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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
December 6, 2013
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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: World Mourns Mandela

Presidents, athletes, and people around the world are paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday, demonstrating the universal appeal of Mandela's life and legacy in the struggle against social injustice and for human rights (AP). Presidents Obama and Xi hailed Mandela, Ukrainian protestors took a moment to recall South Africa's first black leader, and boxer Muhammad Ali said that Mandela "made us realize we are our brother's keeper and that our brothers come in all colors." Mandela, born in 1918, guided South Africa from apartheid to multiracial democracy after emerging from nearly three decades in prison with a message of reconciliation that helped the country avoid a civil war (Reuters).

Analysis

"The core of Mandela's legacy—non-racial democracy based on the rule of law—endures. At the time of Mandela's inauguration, whites by and large did not see apartheid as evil. Hence, it is significant that by 2012, polling data from the Reconciliation Barometer shows that 83.8 percent of South Africans (including all races) now see apartheid as a crime against humanity. A substantial majority of white South Africans share this view," writes CFR Senior Fellow John Campbell.

"After he initiated negotiations for the end of apartheid and led South Africa into a new era of freedom with a progressive Constitution that recognizes the rights of everyone (including homosexuals, another admirable contradiction for an African aristocrat), there was, of course, euphoria in the country. But that was a long time ago. With the rampant corruption of the current ruling elite, and the fact that very little has changed for a majority of black people, the euphoria has been replaced with disillusionment," writes Zakes Mda in the New York Times.

"Now that he's dead, and can cause no more trouble, Nelson Mandela is being mourned across the ideological spectrum as a saint. But not long ago, in Washington's highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won't truly honor his legacy," writes Peter Beinart for the Daily Beast.

 

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PACIFIC RIM

Biden Says U.S. Will Play Leading Role in Asia

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said during a speech at an elite university in South Korea that the United States will play a leading role in creating a new century of prosperity and security in Asia (AP). Biden returns to Washington on Saturday after visiting Japan, China, and South Korea this week.

INDONESIA: A multilateral trade deal may be signed at the WTO meeting in Bali after India and the United States resolved their differences on food security negotiations on Friday (FT).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the history of the WTO and the challenges of forging trade agreements.

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

U.S. Expects Delays in Afghanistan Pact

Public scolding and private appeals from top U.S. officials have failed to push Afghan president Hamid Karzai to sign a long-term security deal with the United States, and now the Obama administration expects that the standoff could drag on till next year (WSJ).

This Council Special Report assesses Afghanistan's prospects after the U.S. military drawdown.

INDIA: Former Supreme Court judge AK Ganguly was indicted by a panel of three judges for "unwelcome behavior" toward a female intern, but the panel said the case doesn't require further action, which is causing a stir in the country (Indian Express).

 

MIDDLE EAST

Al-Qaeda Claims Yemen Attack

Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, claimed responsibility for an attack on Yemen's defense ministry that killed at least fifty-two, including German citizens. The incident was the worst violence to hit the capital Sanaa in eighteen months (Deutsche Welle).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the origins and evolution of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

LIBYA: Gunmen killed Ronnie Smith, an American chemistry teacher working at an international school in Benghazi, while he was jogging on Thursday (McClathcy).

 

AFRICA

France Takes Action in Central African Republic

A French-led military force to protect civilians in the Central African Republic is mobilizing immediately after fresh sectarian fighting killed 100 people in the capital city (BBC). The UN Security Council voted to allow French troops to join an African peacekeeping force in the CAR.

 

EUROPE

Germany Raises Growth Forecast

Germany's central bank raised its growth forecast to 1.7 percent in 2014, up from its 1.5 percent prediction in June, and the Bundesbank expects growth to accelerate to 2 percent in 2015 as domestic demand in the eurozone's largest economy expands (AFP).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the eurozone crisis.

RUSSIA: Authorities in Moscow are investigating whether Russian children adopted by American families were then trafficked online by parents who regretted adopting the children (Moscow Times).

 

AMERICAS

Russian Diplomats Accused of Medicaid Fraud

The U.S. Justice Department said forty-nine Russian diplomats or their spouses collected $1.5 million in health-care benefits over a decade in New York City by claiming poverty to qualify for Medicaid, while shopping at luxury stores and taking cruise vacations (LAT).

UNITED STATES: President Obama said that problems with the rollout of the government's health insurance website were indicative of flaws in the bureaucracy rather than a management issue at the White House (Politico).

 

 

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