Tom Rouse looks back at the world’s news this week, including David Cameron’s visit to the US, plus the latest from the GOP race, Afghanistan and Syria.
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Cameron in the US
While news leaked out that Rebecca and Charlie Brooks had been arrested, David Cameron was safely on the other side of the Atlantic, visiting the USA to renew the ‘special relationship’ and discuss mutual foreign policy goals.
Cameron was lavish in his praise of President Obama, comparing him to Teddy Roosevelt and praising his strength, moral authority and wisdom.
“He has pressed the reset button on the moral authority of the entire free world… and has found a new voice for America with the Arab people.”
Obama was equally flattering, saying the prime minister was someone he could trust and speaking of how much he admired the Camerons’ character and how they handled the death of their son Ivan in 2009.
This theme of trust was the key message of the state dinner and helped provide the basis for areas they could work together on.
With the current turbulence of the GOP race, it doesn’t take a cynic to argue Cameron is ensuring he maintains strong ties with someone who is in with a strong chance of being US President for another four years.
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For Obama, the visit capped off a week which has seen his approval ratings continue to rise. The Real Clear Politics average of polls conducted in the last week puts Obama’s approvals a shade under 47%, a number he will look to build upon in coming weeks.
Despite winning Alabama and Mississippi, Rick Santorum’s chances of overturning Mitt Romney’s delegate lead are looking slimmer than ever. His win in Mississippi was further proof that polls are currently underestimating Santorum’s support. However Romney’s performance in other primaries has been sufficient that even surprise losses have not been enough to drastically reduce his odds of victory.
Illinois on Tuesday is now a crucial contest and represents Santorum’s last chance to secure a victory which could change the dominant narrative of the contest.
Newt Gingrich’s second places in Alabama and Mississippi mean he is unlikely to drop out anytime soon, but this is only likely to boost Romney’s chances. Gingrich’s present means the anti-Romney vote is likely to be at least partially divided and if Ron Paul continues to compete, Santorum will struggle to gain the popular support he needs to take the contest to the convention.
While Obama and Cameron exchanged warm words about the other’s commitment to Afghanistan, in the war-torn country the Taliban chose to withdraw from preliminary peace talks, citing the US’s attempts to involve the Afghan authorities as a major stumbling block.
The Afghani government is determined its troops will be responsible for security from 2013 and avoid any civilian casualites. This determination had led President Karzai to call for NATO forces to begin to withdraw from villages now, to prevent repeats of last week’s killing of 16 villagers by a US soldier.
Syria continues to dominate the headlines, after a leaked set of emails from President Assad and his wife revealed some of the private thoughts of the nation’s dictator. The emails reveal Assad consulted the Iranian government on how to handle the uprisings against him and assembled a team of media consultants to brief him on how the world would view his handling of the attempted revolution.
The emails also reveal the luxury the Assads lived in, spending thousands of dollars on technology and app purchases while Syrian’s suffered food shortages.