Return to   |   Subscribe to the Daily News Brief

Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
February 21, 2012

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Eurozone Approves New Greek Bailout

Eurozone finance ministers agreed to a new $172 billion bailout package (WSJ) for Greece early this morning, along with a 53 percent write-down of Greek debt by the country's private sector creditors. The plan is expected to reduce Greece's debt burden from 160 percent to 120.5 percent of GDP by 2020. The European Central Bank also agreed to indirectly help Greece by distributing future profits on its holdings of Greek bonds bought on the secondary market. Under the agreement, the European Commission would have an "enhanced and permanent presence" in Athens to monitor the country's implementation of strict austerity measures.


"Now here we are, nearly two years later, and this second deal is plagued by many of the same failings and faulty assumptions of the first. That means this latest bailout may not be a real solution to the Greek debt crisis, but merely another stopgap that prevents an immediate crisis while postponing more tough decisions to a later date," writes TIME's Michael Schuman.

"In truth, Greece has of course been bankrupt for a long time. The country doesn't need debt forgiveness of 70 percent, it needs a 100 percent debt cut if it is ever to recover. This sick cow won't be producing any milk for years to come," writes Der Spiegel's Christian Rickens.

"We cannot force Greece to leave the eurozone. So we have to make it clear to the people of Europe: this is going to be expensive, for a long time. The tactic of aid packages has to be ended, immediately. We have to properly help the country to reinvent itself. There needs to be incentives to invest. People in the development business call it 'state building,'" writes Deutsche Welle's Henrik Böhme.



South Korea Holds Military Drill

The South Korean Marine Corps conducted a live-fire military drill near the disputed Yellow Sea border with North Korea, even as Pyongyang threatened retaliation over Seoul's "premeditated military provocation" (al-Jazeera).

This CFR Crisis Guide offers a detailed overview of the dispute between North and South Korea.

MYANMAR: The military-backed civilian government lifted restrictions on political campaigning (AP) for the country's upcoming by-elections after complaints by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.



NATO Commander Admits 'Improper' Koran Disposal

The NATO commander in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen, issued an apology to the Afghan government and people (AFP) after NATO troops at Bagram Airbase reportedly "improperly disposed" of Korans, prompting more than 2,000 Afghans to protest outside the U.S.-run base north of Kabul.

This CFR Timeline examines the events that precipitated the U.S. war in Afghanistan as well as the history of the war.

INDIA: An Indian court ordered two Italian marines to be held in judicial custody (BBC) for two weeks on Monday after they were accused of killing two Indian fishermen during an incident off the coast of Kerala state last week.



Iran Warns of Preemptive Action

Iran warned today of a preemptive attack against its perceived enemies if the country feels its national interests are in jeopardy (NYT), amid rising tensions with the West over its controversial nuclear program. A day earlier, UN nuclear investigators visiting Tehran were barred from Iranian nuclear facilities.

This CFR Crisis Guide traces Iran's history, its evolution as an Islamic republic, and its controversial nuclear program.

YEMEN: Yemenis turned out to vote in an unprecedented presidential election (CNN), formally ending the reign of longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh. Vice President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi was the sole candidate.



Al-Shabaab Forced Somali Children to Fight

Somalia's Islamist al-Shabaab rebels forcibly abducted entire classrooms of children (BBC) over the past two years, using boys as "cannon fodder" on the front lines of fighting and girls as the "wives" of militants, Human Rights Watch said in a new report.

This CFR Backgrounder provides a profile of the al-Shabaab Islamist militant organization based in southern Somalia.

DJIBOUTI: Four U.S. soldiers were killed (Reuters) in an airplane crash near a U.S. airbase used for carrying out "Operation Enduring Freedom"--the so-called War on Terror--in the Horn of Africa.



Strauss-Kahn to be Questioned Over Prostitution Ring

French police investigating an alleged prostitution ring in Lille (Guardian) are set to question former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn today. Strauss-Kahn was forced to resign his post last year following a sexual assault scandal in New York.



U.S., Mexico Reach Drilling Agreement

The United States and Mexico reached an agreement to jointly regulate oil and gas exploration (NYT) along their shared maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico, potentially opening a million new acres to deepwater drilling.

MEXICO: Economy Secretary Bruno Ferrari said the country is pushing to join the United States and eight other nations in negotiations over a multilateral free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (WSJ). Ferrari said it could add $180 billion in value to Mexican exports.

Mexico's economy and tourism industry are growing despite an escalation in drug violence in recent years, says CFR's Shannon O'Neil in this CFR Interview.


Campaign 2012

Poll Finds Voters Think Iran the Biggest U.S. Enemy

Iran rates as the United States' greatest enemy, according to 32 percent of U.S. voters surveyed in Gallup's annual world affairs poll. Iran has topped the list for the past five surveys and has the most unfavorable U.S. voter rating, at 87 percent, of any country surveyed this year.

China took second place in the poll for the greatest enemy, its highest point ever, which is likely tied to its growing global economic influence. In a Detroit News op-ed, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum criticized China's trade policies and laid out a plan to help "homegrown" industries by eliminating taxes for manufacturing activity.

Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.



Connect with CFR

cfr on facebook Facebook
cfr on twitter Twitter
cfr on youtube YouTube
cfr on youtube Mobile
cfr on youtube Join the conversation at»