At June's G-8 Summit in Northern Ireland, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Obama sat for some awkward photos. In St. Petersburg, they'll be several seats apart during the formal discussions.
Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 12:34 pm
Syria's civil war is complicated, but at least there's a consensus among American policymakers: There are no good options.
So let's pretend you're the president and you need to decide what action, if any, the U.S. should take. The possibilities are endless, and plenty of unintended consequences are sure to follow.
To make your decision manageable, we're presenting four basic options. We realize they are not mutually exclusive, but you have to focus on something. You can make your choice at the bottom of this story.
The topic of military intervention is Syria is expected to over shadow the Group of 20 summit going on in St. Petersburg, Russia. President Vladimir Putin hosts but there are no plans for him and President Obama to meet one on one, given the controversy over Syria and Russia's grant of asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
The objective of an American strike on Syria appears to be evolving. Days ago, White House officials insisted their goal was to respond to the use of chemical weapons, not to intervene in Syria's civil war. But it's always been quietly understood that doing one thing could easily affect the other, and that has become more explicit in recent days.
Moscow is in the final days of a campaign for Sunday's mayoral election. The outcome isn't in doubt. The winner will be the Kremlin-backed incumbent Sergei Sobyanin. But his main challenger is running a Western-style campaign. Some say that campaign could change the way politics are played in Russia's biggest city.
A big part of the challenge of enforcing President Obama's red line against Bashar al-Assad's regime on the use of chemical weapons is how the region will react. And as a possible strike on Syria looms, the mood among Arabs is something Shibley Telhami is following closely. He's a professor at the University of Maryland and his latest book is "The World Through Arab Eyes: Public Opinion and the Reshaping of the Arab World."
Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 4:52 pm
On the windswept plateau where Madrid is perched, it's too dry to raise cattle and most crops. So pork has long been a mainstay, from jamón ibérico and charcuterie tapas to stews of pigs' ears and entrails.
But when locals want a really special treat, they go for an entire piglet roasted whole — head, hooves and all — on an oak wood fire.
We're going to hear now from one House Republican who's already on the record opposing a U.S. military strike in Syria. That's New York Congressman Chris Gibson. Before his election to the House in 2010, Gibson served 24 years in the Army, and that includes four combat tours in Iraq. Congressman Gibson, welcome to the program.
REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS GIBSON: Thanks, Melissa. Good to be with you.
BLOCK: Why don't you lay out first just why you oppose a military strike on Syria?
On Wednesday, the John Kerry and Chuck Hagel road show moved on to the House Foreign Affairs Committee as the administration tries to build support for an air attack on Syria President Bashar al-Assad's military assets. But there is uneasiness among some House members who wonder how and why Speaker John Boehner was so quickly won over.
Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee spent Wednesday scrambling to find language authorizing military strikes on Syria that was acceptable to both those wanting a stronger response and those hoping to limit U.S. involvement.
Syrian dictator Bashar Assad gave a rare interview to a western news outlet this week. He told the French newspaper Le Figaro that the U.S. and France have yet to "put forward a single proof" that his regime was behind the chemical weapons attack outside the Syrian capital. Melissa Block talks with Georges Malbrunot, Middle East reporter for Le Figaro, who conducted the interview in Damascus.
The crisis in Syria dominated President Obama's visit to Sweden on Wednesday, as he continued to push for Congressional approval of his plan to launch a military strike against Syrian government forces, in response to their use of chemical weapons against their own people.. "My credibility is not on the line. The international community's credibility is on the line," Obama told a news conference in Stockholm. "And America and Congress' credibility is on the line." The President travels to the G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg on Thursday.
As Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, "Code Pink" protesters behind him held up "bloody hands" to express their opposition to the prospect of U.S. military strikes on Syria.
Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 11:24 am
"We are not asking America to go to war," Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee early Wednesday afternoon, as he and other top administration officials continued to push Congress to support President Obama's call for military strikes aimed at the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Mois Yussuroum, a 94-year-old retired dentist, fought the Nazis as part of the Greek resistance during World War II. "Of the 650 Greek Jews who fought in the resistance, I'm the only one still alive," he says.
Credit Joanna Kakissis/NPR
Yussuroum (right) with a fellow Greek soldier fighting the Nazis during World War II. He used the Christian name "Yiorgos Gazis" in case the Nazis captured him.
Credit Courtesy of Jewish Museum of Greece
Marios Sousis, 75, with his granddaughters Linda, 13, and Annita, 14.
No one has ever doubted Mois Yussuroum's patriotism. As part of the Greek resistance during World War II, he fought Benito Mussolini's fascist army and then the Nazis.
