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US foreign policy

By George Friedman

The Moscow summit between U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ended. As is almost always the case, the atmospherics were good, with the proper things said on all sides and statements and gestures of deep sincerity made. And as with all summits, those atmospherics are like the air: insubstantial and ultimately invisible. While there were indications of substantial movement, you would have needed a microscope to see them.

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by Lisa Curtis

Testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security

Delivered on July 7, 2009

My name is Lisa Curtis. I am a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in this testimony are my own, and should not be construed as representing any official position of The Heritage Foundation.

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By George Friedman

Speaking of the situation in Iran, U.S. President Barack Obama said June 26, "We don't yet know how any potential dialogue will have been affected until we see what has happened inside of Iran." On the surface that is a strange statement, since we know that with minor exceptions, the demonstrations in Tehran lost steam after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for them to end and security forces asserted themselves. By the conventional wisdom, events in Iran represent an oppressive regime crushing a popular rising. If so, it is odd that the U.S. president would raise the question of what has happened in Iran.

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By George Friedman

Amid the rhetoric of U.S. President Barack Obama's speech June 4 in Cairo, there was one substantial indication of change, not in the U.S. relationship to the Islamic world but in the U.S. relationship to Israel. This  shift actually emerged prior to the speech, and the speech merely touched on it. But it is not a minor change and it must not be underestimated. It has every opportunity of growing into a major breach between Israel and the United States.

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By George Friedman

Speaking of the situation in Iran, U.S. President Barack Obama said June 26, "We don't yet know how any potential dialogue will have been affected until we see what has happened inside of Iran." On the surface that is a strange statement, since we know that with minor exceptions, the demonstrations in Tehran lost steam after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for them to end and security forces asserted themselves. By the conventional wisdom, events in Iran represent an oppressive regime crushing a popular rising. If so, it is odd that the U.S. president would raise the question of what has happened in Iran.

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by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D.

On July 7, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev will meet for their first full-fledged summit in Moscow.

The two countries may have a window of opportunity to re-launch their relationship, which has been set back by Russia's intransigent positions and its litany of demands. While some in the U.S. believe that rhetoric alone can revitalize the deteriorating relationship between the two nations, only concrete steps by Russia--such as responding positively to the U.S. initiatives--will prove that the two sides are opening a new page.

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By Elayne Jude, Great North News Services

Turning up to hear former US Secretary of State for Defense William Perry address a meeting of the Henry Jackson Society at the House of Commons the other day, I had it mind to investigate the following:

Sir: when you took office in 1994 as Clinton's first Defense Secretary, you stated these three reasons for so doing: To work to end the nuclear threat to the United States, while avoiding a return to the Cold War; to advise the President how and when to use military force, or to reject its use;and to manage the reduction of forces in the post-Cold War era.

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By George Friedman

Amid the rhetoric of U.S. President Barack Obama's speech June 4 in Cairo, there was one substantial indication of change, not in the U.S. relationship to the Islamic world but in the U.S. relationship to Israel. This shift actually emerged prior to the speech, and the speech merely touched on it. But it is not a minor change and it must not be underestimated. It has every opportunity of growing into a major breach between Israel and the United States.

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By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

On June 1, 2009, the land and sea portion of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) will go into effect. The WHTI is a program launched as a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and intended to standardize the documents required to enter the United States. The stated goal of WHTI is to facilitate entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors while reducing the possibility of people entering the country using fraudulent documents.

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By George Friedman

After U.S. airstrikes killed scores of civilians in western Afghanistan, White House National Security Adviser Gen. James L. Jones said the United States would continue with the airstrikes and would not tie the hands of U.S. generals fighting in Afghanistan. At the same time, U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus has cautioned against using tactics that undermine strategic U.S. goals in Afghanistan - raising the question of what exactly ARE the U.S. strategic goals in Afghanistan. A debate inside the U.S. camp has emerged over this very question, the outcome of which is likely to determine the future of the region.

