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Good morning, and welcome to The Rundown. In honor of our nation's oldest vets, we'd like to share this winning sign from the group protesting the closure of the World War II Memorial: "Normandy was closed when we got there, too." Some Americans aren't confused about their priorities. Best, Your AEI Foreign and Defense Policy Studies team

Tweet of the Week
Michael Auslin @michaelauslin #NorthKorea restarts nuclear reactor. Get ready for more nuke tests, missile launches, and demands for ‘negotiation.’

In the News
In a successful raid in Libya this weekend, US special forces nabbed a militant suspected of plotting the 1998 American embassy bombings. Hours earlier, a Navy SEAL team had struck a stronghold in Somalia with the intention of capturing a senior leader of the al Shabaab terrorist group. For an analysis of the US counterterrorism raids, see Katherine Zimmerman's latest blog post for AEIdeas, "Taking out al Qaeda one by one? It sounds absurd...because it is." Reread her latest Wall Street Journal op-ed on the siege in Nairobi, and check out her assessment of al-Shabaab's reach, determination, and capabilities for CNN's Global Public Square blog. Keep an eye on later this week for Zimmerman's interview with Fox News's “Happening Now” with Jon Scott and Jenna Lee, and get up to speed ahead of time with her recent report on the al Qaeda network and its affiliates.

Shutdown Showdown

In honor of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN (now in ALL CAPS), AEI’s Foreign and Defense Policy team shamelessly wasted time and expertise on a Letterman-style top 10 list of other governments that ought to be shuttered. Here’s White House flack Dan Pfeiffer on the government funding negotiations with Republicans: “What we’re not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest.” Gritty stuff. But we thought it would be fun to think of actual leaders who support “people with a bomb strapped to their chest” who have enjoyed quality time with the Obama administration. Visit the AEIdeas blog for our team’s humor amid the shutdown showdown. Who's really to blame for the federal government’s shutdown? According to President Obama, it’s ideologically obstinate congressional Republicans who will do anything to undermine the Affordable Care Act, the signature achievement of his presidency. For those Republicans, it’s the president who deserves blame by refusing to compromise one iota on a policy measure that even the administration admits is less than ready for prime time. Gary Schmitt: “Shutting down the government should be anathema to any president who takes his oath of office seriously. It also shows why simply blaming Republicans for the current predicament is constitutionally shortsighted.” Roger Noriega takes to the AEIdeas blog to address reports of federal agents blocking access to not just public memorials but also privately owned parks — such as George Washington’s privately managed estate, Mount Vernon: “The notion that the government shut down makes it impossible for citizens to climb up the steps at the Lincoln Memorial on their own to read the Gettysburg Address to themselves is politically manufactured nonsense — particularly when we see the armed guard at the top of the stairs, paid to keep us out.”

East Asia
President Obama’s decision to skip two summits in the Asia-Pacific region this week may deprive the US of recent diplomatic momentum and open the door to expanded Chinese influence. Nicholas Eberstadt argues, “From a commander-in-chief who has been broadcasting worldwide weakness of late, this is another unwelcome signal — both to our allies and to our adversaries.” For a rundown of FDP scholars’ reactions to President Obama canceling his trip to Asia, visit the AEIdeas blog. In Gary Schmitt's recent op-ed for Fox News, he argues, “A failure to fulfill the pledge of meeting the Chinese challenge either by inaction, inattention or by simply canceling trips will be just as serious when it comes to American credibility as failing to respond effectively to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.” Michael Mazza's recent op-ed in The National Interest argues that “Washington’s government shutdo wn . . . is only the latest in a string of developments this year calling into question America’s will and ability to carry out stated policy in the Asia-Pacific.” Read his latest blog for AEIdeas on China’s comprehensive strategic partnership with Malaysia. Conventional wisdom says that by many economic measurements, China isn't far behind the US — and is catching up fast. But in one vital sector — energy — the US leads and is pulling away. In his latest piece for The Atlantic, new AEI resident scholar Derek Scissors writes, “Ultimately, the huge gap between the U.S. and China will continue to widen unless Beijing can manage sweeping market-driven reform in energy. Sure, China can always buy from others. But home-produced energy gives the US a huge and growing

advantage in a core economic sector.”

The rupee snapped a three-day gain on fears that foreign investors will buy less Indian stock as US lawmakers remain deadlocked over extending the debt ceiling. Earlier this month, India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party announced that Narendra Modi would be its prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 national elections. Sadanand Dhume will join a panel on Friday at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to discuss the main challenges that Modi faces in his quest to become India’s next prime minister. RSVP for the discussion here, and get up to speed with Dhume’s latest on Modi. Check back at later this week for the release of Dhume’s latest report, “Falling short: How bad economic choices threaten the US-India relationship and India’s rise.”

Latin America
Since President Hugo Chávez’s death, government leaders have called for unity, but many Venezuelans are running out of patience in light of mounting economic problems, such as soaring inflation and shortages of basic goods. Imagine if Don Vito Corleone died and left his hapless son, Fredo, in charge of the family business. That is essentially what happened in Venezuela when the caudillo Hugo Chávez died last year and Nicolás Maduro took power. As a result, the inevitable economic collapse and raging internal power struggle in that nation will have very grave consequences for the stability and security of the Americas. AEI visiting scholar Roger Noriega poses the question: “What if Fredo Corleone ruled Venezuela . . . or does he?” Noriega writes, “Maduro’s rivals within the regime — many of whom were brothers in arms with Chávez — may not wait for the Cubans to kick in their doors. If they act to settle 'all the family business,' it is not hard to picture Maduro delivering Fredo Corleone’s desperate protest, ‘I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says!’”

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