"The other resistance fighters didn't know I was Jewish," he says, since he used the name "Yiorgos Gazis" in case he was captured. "But my superiors did know, and they gave me many responsibilities, including making me a garrison commander."
Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 12:44 pm
U.S. competitiveness among global economies suffered after the 2008 global economic crisis. Four years after the crisis, the U.S. slipped in the World Economic Forum's annual competitiveness ranking. This year it's back up a bit: The U.S. rose to fifth position overall from seventh last year, in the forum's latest survey, which was released Wednesday.
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, Sheila Bridges stood out for many reasons in her chosen field of interior design. Her celebrity client list, being African-American, but then she began to stand out in a way she did not want - she started losing her hair. We'll talk about how that changed her life and her focus. She talks about that in her new memoir "The Bald Mermaid." And we'll have that conversation in just a few minutes.
Syrian boys walk on the rubble of a building in Damascus that was hit by what activists said was shelling by government forces. The threat of a possible U.S. strike has added to the sense of unease in the Syrian capital.
Credit Bassam Khabieh / Reuters/Landov
An intersection in Damascus features portraits of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his father, Hafez Assad, who ruled for 30 years before his death in 2000.
Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 10:08 am
Although he says he did not ask Congress to authorize the use of force against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime "as a symbolic gesture," President Obama reiterated Wednesday that "I always reserve the right and responsibility to act on behalf of America's national security."
Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 9:49 am
President Obama landed in Sweden on Wednesday — the start of a European trip that will take him to Russia for a summit of world leaders at which he'll try to build support for his plan to strike targets inside Syria.
As The Washington Post says, it's a "high-stakes trip ... that could show whether the United States has broad international backing for action."
Israel and the U.S. conducted a defense missile test over the Mediterranean Sea yesterday, not - the Pentagon quickly said - related to a possible U.S. strike on Syria.
Still, the joint test raised questions about American-Israeli coordination on Syria, and how Israel security factors into the administration's plans. Of course, Israel's biggest worry, by far, involves another country in the region, Iran, and the possibility it will get a nuclear bomb.
Francois Hollande, the president of France, says his country will join in any U.S.-led strikes in Syria. The French parliament is set to take up that issue today. Unlike Britain, which ruled out military action, and the U.S. Congress where President Obama still has to win the votes, it seems like parliament probably should provide very little trouble for Hollande. His party dominates there.
So let's go to NPR's Eleanor Beardsley. She's in Paris, and she's following this story. Hi, Eleanor.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And I'm Renee Montagne.
President Obama has promised limited military action against Syria. He says missile strikes are not about regime change and there will be no boots on the ground. But even as the Congress debates the president's plans for action, the White House is looking at broader options.
NPR's Tom Bowman reports the president may call on the U.S. military to help build up the Syrian opposition.
Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 5:30 pm
With Republican House leaders lining up behind President Obama's planned U.S. military strike on Syria, the chances for congressional authorization seemed higher on Tuesday than they did over the weekend.
Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 4:11 pm
It's been a long time since the people who lived in rural Xuanping saw their little town, which was flooded by a powerful earthquake in 2008. But thanks to a steep drop in water levels, parts of their village in China's Sichuan Province are visible again, from homes and businesses to its school.
The village's ghostly return began in July, when water levels fell from 712 meters to 703 meters above sea level — a difference of nearly 30 feet, as news site China Daily Asia reported.
It was 20 years ago that Samuel Huntington's essay on what he termed "the clash of civilizations" was first published in the journal Foreign Affairs. The essay predicted the next frontier of global conflict would occur along cultural cleavages — most prominently between the Islamic world and the West. Foreign Affairs editor Gideon Rose and Robert Siegel discuss how perceptions of the essay have changed over time.
New reports allege that the NSA spied on Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, seen here walking with President Barack Obama in June, when he was a candidate for office. Mexico and Brazil have demanded a response to charges of U.S. spying on their internal affairs.
Allegations that U.S. agents spied on Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto when he was a candidate during last year's campaign have led Mexico to summon U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne and demanded "a thorough investigation."
Migrant workers from Myanmar return to a trawler after unloading fish following a fishing trip in the Gulf of Thailand in Samut Sakhon province Tuesday. A new report details "deceptive and coercive" labor practices in the Thai fishing sector, which relies heavily on workers from Cambodia and Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 2:20 pm
If you eat fish on a regular basis, chances are some of it is coming from Thailand. The Asian country is the world's No. 3 exporter of seafood (after China and Norway), and the U.S. is its top destination.
The Thai fishing industry has grown dramatically, and it is now coming under increased scrutiny. A new report details "deceptive and coercive labor practices, and even forced labor and human trafficking within" the Thai fishing sector.