Who’s In the News
Facing Setbacks, Obama Presses His Foreign Policy (Associated Press)
Setbacks are piling up for President Barack Obama’s foreign policy efforts as he struggles to salvage his signature nuclear weapons treaty with Russia and to keep Mideast peace talks alive. The apparent collapse of the arms treaty because of political opposition in Washington follows the disappointments Obama suffered recently abroad. He returned from a tour of Asian democracies without a trophy trade agreement with South Korea, and he was unable to persuade other nations to join the U.S. in branding China as a currency manipulator. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton beseeched the Senate to ratify the treaty this year, saying delay was a threat to the nation’s security. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he believes the New START deal will come up and be approved during the lame-duck session now under way.
The draft QDDR revealed (Josh Rogin – Foreign Policy)
“To advance American interests and values and to lead other nations in solving shared problems in the 21st century, we must rely on our diplomats and development experts as the first face of American power. We must lead through civilian power,” states the draft, which is marked NODIS (meaning no distribution) but was obtained by the Washington Post..The document also proposes to “Empower and hold accountable Chiefs of Mission as CEOs of multi-agency missions and engage them in high-level interagency decision-making in Washington.”
Bush on Nation Building and Afghanistan (Paul Miller – Foreign Policy)
President Bush famously campaigned against nation building in 2000. Critics loved to point out the inconsistency between his campaign rhetoric and the lofty ambitions of the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. In his new memoir, Decision Points, Bush bluntly admits “After 9/11, I changed my mind.” Bush said so as early as April 2002, in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute. He said that “We know that true peace will only be achieved when we give the Afghan people the means to achieve their own aspirations. Peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan develop its own stable government.
Clinton’s Role as a Lobbyist Expands (Mark Landler – New York Times)
When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walked out of a gilded room in the Capitol on Wednesday, after a breakfast with lawmakers, she said she was tickled to be back in familiar surroundings. But the occasion was anything but festive. Mrs. Clinton was on a mission to save one of President Obama’s few foreign policy victories: an arms-control treaty with Russia suddenly jeopardized by the refusal of a single Republican to allow a vote on the pact in the Senate this year. It is a role Mrs. Clinton expects to play frequently in coming months, as the White House girds for a more hostile Congress bent on challenging or even blocking the Obama administration’s foreign policy agenda, whether arms control, the Middle East peace process, the war in Afghanistan or the tentative outreach to Cuba.
Landrieu: Lew can stew (Josh Rogin – Foreign Policy)
Jack Lew, President Obama’s nominee to be the next head of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, isn’t getting confirmed any time soon, according to the Democratic senator holding up his nomination. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said Tuesday that she will continue to use her hold on Lew’s nomination as leverage to try to get the administration to expedite drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico. She also admitted that, although her hold has been in place since Lew was nominated in July, her strategy hasn’t worked yet. “I’m not seeing the kind of progress on permitting that I need to lift the hold,” Landrieu told reporters at the Capitol building on Tuesday. “But this is the only thing that I have found that can actually get the attention of this administration in a way that might result in getting permits in the Gulf.”
India Microcredit Faces Collapse From Defaults (Lydia Polgreen and Vikas Bajaj)
India’s rapidly growing private microcredit industry faces imminent collapse as almost all borrowers in one of India’s largest states have stopped repaying their loans, egged on by politicians who accuse the industry of earning outsize profits on the backs of the poor. The crisis has been building for weeks, but has now reached a critical stage. Indian banks, which put up about 80 percent of the money that the companies lent to poor consumers, are increasingly worried that after surviving the global financial crisis mostly unscathed, they could now face serious losses. Indian banks have about $4 billion tied up in the industry, banking officials say. “We are extremely worried about our exposure to the microfinance sector,” said Sunand K. Mitra, a senior executive at Axis Bank, speaking Tuesday on a panel at the India Economic Summit.
Fixing the Deficit: Our Biggest Test (Fareed Zakaria – Time)
The fate of the U.S. is going to be decided over the next year. O.K., I know that’s overly dramatic, but here’s why I say it. The deficit-reduction commission co-chaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson has put the long-term fiscal health of the country front and center on the national stage. If we’re lucky, we’ll have a serious debate about it. We could decide that we are willing to undertake real reforms and fix the problem. Or we could once again kick the can down the road. If we do the latter, things get worse, the political deadlock hardens, and costs rise. Historians may well look back and say this was the point at which the U.S. began its long and seemingly irreversible decline. The problem we need to fix is simple. Americans have an appetite for government benefits that greatly exceeds their appetite for taxes. For more than a generation, we have squared this dishonest circle by borrowing vast amounts of money.