Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Clara Spera
Monday, April 27, 2015, 10:46 AM

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday morning, leaving thousands dead, from Kathmandu all the way to the slopes of Mount Everest. AP reports that the death toll has soared past 3,300 and is only expected to rise in the coming days.

The United States is sending aid to Nepal. The AP tells us “70 personnel, including a U.S. Agency for International Development disaster assistance response team, [and] a Virginia-based search and rescue team and 45 tons of cargo” were on board a U.S. military plane that headed to Nepal yesterday.

The Washington Post examines the current situation in Syria, explaining that President Bashar al-Assad’s grip on power is slipping away as rebel forces gain more power in the country. The Post predicts that the pace at which the rebels have advanced in recent weeks may compel President Obama to shift attention back to Syria.

Former President George W. Bush is skeptical of President Obama’s push for a nuclear deal with Iran. The Times reports that the former president spoke out against lifting sanctions against Iran during a meeting with the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas on Saturday. President Bush has rarely spoken about foreign policy since he left office.

Many Senate Republicans seem to agree with the former president’s assessment. Politico explains that Republican senators have introduced controversial amendments to the bill that would give Congress a voice in the nuclear deal with Iran. The amendments include one that would compel Iran to recognize Israel, while another requires Iran to release any American citizens currently detained in Iran.

As Ben already highlighted, the Times got its hands on the “Stellarwind” IG Report, thanks to a FOIA request.

The U.S. drone warfare program will likely continue as normal, despite President Obama’s announcement on Friday that a U.S. drone strike inadvertently killed two al Qaeda hostages, including one American citizen. In a Sunday piece, the New York Times explains that support for the drone program is “unwavering” in Washington, D.C. even while public support begins to wane. In its reporting, the Times named the former CIA Counterterrorism chief and other two other covert personnel, notwithstanding request from the CIA that the Times withhold those names. Gawker covered the Times' rationale for the disclosure.

The Times also discusses President Obama’s own ideological struggles over the use of drones:

“‘I think he’s deeply conflicted,’ said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. ‘This is a president who won a Nobel Peace Prize and who understands the moral imperative of avoiding any civilian casualties, but who also takes his duties as commander in chief to protect the country very seriously. Those counterpressures are enormously difficult.’”

Meanwhile, the discussion surrounding drones has hit the Broadway stage. The Times reviews a new work on at the Pubic Theater in New York, featuring Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway as an American drone operator.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

In this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, Khalid Homayun Nadiri of SAIS explains “Pakistani’s Self-Defeating Afghanistan Policy.”

Ben and his co-author Gabriella Blum are feature on this week’s podcast episode. The two spoke at the Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas to discuss their new book , The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones——Confronting A New Age of Threat.

Ben drew our attention to the Omar Khadr case in Canada, largely ignored here in the States.

Bobby noted a key Wall Street Journal article, regarding the President's waiver of the so-called "imminent threat" test for CIA drone strikes in Pakistan.

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