FPI Overnight Brief: March 30, 2012

Middle East/North Africa

Iran
 
As American and European diplomats prepare for crucial negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, the White House finds itself caught in a bind: for the diplomatic effort to work, American officials say, the Iranian government must believe that President Obama is ready and willing to take military action. – New York Times
 
After being wrongly maligned as “assassins” in a Reuters news report last month, female ninjas in Iran may have found the pen momentarily mightier than the sword. But as Reuters discovered after correcting the report, the heavy hand of government can be even stronger in Iran. – New York Times
 
Four Navy minesweepers will be on their way to the Persian Gulf within weeks as part of an effort to boost American military capability in the region amid rising tensions with Iran, a Navy official says. – CNN’s Security Clearance
 
Iran’s “workshops” for making nuclear centrifuges and components for the devices are widely dispersed and hidden, adding to the difficulties of a potential military strike by Israel, according to a new report by U.S. congressional researchers. - Bloomberg
 
Josh Rogin reports: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has no intention of entering into negotiations that would allow senators to offer amendments to the Iran sanctions bill facing the Senate, according to his communications director Adam Jentleson. – The Cable
 
Leon Wieseltier writes: I cannot say with sufficient confidence that an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would be rational or right. There is too much information that I do not possess. I worry about the costs. I do not fear that the region would go to hell, because the Arab states would rejoice in such an action. (In this matter the leader of the Sunni bloc is the Jewish state.) But I do not know that Iran in its current political configuration will be deterred, and neither does anybody else. – The New Republic
 
Syria
 
Saudi Arabia has pressed Jordan to open its border with Syria to allow weapons to reach rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime, officials from both countries say, a move that could buoy Syria's opposition and harden the conflict in the country and across the region. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that the Syrian opposition appeared to be taking steps to unite as a group, a development that he said could help clear the way for international aid, including arms. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Two days before a major international gathering aimed at marshaling efforts to end the Syria crisis, fierce fighting continued on Friday in the north and center of the country while internal and exiled opposition forces jockeyed for influence and tried to better coordinate efforts to bring down President Bashar al-Assad. – New York Times
 
Syrian insurgents appear to have stepped up a campaign to assassinate senior military officials with a series of attacks that reinforce and exacerbate the hostility between the Syrian government and rebel fighters who argue that armed struggle is their only chance for survival. – New York Times
 
Turkey’s prime minister arrived in Iran on Thursday for talks dominated by the violence engulfing Syria, while U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon presented an Arab League summit in Baghdad with a U.N.-endorsed plan for ending the fighting and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton headed to the region for discussions focused on the crisis. – Washington Post
 
Five Iranian engineers who reportedly were kidnapped in Syria three months ago are free, Iranian media reported Thursday. – LA Times’ World Now
 
Iran will defend the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad if the United States or its allies take military action against government forces, according to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. – DEFCON Hill
 
Iran is helping its ally Syria defy Western sanctions by providing a vessel to ship Syrian oil to a state-run company in China, potentially giving the government of President Bashar al-Assad a financial boost worth an estimated $80 million. - Reuters
 
U.N. officials have compiled a list of Syrian figures suspected of crimes against humanity in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, but opposition from Russia and China means the accused are unlikely to appear in the dock at the international war crimes court any time soon. - Reuters
 
If the Kurds fully joined attempts to overthrow Assad, it could prove decisive, a recent report by the Henry Jackson Society, a Britain-based think-tank, said. But deep internal divisions among the Kurds and distrust of the SNC and the other Arab-dominated opposition groups have so far kept the Kurds largely out of the fight. - Reuters
 
Britain will double non-military aid to opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and expand its scope to equipment, possibly including secure telephones to help activists communicate more easily, officials said on Thursday. - Reuters
 
President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday Syria would spare no effort to ensure the success of international envoy Kofi Annan's peace mission but warned it would not work without securing an end to foreign funding and arming of rebels opposing him. - Reuters
 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton departs on Thursday for fresh diplomacy aimed at halting Syria's bloodshed, but there is little sign the Obama administration is ready to deviate from its hands-off approach. - Reuters
 
