Good afternoon and welcome to The Rundown. While you were busy thinking about football (Fall?

Global warming? Peace in our time?) yesterday, the German election season came to a close, once again reaffirming the German dictum that "Everything has an end; only the sausage has two." Best, Your AEI Foreign and Defense Policy Studies team

Tweet of the Week
Roger Noriega @rogernoriegausa @rogernoriegausa: Who needs govt-controlled media?! "@CapitolCubans: Holy Cow! AP’s Havana #Cuba bureau does it again bit.ly/15cHtAR"

In the News
Kenya
This weekend, the Somalia-based al Shabaab terrorist group exhibited its strength, keeping Kenyan forces at bay through two days of coordinated counter-attacks at Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall. In an op-ed published this morning in CNN's Global Public Square, "We are losing the fight against al Shabaab," AEI's Critical Threats Project senior analyst Katherine Zimmerman writes, "The rising death toll from al Shabaab's bloody attack is a tragic reminder that US strategy against al Qaeda, claims of success notwithstanding, is not working." Visit the Critical Threats Project's Somalia page for primers and the latest analysis on al Shabaab. In recent weeks, Zimmerman has examined various challenges to America's counterterrorism strategy against the terrorist group, the state of al Shabaab after Kismayo, and the latest news coming out of the Gulf of Aden.

Iran and UNGA
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that he would use his trip to the UN this week to present the “true face of Iran.” “Rumor has it that big things are going to happen between the United States and Iran [this] week at the United Nations General Assembly. Count me among the really excited for what promises to be a new world of openness and communication between the freshly minted Rouhani government and the slightly less fresh Obama administration. Because, after all, what could go wrong?” —Danielle Pletka, “Iran and Syria: Peace in our time” AEI’s Michael Rubin writes his own response to Rouhani’s Washington Post op-ed for AEIdeas, "Rouhani's letter: Sincere, or delaying tactic?" He writes: “Fine words, but window dressing absent windows will not make the world a warmer place.” Read more here. The second-order effects of the Obama administration’s self -inflicted paralysis and equivocation regarding the use of force in Syria are increasingly coming into focus. The Critical Threats Project’s Maseh Zarif jumps on the AEIdeas blog to spell out what US inaction in Syria means for Iran. Read more here.

Top 10 ways Vladimir Putin can keep helping Barack Obama
From the wannabe Buzzfeed editors of AEI’s foreign and defense policy department: " Top 10 ways Vladimir Putin can keep helping Barack Obama." Have your own ideas? We welcome your submissions in the comments section of the blog. Or tweet them to us @AEIfdp using the hashtag #PutinTop10. In his latest column for the Washington Post, "What the GOP can learn from Putin," Marc Thiessen highlights three lessons the GOP can learn from Obama's capitulation in the Syria standoff. For a more serious take on Putin, visit POLITICO to read Leon Aron's latest op-ed, "Vladimir Putin's Iranian gambit." Aron argues that Russia's Syrian formula has propelled Putin into the position of a global power-broker, and predicts that Putin will next attempt to take the lead in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

Politics and National Security
A 19-page advisory published by the Congressional Research Service last month suggests that even the perception of a US government shutdown could have negative security implications. There are undoubtedly any number of reasons why Obama decided to take up Putin’s last-minute proposal to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control. But certainly one of them was the very real possibility that the American president would not get the congressional authorization for the use of force he was seeking. AEI’s Gary Schmitt and German Marshall Fund’s Daniel Fata take a closer look at the current Congress’s waning expertise on global affairs. Read more here. Has the belief in American exceptionalism helped the US protect its national interests or led it into military and diplomatic quagmires? Danielle Pletka answered this question for last week’s New York Times' Room for Debate, arguing, “Many (with a few notable exceptions), upon reflection, quietly miss the leadership of the United States on the global stage. Over 70 years, that leadership has meant a global compact that has

lifted hundreds of millions from poverty and tyranny, that has freed trade and innovation and meant that far from fighting wars, most nations have chosen to live in peace. That is the world as we know and like, and though some suggest it is time for someone else to don the mantle of leadership, the reality is that there is no nation and no people exceptional enough to do it for so long, or so well, or with so little regard to their own aggrandizement or enrichment.”

Defense
Senior Republican senators have announced that negotiations with the White House about a fiscal deal to address sequestration have broken down. Last Thursday, Bill Greenwalt testified in front of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency on the Department of Homeland Security’s acquisition practices. Click here to watch the full video of his testimony and to read his prepared remarks. The fifth National Security Outlook in a series about the defense capabilities of America’s allies and security partners was rolled out last week. "NATO at sea: Trends in allied naval power" argues that as US armed forces are increasingly focused on the Asia-Pacific region, there are growing concerns as to whether the navies of America’s continental allies are up to meeting the challenges arising from the general unrest on Europe’s eastern and southern maritime flanks.

Asia
China criticized Japan on Monday for its intention to install an American military radar system to monitor North Korean missile launches. “A public debate about a US military strategy for China is most welcome. While the debate's particulars are important, it is equally significant that the US national security community is now openly discussing ways to deter Chinese aggression and defeat it should deterrence fail.” Dan Blumenthal does just that in his latest op-ed for Foreign Policy, “ A Sino-American proxy war?” He maintains, “If Washington is now more or less settled on a policy of engaging China while balancing its power and hedging against greater aggression, it is incumbent upon national security leaders to think as much about the balance and hedge part of the equation as they do the engage side.“ Last week's Rundown teased Michael Mazza's latest for the National Interest on recent developments in the South China Sea. Click here to get your fill of reading on China-Philippines relations, new construction in the Spratlys, and Vietnam's air force upgrades.

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