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by James Phillips

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets President Barack Obama at the White House on May 18, two major issues will dominate their agenda:

1. How to revive stagnant Arab-Israeli peace negotiations; and

2. How to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.

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by Sally McNamara

Ivo Daalder, a former presidential campaign adviser to Barack Obama, was sworn in today as United States Ambassador to NATO, replacing career diplomat Kurt Volker. Mr. Daalder will be responsible for handling America's most important multilateral alliance at a time when it is facing serious challenges including:

* A resurgent Russia;

* Inequitable burden sharing of the mission in Afghanistan;

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Max Boot, Los Angeles Times wrote:

President Obama and his aides continue to impress with their handling of Afghanistan. Not only have they approved a major troop increase and a de facto commitment to nation-building, but now they have shifted personnel to make the most effective use of the added resources and turn around a failing war effort.

The big news is that Army Gen. David D. McKiernan is out after just 11 months as the top commander. He will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Just as important, if less heralded, is the decision to appoint Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, who had previously served in Afghanistan as commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, as the second-ranking commander. His role will be vital: to help the overstretched NATO staff pull together its disjointed war effort.

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by Sally McNamara

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with President Obama at the White House this week, a privilege normally reserved for fellow heads-of-state. Moscow has reciprocated this extraordinary display of friendship by pulling out of the NATO-Russia Council meeting set for May 19, and expelling two NATO officials from their Moscow offices after NATO expelled two Russian diplomats suspected of spying.

After meeting President Obama, Minister Lavrov delivered a public speech outlining multiple Russian concerns, including deployment of U.S. missile defenses in Europe and NATO's eastern expansion. Lavrov also stated that Moscow is open for cooperation with NATO allies and regional powers on Afghanistan.

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by Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D.

In his first 100 days in office, President Barack Obama completed two whirlwind tours of Europe and Latin America. His message on both continents was simple: America has made many mistakes in the past, but we're ready now to listen to others and be more flexible. It was a hugely popular message that brought him thunderous applause, particularly when he criticized or apologized for America--to an extent that no other sitting American President had done before on foreign soil.

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by Lisa Curtis

Testimony before the Committee on Foreign Affairs U.S. House of Representatives

Developing and implementing an effective U.S. policy toward Pakistan is one of the most complicated yet important foreign policy challenges the Obama Administration faces. Pakistan is in the midst of societal and political shifts that are challenging its leadership's ability to maintain stability and even raising questions about the potential for an Islamic revolution in the country. Pakistan has long suffered from ethnic and sectarian divisions in different parts of the country. But the more recent

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By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been carefully watching the fallout from the Obama administration's decision to release four classified memos from former President George W. Bush's administration that authorized "enhanced interrogation techniques." In a visit to CIA headquarters last week, President Barack Obama promised not to prosecute agency personnel who carried out such interrogations, since they were following lawful orders. Critics of the techniques, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., have called for the formation of a "truth commission" to investigate the matter, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to launch a criminal inquiry into the matter.

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by Daniel Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia - Council on Foreign Relations

Recommendation: Shift from AfPak to PakAf.

The Obama administration should recalibrate its strategy to emphasize the priority of the mission in Pakistan and to prepare domestic and international audiences for expanded, sustained U.S. engagement in South Asia. The present approach—professing narrow counter terror goals while seeking expanded state-building resources in Afghanistan and Pakistan—may be a politically astute means to garner early support, but runs the risk of confusing the American public (as well as U.S. allies and adversaries) down the road about Washington's true intentions. That confusion is likely to make a costly commitment to the region harder to justify and sustain over the long run.

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By Daniel Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia - Council on Foreign Relations

Introduction

President Barack Obama publicly unveiled his administration's so-called AfPak (Afghanistan-Pakistan) strategy on March 27, 2009. Over the subsequent weeks, the White House has also briefed relevant congressional leaders and committees, the media, NATO allies, and other regional and international partners. The U.S. House of Representatives has moved ahead with its own legislative debate (the PEACE bill), and the administration recently submitted a 2009 supplemental budget request consistent with its new strategy.

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By George Friedman

The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), a group vehemently opposed to the Cuban government, came out in favor of easing the U.S. isolation of Cuba last week. The move opens the possibility that the United States might shift its policies toward Cuba. Florida is a key state for anyone who wants to become president of the United States, and the Cuban community in Florida is substantial. Though the Soviet threat expired long ago, easing the embargo on Cuba has always held limited value to American politicians with ambitions. For them, Florida is more important than Cuba. Therefore, this historic shift alters the U.S. domestic political landscape.

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