Swoop: Washington’s World: October 6th – 12th, 2014 – Eastern Focus

Swoop: Washington’s World: October 6th – 12th, 2014 – Eastern Focus
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Swoop: “While the US economy continues its above-average recovery and US dollar strengthens further, the foreign policy landscape provides little comfort for the White House. The exception may be the escalating conflict with ISIL, on the back of which President Obama is enjoying slightly improved approval ratings. Whether this is anything more than a temporary bump typical of the beginning of new campaigns remains to be seen.

Foreign policy experts remain extremely cautious about the course of the White House’s approach. On one of the major strategic issues – relations with China – the mismatch between US aspirations and US influence was starkly on display in the meeting between Secretary of State Kerry and the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Kerry brought up the issue of a “new model of relations” with Beijing, but discussions ran into a brick wall as both tried to express concern over developments in Hong Kong. As one State Department official commented to us, “this was a dialogue of the deaf.” Obama is visiting Beijing for the APEC leaders meeting in mid November, at which point the list of points on which Washington is at odds with Beijing will be a lengthy one – of which the most instance was the US decision to lift the arms embargo on Vietnam.

The Administration is continuing to court potential allies such as Indian Prime Minister Modi. After his visit to Washington, US officials now express optimism that past misunderstandings with Modi have been alleviated and that the two countries are on track for a more productive relationship.


Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkey on September 12, 2014. – Photo Credits: US Department of State

Returning to the Middle East, the White House is focused on drawing Turkey into a more activist involvement against ISIL. While welcoming the decision of the Turkish parliament to support Turkish military operations in this context, State Department contacts warn us not to expect anything more than the creation of a buffer zone along the Turkey-Syria border to curtail the flow of Kurdish refugees into Turkey. Ankara and Washington remain far apart on the priority to be given to removing the Syrian government. US officials are only too aware that this is only one of the many points of difference that will emerge with their coalition partners as US engagement deepens. An NSC official commented to us: “The war may be relatively winnable, the politics will be a nightmare.”

Source: Swoop
Top Photo Credits: President Barack Obama joins NATO Summit leaders for a meeting on Afghanistan and ISAF at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales, Sept. 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)