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: Obama and Romney Debate Foreign Policy, Turkey and Syria Spar, Brahimi Negotiates, and the World Health Summit Convenes

by James M. Lindsay
October 19, 2012

CBS anchorman and debate moderator Bob Schieffer talks to the audience during the final 2008 presidential debate. (Jim Young/ courtesy Reuters) CBS anchorman and debate moderator Bob Schieffer talks to the audience during the final 2008 presidential debate. (Jim Young/ courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the final presidential debate; increasing tensions between Turkey and Syria; Lakhdar Brahimi’s effort to negotiate a cease-fire in Syria in advance of the celebration of Eid al-Adha; and the World Health Summit in Berlin.

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The highlights:

  • President Obama and Governor Romney meet next Monday night for what has been dubbed “the Battle in Boca,” the third and final presidential debate. Moderator Bob Schieffer announced the debate’s six main topics last week. They cover familiar terrain and are heavily weighted toward the greater Middle East. So if you are interested hearing what the candidates have to say about Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, climate change, trade, or international finance, the debate is likely to leave you disappointed.
  • Tensions between Ankara and Damascus have heated up in recent weeks as the civil war in Syria has spilled across the border into Turkey. Turkish officials had hoped that the uprising in Syria would quickly sweep Bashar al-Assad from power. But with the fighting dragging on, Ankara now faces the prospect that Kurds in Syria will win lasting autonomy from Damascus, in turn fueling renewed dreams of an independent Kurdistan. That outcome is a nightmare for Ankara.
  • Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy, is working with Iran to try to arrange a ceasefire in Syria during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which begins next week. It’s a long-shot that he can pull it off, or that if he does, that it will have much practical effect. Syria looks to be locked in a fight to the finish—and then some. Fighting is likely to persist even after Assad goes; contending factions will battle it out over which one will reign supreme.
  • The World Health Summit holds its annual meeting next week in Berlin. First started in 2009, the Summit is sponsored by the M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centers and Medical Universities (list of members here) and the National Academies. The theme of this year’s summit is “Research for Health and Sustainable Development,” with a focus on “issues and possible solutions for non-communicable diseases and conditions of global concern.” Noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes used to be thought of as the developed world’s problem. But with widespread economic growth, population shifts from small villages to mega-cities, and changing dietary and lifestyle habits, so-called NCDs are now a problem of the rich and poor alike. Chronic diseases are a challenge not simply because they kill far more people than infectious diseases, but because they place tremendous economic and health burdens on countries seeking to care for sick populations.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is Raul Castro. My Figure of the Week is 43 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:

Obama and Romney discuss foreign policy in the final presidential debate: Bloomberg warns that candidates’ “China-bashing” could jeopardize U.S.-Sino relations. VOA News outlines Romney’s criticism of Obama’s Middle East policy. The Chicago Tribune argues that the two candidates have few differences in the realm of foreign policy.

Heightening tensions between Turkey and Syria: NPR writes that airstrikes and other incidents along the Turkey-Syria border are the source of tensions. BBC News details an incident last week in which Turkish jets forced a Syrian passenger plane to land in Ankara. Albawaba Business reports that flights between Amman and Istanbul are taking 35 minutes longer now that Syria prohibits Turkish civilian planes from entering its airspace. Al-Jazeera asks whether worsening relations between Turkey and Syria will affect Russian-Turkish ties. The Journal of Turkish Weekly reports that Syrian jets have continued to bomb rebels despite the call for a truce during Eid al-Adha.

Lakhdar Brahimi tries to negotiate a truce in Syria during the celebration of Eid al-Adha: The Independent reports that the UN peace envoy has asked Iran for help in arranging a ceasefire in Syria during Eid al-Adha. The Washington Post writes that around 1.4 million Muslims from 160 countries have arrived in Mecca for the hajj pilgrimage. The Khaleej Times writes that Dubai will extend the traditional four-day celebration to 16 days and celebrate with shopping promotions and 24-hour access to malls.

The World Health Summit takes place in Berlin: The World Health Summit official website lists the event’s highlighted topics and high profile speakers. The European regional office at the World Health Organization announces a commitment to stronger ties between WHO/Europe and the Summit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides an overview of the global threat of non-communicable diseases. The New York Times warns that life-threatening sedentary lifestyles are becoming increasing global.

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