As opposition groups abroad squabble over politics and Assad's army pounds rebellious cities, Muslim hardliners want to make religion the unifying basis of the revolt. - Reuters
 
Aaron David Miller writes: Whatever Syria’s future, it does not lie in a diplomatic process that strengthens the government, weakens the opposition and makes the international community complicit in resurrecting a cruel dictator. – New York Times
 
North Africa
 
Dozens of people have reportedly been killed in violence between communities in southern Libya over the past several days, underscoring the country’s volatility since the downfall last year of its longtime autocratic leader, Moammar Gaddafi. – Washington Post
 
Distress calls from a ship fleeing Libya last March weren’t heeded by NATO and other coast guards in the area, leading to dozens of deaths, a European watchdog group said in a report released Thursday. – LA Times’ World Now
 
Just after the United States decided to keep sending $1.3 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian military, a new poll shows that most Egyptians don't want their country to receive American financial assistance. Pollsters say Egyptians suspect that taking money from foreigners will end up impinging on their nation's sovereignty. – LA Times’ World Now
 
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led parliament began drawing up a no-confidence motion against the military-appointed government Thursday, further escalating the Islamists’ increasingly public power struggle with the country’s ruling generals. – Associated Press
 
A Cairo court sentenced former Housing Minister Ibrahim Soliman to eight years in jail on Thursday and fined him 2.18 billion Egyptian pounds ($360.9 million) for squandering public funds in two separate real estate deals. - Reuters
 
The United States will give Tunisia $100 million to buttress short-term government finances as the country negotiates a democratic transition following last year's popular uprising, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday. - Reuters
 
Editorial: Today's Tunisia offers an antidote to the pessimism about the Arab world. With American help, it has a chance to show the rest of the Middle East that political pluralism can result in new prosperity. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Yemen
 
The U.N. Security Council expressed concern on Thursday at a political deterioration in Yemen threatening a transition to democracy in the Middle East state where year-long protests ended former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule. - Reuters
 
Saudi Arabia
 
The Saudi royal family prizes stability as much as the oil that secures its wealth, but political upheaval across the Middle East has shaken the kingdom's sense of balance, forcing it to press for radical change in Syria and confront a bid by longtime nemesis Iran to wield greater influence. – Los Angeles Times
 
A panel of Spanish judges has dismissed a rape case against Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a billionaire investor and nephew of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, citing a lack of evidence. – New York Times
 
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Saudi Arabia on Friday for talks to weigh limited options available to end the violence in Syria and launch a "strategic forum" with Gulf allies against a backdrop of growing tensions with Iran. - Reuters
 
Oil consuming nations may seek reassurance from Saudi Arabia that it will not cut oil production and neutralize the impact on oil prices if consumer countries release emergency reserves, diplomats and industry sources said. - Reuters
 
Iraq
 
Arab leaders assembled in Baghdad on Thursday for a landmark summit marked by lavish hospitality, speeches hailing Iraq’s return to the Arab fold and a rocket explosion at the Iranian Embassy on the edge of the fortified Green Zone, where the gathering was taking place. – Washington Post
 
Fewer than half the leaders of the Arab world showed up at an Arab summit in Baghdad on Thursday, a snub to the Iraqi government that reflects how trenchantly the sectarian division between Sunnis and Shiites and the rivalry with neighboring Iran define the Middle East’s politics today. – Associated Press
 
Israel
 
But in recent months, the hilltop settlement has taken on great symbolic weight as the focus of a legal fight whose outcome most everyone involved says could shape the direction of Israel. – Washington Post
 
Israel shut crossings into the occupied West Bank on Friday and reinforced patrols along its borders with Lebanon and Syria to try to thwart pro-Palestinian rallies around the country. - Reuters
 
Turkey
 
Turkish prosecutors demanded 15-20 year jail sentences for 364 serving and retired military officers at a coup plot trial on Thursday, marking a dark day for a military that until recently held the power to make or break governments. - Reuters
 
The terrorism trial of former Turkish armed forces commander Ilker Basbug was halted briefly on Thursday when a family friend first fainted in the courtroom, then regained consciousness, shouting "the Pasha (general) must walk free!" - Reuters

