Swoop: Washington’s World: October 10th – 16th, 2011 – Congress & Foreign Policy

Swoop: Washington’s World: October 10th – 16th, 2011 – Congress & Foreign Policy
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“Congressional action is intruding on the Administration’s foreign policy. As we had earlier reported, Congress is seeking to cut State Department and USAID funding. This will have a long-term impact on the civilian side of US diplomacy. More immediately, Congress acting in a rare bipartisan consensus has suspended aid to the Palestinian Authority, is threatening to cut off aid to Pakistan and is pushing the Administration to impose trade sanctions on China for “currency manipulation.”

At the same time, Mitt Romney, the leading Republican presidential candidate, has launched a blistering attack on President Obama’s handling of foreign policy. Romney’s vision of an expansive and expensive US foreign policy based in US global “supremacy” attracts critics within his own party. Nonetheless, his and the actions by Congress have combined to add further pressure on Obama. Assuming that the enabling legislation against China passes the Congress (and this is not a foregone conclusion), Obama faces an awkward dilemma. Successive Administrations have resisted calls to confront China on currency issues, but the continuing anemic job creation statistics have changed the political dynamics. Treasury contacts tell us privately that they are recommending that Obama vetoes any sanctions legislation, but that they are unsure that he will do so.

Regarding Afghanistan, the 10th anniversary of the US invasion prompted an outpouring of review articles, mostly dividing on predictable lines between those who want to “win the war” and those who want a “change of course.” With American public opinion souring on the war and even former top commanders raising doubts, Pentagon insiders tell us that the Administration will not postpone its 2014 deadline for withdrawal. These same contacts report, however, that the US will increase the tempo of its operations against what are perceived as “safe havens” in Pakistan. The side effects in terms of Pakistani attitudes to the US may be significant. As one senior Administration official commented to us recently: “A permanent set-back in US-Pakistan relations may be the most lasting implication of our engagement in Afghanistan.”

Source: http://theswoop.net

Photos Credits: Washington DC By Baked Beans / FlickR / – The Most Dramatic View of DC at Night By WilliamMarlow / FlickR