Swoop: Washington’s World: September 10th – 16th, 2012 – 50 days to Go

Swoop: Washington’s World: September 10th – 16th, 2012 – 50 days to Go
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Swoop: “As we suggested last week, speakers at the Democratic Convention, including President Obama, spoke drew attention to what they see as an advantage in terms of foreign policy. For a Democratic incumbent this is an unusual state of affairs and we expect Obama to try to exploit Governor Romney’s relative international inexperience in the presidential debates and on the campaign trail. The reality, however, is that few votes revolve around foreign policy. Economic anxieties, fuelled further by recent disappointing jobs figures, will set the tone for the campaign.

With regard to foreign policy, Secretary of State’s September 4/5 visit to Beijing revealed a number of significant aspects of how US officials are thinking about future policy toward China. Although Romney’s rhetoric implies a tougher policy toward China than the Administration’s, we believe that the gap between them is not wide. The essential question is how, as Clinton put in her remarks in Beijing, an ‘established’ power will respond to a ‘rising’ power. With regard to the South China Sea, Washington and Beijing have very different interpretations of the situation on the ground. As one senior Pentagon official put it to us: “We are not looking for a quarrel with the Chinese, but nor we will allow them to push us around.” To bolster its alliances in the region, US officials are pushing for a strengthening of ASEAN, alongside their traditional alliances with South Korea and Japan.

On Iran, the regular pattern of visits to Israel by senior US military officers continues. Despite some conservative commentary about advances in Tehran’s nuclear program to include the IAEA report of a doubling of the number of centrifuges, Administration analysts still believe that weaponization – if that is what the Iranians decide upon – is still some time ahead and there is no urgency for military action. This is the message that Washington is pressing on Tel Aviv. From our conversations with senior contacts, our sense is that there is now greater confidence – or at least hope – in Washington that the Israelis will not take unilateral action. Their focus is on Defense Minister Ehud Barak as the key decision-maker. Despite some optimistic interviews by the Pentagon, Afghanistan remains the “forgotten war”. It does not feature as a campaign issue.”

Source: The Swoop
Photo Credits: The 9/11 Memorial by Cap Falcon.