Asia

Afghanistan
 
American officials are pressing the Afghan government to prosecute a former governor for what U.S. investigators say is involvement in the killings of an American lieutenant colonel and a U.S. servicewoman, as well as other alleged crimes. – Wall Street Journal
 
Stalled peace efforts in Afghanistan suffered another setback on Thursday when a second insurgent faction — one that has squared off against both the American-led coalition and the Taliban — announced it was suspending formal peace negotiations with the Afghan government, as the Taliban did earlier this month. – New York Times
 
A small, little-noticed counterinsurgency force that was created in the ninth year of the Afghanistan War is proving to be the key for U.S. troops to leave the country in victory. – Washington Times
 
[N]ew details have emerged this week that offer possible explanations for how Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the 38-year-old soldier charged with the killings, might have slipped away from his outpost in Kandahar Province early on March 11. – New York Times
 
U.S. military officials have yet to gain access to the sites in which 17 Afghans were killed in Kandahar, an obstacle that could impede efforts to prosecute the American soldier accused of the multiple homicides. – CNN’s Security Clearance
 
Local Afghan officials have called for a military intervention in the country's northeast after scores of suspected Pakistani Taliban fighters overran several districts in Nuristan, a remote province bordering Pakistan. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Britain will take the lead in setting up an officer training academy for the Afghan army, according to a statement of intent signed by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and his Afghan counterpart, Gen Abdul Rahim Wardak, during a visit by the British minister to Kabul on March 29. – Defense News
 
The Obama administration has signaled a willingness to accept less-stringent controls on former Taliban leaders who could be transferred to Qatar as part of a deal between the United States and the Afghan militants to kick-start Afghan peace talks, U.S. officials said. - Reuters
 
Dozens of Taliban fighters were killed in U.S. air strikes and a gunbattle in western Afghanistan after an insurgent attack on an Afghan army patrol, NATO and Afghan officials said on Friday. - Reuters
 
An Afghan policeman killed nine colleagues in an attack in eastern province Paktika, the governor's office said on Friday, the latest in a string of rogue shootings that has also targeted foreign forces. - Reuters
 
Pakistan
 
Osama bin Laden spent nine years on the run in Pakistan after the Sept. 11 attacks, during which time he moved among five safe houses and fathered four children, at least two of whom were born in a government hospital, his youngest wife has told Pakistani investigators. – New York Times
 
The top U.S. military officer said Thursday that ties between the U.S. and Pakistan were on the "road to recovery" and that he hoped to resolve differences by mid-May to allow the reopening of supply lines for troops into neighboring Afghanistan. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, has told his country’s top court that he faces threats to his life if he returns from Washington to testify before a judicial inquiry into whether the government sought American help to stave off a military coup last year. – New York Times
 
Pakistan has fired a doctor who helped the CIA to hunt Osama bin Laden, a senior government official told CNN. – CNN’s Security Clearance
 
A parliamentary debate in Pakistan on the relationship with the United States has stalled on domestic politics, even as the two countries civilian and military leaders meet to mend the badly frayed alliance. - Reuters
 
North Korea
 
North Korea fired several short-range missiles off its west coast earlier this week, South Korean media reported on Friday, as North Korea appeared to be preparing for a planned launch of a long-range rocket next month. – New York Times
 
North Korea's development of nuclear and ballistic missile technology against the uncertain political background of a young leader attempting to consolidate power marks a potential new level of danger for regional security, according to a report by the research arm of Japan's Ministry of Defense. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The U.S. military is sending its most advanced radar system to the Pacific region ahead of North Korea's expected launch of a long-range missile in mid-April, according to a senior U.S. Navy official. – CNN’s Security Clearance
 
The International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday said it was continuing consultations with North Korea on returning to the isolated nation, even as the agreement that opened the door for renewed nuclear monitoring appeared in limbo, Agence France-Presse reported – Global Security Newswire
 
North Korea is confident of China’s ultimate backing over the launch of a rocket that the West suspects is a disguised missile test, a Japanese defense adviser has warned. - AFP
 
