World News Brief, Thursday February 14

Obama offers "rough sketch" of foreign policy for second term; 100th Tibetan monk self-immolates to protest Chinese rule over Tibet; Muslim insurgents killed during raid on Thai military base; Mexican president presents crime prevention plan; NATO air strike kills civilians in Afghanistan; and more

Top of the Agenda: Obama Sheds Light on Foreign Policy in State of the Union

In a State of the Union address dominated by issues including the economy, gun control, and immigration, U.S. President Barack Obama offered what analysts called a rough sketch of foreign policy initiatives for his second term. On Syria (FP), he pledged to "keep the pressure" on the regime and "support opposition leaders"--a contrast to his remarks on the regime from last year's speech. The president chastised North Korea (TIME) for its nuclear test earlier in the day, saying the move "will only isolate them further." And on Iran, Obama stopped short of calling for direct talks, deferring to a "diplomatic solution." He also annouced the drawdown of more than half of the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan--some 34,000--by the end of next year.


"This is the new American way of war: 'leading from behind' with smart bombs, surveillance, and logistical support in Libya and Mali; or 'advising and assisting' local armies waging their own fights against insurgents in Yemen and Uganda--but decidedly not sending tens of thousands of U.S. troops to launch an invasion or to rebuild societies afterward. In other words, no more Afghanistans," writes Fred Kaplan for Slate.

"Much of the foreign policy segment of the speech was defined by what he didn't mention: for the first time since the U.S. invasion a decade ago, a U.S. President did not mention Iraq in a State of the Union address. Obama was mum on the controversial Keystone-pipeline decision with Canada, Middle East peace, the pivot to Asia and closing Guantánamo. Most notably, he did not utter the words war on terror," writes Jay Newton-Small for TIME.

"President Barack Obama's speech Tuesday night further raised hopes that he is prepared to take action on climate change--but probably not right away. Instead, the president put most of the onus on an all-but-paralyzed Congress, with the threat that if lawmakers don't act, Obama will order agencies across his administration to come up with ways to address global warming 'for the sake of our children and our future,'" writes Darren Goode for Politico.



One Hundredth Tibetan Monk Self-Immolates

A Tibetan monk set himself on fire at a Kathmandu restaurant on Wednesday in the hundredth case (AFP) of self-immolation since the wave of protests against Chinese rule began in 2009. The cases are seen as a sign of desperation among Tibetans over perceived religious persecution.

THAILAND: A raid on a Thai military base killed sixteen Muslim insurgents (Reuters) on Wednesday in the deadliest violence in the country's south in nine years, marking a dangerous escalation of one of Asia's least-known conflicts.


Mexican president presents crime-prevention plan

NATO airstrike kills civilians in Afghanistan

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