The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the upcoming U.S.-India strategic dialogue; the U.S. House breaking for its Flag Day recess; and the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) impending sentencing of Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga.
· The Indian minister of external affairs, S.M. Krishna, comes to Washington next week for the 17th bi-annual U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is co-chairing the meeting, which dates back to 2002 and brings together fifteen to twenty former high-level officials, NGO workers, academics, and business leaders on both sides to discuss vital issues. Secretary Clinton will likely push Minister Krishna and India to take tougher steps on Iran’s nuclear program.
· The U.S. House of Representatives breaks for its Flag Day recess next week, and members will be returning to their districts without having accomplished much so far this legislative session. There certainly is no shortage of issues that need tackling. At the top of the list is the “fiscal cliff” that the U.S. government faces at the end of 2012 when $8 trillion in tax increases and spending cuts are set to go into effect. While that might sound like good news—the Congressional Budget Office reported this week that the national debt could reach 90 percent of GDP within a decade if Congress and the White House don’t stop the flow of red ink—the looming tax hikes and spending cuts could shrink the economy by between 1.3 percent and 5 percent. That means not only much higher unemployment, but also higher deficits as government revenues fall. Both parties look to be willing to wait until the November elections before making a move on how to solve the problem.
· The International Criminal Court will hear oral submissions next week in the sentencing of Thomas Lubanga, a former rebel leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo who was convicted in March of recruiting and using child solders. Lubanga’s sentencing highlights that progress has been made in punishing at least a few of the people responsible for Congo’s miseries. However, his sentencing also serves as a reminder that even as the international community discusses what to do in places such as Syria, horrific violence remains a problem in Congo.
· Bob’s Figure of the Week is Bashar al-Assad. My Figure of the Week is 60 percent. As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.
For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:
The U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue Takes Place in Washington. MSNBC reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sees signs of progress in working through problems with India and China during her latest Asia tour. The Times of India notes that U.S. officials want India to play a larger role in Afghanistan as international forces scale down their presence in the region. Bloomberg reports on Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s announcement that a majority of U.S. naval forces will be stationed in the Pacific ocean by 2020. The Economic Times writes that India has prepared a contingency plan for euro zone meltdown and the collapse of the monetary union.
The U.S. House Rises for Recess. Roll Call reports that this is a crucial week for the highway bill, and notes that House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer has charged Republicans with obstructionism amid stalling negotiations. The Hill shares a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projection that U.S. debt is on track to be nearly twice the size of the U.S. economy by 2037. The New York Times reports that Senator Lindsay Graham traveled to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, last week to discuss the budget and concern over impending defense cuts. The Washington Post writes that the CBO remarked that tax hikes and spending cuts will bring tax pain but debt relief.
The ICC Considers Sentencing in the Lubanga case. All Africa notes that the prosecutor wants sexual crimes to be considered in the Lubanga case. BBC shares that the incoming chief prosecutor of the ICC says some countries are being blackmailed by suspected war criminals. Al Jazeera reports that the international judicial system could be helping to fuel the country’s recent surge in conflict, particularly in the eastern province. The Washington Post notes that the ICC chief prosecutor is requesting that the United Nations consider asking all countries and regional organizations to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir for alleged crimes in Darfur.