World News Brief, Friday August 2

Propsed $500 billion budget cut will reduce US ability to meet global security goals, says Chuck Hagel; more than 100 independent news sites chut down in China; Australia sends first group of asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea; Snowden leaves Moscow airport after Russia gives him temporary asylum; Uruguay on path to legalise marijuana; and more

Top of the Agenda: Hagel Warns of Sequestration Effects on Military

In a speech at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that if budget cuts were not lifted, the United States would be forced to significantly reduce (Politico) its global security objectives. Under the largest cuts the Pentagon is considering, the military could either maintain its size but not upgrade weaponry, or it could shrink its force (NYT) and allocate capital for the next generation of weapons. A political stalemate over a comprehensive deal for taxes and spending has required the Defense Department to plan for budget cuts of up to $500 billion through 2023.


"Moreover, there are unsettling implications to the argument that even though the wars are ending, America needs to break with historical precedent and keep its defense budget high. That's an acceptance of the idea that we're now in a permanent state of semi-war, with all that that entails. In the long run, I think that's a dangerous mindset. Bringing down the defense budget is one of the few ways to decisively reject that reimagining of America's posture toward the rest of the world," writes Ezra Klein for The Washington Post.

"The greatest consequence of such radical changes would be to diminish America's overseas presence. A drawdown in forward air, naval, and land deployments -- the inevitable product of annual budget cuts amounting to at least $60 billion -- would unnerve allies, encourage adversaries, and dissuade historically nonaligned emerging powers such as India from moving closer, both politically and militarily, to the United States," writes Dov Zakheim for Foreign Policy.

"The truth is that no amount of planning or reports will turn the sequester into anything other than the devastating cut in defense and domestic investments that it was meant to be. What's needed is action to avoid the sequester by passing balanced deficit reduction that the president can sign into law, not searching for ways to cushion the blow on defense — and nondefense — programs," writes Jeffrey Zients for Politico.



China Shuts Down News Websites

More than one hundred independent news websites have been shut down in China (SCMP) since May in what the government calls a move against extortionists. Critics have marked it a campaign against citizen journalists.

This CFR Backgrounder delves into the workings of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, including its limits on press.

AUSTRALIA: Australia sent the first group of asylum-seekers to the Manus Island processing facility in Papua New Guinea as part of its new offshore resettlement policy (BBC) established by a deal signed by the two countries on July 19. The agreement faces a legal case from Papua New Guinea's opposition.


Snowden granted temporary asylum in Russia

Uruguay on path to legalise marijuana

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