Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Daily Strike-4/4/09-NATO

Good Saturday and welcome to the Daily Strike. It's cherry blossom weekend here in Washington, but the President is thousands of miles away in Europe.

NATO: The President today met with the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Strousburg, France. The first purpose of the meeting was to welcome new members Albania and Croatia. The second was to choose the next Secretary General of NATO, which will be Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark. President Obama played a key role in the choice of the new Secretary General. Turkey had taken issue with Rasmussen because Denmark has allowed the broadcast of "Roj TV" which Turkey considers to be a mouthpiece for Kurdistan Workers Party. Turkey, as well as the United States, considers this party to be a terrorist organization. Obama was able to help assuage Turkey's concerns.

The other important development from the NATO meeting was the response to the President's new Afghanistan policies. European leaders, like Germany's Merkel and France's Sarkozy expressed optimism about the plan, and committed to ensuring its success. NATO even agreed to send about 5,000 peacekeeping envoys into the region. They did stop short, however, of agreeing to send combat troops, which is what President Obama has been pushing for. Obama has tried to make the case for the last couple of days that victory in Afghanistan must be a joint effort between the United States in Europe. But European countries have almost as much war fatigue as we do, and I think there is still some healthy skepticism across the pond as to whether there are reachable goals in Afghanistan. Consider me one of those skeptics. Obama has arrived in Prague this evening, where he will hold a series of bilateral meetings and speak to an EU summit.

WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama used his weekly radio address to talk about how with globalization, the world's problems are interconnected. He talked about how terrorists that attacked the U.S. trained in Afghanistan, plotted in Germany, and sought to attack many western countries. He mentioned how cars in Boston and Beijing both contribute to the melting of the polar ice caps. He heralded this weekend's G20 summit as a first step to solving the global financial crisis. Because the world's economies are now more dependent on one another, the importance of diplomacy and international cooperation have enhanced.

Giving the Republican response was Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee. The young, fresh-faced Ryan repeated the GOP mantra on Obama's budget, that it "spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much." They have been repeating this slogan incessantly over the last week. Every speaker on the House or Senate floor pretty much said this phrase verbatim. I think it's really politically tone deaf, personally. First, it makes it seem like the Republicans have no actual convictions, but are rather simply repeating a catchy Frank Luntz slogan. I'm sure they poll tested this among Limbaugh listeners, and it totally caught on.

I apologize for the passive voice in the previous paragraph. Mother Strike would not be happy. See you tomorrow!

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