FPI Overnight Brief: July 7, 2009

Russia

The AP reports that “The United States and Russia say they are resuming military cooperation suspended after Russia invaded its smaller neighbor Georgia last year.  The expected announcement came Monday, as President Barack Obama and Russian president Dmitry Medvedev met for their first summit in Moscow. U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen and his Russian counterpart signed an outline for renewed military contacts. The White House announced that the two nations plan 20 exchanges and meeting this year.”

Boris Nemtsov writes in the Wall Street Journal that “Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's apologists in the West like to suggest that, for all the shortcomings of his authoritarian regime, there is no viable alternative. Such a position is false and dangerous. Those who accept the concentration of power and corruption under Mr. Putin are condemning Russia to backwardness, lawlessness, social and economic instability and, potentially, territorial disintegration. They are also condemning the world to continued unpredictable actions by the Kremlin's unaccountable leaders. This is not an outcome President Barack Obama or his advisers, who are in Moscow this week to "reset" relations between the U.S. and Russia, should want. Just like the Iranians who refuse to have their votes stolen, many Russians are not willing to accept an undemocratic destiny for their country. They are ready to stand up for freedom. These Russians are found among the educated urban dwellers and students, the entrepreneurs and the democratically minded people of all ages.”

The New York Times reports that “President Obama said on Tuesday that America and Russia ‘share common interests’ in building a secure, free and flourishing world but rejected complaints about American support for missile defense and expansion of the NATO alliance into Eastern Europe. In a speech intended to highlight his two-day visit, Mr. Obama reached out to national sensibilities here by assuring that ‘American wants a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia” and declaring that “it is not for me to define Russia’s national interests.’ Yet he made the case that Russia should join America in curbing emerging nuclear powers like Iran and in promoting greater liberties at home.”

USA Today reports that “President Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, hailed new agreements Monday on nuclear arms cuts and cooperation in Afghanistan, even as both efforts still face major challenges. At the opening of the first U.S.-Russian summit in seven years, the two presidents agreed the countries will work toward cutting nuclear warheads and delivery systems by up to a third. The challenge will be reaching agreement on specific cuts, as well as rules for inspection and verification, before the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) expires Dec. 5.”

The Washington Post reports that “President Obama told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday that Russia needs more ‘consistent’ protection of property rights to attract investment and a free press, independent courts and political opposition to fight corruption. But he did so by endorsing Medvedev's public positions and without lecturing or raising the politically sensitive case of the jailed oil tycoon and Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky, said Michael A. McFaul, the top Russia aide at the National Security Council. Statements made by Obama during his closed-door session with Medvedev reflect the low-key, measured approach the new U.S. administration has adopted toward promoting democracy and human rights around the world. ‘It was not him waving his finger, saying, 'You should do this and that,' ‘ McFaul said. ‘It was affirming President Medvedev's agenda. . . . President Medvedev has been very clear about what he thinks about corruption.’”

A distinguished group of American foreign policy experts and rights advocates urged President Barack Obama to make democracy and human rights a priority in his upcoming summit meetings with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia. In a letter organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative, the group asked President Obama to act on his previous statements that assert the universality of human rights and the link between democracy and security by meeting with human rights, civil society, labor and opposition political party leaders while in Moscow.

North Korea

Jeremy Rabkin & Mario Loyola writer in the Weekly Standard that “For more than a week now, U.S. warships have been tailing a North Korean vessel suspected of carrying illegal weapons while it sails round in circles off the coast of China… Resolution 1874 allows our navy to board North Korean ships, but only if North Korea agrees, which is not very likely… In order to secure support for the resolution, Susan Rice, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, agreed that it would not ‘authorize the use of force’ to interdict any suspect North Korean vessel. The implication is that without the Security Council's authorization, forcible interdiction would be illegal. If you don't see how that can be a problem, just remember what happened in 2003 when we promised Tony Blair that we would seek a "second resolution authorizing force" against Iraq and then followed him straight into an ambush in the Security Council.”

The BBC reports that “The UN Security Council has condemned recent missile tests by North Korea, calling them a threat to regional and international security.”

