This week brought this year’s annual presidential State of the Union by United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday 28 January. In terms of foreign policy, such world topics did not have a large piece in the speech.
President Obama stated that “America must move off a permanent war footing,” reiterating that American troops are out of Iraq and will be having a small support role in Afghanistan. He did acknowledge that al-Qaeda and other terrorist threats are still prevalent to this day.
The Guardian’s national security editor Spencer Ackerman rated Obama’s foreign policy and national security SOTU statements a letter grade of D, declaring the following:
Obama’s getting credit in the media for saying the bare minimum of things on foreign policy, like taking America off “permanent war footing”, but all he’s shown that to mean is winding down ground wars, one of which he massively escalated. All the authorities for global war, unbounded by time and space, remain. Obama missed a big chance to make a case to a hostile Congress that a diplomatic settlement with Iran is overwhelmingly in the US national interest, preferring a cautious defense of an interim Iran nuclear deal. He’ll have to move heaven and earth in Congress if he’s to pull off what would be the US’s biggest diplomatic breakthrough in 25 years.
Additional sources: The Bookings Institution released a “2014 Big Bets and Black Swans” report on U.S. foreign policy challenges in the coming year; Atlantic Media’s Defense One has a “State of Defense”
An alleged 20 year plan for international terrorist organization al-Qaeda has been again detailed by Middle East news publication al Akhbar. The outline by the organization entails seven steps through the two decades of planned action.
The documents outlining this strategy were published in 2005. Comparing their contents to reality, one realizes that many of the objectives have indeed been achieved: the attacks in New York and Washington in 2001; using Iraq and Afghanistan as a base to build a “jihadi army”; and the subsequent expansion into Syria, culminating with the declaration of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2013, as was stated in the documents published in 2005. Will al-Qaeda continue to grow in strength all the way to achieving victory in 2020?
The year of 2013 was a part of the fourth stage, according to expert Aaron Zelin, which had al-Qaeda hoping to further capitalizing on instability from the ongoing unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. The next year transitioning into the fifth stage has al-Qaeda working toward building an Islamic state or caliphate. This is relevant as there have been recent attempts to establish such control in Iraq and Syria. CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen says al-Qaeda “controls more territory than ever in the Middle East.”
The upcoming Olympics in Sochi continues to create much distrust and anxiety for those attending, participating and watching the games from around the world since the venue is placed near a region with a long history of conflict.
The United States declares that their security concerns lie on the region outside the Sochi Olympic venue “ring of steel.” A top counterterrorism official says there’s “substantial potential” for a terrorist attack on the outskirts outside the Sochi venue area despite the confirmation of strong security.
However, President Obama shared Friday that he believes Sochi is safe and that Americans should attend the games if they’d like to. He does advise being careful, but ultimately suggests attending if interest is there.
HEADLINES: Obama nominates new NSA, Cyber Command head | Iraq releases rare photo of al-Qaeda ISIL leader | United States scales back military exercise with South Korea | Afghanistan exit is seen as peril to CIA drone mission, how much is a drone base worth? | Russia sending advanced air-defense systems to Kazakhstan | United States activists protest against Okinawa base plan | Israel urged to prepare for battlefields dominated by robots | Iraq to buy 24 apache helicopters from United States
SYRIA: Intel chief says Syrian al-Qaeda wants to attack the United States | United States intel chief says Syria may be able to create biological weapons | Europeans are flocking to the war in Syria, what happens when they come home?
SPOTLIGHT ON SOCHI: Russia now clarifying a free speech issue | Interpol announces help effort for Russia in scoping out crime at the games | Sochi activists in court over access to games | Can terrorists penetrate Olympic venue “ring of steel?”
TO WATCH: North Korea expands site for bigger missile | United States warns Moscow on concern over cruise missile test | U.S. says Russia may have violated missile treaty | A new NATO for the 21st century?