The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, King Abdullah II of Jordan’s visit to the United States, and the ASEAN summit in Brunei.
- Monday’s bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed three people and left more than 170 injured. FBI, ATF, and local police are slowly and painstakingly looking for evidence that might generate leads for tracking down the suspect (or suspects). Law enforcement is getting an assist from the public. People who were at the marathon are sharing their photos and videos with police. Meanwhile, lots of interested civilians are poring over photos and videos on the web trying to uncover clues that might help in the investigation. One positive development is that thus far law enforcement has found no reason to connect the ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and Mississippi senator Roger Wicker to the Boston bombings.
- King Abdullah II of Jordan is set to visit the White House next Friday. One topic he will be discussing with President Obama is Syria. But the bigger issue that will be on everyone’s mind is Jordan itself. Thus far Abdullah has sidestepped the political upheavals that have shaken the Arab world over the past two years and toppled regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. But the Hashemite Kingdom faces tough times. Nearly half the population of Jordan is under the age of twenty, unemployment is in double digits, and economic growth has been sluggish. That combination by itself is often sufficient for political unrest. But Abdullah also faces growing complaints about corruption, rising Islamist sentiment, and the influx of more than 470,000 Syrian refugees into a country of just 6.5 million people. The Obama administration hopes that it can help the King to remain in power and push ahead with his domestic reform plans. Whether U.S. officials have the time, skill, and capacity to do so remains an open question.
- The twenty-second Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit meeting opens next Wednesday in Brunei. Heads of government from the ten member countries will attend. They will be joined by officials from partner countries such as China, Japan, and Korea. An issue that will be talked about more bluntly on the margins of the meeting than during the formal sessions is the dispute over China’s expansive claims to the South China Sea. Beijing argues that the issue should be handled in bilateral talks and not, as is the case with ASEAN, multilateral fora. Vietnam, the Philippines, and other ASEAN countries that see China trampling on their sovereignty understand that there is power is numbers and prefer to go the multilateral route. Their problem is that some of their colleagues in ASEAN have no direct stake in the maritime dispute and no interest in antagonizing China.
- Bob’s Figure of the Week is Pervez Musharraf. My Figure of the Week is 1.8 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:
Boston Marathon bombings: The New York Times has live updates of the investigation and reports on the video footage of bombing suspects. The White House provides a transcript of President Obama’s remarks after the bombing. National Geographic writes that social media played a large role in the response to the bombings.
King Abdullah’s U.S. visit: The New York Times reports on the challenges facing the Jordanian opposition. The White House has video of President Obama and King Abdullah II’s press conference in Jordan last month. The Los Angeles Times writes that the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan is worsening in spite of a newly opened refugee camp. The Atlantic has Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview with King Abdullah II.
ASEAN summit in Brunei: The ASEAN summit hosts compile the latest updates on the upcoming summit. Josh Kurlantzick writes that ASEAN faces challenges that prevent it from reaching its full potential in the region. The Philippine Star reports that a code of conduct between ASEAN and China for disputed territories in the South China Sea will be a high priority at the summit. Project Syndicate analyzes obstacles to peacefully resolving the South China Sea disputes.