Swoop: “The rhetoric over Iran has eased somewhat. With General Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in Israel to deliver a clear message of restraint there and the Europeans offering new negotiations to Tehran, the Administration has dampened fears of a sudden crisis. Nonetheless, the issue has not gone away. As new sanctions start to tighten the noose on Iran’s central bank in the month’s ahead, President Obama will face escalating pressures to take action. US officials continue to assure that military action is extremely unlikely, but we judge that this matter remains volatile.
The Afghan war continues to be an oddity. While the US special envoy to the region visits Kabul to brief President Karzai on the progress of his confidential talks with the Taliban, developments there attract virtually no interest among the general public. Obama draws some criticism for not supporting the military mission more forthrightly, but he is not under any pressure to change policy. The deaths of US soldiers make no impact. Military appropriations are now being made based on a cessation of expeditionary, counter-insurgency wars. The Republican candidates for president speak toughly about ‘staying the course’ in Afghanistan, but it does not appear likely that any one of them would much change the trajectory of the current withdrawal.
Of more serious concern are military-civil tensions in Pakistan. The domestic political debate in the US is highly polarized. The Administration is intent on keeping lines open in Islamabad, where conservative commentators are urging a tougher approach. Should the civilian government fall, US officials are alarmed that Congress might attempt to mandate a block on US interactions with Pakistan.
Relations with Russia are also worth mentioning. The rapprochement that begun with the “reset” initiative of 2009 is now badly tarnished. US officials strongly objected to remarks by Prime Minister Putin implying US interference in current Russian domestic political disturbances. They continue to be frustrated by Russian objections to UN sanctions on Syria and Iran. While US-Russia cooperation has not come to a complete stop, we assess that once Putin resumes the Russian presidency, this relationship will become even less harmonious or even acrimonious.”
Note that Tuesday, President Obama will address the US Congress at 9:00PM EST. The address will broadcasted on the White House’s Website with enhancements (Graphics, Pictures, Additional Information).
On another note, here’s a zoom on the super PACs (Political Action Committees) campaigns going on in the country for the 2012 elections. When an interest group, union, or corporation wants to contribute to federal candidates or parties, it must do so through a PAC.
CBS: The attack of the super PACs
The Supreme Court’s approval of unlimited contributions to political groups (or super PACs)
has triggered a wave of highly-polished, well-produced attack ads.
George Washington Portrait – State of The Union address 2011 – WhiteHouse.Gov Photos
2010 02 24 – 1952 – Washington DC – Capitol By thisisbossi / FlickR