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: A U.S. Government Shutdown Looms, Netanyahu Visits Washington, and the Battle of Mogadishu Marks Its Twentieth Anniversary

by James M. Lindsay
September 26, 2013

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters). The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the deadline for Congress to avert a government shutdown, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming meeting with President Obama, and the twentieth anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu.

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The highlights:

  • If Congress does not agree to a new funding bill by midnight Monday, the end of the fiscal year, then large parts of the U.S. government will not be opening up for business on Tuesday morning. The immediate issue is differences between the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate over whether to fund the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare if you prefer. The more fundamental disagreement is over how much the U.S. government should spend and what it should spend its money on. The funding bill that eventually emerges from the current Capitol Hill showdown won’t provide a long-term solution. It’s likely to fund government operations only through December 15, giving the two parties another opportunity to rehash well-tread ground. And lurking just three weeks down the road lies another, and considerably more significant, political tussle: the battle over raising the national debt ceiling. So buckle up. It will be a rough political ride this fall.
  • Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit President Obama next Monday. The two are likely to discuss Syria, Palestine, and especially Iran. Netanyahu will press his case, both at the White House and in his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, that the United States and the world “should not be fooled” by recent peace overtures coming from Tehran. Obama will in turn stress his and America’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security. Meanwhile, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s effort to persuade Westerners that Tehran is charting a new course stumbled this week when his aides made clear they would not shake hands with American officials at the General Assembly and the semi-official Iranian news agency insisted that he had not told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the Holocaust constituted a “reprehensible” crime.
  • Next week marks the twentieth anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu. The daylong firefight in the Somali capital—which is described in horrifying detail in the book Black Hawk Down and later depicted in a gripping movie by the same name—was a pivotal moment in U.S. foreign policy in the 1990s. The deaths of eighteen U.S. Army Rangers, not to mention hundreds of Somalis, provoked a firestorm of criticism of President Bill Clinton’s decision to deepen U.S. involvement in Somalia, turning what had been a humanitarian intervention designed to stop a famine into an effort to bring Somali warlords to heel. The political backlash from seeing the bodies of U.S. soldiers dragged through the streets of Mogadishu likely helped discourage President Clinton from acting the next spring to stop the Rwandan genocide.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is Pope Francis. My Figure of the Week is 49. Our audience-nominated Figure of the Week comes from TWNW listeners @TheGiftofGob and @EdwardGoldberg who both picked Angela Merkel. 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:

Government Shutdown: Wonkblog explains “everything you need to know about how a government shutdown works” and why this budget debate is worse than 2011’s. CNN explains why a government shutdown probably won’t happen. A New York Times/CBS News poll shows Americans disapprove of a politically motivated shutdown. The New York Times reports that Republicans have a long list of conditions for agreeing to increase the debt ceiling.

Netanyahu’s Visit: The Washington Post outlines topics for the upcoming meeting. The New York Times previews Netanyahu’s speech at the UN General Assembly. The Associated Press writes that Iran has called on Israel to join a treaty against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Max Boot assesses expectations of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. Les Gelb gives advice to Rouhani. Stewart Patrick analyzes Obama’s UN speech.

Mogadishu Anniversary: PBS Frontline describes the entire 1993 operation. The Washington Post looks at Mogadishu’s improved security and the drone base used to battle al-Shabab. The Huffington Post recounts a veteran’s return to Mogadishu.

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