As the White House continues to fill out its foreign policy team, the introductory remarks ofSenator John Kerry at his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State set out his views in familiar fashion. All the usual thematic and regional bases were touched – the reassertion of American leadership, a stern warning to Iran and North Korea, reengagement in the Middle East peace process, and so on. Additionally, one phrase stood out: “more than ever, foreign policy is economic policy.” This reinforces the approach – already identified as one of our “drivers” for 2013 – likely to be taken by the Administration in focusing on domestic economic regeneration and, when foreign policy is involved, to have regard for the costs involved and not to be looking for expensive new ventures. This sense of wanting to avoid over-commitment hangs over discussion on Mali and Syria. US intelligence officials are reporting that the Syrian opposition remains deeply divided and that any US reliance on it for operational purposes would be extremely risky. In Mali, US officials are strongly motivated by a wish to support the French in dealing blow against Islamist cells there, but have reservations about any engagement beyond intelligence and logistic support. With regard to the peace process, the White House is breathing a sigh of relief that the Israeli elections did not, as they had expected, return an extreme coalition. They realize, however, that Prime Minister Netanyahu will continue in office and will remain, in their view, an obstacle to progress. Even on the centrist Yesh Atid side of politics, Administration officials do not sense a great commitment to make sacrifices for peace. Despite Kerry’s words, therefore, we do not expect the US to make Middle East peace negotiations a top priority. ...
Saturday, January 26, 2013
"US intelligence officials are reporting that the Syrian opposition remains deeply divided & that any US reliance on it for operational purposes would be extremely risky"
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:14 PM