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: The United States Remembers September 11, Congress Votes on Syria, Australia Holds Elections

by James M. Lindsay
September 5, 2013

The Tribute in Light art installation illuminates the New York sky on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center (Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters). The Tribute in Light art installation illuminates the New York sky on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center (Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the commemoration of September 11, the congressional vote on Syria, and the Australian general election.

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The highlights:

  • Next week marks the twelfth anniversary of September 11, 2001. The Al Qaeda attacks altered the course not just of American foreign policy but of world history. But contrary to what many people predicted during the fall of 2001, the attacks did not lead to profound changes in how most Americans conduct their lives.
  • Congress is set to vote next week on whether to authorize the use of military force against Syria. Unlike most issues that come before Capitol Hill, President Obama’s surprise request for a vote doesn’t expose divisions between the two parties as much as it exposes divisions within them. Substantial numbers of Democrats and Republicans doubt the wisdom of military strikes, and substantial numbers believe they are necessary. President Obama will be calling on his fellow Democrats to support him, but a yes vote would put many of them at odds with their own constituents, not an attractive position for anyone looking to be re-elected.
  • Australians head for the polls on Saturday to elect a new parliament. Most Australians will be casting their votes for either the center-left Labor Party, led by incumbent prime minister Kevin Rudd, or the opposition center-right Liberal Party, led by Tony Abbott. Rudd, who returned to the prime minister’s office back in June after ousting his Labor Party rival Julia Gillard, has managed to revive his party’s sagging electoral fortunes. Nonetheless, the Liberal Party remains favored to reclaim a parliamentary majority for the first time in six years. Whichever party gets the nod from Australian voters will face many challenges, not the least of which will be keeping Australia’s deepening economic dependence on China from undermining its longstanding security ties with the United States.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is $299. My Figure of the Week is Barack Obama. Our audience-nominated Figure of the Week comes from TWNW listener @RoshanDesai1 who picks Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. 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:

September 11: The Atlantic explains how the war on terror changed the way the United States fights.  Yahoo News reports that FBI chief Robert Mueller, who assumed the post one week before September 11, 2001, is retiring after twelve years. Lawfare describes how the 9/11 Commission Report is relevant to current discussions of Syria.

Congress votes on Syria: CFR.org has an issue guide for the Syria crisis and a Backgrounder on the balance of war powers between the president and Congress. The Washington Post tracks where Congress stands on the Syria vote. Aaron David Miller argues that it was inevitable that Obama would go to Congress on Syria. NPR considers what would happen if Congress votes no on Syria.

Australian elections: The Guardian has an interactive guide to the elections. Michael Fullilove writes that the winner of Australia’s elections will need to address a broad range of global issues. Hugh White argues that Australia is caught between the United States and China. CNBC lays out what’s at stake in the election. The Conversation analyzes how the elections will affect Australia’s September presidency of the UN Security Council.

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