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The Rundown 04/01/14

The Rundown 04/01/14

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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 Apr 02, 2014
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Good afternoon, and welcome to The Rundown. Among the many critiques leveled against President Obama an
d his administration’s approach to Russia, one has been the president’s
reticence in touting sanctions quietly leveled in recent weeks. We noticed the bold decision to end licensing for certain dual-use items, in particular the always-lethal horse. Yes, you read it right. Next: the zeppelin.
 As always, warmest wishes from your friends at The Rundown
Tweet of the Week
Danielle Pletka
This is what support from the US now means: RT @thehill: US ships 300,000 MREs to #Ukraine military http://trib.al/EhUZ5h5 by @JTSTheHill
In the
Four hours of talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart failed to break a tense East-West deadlock over how to proceed on the Ukraine crisis, though the two men agreed the situation requires a diplomatic solution.
 At the moment, our preoccupation is with President Vladimir Putin's next move outside Russia. Will he invade eastern Ukraine? Will he move into Moldova? But even more worrisome than these territorial issues is what Putin may have in mind for Russia itself. The Russian president did not engineer the Ukrainian crisis, but he has exploited it to begin forging something far more dangerous than land grabs: namely, a political arrangement that could secure his rule of Russia for life. 
 writes for the 
“The most important thing of all right now is awareness. The U.S. and its allies must attune themselves to
the distinct and highly malignant change in the Russian leadership, which has sharply escalated the danger
Russia presents to the world.”
Putin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea is just the first step in a dangerous evolution of the Russian
regime. In 
with The Wall Street Journal on Putin’s G
7 suspension, Aron explains Putin’s
strategies both domestically and internationally and warns that the West must develop a strategy to deal with the aggressive, nationalistic Russian foreign policy.
 for the 
: “An important point is that Russia is clearly in violation of its
commitments under the Budapest memorandum and that is something to take very seriously. That is a violation of one of the most important agreements underlying the post-Cold War security structure of Europe. And invoking, as Putin has, his right to intervene on behalf of Russian minorities is still more
threatening to European stability.”
 Also on the 
 with his take on a Fox News poll finds that a majority of Americans
believe that the country is weaker since Barack Obama became president. “In Libya, we saw the birth o
f the
doctrine of ‘Leading from Behind.’ In Syria we saw the administration threaten ‘unbelievably small’ military strikes that would be ‘just muscular enough not to be mocked’ (their words) and then fail to follow through. . . . And now in Ukraine we’ve s
een the Obama administration stand by helplessly while Russia invades and annexes Crimea in the most blatant act of aggression on the European continent since the Soviets invaded
Czechoslovakia in 1968.”
Don’t forget to rewatch 
s latest interview with 
s with
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will travel to the Pacific this week to convene a meeting of defense ministers from Asia against the backdrop of the massive regional response to the loss of the Malaysian etliner.
The US military’s most recent budget request provides even more detail about the consequences of
continued automatic spending cuts. Yet the mi
litary’s challenges did not start with the automatic budget cuts
known as sequestration; they have been underway for years, as the Armed Forces struggle to meet ever-increasing global demands and challenges with fewer forces and resources. Read 
: “Military strength gives states diplomatic leverage. It complements and
magnifies other aspects of national power to give leaders a toolkit from which they can advance national interests globally. Consequently, it should come as no surprise today that as US combat power declines, so
too does America’s diplomatic influence.”
Where President Jimmy Carter moved to restore the sinews of America’s weakened armed forces, today we
adhere to the constraints of a Budget Control Act that is steadily eviscerating a battle-tested professional force. Carter, in the final year of what would prove to be a single term as president, took steps to create new options for future commanders-in-chief. Barack Obama, with three years left, appears resolutely committed to foreclosing American military options. 
 write for 
: “This is a moment filled with possibility, one in which America might awake from the befuddlement
of the post
Cold War era and the hangover of Iraq. Alas, President Obama seems more likely to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep. It is up to the other branch of government and the opposition party to do what they can
 start the process of rearmament
 when the commander-in-
chief will not.”
 Also read Donnelly’s blog for  
on how Republicans must meet today’s foreign policy
Nearly a year after
Edward Snowden’s revelations, President Obama announced last Tuesday that his administration will be pushing legislation to curb the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk collection of
 phone records.
Obama has proposed an alternative to the NSA’s bulk data collection process. Counter to the agency’s
current mass surveillance practices, the new legislation would require that records remain with respective phone providers and be obtained on an as-
needed basis only, and only with a court order. Obama’s
alternative, as explained by 
, barely preceded another proposal offered by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD). Gary Schmitt
, “Both proposals will need to be
 passed by Congress and signed into law by the
President. Given how little ‘bully pulpit’ President Obama has used to talk about this issue, there are
significant doubts that any bill will find a majority at present
meaning that current program will probably stay in place until perhaps even 2015 when, because of sunset provisions in the Patriot Act, the legal
mandate for the bulk collection program will simply expire.”
You can also hear Schmitt’s thoughts on the 
in this clip from "PBS NewsHour,” which
aired Tuesday, March 25.
Big news this week in Asia: For the first time since both entered office more than a year ago, Japanese
leader Shinzō Abe and South Korean leader Park Geun
-hye met, on the sidelines of a nuclear-security summit in the Netherlands. That this first meeting was so significant reveals how dysfunctional relations are between Tokyo and Seoul these days. And the beneficiary of this state of affairs, of course, is China.
In his latest 
 examines the implications of this meeting and
China’s fomenting of
Japanese hatred: “Beijing's actions should serve as a major warning sign to those
who believe that diplomatic relations between Northeast Asia's largest powers will eventually improve due to the importance of economic relations...Northeast Asia's three great powers deeply distrust, if not hate, each other. They may trade regularly and meet at international summits, but they are more than willing to risk
letting nationalist passions trump cooperation.”
For more on the same, read Auslin’s blog for Commentary Magazine,
 In India, anticipation is building ahead of the country's general elections. From April 7 to May 12, some 814 million eligible voters will head to the polls to choose representatives for the 543-seat Lok Sabha, or lower house of Parliament, in what will be the biggest election in India's history. On Thursday, AEI's 
 hosted a 
 with three leading experts from India on who fielded questions on India, its foreign policy, and its civil liberties under Narendra Modi's potential leadership.
 Also, reread Dhume’s latest Foreign Policy piece,
,” which sheds light on another
variable in the upcoming elections: Arvind Kej
riwal, a former tax inspector whose “supporters see him as a
squeaky-clean outsider who will transcend narrow appeals to caste and community to banish corruption
from public life.” But “his detractors see instead a slippery opportunist less interested in g
overning than in grandstanding for the cameras with outlandish protests and florid allegations against top politicians and

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