World News Brief, Wednesday March 7

Netanayahu insists Iran is developing nuclear weapons, therefore Israel is justified in attacking Iran's nuclear facilities; Asian markets drop in response to China's slowing economic growth; Tibetan teen is latest to set fire to himself as protest against Beijing's Tibet policy; Syria consents to United Nations visit; thousands protest in Russia after Putin's win; and more

Top of the Agenda: Israel's Netanyahu Addresses AIPAC

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons, while defending Israel's unilateral right to launch an attack (Haaretz) on Iran's nuclear facilities. During a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Monday in Washington, Netanyahu warned the international community that a nuclear-armed Iran would provide a "nuclear umbrella" for terrorist organizations. The prime minister's AIPAC address followed a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, during which Obama pushed the case for combating the Iranian nuclear issue with sanctions and diplomacy. However, he said Iranian containment was not a policy option, and maintained that he would not take military action "off the table."


"By focusing on Iran, indeed by having some among Israel's top leaders seemingly obsessed about it, Israel is ignoring (or seeking an excuse to ignore) the real existential threats on and within its own borders--demographic, social, and economic. By allowing Iran to occupy too much bandwidth, American leaders have also taken their eye off the ball," writes David Rothkopf for

"There's no doubt in any quarter that Israel is reluctant to act alone in starting a potentially disastrous war in the Middle East. And at a tactical level at least, Israel has become isolated by the many months of saber rattling in the form of statements, leaks and military exercises designed to signal that it might be about to launch air strikes on Iran," notes TIME's Tony Karon.

The central fact of this past week, which seems to have escaped everyone's attention (which itself boggles my mind), is that Barack Obama, in his speech to AIPAC Sunday, as in his interview with Jeff Goldberg before it, all but made war someday inevitable. How? By saying that containment of a nuclear Iran was not an option," writes Newsweek's Michael Tomasky.



Markets Drop Amid China Worries

Asian stock markets dropped sharply on Tuesday as investors responded to news of a downward projection in Chinese growth for 2012 (WSJ), with commodity-linked firms being the most weakened.

CHINA: A Tibetan teenager died after setting himself on fire in southwest Sichuan province in protest of Beijing's Tibet policy, the third such self-immolation (BBC) to occur this week.



Syria allows UN visit

Thousands protest Russian election result

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