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The Rundown 03/24/14

The Rundown 03/24/14

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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 Mar 24, 2014
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Emboldened by the Obama administration’s passivity and Russia’s recent victory in Crimea, Great Britain has decided to appeal to “ethnic similarities” to reclaim one of its former colonies, America.
Will the Obama administration finally decide that enough is enough and recommit to US global
leadership? In this week’s Rundown, find some options for improvement from a reassessment of
the QDR to in-depth analysis of the crisis in Ukraine.
Have a great week, Your Foreign and Defense Policy Studies team
Tweet of the Week
Michael Auslin
Can you feel all of DC's old cold warriors rubbing their hands in glee and shining their shoes?
In the
 As Russia consolidated its hold on Crimea on Monday, forcing Ukraine to order the retreat of its forces there, President Obama and his international allies prepared to meet to develop a united response despite their diverging interests in dealing with the Kremlin.
 The Ukrainian revolution has led to a geopolitical remapping of Eurasia and has set the US and Russia on a collision course. Ethnically Russian Crimea has voted to break off from Ukraine and join Russia
 a move that has invited harsh backlash and expanded economic sanctions from the West. Russian President Vladimir Putin risks further isolating Russia and losing global influence if he refuses to reverse course. Will Putin stop at Crimea? What role will the US and European Union play? Is a new cold war on the horizon? Tune in tonight at 6:00 pm to the 
 event to watch 
discuss this and more, and don’t forget to follow the discussion on Twitter and
tweet with #VirtualTownHall.
 Also catch Aron’s appearance on 
 and watch his latest
 on the Ukraine crisis. You can also watch
 as he addresses the impact of recent sanctions on Russia, and listen to his appearance on 
While President Obama and his national security team react to events in Crimea and to Russia
’s bluster,
there has been little to no introspection by the US Department of State or White House about where the mistakes were made with regard to Russia. 
 that perhaps it is time for an independent committee to review the last decade of Russo-American diplomacy to determine when the
United States should have recognized the reality of Putin’s ambitions. Only by studying past mistakes can
future diplomats hope to avoid repeating them.
 Also rewatch Rubin’s appearance on 
 covering US diplomacy with Russia, Syria, and Iran.
Defense and National Security
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) backed military aid to Ukraine in separate interviews
on Sunday. Sen. Durbin said the Ukrainian military needs “everything from fuel to tires to sleeping bags to meals.” Having recently returned from a trip to Ukraine, Sen. D
urbin also said he wouldn't rule out sending small arms.
The failures of American will that were exposed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are numerous and mounting. Coming on top of America’s tepid response to China’s declaration of an Air Defense
cation Zone over Japanese waters and the withdrawals from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the “red line” in
Syria, these failures have revealed President Obama as a man who not only leads from behind but also marches to the rear. In The Weekly Standard, 
that “it would be politically
courageous to call his bluff and find out what cards Putin really holds, but no American
 no Western
 politician seems willing to cover that bet with boots on the ground. That is a crippling weakness as, after a generational vacation from history, post-Cold-War strategic competition begins in earnest, not just in Europe, but across the Middle East and throughout East Asia. Power abhors a vacuum, except when
 as we see with Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei, and Xi Jinping
power covets it.”
 Representative Buck McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, recently
rejected the Pentagon’s latest defense strategy within hours of its release, saying the 2014 Quadrennial
Defense Review (QDR) failed to meet statutory requirements. While Rep. McKeon intends to introduce legislation requiring another report, the secretary of defense is unlikely to comply. 
 and Roger Zakheim rethink the QDR in their latest for Breaking Defense. They argue that before deciding how to overhaul the QDR, Congress should follow the recommendation of five former deputy secretaries of defense to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and direct another bottom-up review like that of 1993. Read their explanation 
On a visit that was supposed to be nonpolitical, Michelle Obama delivered a message to the Chinese on Saturday, saying in an address that freedom of speech, particularly on the Internet and in the news media, provided the foundation for a vibrant society.
 US options for responding to Russian moves are now limited, which is the whole point of Putin's decisive action. But Washington can still avoid a fait accompli in Asia. 
 write that
 to revise the peaceful regional order built on the blood and treasure of America
and its allies. They explain, “China will gain more power and prominence,
so Washington needs an unrelenting strategy with unrelenting execution that guarantees that China is
surrounded by strong independent powers allied with the US.”
While much international attention remains on Crimea and Ukraine, 
 points out in his latest 
 that the firing of 25 short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan stands as a reminder that North Korea remains a destabilizing wildca
rd in Asia. “This may well be a clue that the Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test could be coming sometime this year,” writes Auslin. Equally unsettling is the following question: “What lessons is the Kim regime taking from the Obama Administration’s weak
onses to Syria and Crimea?”
Starting April 7, India’s general election —
the world’s largest democratic exercise —
 is set to be the most momentous in decades. After 10 years of rule by the Indian National Congress, polls indicate that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to win a plurality of seats in parliament and lead the next
government in New Delhi. The BJP’s Narendra Modi is likely to be prime minister. What would Modi’s
election mean for India and the world, including the US-India relationship? On March 27, just 10 days before the elections, tune in to this Google Hangout conversation with three leading experts in India who
will discuss the implications of Modi’s rise. 
. Not on Google Plus? This online-only event will be livestreamed on AEI.org. No registration is required.  Also be sure to read 
 latest article in 
, where he predicts
that India’s voters will most likely punish the weak governance and reckless popul
ism of the past decade. But it is hard to tell whether the new government will have the will and capacity to put the country's economy back on the rails.
This weekend Afghanistan became the newest member of a select club of nations including Syria and Venezuela that have publicly backed the Russian annexation of Crimea.
As US forces prepare to leave Afghanistan after nearly 13 years of war, much of Washington has focused
on President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to
 sign a security agreement that would keep a small contingent of US troops in Afghanistan. In the midst of this political posturing, Afghanistan is readying itself for its April presidential election. This election promises a new page not only for the country but also for US-Afghan relations. 
later today as AEI hosts a discussion on Afghanistan’s changing political
and security landscape, and what this means for future US involvement in the region.
Latin America
The Organization of American States was the stage for a political showdown on Friday when a Venezuelan opposition leader attempted to formally address the hemisphere's top regional body to discuss alleged human-rights abuses by the Venezuelan government against a six-week-old protest movement.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea is an egregious violation of international norms that demands a concerted
international reaction. However, as foreign policy pundits settle into their Eurocentric comfort zone, Washington must not neglect its important strategic interests elsewhere in an increasingly interconnected world. Venezuela is one such place, a country that has been roiled by 30 days of spreading street protests that have been met by government repression. In his latest 
 piece, Roger Noriega explains the reasons why more US attention should be paid to this crisis in our own neighborhood. Just as Venezuelan university students stepped out ahead of the opposition establishment a month ago

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