More big demonstrations erupted later on Monday in Cairo, with pro-Morsi demonstrators marching on the American embassy and on Egyptian Army headquarters.
** QUICK HITS. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey, in a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Monday, warned senators off essentially every option for intervention in the Syrian civil war. Senator John McCain had placed a hold on is re-appointment as JCS chairman for his insufficient enthusiasm, then said he wanted direct testimony on intervention options instead. He got it. … Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the road as he so often is, spent Monday at at a massive fire in Montana with a film crew for Years of Living Dangerously, the Showtime limited series on climate change that he, James Cameron, and others are producing for airing in 2014. … California Republicans have a shot on Tuesday at taking a big chunk out of the Democratic super-majority in the state legislature. Their Anglo farmer candidate ran first this spring in the special election to replace a rising star Latino Democratic state senator who suddenly resigned to head up public affairs for a big oil company. But the Republican did come up short of a majority, so is in a run-off with a Latina Kern County supervisor. … Things got worse for embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Monday afternoon, when attorney Gloria Allred showed up with her new client. That’s Filner’s former communications director, who detailed a pattern of sexual harassment of her that, if accurate, warrants Filner’s prompt resignation.
** NEW SURVEY: AMERICA’S POPULARITY DECLINING AROUND THE WORLD BUT GREATER THAN CHINA’S. A new Pew Research survey of dozens of countries around the world reveals that America’s popularity is in decline in most of the world, even under President Barack Obama. But the US is still more popular than the globe’s nascent superpower, China.
The US has one very big pubic relations problem in the poll. And another that is not tested by the poll. More on that in a moment.
Most oppose the Obama Administration’s widespread use of drone strikes. In fact, only three nations have popular majorities in favor of the more expansive US drone strike policy utilized by Obama over that of George W. Bush. Those three nations? Israel, Kenya (home of Obama’s late father), and the US itself.
Respect for individual rights is at the cornerstone of American popularity. Which makes the timing of the poll noteworthy, and somewhat troubling.
The survey was conducted between early March and early May of this year. That’s well before the Snowden revelations of massive US surveillance of international populations.
Publics around the world believe the global balance of power is shifting. China’s economic power is on the rise, and many think it will eventually supplant the United States as the world’s dominant superpower.
However, China’s increasing power has not led to more positive ratings for the People’s Republic. Overall, the U.S. enjoys a stronger global image than China. Across the nations surveyed, a median of 63% express a favorable opinion of the U.S., compared with 50% for China. …
And the military power of both nations worries many. China’s growing military strength is viewed with trepidation in neighboring Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines. Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes faces broad opposition – half or more in 31 of 39 countries disapprove of U.S. drone attacks against extremist groups.
Respecting individual liberty remains the strong suit of America’s image. Even in many nations where opposition to American foreign policy is widespread and overall ratings for the U.S. are low, majorities or pluralities believe individual rights are respected in the U.S. Across the nations surveyed, a median of 70% say the American government respects the personal freedoms of its people. In contrast, a median of only 36% say this about China. …
In the current poll, half or more of those surveyed have a positive opinion of the U.S. in 28 of 38 nations. The percentage of people who give the U.S. a positive rating has increased significantly in 19 of the 28 countries polled both this year and in 2007, when the Pew Research Center last conducted a global survey on this scale.
America’s improved image is coincident with Barack Obama assuming the presidency in 2009. Obama has largely received more positive ratings than his predecessor, George W. Bush. Today, at least half of those polled in 24 of 39 nations say they have confidence in the American president to do the right thing in world affairs. Eight-in-ten or more hold this view in Germany (88%), the Philippines (84%), France (83%), Canada (81%) and Kenya (81%).
Even so, Obama’s ratings are lower now than when he first took office. The decline has been especially steep in China, where confidence in the American president today (31%) is half of what it was in 2009 (62%).
Similarly, support for Obama’s policies has waned since the beginning of his presidency. For instance, even though he remains largely popular in Europe, approval of his international policies has declined by double digits since 2009 in Britain, Poland and France.
Drone strikes, one of the key features of Obama’s national security policy, are widely opposed across the globe. In 31 of 39 nations, at least half disapprove of U.S. drone attacks against extremists in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. In 12 countries, eight-in-ten or more hold this view. The only countries in which a majority supports American drone strikes are Israel (64%), Kenya (56%), and the U.S. itself (61%). …
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc has won majority of seats in the upper house of parliament in elections, giving it control of both chambers for the first time in six years.The win was seen as an endorsement of Abe’s economic program, which has helped spark a tentative recovery. The return of the legendary Liberal Democratic Party to power gives the US a politically stable major ally in East Asia.
** OBAMA MONDAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 12 noon Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of State John Kerry in the Oval Office.
At 4:25 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at the Organizing for Action event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel – Grand Ballroom B&C.
At 5:10 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks and answers questions at an Organizing for Action dinner
at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel – Oriental Ballroom.
In Egypt, following mass demonstrations over the weekend, the Muslim Brotherhood leadership which has not been arrested by the army-backed interim government rejected dialogue until jailed President Mohamed Morsi, ousted in a military coup early this month, is freed.