Japan on Friday ordered its military to intercept the North Korean missile Pyongyang plans to launch next month if it poses a direct threat to Japan, a scenario the government considers unlikely. - Reuters
 
Mike Magan writes: Until a coherent strategy is articulated, questions will continue to be asked about the philosophical and practical origins of this administration's approach to humanitarian assistance and the need for North Korea to halt its nuclear agenda. These are, and should remain, separate issues. – Shadow Government
 
East Asia
 
China’s top leaders are retaking the initiative after the country’s worst political crisis in a generation, showcasing a united front and moving forward with plans for a major leadership reshuffle later this year. – New York Times
 
Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency on Thursday arrested two billionaire brothers who run the biggest real estate company in the city, accusing them and a former top government official of corruption. – New York Times
 
Taiwan may build its own submarines, a top military officer said March 29, in a sign that patience is wearing thin after a U.S. offer to sell the island eight submarines has been stalled for a decade. - AFP
 
James Morrison reports: Asia is in the “early phases of an arms race,” with many nations increasing their military forces as dangerous disputes on land and sea pose potential flashpoints, Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley warns. – Washington Times’ Embassy Row
 
India
 
A series of recent developments have greatly increased the perception that the country has a risky business environment where policies suddenly can turn hostile. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
In an effort to shield Chinese President Hu Jintao from Tibetan protests, the Indian government placed extreme restrictions on exiled Tibetans, raising questions on the extent to which New Delhi is willing to compromise its democratic credentials for the sake of its ties with Beijing. – WSJ’s China Real Time Report
 
India will maintain a 26 percent limit on foreign direct investment (FDI) in local defense companies, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said at Defexpo 2012 here March 29. – Defense News
 
Southeast Asia
 
Tiny Cambodia is emerging as a key pawn in the diplomatic struggle over one of the world's busiest stretches of water: the potentially energy-rich South China Sea. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
With the United States reasserting itself in Asia, and an emboldened China projecting military and economic power as never before, each side is doing whatever it can to gain the favor of economically struggling, strategically placed Myanmar. – New York Times
 
Recent polls predict that democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will easily win a seat in Myanmar’s parliamentary elections Sunday, amid expectations that Washington will respond by easing economic sanctions against the Southeast Asian country long ruled by a brutal military regime. – Washington Times
 
Pro-democracy dissident Aung San Suu Kyi said a string of campaign irregularities was raising serious doubts about the fairness of this Sunday's election in Myanmar, adding fuel to debates over whether Western nations should ease sanctions against the country after the vote. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The Philippines is offering the United States greater access to its airfields and may open new areas for soldiers to use, as the Pacific country seeks stronger military ties with its closest ally, moves likely to further raise tensions with China. - Reuters
 
Delphine Schrank writes: To the dissidents, there is a critical distinction between the reforms of past weeks — which one political leader calls mere “corrective measures” — and the deeper changes in everything from education to the economy that they believe would enable Myanmar to rise again. These will require more than the handful of parliamentary seats that the opposition is likely to gain on Sunday. – International Herald Tribune

Security

Defense
 
Boeing Co., racing to drum up sales of its C-17 to avoid shutting down production of the military-cargo plane, believes new orders may emerge in coming months from the Middle East or Asia, a senior executive said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
House lawmakers Thursday pressed Navy brass over the service’s plan to yank several warships out of the fleet early, a decision that could have serious consequences for the Navy’s new shipbuilding strategy. – DEFCON Hill
 
The Pentagon is wrapping up a major revision of how it develops requirements for new weapons with the ultimate goal of getting systems onto the battlefield faster. – Defense News
 
A U.S. Air Force scientific advisory board is urging the service to create specialized medical teams to focus on pilots with hypoxia-like symptoms and form a medical registry for F-22 pilots exposed to cabin air or on-board oxygen gas. – Defense News
 
The budget cuts known as sequestration would "break" the KC-46 and Littoral Combat Ship contracts, forcing the Pentagon to renegotiate those deals, the presumptive head of DoD acquisition told the Senate Armed Services Committee today. – AOL Defense
 
The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer said Thursday that “hundreds of thousands of jobs” could be lost if the $500 billion in mandated cuts to defense set to take effect in January 2013 are not undone. – DEFCON Hill
 
