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Rundown 01/27/14

Rundown 01/27/14

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A weekly digest of news and analysis from AEI's Foreign and Defense Studies team
A weekly digest of news and analysis from AEI's Foreign and Defense Studies team

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Published by: American Enterprise Institute on Jan 27, 2014
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07/09/2014

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Good morning and welcome to The Rundown. We’re taking bets on the president's upcoming
State of the Union address: How many words will be devoted to foreign policy? The return of al
Qaeda? The war in Syria? Russia’s regression? China’s predations? The winner receives an
unautographed photo of Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair. Best, Your AEI Foreign and Defense Policy Studies team
Tweet of the Week
Daniel Blumenthal
Brilliant Realist Kissinger made fun of Nixon when the Prez hinted at an opening to China. Then claimed credit.
 
In the
N
ews
State of the Union
In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Obama is expected to emphasize his economic
agenda.
How is a State of the Union address prepared? Join 
, former chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush, as he takes you behind the scenes with a panel of former White House speechwriters from the Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan administrations. Panelists will walk you through the writing and preparation process of the most-watched speech the president delivers each year. RSVP 
, and be sure to livestream the event on Tuesday, January 28, from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. Follow 
 and 
 on Twitter as they live-
tweet their reactions to President Obama’s
speech tomorrow night.
 
Syria
Negotiators at the Syrian peace talks have reached a deadlock after tackling contentious political issues, including the possibility of a transitional government.
As bloodshed and nuclear menace mount in the Middle East, China and North Korea flex their military and nuclear muscles in Asia, and America retreats almost everywhere, how will history judge Barack Obama? Is he the wise Dwight D. Eisenhower who understood the limits of American power and used military might as an instrument of peace? Or is he the appeaser Neville Chamberlain, whose naiveté
accelerated Hitler’s rise
and led to World War II? 
piece for FoxNews.com argues that neither analogy rings true.
But there are others whose choices more closely mirror Obama’s —
 and they do not inspire optimism about where we are going. Read more 
. 
 Also read Pletka’s latest piece on the 
on Syria and the cold indifference of Team Obama.
She writes, “Look at the peace process. Better still, look away. You’ll only feel embarrassment at the Obama administration’s pretense that it could provide a solution for a war that has spiraled into an almost insoluble
human
catastrophe. Our charge is to remember the names of the people that couldn’t be bothered to help in Syria, not then, not now, not ever.”
 
Iran
 
 A top US Department of the Treasury official urged companies to hold off on doing business with the heavily sanctioned Islamic Republic of Iran despite the interim nuclear deal.
 Azerbaijan’s pre–
19th-
century Iranian past, modern Azerbaijan’s embrace of secularism, and the country’s relative economic success as an independent country challenge Iran’
s legitimacy. ICYMI: 
latest 
focuses on Tehran’s meddling in Azerbaijan, concluding that although
Iranian authorities h
ave sought to undermine and destabilize Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani government’s
strategy has been both restrained and effective. Keep up on the latest news coming out of Iran on the Critical Threats Project's 
, and sign up for the 
or daily updates delivered to your mailbox.
 
NSA
In an interview with a German television station, Edward Snowden said the NSA is not solely preoccupied with national security, but also engages in industrial spying to advance US commercial interests.
In the wake of all the “leaks” by Edward Snowden of the NSA’s collection programs and the resulting debate
over those programs, one constantly hears from elected officials and the commentariat about the need to strike the right balance between privacy and security. More often than not, this is followed by a suggestion that since 9/11, our country has not struck this balance. 
 writes for  
: 
“Putting aside for the
moment that no one has come up with evidence that the NSA, in spite of all the powerful capabilities it has at hand, has done anything untoward, the common refrain is that we are only a
step away from the era of ‘Big Brother.’”
 Snowden has become the Larry Flynt of the intelligence world
 a shameless espionage pornographer. Except for one big difference: Most respectable publications would never publish pornography. In his latest
 
for The Washington Post, 
 
: “As damaging as Snowden’s revelations have been, the
real damage has come from how Obama has chosen to respond to them. In his speech Friday, Obama
declared that the men and women of the NSA are ‘not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private
phone calls or read your e-
mails.’ Their activities, Obama said, are lawful and important for national security
 
yet he is changing the NSA’s programs anyway to placate his critics. Now, for the first time in history, the
United States will extend the same privacy protections enjoyed by U.S. citizens to all foreign people anywhere in the world
 
including terrorists.”
 
Russia
 
 As the Sochi Olympics approach, some families of athletes are deciding not to attend because of concerns about security risks.
In Russian President Vladimir Putin’s New Year’s address, he promised to keep up the fight against terrorists in Russia’s North Caucasus until “their complete destruction.” With the Sochi Winter Olympics less
than a month away, however, it is becoming increasingly evident that Putin has bitten off more than he can chew. Read 
editorial on Putin’s Olympic gamble, which is especially troubling because he has staked his reputation and Russia’s prestige on the Olympics
 going off without a hitch. Also, don't forget to welcome 
, author of "
," to Twitter, tweeting from 
. 
Best of Blogs
Here is the best of what AEI's foreign and defense policy scholars are reading this week:
 
Frida Ghitis
Jennifer Rubin
 in The Washington Post: Obama's NSA smoke and mirrors
Max Boot
in Commentary magazine: Non-intervention has a price too
Andrew Browne
 in The Wall Street Journal: The dangerous China Japan face-off
Ariel Cohen
 in The National Interest: Russia's reputation at risk in Sochi
Joseph A. Bosco
in The Weekly Standard: Japan steps up
Orji Uzor Kalu
 in The Wall Street Journal: Boko Haram's threat to the world
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research | 1150 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036

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