from The Water's Edge

The World Next Week: Obama Diplomacy in High Gear

May 19, 2011

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Diplomacy and International Institutions

President Barack Obama delivers a speech about U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa today at the State Department on May 19, 2011.
President Barack Obama delivers a speech about U.S. policy in the Middle East today at the State Department. (Jim Young/courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I talked about President Obama’s speech today on the Middle East; his trip to Europe next week; and what will be on the agenda when he stops in Deauville, France for the G8 summit. We also introduced a new feature called “Figures of the Week.”

[audio: http://www.cfr.org/content/publications/media/podcast/2011/20110519_TWN…]

The highlights:

  • President Obama’s wide-ranging speech laid down a lot of markers. He wants Arab governments to reform and Israelis and Palestinians to agree to a two-state solution “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” He left the many “what if?” questions unanswered, though: What if the Bahrainis refuse to allow peaceful political protest? What if President Ali Abdullah Saleh refuses to step down as president of Yemen? What if Qaddafi hangs on? What if Hamas does not abandon its commitment to the destruction of Israel?
  • Obama will visit a town of his ancestors in Ireland, enjoy a state visit to Britain, and make his first visit to Poland. Bob tells me not to read anything into the fact that he is not stopping in Germany, Europe’s most populous country and economic titan.
  • Lots of issues will be on the G-8 summit agenda, but the future of the Eurozone and the war in Libya will likely dominate the conversations on the margins of the meetings if not the formal sessions themselves.
  • For our figures of the week I went with “DSK.” Bob went with “147.” To find out exactly what that means, you have to listen to the podcast.

Bob and I aren’t the only commentators weighing in on these current events. Aaron David Miller, a veteran of the Mideast peace process, previews tomorrow’s Obama-Netanyahu summit and argues that the prospects for a peace deal in this climate are dim. Reuters covers the missile defense issue that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is likely to bring up with Obama at the G8 summit, and the Economist discusses French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s leadership of the group. The Guardian previews Obama’s efforts at transatlantic diplomacy and speech at Westminster Hall and the Belfast Telegraph discusses Obama’s planned speech in Dublin.

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