Essential Reads

Essential Reads is your one-stop source for the top stories of the day as reported by your favorite Washington Week panelists. It's a simple way to save time and stay informed about the news you need to know. Check it out every day!

Sep 18, 2012

  • Iranian official says blasts targeted nuclear sites

    By David E. Sanger and Rick Gladstone, The New York Times

    Iran’s most senior atomic energy official revealed on Monday that separate explosions, which he attributed to sabotage, had targeted power supplies to the country’s two main uranium enrichment facilities, including the deep underground site that American and Israeli officials say is the most invulnerable to bombing.

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Sep 17, 2012

  • Mideast unrest intensifies debate on U.S. intervention in Syria

    By Helene Cooper and Robert F. Worth, The New York Times

    In recent weeks, the growing death toll in Syria pushed that country’s civil war to the top of the Obama administration’s agenda, with some Arab leaders pressing harder for a greater American role in toppling Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad.

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  • Romney vs. Obama on foreign policy

    By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

    In a presidential campaign dominated by voters' unhappiness with the economy, it took a tragedy — the killing of a U.S. ambassador by Libyan extremists — to prompt a real debate on foreign policy.

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  • Post-Arab Spring states: magnets for extremism

    By James Kitfield and Sara Sorcher, National Journal

    When the Arab awakening swept through the Middle East last year, with waves of democratic protesters swallowing tyrants in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, no one could confidently predict what kind of political order would emerge from the ruins. Certainly the stability of the old order of autocracies was shattered, hopefully along with their characteristic corruption and stagnation. In the long term, there is still reason to hope for a democratic transformation similar to the one that eventually emerged in Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War.

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  • Obama hold slight edge

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Middle East violence is shaking up a presidential race that otherwise looks stubbornly stable, and tight. President Barack Obama holds a tiny edge, Republican Mitt Romney is seeking a breakthrough message, and three debates are ahead in the campaign’s final seven weeks.

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Sep 14, 2012

  • Amid Mideast turmoil, aides say what a President Romney would do

    By David E. Sanger and Ashley Parker, The New York Times

    If Mitt Romney were in the Oval Office during this week of turmoil in the Middle East, his foreign policy advisers said on Thursday, he would have already told Iran that he would not allow it to get close to building a bomb, setting a “red line” in a far different place from President Obama’s.

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  • Poll: Obama holds narrow edge over Romney

    By Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times

    President Obama holds a narrow three-point advantage over Mitt Romney among Americans most likely to vote in November, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

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  • Obama has clear leads over Romney, new polls show

    By John Harwood, CNBC

    President Obama has opened clear leads over Mitt Romney in three critical battlegrounds of the November election, according to new polls by NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, and Marist College.

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  • Machine-gun Bernanke

    By Jim Tankersley, National Journal

    It is almost impossible to imagine the Federal Reserve, as currently constituted, acting more aggressively to speed up the economy than it did Thursday afternoon. After months of tinkering with monetary policy on the margins of an ongoing American jobs crisis, amid escalating cries that Ben Bernanke had run out of weapons to fight unemployment, the Fed has unleashed a full and sustained burst of monetary stimulus.

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  • Romney’s dark worldview

    By James Kitfield, National Journal

    In the homestretch of the campaign, Mitt Romney has offered enticing clues to anyone trying to decipher his essential worldview and foreign-policy lodestar. In two recent instances, Romney doubled down on positions that place him well to the right of the Obama administration, and firmly in the mold crafted by hawks and neoconservatives in the first term of President George W. Bush.

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  • Foreign policy’s moment in Campaign 2012

    By Dan Balz, The Washington Post

    Campaign 2012 has produced plenty of flash points, some real and some manufactured. Few have hit with as much fury, outrage, second-guessing and doubling down as the clash between Mitt Romney and President Obama over the terrible events in the Middle East that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.

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Sep 13, 2012

  • Egypt may be bigger concern than Libya for White House

    By Helene Cooper, The New York Times

    For all the harrowing images of the deadly attack on the American mission in Benghazi, the Obama administration is grappling with the possibility that its far bigger long-term problem lies in Egypt, not Libya.

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  • Amid foreign-policy crisis, Romney picks a big fight

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    Mitt Romney has picked a big fight fraught with political risks amid an ongoing foreign-policy crisis with heartbreaking and murderous consequences for the U.S. diplomatic corps.

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  • Protest erupts at US embassies in Sana'a, Yemen, and Cairo

    By Martha Raddatz, ABC News

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  • Obama, Romney trade tough words over attacks

    By Charles Babington, Associated Press

    Republican Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are trading tough words over the handling of foreign attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East, injecting foreign policy into a presidential campaign that has focused on a sour economy.

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  • A challenger’s criticism is furiously returned

    By Peter Baker and Ashley Parker, The New York Times

    The deadly attack on an American diplomatic post in Libya propelled foreign policy to the forefront of an otherwise inward-looking presidential campaign and presented an unexpected test not only to the incumbent, who must manage an international crisis, but also to the challenger, whose response quickly came under fire.

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  • Obama resumes campaign in west vowing to avenge Libya killings

    By Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg

    President Barack Obama resumed campaigning as his administration grappled with the aftermath of attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Egypt and Libya.

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  • Questions of Precedent

    By Todd S. Purdum, Vanity Fair

    There is a good reason why The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage calls “unprecedented” a “dangerous word that should be avoided.” There is really nothing new under the sun, except, perhaps, the Internet.

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Sep 12, 2012

  • Obama condemns attack that kills ambassador to Libya

    By Peter Baker and Sarah Wheaton, The New York Times

    An attack that killed the American ambassador to Libya on Tuesday night has brought foreign policy to the forefront of the presidential race, puncturing the solemn unity seen on the campaign trail one day earlier as both candidates observed the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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  • Springboard or setback? Romney sought, now faces foreign-policy test

    By Major Garrett, National Journal

    Mitt Romney’s swift criticism of administration policy amid deadly protests in Libya and violence in Cairo touched a nerve and could mark a turning point for a campaign that has avoided foreign policy and direct engagement with President Obama on the dangers and opportunities of the still-smoldering Arab Spring.

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