Today’s News

March 6, 2012 By Mac Stoddard

Who’s in the News

Obama Presses Netanyahu to Resist Strikes on Iran (Mark Landler, The New York Times)

With Israel warning of a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, President Obama urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Monday to give diplomacy and economic sanctions a chance to work before resorting to military action.  The meeting, held in a charged atmosphere of election-year politics and a deepening confrontation with Tehran, was nevertheless “friendly, straightforward, and serious,” a White House official said. But it did not resolve basic differences between the two leaders over how to deal with the Iranian threat.   Mr. Netanyahu, the official said, reiterated that Israel had not made a decision on striking Iran, but he expressed deep skepticism that international pressure would persuade Iran’s leaders to forsake the development of nuclear weapons. Mr. Netanyahu, according to the official, argued that the West should not reopen talks with Iran until it agreed to a verifiable suspension of its uranium enrichment activities — a condition the White House says would doom talks before they began.

How I would check Iran’s nuclear ambition (Mitt Romney, The Washington Post)

The overall rubric of my foreign policy will be the same as Ronald Reagan’s: namely, “peace through strength.” Like Reagan, I have put forward a comprehensive plan to rebuild American might and equip our soldiers with the weapons they need to prevail in any conflict. By increasing our annual naval shipbuilding rate from nine to 15, I intend to restore our position so that our Navy is an unchallengeable power on the high seas. Just as Reagan sought to defend the United States from Soviet weapons with his Strategic Defense Initiative, I will press forward with ballistic missile defense systems to ensure that Iranian and North Korean missiles cannot threaten us or our allies.  As for Iran in particular, I will take every measure necessary to check the evil regime of the ayatollahs. Until Iran ceases its nuclear-bomb program, I will press for ever-tightening sanctions, acting with other countries if we can but alone if we must. I will speak out on behalf of the cause of democracy in Iran and support Iranian dissidents who are fighting for their freedom. I will make clear that America’s commitment to Israel’s security and survival is absolute. I will demonstrate our commitment to the world by making Jerusalem the destination of my first foreign trip.

Smart Power

Onward and Upward (Charles Kenny, Foreign Policy)

On Feb. 29, the World Bank came out with its latest estimates on global poverty. They suggest incredible worldwide progress against the scourge of absolute deprivation. In 1981, 52 percent of the planet lived on $1.25 a day or less according to the World Bank’s estimates; today it is around 20 percent. In 1990, around 65 percent of the population lived on less than $2 a day; by 2008 that number had fallen to 43 percent. This is not just a story about China — though 663 million people in that country alone have climbed out of poverty since the early 1980s. Poverty has been declining in every region, and for the first time since the World Bank began making estimates, less than half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lives in absolute deprivation.  That may seem like news too good to be true, but in fact it’s probably too pessimistic.  In 1991, about 44 percent of children in the world’s low-income countries (with gross national incomes under $1,000 per capita) completed primary school, according to World Bank statistics. A little more than half were vaccinated against measles. Today, about two-thirds of children in those countries complete primary education, and nearly four-fifths are vaccinated against measles. People not only have more money, but thanks to improved government services, they have more education and better health too.

Politics/Foreign Policy

State Department declares disaster in Congo after explosions (Guy Taylor, The Washington Times)

The State Department on Monday was processing a disaster declaration for the Republic of Congo to allow U.S. emergency aid for the Central African nation, where more than 200 people were killed when a weapons depot exploded Sunday.  “We are working with the government of the Republic of Congo and the international community to determine what additional assistance we can provide,” said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.  With rescue workers combing through wreckage on Monday, State Department officials cautioned that the death toll could climb as high as 500 people, with potentially thousands more injured.  Authorities believe the explosions were triggered by a fire started by short-circuited wires at a weapons depot in Brazzaville.  Mrs. Clinton said she was “deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and damage” caused by the explosions and that “our thoughts and prayers are with the Congolese people during this difficult time.”