Swoop: Washington’s World: July 16th – 22nd, 2012 – The Risk Avoidance Mode

Swoop: Washington’s World: July 16th – 22nd, 2012 – The Risk Avoidance Mode
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Swoop: “The foreign policy scene in Washington remains a split personality. At one level, Secretary of State Clinton maintains a punishing schedule with a visit to East Asia for the Tokyo conference on Afghanistan, followed by pursuit of exports to the ASEAN countries, supervising consideration of safe zones in Syria and concluding with visits to Egypt and Israel next week for tense discussions there.

At another level the presidential campaign dominates President Obama’s time. With both sides now engaged on an increasingly acrimonious struggle to denigrate the other personally, there is little time for serious discussion of US policy options.  Based on our exchanges with senior officials, our analysis continues to be that this means that the White House is shying away from risky options.

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On Syria, for example, there are increasingly insistent media calls for US intervention, yet the Administration prefers to discuss new sanctions at the UN.

The same is true for Iran. Statements by the British intelligence chief that Iran could attain a nuclear weapon in 2 years have had no impact on the US debate. As before, the Administration remains convinced that the sanctions regime, which has now been toughened, will bring about a change of heart in Tehran. NSC officials tell us that they remain concerned about possible Israeli intentions but not to the point of considering the military option more favorably. Indeed, Obama’s foreign policy “pitch” – even when talking to an audience of military veterans – is to emphasize post-war care for veterans rather than the prospect of new wars. This coincides with Pentagon preferences where avoidance of further budget cuts is the main focus.

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The Administration’s commitment to the drawdown in Afghanistan remains rock solid, despite signs of growing instability there. US officials are aware, of course, that events could prompt a change in tactics and it is more than possible that a more proactive approach will emerge after the November elections. For the time being, however, the pattern will continue whereby the State Department is active and busy, but overshadowed by the White House’s emphasis on risk avoidance.”

Source: http://theswoop.net
Photo Credits: President Barack Obama walks with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon in the West Wing of the White House, July 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)