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday that Republicans are “stretching out our hand” to Democrats to find a solution for stopping the $500 billion cuts to the defense budget set to take effect in January 2013. – DEFCON Hill
 
The chasm between Republicans, Democrats, and the military over defense-spending cuts was on full display on Thursday as key lawmakers at separate events accused each other and senior U.S. military leaders of deceit and dishonesty over deficit-reduction posturing and what is required for national security. – National Journal
 
The U.S. House Armed Services Committee can no longer afford to look at the defense budget in isolation, according to Rep. Adam Smith, who serves as the top Democrat on the panel. To do so is to ignore the gravity of the country’s debt problem, Smith, D-Wash., told an audience at Rand Corp. on March 29. – Defense News
 
The top U.S. military officer raised eyebrows earlier this year with a dire warning to Congress about the consequences of imposing automatic across the board budget cuts on the Pentagon: “We would no longer be a global power.” – WSJ’s Washington Wire
 
Gary Schmitt writes: The general prides himself on being above politics, but yesterday’s “retraction” or, if you prefer, “amendment” to his congressional testimony will have the opposite effect; and undoubtedly, members of Congress will want to know why he had a belated change of heart. If, as the “Washington Wire” put it, his previous statement “raised eyebrows,” then yesterday’s “correction” should arch them considerably higher. – AEI’s The Enterprise Blog
 
Arms Control
 
An interagency intelligence assessment of the controversial Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) concludes that verifying the pact’s ban on nuclear tests remains difficult and that verification problems remain unresolved since the Senate first rejected the treaty in 1999. – Washington Free Beacon

Russia/Europe

Russia
 
Ambassador Michael A. McFaul met with both cheers and criticism in Russia after he confronted a camera crew from state-controlled television, suggesting that they had accessed his schedule by hacking his e-mail or his telephone. – New York Times
 
Russian lawmakers have submitted a bill that would impose fines for spreading gay "propaganda" among minors, setting up a tolerance test for the Kremlin-controlled parliament ahead of Vladimir Putin's inauguration as president. - Reuters
 
Josh Rogin reports: Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Republican Richard Lugar (R-IN) came out strongly this week for a bill to sanction Russian human rights violators and urged his committee counterpart John Kerry (D-MA) to stop stalling action on the bill. – The Cable
 
FPI Director of Democracy and Human Rights Ellen Bork writes: So long as Russia's justice system is not independent enough to hold abusive and corrupt officials accountable, the U.S. and other countries should place their territory—and their financial institutions—off limits to Russian officials and their ill-gotten gains. The Jackson-Vanik amendment may need to be phased out, but it is the government’s responsibility to replace it with something that allows it to retain its leverage on behalf of human rights. – The New Republic
 
France
 
Eight days after police shot dead the self-confessed killer of four Jews and three French paratroopers in southwestern France, elite units on Friday raided localities in several parts of the country and seized 19 people described as Islamic militants. – New York Times
 
Little more than a week later, the French authorities say they have grown doubtful of his claims to terrorist ties, though questions remain about how Mr. Merah, an unemployed 23-year-old of Algerian descent, acquired a large cache of firearms and $26,000 in cash. – New York Times
 
Poland
 
Poland's prime minister indirectly confirmed his country's former spy chief is facing criminal charges in connection with a probe by state prosecutors into an alleged Polish role in the operation of a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency secret prison for suspected terrorists. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Eastern Europe
 
The crime was shocking enough: an 18-year-old woman gang-raped, half strangled, set on fire and left for dead. But what sent hundreds of Ukrainians into the streets and rushing to her hospital to give blood this month was a police decision to free two suspects rumored to be politically connected. – New York Times
 
Stanislau Shushkevich, the first leader of an independent Belarus, says he supports moving the 2014 ice hockey world championships away from Belarus. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Three opposition activists in Belarus have been released from jail, a day after they were arrested while trying to travel to Brussels to meet European Union officials. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
An 18-year-old Ukrainian woman who prosecutors say was gang-raped, half-strangled and then set on fire in an attack that sparked street protests in a provincial Ukrainian town, has died, a hospital official said on Thursday. - Reuters
 
