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Daily Brief: Obama, in Hiroshima, Urges World Without Nuclear Arms

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May 27, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Obama, in Hiroshima, Urges World Without Nuclear Arms

In a visit to Hiroshima, where the United States dropped the world's first atomic bomb in 1945, U.S. President Barack Obama warned against technical advancements without equivalent progress in human institutions (Japan Times). The visit is the first by a U.S. leader to the site. Countries with nuclear stockpiles must "pursue a world without them," he said at the Peace Memorial Park in a ceremony attended by survivors of the attack (Kyodo News). He also referred to thousands of Koreans and a dozen Americans who were killed in the bombings. Obama did not apologize for the nuclear attack, but met with survivors (NYT).


"Over time, the debate about the meaning of Hiroshima has shifted from responsibility for the Cold War to the question of whether we should plan, indefinitely, to base our security on the threat of nuclear destruction. Ward Wilson, in particular, has argued that the account of Hiroshima plays a central role in our modern myths about deterrence and the bomb as the winning weapon. The earliest American view was that nuclear weapons were the latest, most modern weapon — what American financier and presidential advisor Bernard Baruch called 'the winning weapon'," Jeffrey Lewis writes for Foreign Policy.

"Early in his presidency, Obama memorably gave a speech in Prague in which he described 'America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons'. Not only has the administration barely made a dent in the gigantic nuclear arsenal the United States has, it has committed more than $1tn over the next several decades to further entrenching the system into permanence, potentially sparking a dangerous new arms race," Trevor Timm writes for the Guardian.

"Although some Japanese want an official apology for the bombings, many advocates of a presidential visit say that is not the point. The Hiroshima broadcaster Hideaki Miyama notes that in the 'Letters to Obama' campaign, 'messages do not refer to any apology ... they are mostly proactive and positive.' Japan’s people, he says, want a 'future-oriented visit.' Hiroshima City Mayor Kazumi Matsui agrees: 'Having the President express his resolve for nuclear abolishment from a bomb site would make up for the past and lead towards a nuclear-free world, more than an apology would'," Jennifer Lind writes for Foreign Affairs.

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Australian Reefs Removed From UN Report on Climate Change

Australia's Environment Department intervened to convince UNESCO to not include the Great Barrier Reef in an "in danger" category from a new report on climate change (SMH). The department said that such "negative commentary" impacts tourism. The report examined the impacts of climate change on thirty-one sites worldwide.


Taliban Spokesman: Leader Killed in Drone Strike Traveled Frequently to Middle East

A spokesman for the Afghan Taliban said that Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan on Saturday, frequently traveled to the United Arab Emirates to raise funds and to Iran on "unofficial" trips (WaPo). Mansour had been on a United Nations no-fly list since 2001; an unnamed Afghan security official said he used a Pakistani passport and also traveled to Bahrain.

This CFR InfoGuide looks at the history and changing leadership of the Taliban.

INDIA: In an interview, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the United States India's "most strategic partner." He also said that the country had "no tensions or clashes" (WSJ) with China, despite a border dispute, and had no reason to change its non-alignment policy.


Israeli Environment Minister Quits, Citing 'Extremism' Concerns

Environment Minister Avi Gabbay from the Koolanu party resigned from the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in protest over his nomination of ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister (Reuters). Gabbay said Lieberman “will bring about more extremism and rifts among the people.”

IRAN: Thirty students were arrested and received ninety-nine lashes for attending a mixed-gender college graduation party (NYT) in the city of Qazvin, one hundred miles northwest of Tehran. Authorities reportedly raided parties and "singles homes" in provincial capitals, actions seen as part of a crackdown from Iran's hardline judiciary after moderates and reformists made gains in February parliamentary elections.

CFR's Ray Takeyh and Reuel Marc Gerecht discuss Iran's "theocratically managed democracy" in this article for Foreign Affairs.


Ugandan Court Convicts Seven for 2010 Terror Attack

Seven people were convicted on charges of terrorism, murder, and attempted murder in the 2010 explosions in Kampala that killed seventy-six people (VOA). The Somalia-based militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attacks.

This CFR Backgrounder examines the origins of al-Shabab and U.S. policy on Somalia.

SOUTH AFRICA: Parliament approved a bill that allows the government to use eminent domain to purchase land (Mail & Guardian) to address racial disparities in property ownership.  About 20 million acres have been transferred to black owners since the end of apartheid, roughly 10 percent of land that had been under white ownership in 1994.

CFR's John Campbell discusses the accumulation of capital by whites and persistence of a traditional racial hierarchy in post-apartheid South Africa in his new book, Morning in South Africa.


UK Prepares Royal Navy Warship to Counter Human, Arms Trafficking off Libya

The United Kingdom is preparing to send a Royal Navy warship to participate in Operation Sophia, the EU mission to reduce smuggling off the Libyan coast. A government spokesman said the warship would intercept boats carrying migrants and weapons (Middle East Eye) across the Mediterranean.

EU: European leaders have reportedly held a series of secret meetings (FT) to discuss a common response from the bloc should UK voters choose to leave the European Union.

This CFR Backgrounder covers what is at stake should the UK vote to leave the European Union.


Guantanamo Prisoner Expected to Make Court Appearance

The Palestinian detainee known as Abu Zubaydah, who has not been seen by the public since his 2002 capture, is expected to testify about detention conditions at the war court in Guantanamo Bay (Miami Herald). A Senate report found that Zubaydah, whose real name is Zayn al Abdeen Mohammed al Hussein, was the first detainee subjected to harsh CIA interrogation methods regarded by many as torture, including eighty-three rounds of waterboarding (Miami Herald).

EL SALVADOR: President Salvador Sanchez Ceren said that El Salvador had received $1.3 billion in aid, an amount he called an "achievement of foreign policy," since his administration took office (LAHT) in 2014. Ceren highlighted the U.S. Congress approving $750 million in aid for the country to reduce the flow of Central American migrants entering the United States. 


Trump Calls for More Fossil Fuel Drilling

Republican candidate Donald Trump called for more drilling to extract fossil fuels and said he would "cancel the Paris climate agreement" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Trump also clinched the GOP nomination Thursday (NYT), securing a majority of the party's delegates (AP).

Track and compare the candidates' views on climate change, energy and other foreign policy issues with CFR’s interactive, The Candidates and the World.

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