China

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Chinese security forces clamped down on large parts of this city of 2.4 million Monday, a day after long-simmering ethnic tensions erupted in rioting that authorities said left 156 dead and more than 1,000 injured. The fatalities, if confirmed, would represent one of the deadliest outbreaks of violence in China in decades. The government said more than 20,000 security personnel were deployed in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region in northwest China. Armored cars patrolled the streets late Monday and squads of paramilitary People's Armed Police marched through narrow alleyways where rioting had occurred. Tuesday morning, the security presence remained heavy, and work crews continued to clean debris from the streets, although traffic in parts of the city was beginning to recover. Reuters reported fresh clashes between Uigher protesters and police in one part of Urumqi.”

Radio Free Asia reports that “Three youths belonging to the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic group and now under Chinese government protection after ethnic clashes in the southern province of Guangdong said fighting began when Han Chinese laborers stormed the dormitories of Uyghur colleagues, beating them with clubs, bars, and machetes.  The deadly fighting between Turkic-speaking, Muslim Uyghurs and Han Chinese at the Lacewood toy factory in Guangdong's Shaoguan city began late June 25 and lasted into the early hours of the following day.”

The New York Times reports that “Rival protesters took to the streets again on Tuesday, defying Chinese government efforts to lock down this regional capital of 2.3 million people and other cities across its western desert region after bloody clashes between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese. The fighting, which erupted Sunday evening, left at least 156 people dead and more than 1,000 injured, according to the state news agency.”

Croatia

Deutsche Welle reports that “Croatia's parliament elected Jadranka Kosor as the nation's first female prime minister late on Monday. The 56-year-old takes over after the sudden resignation of her predecessor, Ivo Sanader, on July 1, with the ruling coalition halfway through its four-year term. Her immediate tasks will be to take action against the country 's worst economic crisis in years and pump new life into stalled EU accession talks. Croatia's bid for EU membership has been blocked by neighboring Slovenia after a border row.”

Honduras

Jaime Daremblum writes in the Weekly Standard: “Upon closer examination, the removal of Honduran president Manuel Zelaya bears very little resemblance to traditional Latin American military coups. Indeed, it was not really a ‘coup.’ Rather, it was a response to a leader who had trampled the law and attempted to hold an illegal referendum on constitutional reform. Zelaya's ouster was approved by Honduras's Congress, Supreme Court, Electoral Tribunal, attorney general, and national prosecutor. Zelaya started this whole imbroglio when he ignored a Supreme Court ruling and tried to use thuggish mob tactics to impose his will on the Honduran political system. When the court told him that his proposed referendum was unconstitutional, Zelaya acted as if he were above the law.”

The Washington Post reports that “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has agreed to meet with ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, as U.S. and other diplomats intensify their efforts to solve a crisis that has turned into a showdown with coup leaders and threatens to produce more bloodshed. The meeting could take place as early as today, according to a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Zelaya told reporters he was flying to Washington last night from Central America.”

Iran

William Kristol, a Foreign Policy Initiative Director, writes in the Weekly Standard: “The president of the United States apparently believes the government of Iran needed to hear from him that "the world is watching." Why did he suppose the regime was busy shutting down websites and expelling foreign journalists or restricting them to their hotels in Tehran? What the Iranian regime cared about--what the Iranian regime was worried about--was what, if anything, the world would do. The answer, the American president told them, was that the world would do nothing. Almost a half-century before, a young Democratic president had said this: ‘Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.’ Once an American president had promised we would bear any burden. Our current president promises ‘we will continue to bear witness.’ It's quite an evolution. To be fair, sometimes the point of bearing witness is to rouse men to action. Barack Obama, though, seems to take pride in bearing witness for the sake of . . . bearing witness.”

The Washington Post reports that “Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, appearing in public for the first time in nearly three weeks, vowed Monday that protests against the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ‘will not end’ and predicted that the new government would encounter problems because it lacks legitimacy. But the former presidential candidate, who maintains he was denied victory in the June 12 election by massive vote-rigging on behalf of Ahmadinejad, stopped short of calling for new street demonstrations, which the government has declared illegal and largely crushed in a massive crackdown. Instead, Mousavi indicated that the opposition would adopt new tactics, pursuing protest ‘within the framework of the law.’… Khamenei appeared to draw a line against denunciations of Mousavi, who has faced calls for his arrest from hard-line Ahmadinejad allies because of his refusal to accept the officially proclaimed election results. In a speech broadcast on state radio, Khamenei stressed the importance of unity, saying that ‘friends should not be treated like enemies for the sake of a mistake.’”

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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