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: TTIP Talks Resume, Congress Votes on a Budget Deal, and U.S.-Afghan Security Negotiations Continue

by James M. Lindsay
December 12, 2013

U.S. and European Union flags on display at negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in Brussels in November. (Francois Lenoir/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. and European Union flags on display at negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in Brussels in November. (Francois Lenoir/Courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks in Washington, a possible U.S. budget deal, and U.S.-Afghan security negotiations.

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The highlights:

  • U.S. and EU negotiators meet next week for the third time on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). They are a long way from reaching a final agreement, however. The deal, if one is reached, could be a game changer by reducing, if not eliminating, barriers to trade across the Atlantic. That could spur economic growth in both the United States and Europe, and reinforce the West’s say in global trading rules. But to realize those geoeconomic and geopolitical gains Americans and Europeans will first have to settle their differences on hot-button issues like genetically modified foods. That will take time, if it can be done at all.
  • Congress looks poised to okay a budget deal that would fund the government through September 30, 2015. Enthusiasm for the deal is muted on both sides of the aisle. It’s easy to see why Democrats and Republicans find fault with the agreement. It is not a “grand bargain” that settles the differences between the two parties on the budget once and for all and puts the U.S. government on a sound fiscal footing. And it does nothing to prevent a repeat of congressional brinksmanship over the debt ceiling next spring. But however small a step it may be in the direction of bipartisan cooperation, it is a step. With any luck, it could pave the way for Congress to take bigger steps to resolve some of the other issues on the legislative agenda.
  • The end of 2013 is fast approaching and with it Washington’s deadline for Afghanistan to agree to a new security deal. But Afghan president Hamid Karzai refuses to sign the deal, even after getting Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga to approve it. Karzai’s objections include, among other things, concerns about U.S. forces raiding Afghan homes. He now says that the conclusion of any deal will have to wait until after Afghanistan’s presidential election this spring. Although Washington has softened its end-of-the-year deadline a bit, it’s unlikely to be willing to wait until May for an answer from Kabul. We’ll see who blinks first in this stare down between two ostensible partners.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is General Salim Idriss. My Figure of the Week is zero. Our audience-nominated Figure of the Week comes from TWNW listener @MattFyfield who picked Nelson Mandela. 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:

TTIP Talks: European Voice points to policy obstacles in the next round of talks. Reuters reports that a top lawmaker thinks that President Obama may get trade promotion authority in early 2014. Fox Business writes that the trade deal will not affect American financial regulations. The Centre for Economic Policy Research has an economic assessment of the deal. The Hill writes that more trade means more jobs.

Budget Deal: The New York Times has the parameters of the deal. The Washington Post explains the politics of the deal. Robert Kahn writes that the deal provides something to build on. Forbes writes that the deal is a much-needed hiatus from Washington’s fiscal tantrums. NPR lists six items the deal left out.

Afghan Security Agreement: CFR has a report on Afghanistan after the drawdown. Le Monde interviews Hamid Karzai. The Diplomat states that a continued American presence in Afghanistan is regionally supported. The New York Times traces the economic impact of the security arrangement. Ambassador James F. Dobbins testifies to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Afghanistan transition.

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