The World Next Week podcast is up. Sebastian Mallaby kindly sat in for me this week. He and Bob McMahon discussed the upcoming European Union summit, the Greek parliament’s 2012 budget vote, the Bonn II conference on Afghanistan’s future, and prospects for new sanctions on Iran following the attack on the UK embassy in Tehran.
- European Union leaders face a number of critical decisions to head off a deepening of the eurozone debt crisis. Notable among them is whether to ramp up the role of the European Central Bank, in particular by expanding the scope of its bond purchase program. Germany, the continent’s economic titan, will continue to press for eurozone treaty changes in exchange for offering more bailout support.
- Greece’s budget vote, while an important step, does little to resolve the country’s massive debt problems. A Greek departure from the eurozone, despite its potential benefits, could create huge disruptive problems for the economy.
- A conference in Bonn, convening 10 years after the first international gathering to discuss the path of post-Taliban Afghanistan, appears destined for failure because of Pakistan’s boycott and the likelihood that Iran, Uzbekistan, and important Taliban officials will not attend.
- Iran faces growing international isolation and sanctions following the apparently orchestrated attack on the British embassy in Tehran. European leaders appear poised to join in U.S.-led efforts to expand sanctions. Meanwhile, the embassy incident points to ongoing rifts within the Iranian regime.
- Bob’s Figure of the Week is Thein Sein. Sebastian’s is 6 ¾. Like you, I will have to listen to the podcast to find out more.
The Washington Post reports that European leaders may be on the verge of taking aggressive new steps to save the eurozone, and the New York Times provides a helpful Q&A on the current state of the crisis. Reuters reports that Greek workers are striking to protest austerity measures in the 2012 budget, and also argues that Greece has garnered too little international attention recently. The Atlantic writes that the Bonn II Conference on Afghanistan will have no real substance if Pakistan and Iran do not attend, but Linda Robinson argues in Foreign Policy that there is still hope for a stable Afghan state. The BBC reports that the EU will impose new sanctions on Iran in the wake of the attack on the British embassy, and Max Boot writes in the Los Angeles Times that the West is failing to take sufficient steps to address the threat of Iran.