US and Britain affirm special relationship and commitment to diplomatic solution over Iran; US-UK foreign policy established after 9/11 about to end; Assad emails reveal advice from Iran, shopping sprees; South Korea-US free trade deal comes into effect; Britain may lose AAA credit rating; Ugandan victims react angrily after seeing Kony 2012; and more
Top of the Agenda: Obama, Cameron in Show of Unity
US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron affirmed their countries' joint commitments to NATO operations in Afghanistan during Cameron's state visit to Washington D.C. The allies vowed to withdraw combat troops by 2014 (NYT), in line with their current strategy, despite a wave of recent violence in Afghanistan. Cameron and Obama also pledged to work toward a diplomatic solution over Iran's controversial nuclear program, while pushing for a leadership transition in Syria to halt the year-long crackdown against opposition forces.
"Cameron and Obama marked the imminent close of the phase of US-UK foreign policy that began after 9/11 with the coming together of American imperial power and British support for the active promotion of democracy and liberal institutions, particularly in the Muslim world," writes the Guardian's Martin Kettle.
"Repeatedly since Churchill's day, British prime ministers have pressed American presidents to take military action, like the pugnacious little brother, egging on the more laidback big brother. Churchill did it to Roosevelt. Thatcher famously did it to a 'wobbly' George H.W. Bush. His son didn't need much encouragement from Tony Blair, but he got it. Is it now David Cameron's turn to goad Barack Obama onto the warpath?" writes Newsweek's Niall Ferguson.
"Much of the message of the Obama-Cameron summit is purely symbolic, but symbols are important. Obama wishes visibly to reciprocate the hospitality he enjoyed on his state visit to Britain last year, cement the notion that transatlantic relations are in good shape under his administration, and finally dispel some of the less informed speculation that he is cool toward the Anglo-American alliance," writes Oliver Kamm on ForeignPolicy.com.
South Korea, US Implement Trade Pact
A free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea came into effect today, eliminating tariffs on thousands of products (WSJ) traded between the two nations. The deal, which was ratified by the US Congress in October after years of delay, is the largest US free trade agreement since NAFTA.
Trade accounts for an increasing portion of the US economy, and the Obama administration has embraced a ramped up export strategy. But debate persists over the merits of a vigorous free trade agenda, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
CHINA: The Chinese leadership removed rising politician Bo Xilai (BBC), a contender for the central Politburo, from his post as Communist Party leader of Chongqing. The move followed a scandal that arose after Bo's former police chief visited the US consulate in an alleged effort to seek political asylum.
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org.