James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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The World Next Week: Debt, Egypt, and North Korea

by James M. Lindsay
July 28, 2011

A defaced image of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is seen on a sign along a highway in Cairo. (Amr Dalsh/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed what to expect as the August 2 debt ceiling deadline fast approaches; Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak goes on trial; and the U.S. and North Korea sit down to discuss Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

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The highlights:

  • After months of posturing, positioning, and politicking, Washington has now entered the “end game” on the debt ceiling negotiations. The House and Senate are each poised to take up its own bill for resolving the crisis. The dueling Boehner and Reid plans are similar in three ways: the amounts they would cut, their refusal to consider any revenue increases, and the fact that neither provides a long-term solution to the U.S. government’s fiscal problem. They differ on whether to put off the next vote on raising the debt ceiling until after the 2012 election (the Reid Plan) or to force President Obama to ask for another increase in the debt ceiling just as the 2012 presidential campaign begins to heat up. No one knows how this game of political chicken will turn out.
  • President Mubarak’s trial on charges of corruption and of ordering the killing of 900 protestors during the January 25 uprising is scheduled to begin next week. Many Egyptians are frustrated with the slow pace of the legal proceedings, and they question whether the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that currently runs the country is really interested in establishing the principle that no person stands above the law.
  • The talks between senior U.S. and North Korean diplomats on possibly restarting negotiations are the first talks between the two countries in two years. The U.S. invitation came after a meeting between senior officials from North and South Korea on the sidelines of last week’s ASEAN meeting. Don’t expect the talks to yield any breakthroughs.
  • My Figure of the Week is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bob’s Figure of the week is 3.7 million. Listen to the podcast to find out why.

ABC News’ “The Note” discusses the possibility that President Obama might use the Fourteenth Amendment to break the impasse over the debt ceiling. The Associated Press reports on the House vote on Speaker Boehner’s debt plan, and the Wall Street Journal explains why investors may have too much faith in Washington. Reuters covers the effects of Mubarak’s trial on the Egyptian military, and protesters’ fears that the armed forces are resisting democratic change. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation gives details about Mubarak’s declining health and the effect it might have on his upcoming trial. Reuters describes expectations for the upcoming U.S.-North Korea talks, as well as recent comments from North Korea’s ambassador about a nuclear arms race. The New York Times’ blog of visual journalism “Lens” offers a rare look into the communist nation.

Post a Comment 2 Comments

  • Posted by Tony Shahnami

    Regarding the financial crisis,
    One of the solutions must be the balance the budget amendment . Forget about the party line, the nation needs unity to rescue itself from further division.

  • Posted by Matt

    The DPRK threat level in relation to nuclear weapons is a much lower threat that of Iran, Pakistan and Syria. Each country is different and the DPRK are a severe proliferation threat.

    The likelihood of a nuclear warhead being stolen from the DPRK is low as is a non-conventional missile strike.

    While the risk of a nuclear warhead being stolen from Pakistan, Iran or (Syria before Israel put a stop to it), is high to severe. Non conventional missile strike is low, proliferation high to severe.

    The threat from the DPRK the proliferation of nuclear technology to those other three countries leads to the increased threat of a stolen warhead being given to al-Qaida.

    If proliferation occurs in the Middle East due to Iran, then we will have a further increase of countries in which a warhead may be given to al-Qaida either by rouge officers or as state policy.

    As Mumbai showed it is so simple, LeT launches an attack on India. This creates a confrontation between India and Pakistan. This confrontation leads to the tactical nuclear missiles being removed from secure storage and deployed in the field, during the chaos of war or impending war. These BM launchers are dispersed across the country.

    A nuclear warhead is then stolen via al-Qaida, perhaps more than one.

    That almost did happen and in an area such as the Middle East the threat of such a scenario is very high.

    So closing down the DPRK nuclear program is to stop proliferation, not from the threat of a non conventional ,IRBM or ICBM strike from the DPRK.

    People look at the nuclear issue via cold war glasses, that is why you have intelligence agencies that issue threat assessments that a nuclear Iran is not a threat, as they did with Pakistan when the developed the bomb.

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