Katherin Machalek writes: If international actors, especially major lenders like the International Monetary Fund, maintain their resolve and withhold funding in the absence of genuine reform—and if sympathetic authoritarian states fail to fill the gap—imminent or actual bankruptcy might provide an opening to a post-Lukashenka era, finally giving Belarusian democracy a chance more than 20 years after the end of Soviet rule. – Freedom House’s Freedom at Issue
 
NATO
 
NATO officials hope that, at a summit in Chicago this May, member nations will put aside concerns over sovereignty and agree in principle to create joint defense capabilities. – Associated Press

Americas

United States of America
 
Mitt Romney's labeling of Russia this week as America's "No. 1 geopolitical foe" has drawn attention to his emerging hawkishness on several foreign policy fronts, from China's monetary policy to the war in Afghanistan—a trend that contrasts to his more muted style on domestic issues. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Cuba
 
Jose Cardenas writes: History will ultimately render the verdict on the Vatican’s choice, but the record shows that placing one’s faith in the hoped-for good will of a dictatorship never really does work out very well in the end. – Shadow Government
 
South America
 
The top U.S. military officer is pushing to expand the Pentagon's advisory role in Colombia's fight against insurgents and narcotics traffickers, but made clear he is wary of rushing to supply the country with drones and other hardware Bogota says it wants to accelerate the campaign. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Thirty years after Argentina and the U.K. waged a brief but bloody war over control of the tiny Falkland Islands, the two countries are again crossing swords in a diplomatic war that could put a strain on British interests in the region. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
President Hugo Chavez returned home to Venezuela on Thursday after a first session of radiation treatment in Cuba that he hopes will cure his cancer and allow him to win a new six-year term in October. - Reuters

Africa

Southern Africa
 
Zambia's government sought to reel in a wayward province by offering a revenue-sharing plan, after local representatives voted to secede from the southern African nation in a move to secure more benefits from the area's copper industry. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Karl Beck writes: South Africa is widely viewed as the flagship of both Southern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. The present incremental weakening of representative and accountable government in the country therefore has both national and continental implications for human rights, the rule of law, and the quality of governance. – Freedom House’s Freedom at Issue
 
Mali
 
Negotiations between Mali’s military junta and four West African presidents seeking to restore the country’s elected government will take place in Ivory Coast, after the plane carrying the leaders to Mali turned around because demonstrators were on the airport tarmac, an adviser to Ivory Coast’s president said Thursday. – Associated Press
 
Congo
 
In a region where few trust the Congolese Army, these self-defense militias have long been formed as a source of protection. But for many, including relief workers, the Angry Villagers have become yet another menace — the latest element fueling Congo’s seemingly endless cycle of violence. – New York Times

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Obama Administration

Charles Krauthammer writes: Can you imagine the kind of pressure a reelected Obama will put on Israel, the kind of anxiety he will induce from Georgia to the Persian Gulf, the nervousness among our most loyal East European friends who, having been left out on a limb by Obama once before, are now wondering what new flexibility Obama will show Putin — the man who famously proclaimed that the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century was Russia’s loss of its Soviet empire? – Washington Post
 
Martin Peretz writes: But really the message, the important one, concerns us, here in America. It is that the American people can't be trusted if the president is honest with them about what he proposes. More bluntly, that the American people are not trusted by their own president. Otherwise the president would tell us the truth about his intentions. And here he is, admitting his distrust of his own people to a leader of a nasty foreign government that seeks to thwart our purposes in the Middle East and elsewhere. President Obama is in cahoots with the Russian regime against America's very body politic. – Wall Street Journal

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Democracy and Human Rights

Will Inboden writes: I hope the Freedom Collection can put a human face on what are sometimes needlessly partisan debates over the question of democracy promotion in foreign policy. While the policy questions are manifestly complex, that complexity should not obscure the individual lives that are at the center of these questions, and whose voices should also be heard at the policy table. – Shadow Government

Sunday Shows

As of publication, the following shows had announced that they will host foreign policy-related guests on their programming, Sunday:
 
Face the Nation: Vice-President Joe Biden

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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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