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Panorama internacional: the FPI 2013 Forum

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The Foreign Policy Initiative held on Tuesday, Oct 22, its 2013 Forum at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C.  Below are selected RUSH quotes from the afternoon’s discussion panels.  The 2013 FPI Forum’s raw audio is available here.  C-SPAN’s video is available here.

The Crisis in Syria
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Moderator: David Ignatius, Associate Editor and Columnist, Washington Post

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) on foreign fighters in Syria: “The numbers of foreign fighters exceeds the number of foreign fighters that we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan… [T]hat sheer number alone should give you pause.  By the way, when it is over, these people will be combat trained and combat hardened, and they are going to want to go home, which means we are going to have a wave of individuals who are committed [and] who have training that we have not seen before in Europe, and by the way, the United States as well.”
Rep. Rogers on U.S. national security interests in Syria: “Our national security interests in Syria were very clear to many of us from the beginning.  [Y]ou have a place that has aided and abetted—and the estimates are as high as 600 through cutouts, Iranian cutouts through Syria in Iraq, taking the lives of 600 soldiers—this was a proxy state for a nation that was causing bad behavior in the region, including by the way, trying to kill the Saudi ambassador in the U.S. capital.” …….

Afghanistan 2014: What are the Stakes?
Dr. Seth G. Jones, Associate Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center, RAND Corporation
Dr. Frederick W. Kagan, Director, American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project
 Dr. Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Moderator: Lara Logan, 60 Minutes Correspondent, CBS News

Dr. Seth Jones on al-Qaeda’s future in Afghanistan:  “A civil war or a successful Taliban-lead insurgency would almost certainly let al-Qaeda back into Afghanistan and Pakistan, more than it is today.”
Dr. Jones on women’s rights in Afghanistan:  “A civil war or a successful Taliban-lead insurgency would deal, in my view, a severe blow to human rights, including women’s rights, in this region.  The Taliban remain deeply opposed to women’s rights and would likely reverse progress in a country that has experienced an extraordinary improvement in the number of female business owners, government officials, primary, secondary, and university students. You would see a major backlash.”
Dr. Jones on perceptions of a U.S. withdrawal:  “A U.S. exit from this country will likely foster a perception about U.S. reliability… [A]n American exit from Afghanistan, we have already seen this in jihadist networks—if it were to happen, it’s not necessarily clear—would likely be viewed and would be trumpeted by extremist groups, including al-Qaeda, as their most important victory since the departure of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989.”…

Assessing the Asia Rebalance
H.E. Kim Beazley, Australian Ambassador to the United States
Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-VA), Chairman, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces
Mr. Shigeo Yamada, Political Minister, Embassy of Japan
Moderator: Josh Rogin, Senior Correspondent for National Security and Politics, The Daily Beast  
H.E. Kim Beazley on President Obama’s inability to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit (APEC) due to the government shutdown:  “The inability of the president to be present at the APEC summit meetings was very bad.  All the spokesmen of the various countries at the time made certain that they made remarks that were supportive, and said they understood completely why the president was not there.  And, indeed, they did understand completely why the president was not there:  it would be like abandoning his post in a crisis.  He could not do that.  But nevertheless, that having been done, it did raise—privately—questions in their minds both about intentions with regard to the pivot but also the capability.”
H.E. Beazley on America’s role in the Asia-Pacific: “The notion that American commitments in north Asia are anything new is nonsense, of course.  The strongest alliance the U.S. has in the Pacific is with Japan, and arguably—and we would argue it in the case of Australia—the second strongest is the Korean [alliance].  The United States has a immensely sophisticated detailed engagement with the Chinese.  There’s a long longstanding U.S. involvement.  The issue is a Southeast Asian issue.  You have to look to history.  The Nixon Doctrine took the United States out of a great deal of Southeast Asian diplomacy.  And what the Southeast Asians are trying to do now, is work out where the U.S. fits in.  They don’t quite know.  They’re delighted the U.S. is engaged.  They think that’s terrific.  But how the U.S. fits in—they’re like coaxing the U.S. all about time about seeing whether they can get reactions, say, in engagement in the South China Seas, or if they can get a bit of a change in U.S. policy in arms sales, or something like that.  And they don’t really know, because they can’t, as the U.S. is itself is working its way through these issues.”…



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