Swoop: Washington’s World: September 24th – 30th, 2012 – UN General Assembly

Swoop: Washington’s World: September 24th – 30th, 2012 – UN General Assembly
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Swoop: “As we anticipated last week, the brief incursion of foreign policy into the presidential campaign in the wake of the anti-Western turmoil in the Middle East quickly ran its course. Despite some trenchant conservative criticism of the Administration’s seeming uncertainty about how to proceed, including about what actually happened in Benghazi and the underlying causes of the protests, the focus has returned to domestic issues.

The final withdrawal of surge forces from Afghanistan has gone practically unnoticed.  Secretary of Defense Panetta continues to speak optimistically about cooperation with the Afghan National Army, but privately our official contacts speak with resignation about prospects for continued stability in the country after the bulk of coalition forces withdraw at the end of 2014.

In his forthcoming speech to the UN General Assembly on September 25th, President Obama will address the US response to events in the Middle East. He will, however, paint a cautious picture. Even as US interests in the Middle East come under increasing attack, there is a rising awareness among top NSC officials that US options are not unlimited. US diplomats will be pursuing an activist agenda at the UNGA, but we expect Obama to confine himself to generalities rather than promising, for example, intervention in Syria.

With regard to Iran, the P5+1 group is likely to meet. Efforts are underway to re-instate a meeting between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, but scheduling difficulties may prevent this. Opinion in Washington remains divided about potential Israeli actions. Inside the Administration, confidence is rising that Netanyahu, despite his tough talk on US television on September 16th, will not act unilaterally in the face of public US opposition and in the light of a new round of talks between the IAEA and Iran planned for October. Other observers who are close to US military and intelligence circles do not share this confidence.  We do, however, expect a more vigorous engagement with the Iran problem after the election, whoever wins. The delisting as a terrorist organization of the Iranian Mujahedin-e-Khalq provides an indication of a forthcoming tougher US approach.

Meanwhile, in Asia the ambiguities of US policy toward China remain unresolved. In his meeting with Chinese Vice-President and expected new leader Xi Jinping on September 19th, Panetta appealed for Chinese restraint over its quarrel with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and for more pressure on North Korea. At the same time, Obama announced the launch of a new trade complaint concerning China to the WTO. This ambiguity will persist after the election.”

Source: Swoop / Videos added by Cap Falcon.
Photo Credits
: President Barack Obama meets with national security advisors in the Oval Office, Sept. 21, 2012. Advisors pictured, from left, are: National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Jack Lew; Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough; and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)