Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Daily Strike-4/5/09-4:30am Phone Call

Good Sunday evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. I think we might need a sequel to Team American World Police. Let's get to it.

NORTH KOREA: Last night, North Korea launched a long-range missile last night, igniting a challenge that marks a critical point in the Obama Presidency. Although it was clear that North Korea would violate the UN Security Council and launch the missile in the next couple of weeks, the timing is particularly suspicious. The launch happened hours before Obama gave a speech calling on the world to abandon nuclear weapons. Because the launch happened in the middle of the night, Obama was woken up by the proverbial phone call from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would have been proud of herself, if she weren't busy dealing with a potential international crisis.

North Korea basically lied to its people, and to the international community by saying it was launching a satellite as part of a peaceful program. The missile did not make into orbit, and instead landed in the Pacific Ocean. Still, the provocative act presents an unexpected foreign policy challenge early in Obama's term. Prior to January 20th, a lot of us thought that the Bush administration's deal with North Korea was one of its few diplomatic successes. It was criticized by the far-right for being too lenient on the regime. These critics continued barking today. Former UN ambassador John Bolton criticized Obama's approach, saying that diplomacy has been useless. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich says that the US should have tried to intercept the weapon. I hope Obama never takes advice from these neo-cons.

TURKEY: The President moves on to Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey in the next couple of days. At the NATO meeting in Prague today, Obama voiced strong support for including Turkey in the EU. Turkey has been trying to attain EU membership for years, but it's application has been stalled by many European leaders, notably French President Nikolas Sarkozy. European countries have been reluctant to accept Turkey because it shares a border with volatile Middle-East countries, and has some political and legal practices that don't conform to European values. It's interesting that President Obama would wade into such a lightning-rod issue that has little practical effect on the United States. One reason he may be pushing Turkish accession is because it would be a message to the Muslim world that they are welcome in the West. Turkey is the only majority Muslim country that would be a part of the European Union. The President may want to be building as much goodwill with the Muslim world as possible.

Today was one of the few days we only covered international news! More on domestic politics in tomorrow's Weekly Strike. Please leave comments!

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