The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed upcoming congressional hearings on the international affairs budget; next week’s Republican presidential primaries in Arizona and Michigan; the UN Human Rights Council’s meeting in Geneva; and the Oscars.
- The House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee could produce a lot of sound and fury when they hold hearings next week on President Obama’s FY13 international affairs budget request. The administration is asking for $51.6 billion, up roughly $800 million over FY12. Besides demands that the administration’s overall request be cut to help close the federal government’s trillion dollar deficits, there will also be complaints about specific spending proposals. The programs most likely to draw fire are the new Middle East Funding Initiative, aid to Egypt, Pakistan, and the Palestinian Authority, and U.S. contributions to UNESCO.
- Next Tuesday’s Republican nominating events could prove to be the turning point of the GOP presidential race. Mitt Romney looks poised to take the Arizona primary. That’s good news for the former Massachusetts governor because the winner takes home all twenty-nine of the Grand Canyon State’s delegates. Michigan is a different story. First, Michigan’s thirty delegates will be divvied up among the candidates who get at least 15 percent of the vote. Second, although Romney grew up in Michigan, where his father was a popular automobile executive and two-term governor, he trails Rick Santorum in several polls. So Romney faces an odd prospect: he could win the most delegates overall on Tuesday night but still wake up to news stories Wednesday morning saying that his campaign is collapsing.
- The growing violence in Syria will give the UN Human Rights Council a lot to talk about next week. But that doesn’t mean that anything of note will happen. The Assad regime looks to be prepared to fight to the finish, and for now Russia and China are opposing even toothless international condemnations. That forces the United States and other countries that have demanded an end to the violence in Syria to confront a choice that they would probably prefer to avoid: to take more aggressive action outside the UN system to stop the violence, or to watch the bloodshed continue and perhaps even escalate.
- People around the world will be tuning into the Oscars this weekend. In an unintended irony, films from Iran and Israel are in the running for the Best Foreign Film. Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is expected to pick up a lot of statues, perhaps even for Best Picture.
- Bob’s Figure of the Week is Hamid Karzai. My Figure of the Week is 13,000. As always, you have to listen to the podcast to find out why.
Bloomberg News covers Romney’s efforts to reconnect with his family history in Michigan, and a recent NBC News/Marist poll shows a close race in that state. Bloomberg Businessweek reviews the administration’s international assistance spending plans, and Josh Rogin covers five battles to watch over this budget. The UN News Centre discusses reports delivered to the Council regarding the situation in Syria, and Robert Danin previews the “Friends of Syria” meeting in Tunis this weekend that will set the backdrop for the UN Human Right Council’s meeting. ABC offers up a dizzying array of information about the Academy Awards.