The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the presidential election in Russia; the parliamentary elections in Iran; the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference; and Super Tuesday.
- Vladimir Putin looks poised to win Sunday’s Russian presidential election with more than 50 percent of the vote, thereby eliminating the need for a run-off election. The massive protests that have clogged Russian streets over the past two months and the proliferation of anti-Putin views in Russian social media suggest that Putin will find it harder to run Russia the second time around. The question that remains to be answered is whether this will produce any significant changes in Russian foreign policy. Don’t bet on it.
- Iranian voters go to the polls next week to select their parliamentary representatives. These are the first elections in Iran since the disputed June 2009 presidential election set off massive protests and a brutal government crackdown in response. The candidates on the ballot have been carefully vetted by the ruling clerics, so don’t expect much change in Iran’s foreign policy.
- Iran will likely dominate the news headlines in the United States next week as both President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak at AIPAC’s annual policy conference. Netanyahu looks poised to suggest that time is about to run out on giving diplomacy and sanctions a chance to force Iran to halt its nuclear activities. President Obama looks poised to say that his sustained effort to rally the international community to bring pressure to bear on Tehran is bearing fruit. Political analysts and pundits will bicker over who is right and what it means for American domestic politics.
- Super Tuesday provides this week’s version of the “pivotal moment” in the GOP presidential campaign. Republicans will hold nominating contests in ten states, though only seven of the contests will actually award any delegates. In all, 350 delegates—or about one in six of those remaining to be had—are up for grabs. Mitt Romney escaped the doom that many pundits had predicted for him last week in his home state of Michigan. But the clouds haven’t lifted entirely for the former Massachusetts governor. Newt Gingrich is expected to do well in Georgia on Tuesday, and Rick Santorum is polling well in Ohio, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. The good news for Romney is that he is certain to beat Gingrich and Santorum in Virginia. The former speaker and the former Pennsylvania senator both failed to get on the ballot in the Old Dominion State.
- Bob’s Figure of the Week is 240,000. My Figure of the Week is Kim Jong-un. As always, you have to listen to the podcast to find out why.
Vladimir Putin outlines his foreign policy objectives on RiaNovosti, and Dmitri Trenin argues in Foreign Policy that Putin wants better relations with the United States. Reuters reports that the Iranian parliamentary elections will be between Khameini and Ahmadinejad advocates, and Al Jazeera summarizes the candidates’ stances leading up to the vote. The Hill reports that Israel would not warn the United States if it chose to strike Iran, and Robert Wright blogs on the Atlantic website that AIPAC is advocating war. HowStuffWorks explains why “Super Tuesday” is so super, and MSNBC details how candidates are campaigning in “Super Tuesday” states.