Showing posts for "CFR Resources"
I forced myself to watch the Oscars last night. My reward for sitting through an hour-plus of forced banter and lame jokes—please bring back Billy Crystal–was disappointment. Killing in the Name did not win the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject. Everyone at CFR remains nonetheless proud of what Carie Lemack accomplished. We hope she enjoyed the awards ceremony despite the outcome and despite the grueling schedule that the Academy puts its nominees through. Most important, I hope that the Oscar ceremony helps get the message of Killing in the Name out to a wider audience.
In other news, the White House announced that President Obama will hold a surprise summit meeting later this week with Mexican President Felipe Caldéron. U.S.-Mexican relations are going through a tough patch. As my colleague Shannon O’Neil writes, the murder of one U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent and the wounding of another in an attack on the road from Monterrey to Mexico City has brought the tensions to a head. I hope that Presidents Obama and Caldéron succeed in getting U.S.-Mexican relations back on track. The high and growing level of drug-related violence in Mexico—more than 30,000 Mexicans have died in drug-related violence over the past five years—is worrying. I am not optimistic, however, that we will see any major breakthroughs. A big part of Mexico’s drug violence problem resides north of the border. Americans buy illicit drugs, and we ship guns back across the border. Washington doesn’t look to be getting serious about either issue. Indeed, legislation working its way through Congress would make it harder for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to disrupt the trafficking of guns to Mexico.
Bob McMahon and I sat down for our usual weekly podcast session but with a twist. Rather than discussing what’s on the horizon for next week, we talked about how things look to be shaping up for 2011. We discussed a range of issues, including the continued weakness of the U.S. economy; China’s role in the world; efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program; the outlook for Iraq and Afghanistan; escalating violence in Mexico; and the pending secession referendum in Sudan.
Cold weather and high winds yesterday along the New York-Washington corridor played havoc with my travel schedule. One benefit of the travel delay was that I caught up on some reading. Three pieces worth noting.
1. Josh Rogin summarizes the statement by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the incoming chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, laying out her agenda for the next two years. No surprises here. Representative Ros-Lehtinen wants to force changes at the United Nations and push for stronger action against “rogue states.” And cut foreign aid. She was blunt on this score: “I have identified and will propose a number of cuts to the State Department and Foreign Aid budgets. There is much fat in these budgets, which makes some cuts obvious. Others will be more difficult but necessary to improve the efficiency of U.S. efforts and accomplish more with less.” As I discussed last week, the message will resonate with the public, which has an inflated view of how many of its tax dollars go to foreign aid.
2. My colleague Rob Danin examines the consequences of the Obama administration’s decision to abandon its efforts to force Israel to impose a settlement moratorium. Rob knows the issues at stake. He was head of the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem from 2008-2010. Translation: He was Tony Blair’s chief deputy for two-plus years in trying to move the peace process along. His take is that the administration was acknowledging reality—a core element of its strategy hadn’t worked and wasn’t going to work. Rob worries that the administration doesn’t have a Plan B, and offers some advice on what it should be doing. Which raises a question: do we have many historical examples of an administration jettisoning the strategy behind one of its top foreign policy priorities and then finding a new and more successful strategy? Send along your nominees.
The Water’s Edge examines the political forces shaping American foreign policy, the sustainability of American power, and the ability of the United States to navigate a rapidly changing world.