Talking Strategy with Baghdad

October 31, 2011

Talking Strategy with Baghdad

Boehner backs Panetta; Donilon talks to his Iraqi counterpart; the Turkey airlift; Burns in Beijing.

House Speaker John Boehner and other top Republicans and Democrats are on Leon Panetta’s side when it comes to defense spending. As Boehner put it, “I would argue that they’ve taken more than their fair share of the hits,” referring to the budget cuts the Pentagon was hit with this summer. A congressional supercommittee needs to agree on $1.2 trillion worth of spending cuts by November 23 or else the defense budget will be on the chopping block.

On Saturday, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon sat down with his Iraqi counterpart Falah al-Fayadh to discuss future military ties between the two countries. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the pair “reaffirmed the common vision of a broad, deep strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq as embodied in the Strategic Framework Agreement.” President Obama recently announced that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq by the end of the year, a decision that came after Baghdad refused to grant U.S. forces legal immunity.

Meanwhile, the military is airlifting supplies to Turkey to help victims of last Sunday’s earthquake. Panetta gave U.S. European Command the go-ahead to assist the Turkish government.

And Deputy Secretary of State William Burns was in Beijing at the end of last week to meet with senior Chinese officials. According to a State Department release, in addition to economic and security matters, Burns discussed “priorities for upcoming international meetings, including G20, APEC, and the East Asia Summit” with his counterparts. The South China Sea and human rights concerns were also brought up.