Swoop: Washington’s World: August 29th – September 4th, 2011 – After the Second Storm

Swoop: Washington’s World: August 29th – September 4th, 2011 – After the Second Storm
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“The successful advance of anti-Gaddafi forces into Libya has brought foreign affairs back into focus – albeit temporarily forced from the headlines by Hurricane Irene. Within the Administration, President Obama has welcomed developments as a vindication of his decision to involve the US in action in Libya, but to allow NATO to take the lead. Secretary of State Clinton has expressed the hope that the successful Western intervention against Gaddafi will send a signal to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad that he too needs to leave the scene. White House officials tell us that Obama intends to maintain this balanced approach. He will also seek to strengthen international pressure against Syria, where officials are encouraged by the emerging criticism from Saudi Arabia. Initial efforts are focused on releasing blocked funds to the Transitional National Council.

Whether Obama gains political credit for this operation remains doubtful. His forthcoming September 6th speech on the economy is attracting much more anticipation than future moves in Libya. His Republican challengers will seek to keep public attention firmly focused on the economy where recent statistics continue to point to a weak recovery.

Of greater long-term significance is the release of the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military capabilities. While defense analysts have deliberately sought not to use alarmist language, Chinese capabilities in anti-ship technology are causing increasing concerns. Should these continue to advance, the US naval presence in the form of aircraft carrier battle groups could be called into question.  Conscious of these rising doubts about the US commitment to Asia, Vice-President Biden has forcefully sought to allay these concerns during his extended Asia trip. From our conversations with Pentagon officials, we see no sign of diminished US interest in the Pacific.

In this context, the Administration is quietly encouraged by signs from North Korea that it is willing to return to the Six Party Talks. Early fears that Pyongyang might launch some destabilizing action on the Korean Peninsular over the summer are subsiding. Elsewhere, there has been a resurgence of focus in conservative foreign policy circles on Iran’s nuclear program. Despite this, we see little sign that the Administration is changing its approach of containing Iran rather than contemplating military action”

Source: http://theswoop.net/sys/index.php?PHPSESSID=9f5378f1ea2fe34571c7d12c5021cc44

Photo Credit: A Prelude to Irene #2 – By SmileyReilly / FlickR