from The Water's Edge

The World Next Week: Iran Talks Resume in Geneva, Senate Armed Services Committee Hears About Sequestration, and the World Chess Championship Begins

Delegations meet at the United Nations offices in Geneva for the Iran nuclear talks (Fabrice Coffrini/Courtesy Reuters).

November 1, 2013

Delegations meet at the United Nations offices in Geneva for the Iran nuclear talks (Fabrice Coffrini/Courtesy Reuters).
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The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed next week’s nuclear talks in Geneva, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s hearing on the effects of sequestration, and the World Chess Championships in India.


The highlights:

  • Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program resume next week in Geneva. Last month’s talks resulted in some progress—at least enough to keep the talks going. But progress isn’t the same as being close to having a deal. Some of the news coming out of Tehran suggests that Iran is willing to limit its nuclear ambitions. That news is almost immediately contradicted by other signals that suggest that Iran intends to remain defiant in the face of international pressure. Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill some lawmakers are pushing for the United States to impose even tougher sanctions on Iran, arguing that this is precisely the wrong time to ease up on Tehran.
  • The chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines testify next week before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Their likely message will be: the sequester is hurting the military’s readiness and effectiveness. If Congress does not rewrite the sequester before it goes into effect again in mid-January, the military will need to cut the base defense budget, which was set at $518 billion by the concurrent resolution that ended the partial government shutdown, by $20 billion. The House and Senate are on record wanting to fund the FY14 base defense budget at $552 billion. The challenge is how to make it happen. Defense spending isn’t likely to go up unless Democrats and Republicans settle their differences on broader budget, entitlement, and tax issues. So the U.S. military is unlikely to get a reprieve from fiscal austerity any time soon.
  • The World Chess Championship begins next week in Chennai, India. Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the number-one ranked player in the world, faces off against India’s own Viswanathan Anand, the reigning five-time world champion. The match doesn’t have the geopolitical overtones of the epic 1972 showdown between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in Reykjavik. The match does provide a reminder, however, that the geopolitical focus of chess has shifted. Whereas Soviets and Eastern Europeans once dominated the game, its popularity is growing in Asia.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is ten. My Figure of the Week is David Américo Ortiz Arias. (Thank you, Big Papi. Thank you.) Our audience-nominated Figure of the Week comes from TWNW listener @ozcelik_ht who picked Lakhdar Brahimi. As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.

For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:

Geneva Talks: CBS News explains Iran’s new approach to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The New York Times writes that an Iranian lawmaker claims that Iran has stopped producing nuclear grade uranium. Foreign Policy describes the views of Congress after the last round of negotiations and how Democrats and AIPAC jeopardize Iran talks.

Sequestration: The House Armed Services Committee reports on previous hearings on sequestration. The Department of Defense has news on how sequestration could affect national security. DefenseNews compiles military leaders’ warnings about future budget cuts. The White House has an interactive sequestration map. The Washington Post explains why sequestration still matters.

World Chess Championships: The Times of India interviews Viswanathan Anand as he prepares for the championship and describes one of Magnus Carlsen’s unique tactics. Views and News from Norway reports Carlsen’s preparation for the tournament. BBC News explains why chess is on the rise in India. The New York Times illustrates the politics of the chess world.