Senator John McCain on Sunday blasted US policy on the Syrian civil war as “a disgrace.” The Obama Administration has promised very limited standard arms shipments and training, unlikely even if carried out to make a difference in a war being won by the Assad regime, and Syrian rebels complain that the US promises have proved illusory. McCain threatens to hold up the re-appointment of Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey in retaliation.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s bid to jump-start the long-stalled Middle East peace process between Israelis and Palestinians — announced with with such promise just a few days ago — appears to be floundering already. Top Israeli politicians of the right don’t want to proceed and Palestinian leaders insist on a return to pre-1967 borders as a precondition of talks.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden is embarking on a trip in furtherance of the Asia-Pacific Pivot. Biden will hold strategy discussions with top officials in Singapore and India.
By an odd coincidence, while Biden is meeting with top officials concerned with the simmering crisis in the South China Sea, Obama will host the president of Vietnam at the White House. Vietnam is engaged in tense stand-offs with China over the PRC’s expansive claim of sovereignty over virtually the entirety of that very strategic body of water.
Obama’s week from a public standpoint sees him trying to change the subject back to revitalizing the economy with speeches in a couple of states.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Egyptian coup, the Snowden revelations, the Syrian civil war, the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Persian/Arabian Gulf is ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time. The time in Manila, on the South China Sea, is fifteen hours ahead of Pacific time. The time on the Korean Peninsula is sixteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
** DESPITE MULTIPLE CRISES, OBAMA’S ASIA-PACIFIC MOVES ROLL ON. The crises just keep on coming for the Obama Administration. Egypt, Syria, Snowden, Russia, Afghanistan, boom boom boom. But the Asia-Pacific Pivot — from over-engagement with the Islamic world of the Middle East and Central Asia to the rising Asia-Pacific region — keeps moving forward.
Vice President Joe Biden visits the vast region this week, meeting with top leaders in Singapore and India. And President Barack Obama hosts the president of Vietnam, America’s increasingly friendly former bitter enemy, in a White House visit.
By an odd coincidence, while Biden is meeting with top Asia-Pacific officials concerned with the simmering crisis in the South China Sea — virtually all of which is claimed by China as its sovereign territory — Washington will roll out the red carpet for Vietnam, which is repeatedly bumping up against Chinese forces not far from its own coast on the South China Sea. (See Pivot archive here.)
On Thursday morning, Obama will welcome Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang to the White House. Obama and President Sang will discuss how to strengthen an emerging partnership on regional strategic issues. Obama will also focus on human rights, climate change, and “the importance of completing a high standard Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.” Which will notably include Vietnam, but not China.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose Liberal Democratic Party won the upper house of the national parliament in weekend elections to go along with the recent return of its longstanding control of the lower house, is expected to pursue more pro-U.S. policies now that the LDP’s traditional dominance of Japanese politics is restored. The LDP has been in power in Japan almost continuously since 1955, with the most notable exception the 2009-2012 stint of the more liberal Democratic Party of Japan, which lost power after the Fukushima debacle.
Abe heads to Manila late this week for an official visit with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to discuss the two countries’ “Strategic Partnership.” (Japan is one of two official Strategic Partners of the Philippines, the other being the U.S.) The Philippines and Japan are in the midst of tense maritime disputes with China, over islands in the South China Sea and East China Sea, respectively.
Chinese military officials complain that the U.S. is joining with Japan and, increasingly, India in a strategy to encircle and contain China. And that the U.S. is taking advantage of deep disapproval by China’s neighbors of its extraordinary claim of sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea.
Indeed, Xinhua, the official news agency of the People’s Republic of China — which began as the Red China News Agency — issued a noteworthy communique late last week: …
A Los Angeles rally over the weekend protesting the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Florida shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin was peaceful, as were all companion events around the country. In fact, despite many predictions from the far right and a lot of media hype, there was little violence to be found in the wave of protests that erupted right after the verdict.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES – MONDAY. Governor Jerry Brown is in Germany.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is in the midst of a two-week trip to Ireland and Germany, exploring his ancestral roots in both nations.
He’s accompanied on the largely personal trip by First Lady/Special Counsel Anne Gust Brown and his sister and brother-in-law, former California Treasurer Kathleen Brown and former CBS News president Van Gordon Sauter.
NOTE: Now that California’s budget process is concluded and the state’s political crisis has subsided and with things going so smoothly in presidential politics — okay, that’s not quite right — New West Notes, with travel in the picture, will not be publishing around the clock for awhile. But there will be no shortage of columns and articles and publication here will be regular.
** HOW PROP 187 BECAME THE PIVOT FOR THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE AND FUTURE OF DEMOCRATIC POLITICS. … From my July 18th essay.
** BETTER TO BE RESPECTED OR FEARED? … From my June 16th column.
** WELCOME PROTO-SKYNET. … From my July 12th column.
** ICONS OF AN ERA. … From my July 10th essay.
** OBAMA PIVOTS AMIDST ENCROACHING CHAOS: IS THE PROMISE OF THE CALIFORNIA SUMMIT RECEDING IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR? … From my July 5th essay.
** LATEST SNOWDEN REVELATIONS: HOW VERY FAR WE’VE COME FROM THE DAYS OF ‘GENTLEMEN DO NOT READ EACH OTHER’S MAIL.’ … From my July 1st essay.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in major military operations in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $107 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $73 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down about $7 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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