The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed Chinese president Xi Jinping’s meeting with President Obama in California, Peruvian president Ollanta Humala’s trip to Washington, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s testimony before the House budget committee.
- President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet tomorrow and Saturday in Rancho Mirage, California, a resort town just south of Palm Springs, about 120 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The specific site for the meeting is Sunnylands, the estate of the late American publishing magnate Walter Annenberg, who among other things created TV Guide and Seventeen magazine. Assuming that the air conditioning holds up—forecasters are predicting clear skies and temperatures topping out at 106° F, or about 41° C—Sunnylands should provide the perfect backdrop for the kind of summit that President Xi has asked for and President Obama has agreed to: one that provides ample time for the two leaders to get to know each rather than haggling over specific deliverables. The two presidents certainly have no shortage of things to talk about: cybersecurity, China’s territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas, and America’s “rebalance” to Asia, to name just three. Both sides are saying that they hope that meeting will enable Obama and Xi to develop a rapport. The problem is that even if the two men conclude that they can work with each other, that goodwill might not take them very far in a crisis. Interests usually trump friendship.
- After wrapping up his meeting with President Xi, President Obama will return to Washington, DC, where he will host Peruvian president Ollanta Humala on Tuesday. The issues likely to top the agenda for Obama’s conversation with President Humala will be narco-trafficking and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. President Humala’s visit comes on the heels of a flurry of administration activity aimed at Latin America and the Caribbean. Just last month President Obama visited Mexico and Costa Rica, while Vice President Biden traveled to Brazil, Colombia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
- Secretary Hagel’s testimony before the House Budget Committee will highlight the fiscal pressures that the Department of Defense faces. The sequester has taken a big bite out of the Pentagon’s budget. So far DoD has taken the budget cuts in stride, but many defense officials question how long that will remain the case. A few Republicans might be open to considering tax increases as a way of providing the Pentagon budget relief. But most congressional Republicans look to be sticking to their no-tax-increases position. Meanwhile, the idea of exempting the defense budget from the sequester has few if any fans among congressional Democrats. If that legislative impasses holds, and it looks like it will, DoD will have to rethink some of its basic assumptions about missions, roles, and compensation. That will be a painful conversation, as everyone involved will want the cuts to come out of someone else’s budget.
- Bob’s Figure of the Week is 1.5 percent. My Figure of the Week is Susan Rice. 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:
Obama and Xi meet: Elizabeth Economy discusses how Obama and Xi can “break the summit stalemate” by focusing on the positive aspects of the relationship between their two countries. Brookings reports that the length of the meeting will allow Obama and Xi to move past prepared talking points. USA Today says cybersecurity will be a central topic of discussion. The CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy in the Digital Age warns that "escalating attacks on countries, companies, and individuals, as well as pervasive criminal activity, threaten the security and safety of the Internet."
Peruvian president Humala visits Washington: The Peruvian Times announces President Humala’s trip to Washington. Time reports that this meeting indicates the Obama administration’s hope to forge stronger economic ties with Latin America. The Washington Post interviewed President Humala after his 2011 visit to the United States when he discussed the importance of Peru’s growing free trade agreements.
Secretary Hagel’s House budget committee testimony: The Department of Defense has a summary of its 2014 budget proposal. Time writes that the Strategic Choices and Management Review assembled by Secretary Hagel has led the Department of Defense “strategically adrift.” Bloomberg reports Secretary Hagel assured Asian allies that budget reductions would not impact U.S. commitments to the region.