition for official attention. Nonetheless, some useful – and many would add long overdue – debate about the basic principles underlying US foreign policy can be expected.

Some themes will be familiar, notably an uncompromising support for Israel. While the Obama Administration expressed displeasure at the new round of Israeli settlement building in East Jerusalem, a Republican-led administration would have been less openly critical. The need for the White House to guard against political criticism on this front means that Middle East policy is effectively frozen until after the election.

The White House will also face Republican pressure to intensify sanctions against Syria and Iran. On Afghanistan, Iraq and wider military policy, there are some signs that traditional Republican instinctive support for an assertive US approach is under review. Skepticism about the viability and costs involved in ‘nation-building’ is rising at the Republican grass roots. The implication here is that Obama may be able to bring forces back from Afghanistan with less opposition from Republican critics.

The converse is that he may receive less enthusiasm for financial support for the Arab Spring, especially Egypt. On military spending, too, an interesting debate lies ahead. By its own rules, if the Congressional Super Committee designated to devise some $1.3 trillion of spending cuts by November 23rd fails to reach agreement, then a series if automatic cuts goes into force from 2013.

As presently drafted, these will disproportionately impact defense spending. In normal times, such ideas would attract an immediate Republican veto. We do expect defense spending to survive at a high level but lobbyists at US defense manufacturers take the threat of cuts sufficiently seriously to have started an active counter campaign.

This week’s commissioning of a new Chinese aircraft carrier and further signs of tension on the Korean Peninsular will ensure that the US presence in East Asia will remain robust. For the moment, the food crisis in East Africa takes the highest priority in the State Department’s current policies. This has involved some softening of the US traditional refusal to deal with the Al Shabab insurgent movement.”

Source: http://theswoop.net

Photo Credit: USS New Orleans underway in the South China Sea.y Official U.S. Navy Imagery / FlickR