As U.S. government shuts down, Hagel warns of global implications

October 1, 2013

Hagel says shutdown will hurt Washington’s reputation abroad, the Pope holds meetings to reform the Vatican, and South Korea flexes its muscles. Today is Tuesday, October 1, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel listens on speaker phone during a conversation with Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and other senior Defense Department officials about the U.S. government shutdown at his hotel in Seoul, October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Jacquelyn Martin/Pool

Shut it down. A deadlocked Congress. forcing various Federal operations to shut down after missing a midnight deadline to determine a new budget for the country. The shutdown is the first in 17 years and could furlough up to 1 million government employees, placing them on unpaid leave until the crisis is resolved. Global markets remain steady, but U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, currently in South Korea, warned the shutdown could hurt Washington’s credibility abroad:

The Pentagon chief said since arriving in Seoul on Sunday night, he had been questioned by South Korean officials about the threatened shutdown and why it seemed likely to take place. “It does have an effect on our relationships around the world and it cuts straight to the obvious question: Can you rely on the United States as a reliable partner to fulfill its commitments to its allies?” Hagel told reporters. “Here this great republic and democracy, the United States of America, shuts down its government,” he added. “The Pentagon, even though we are (partly) exempted, the military has no budget. We are still living under this dark cloud of uncertainty not knowing what’s going to happen. It does cast a very significant pall over America’s credibility with our allies when this kind of thing happens. It’s nonsensical … It’s completely irresponsible,” Hagel said. He urged Congress to “find a new center of gravity of responsibility and start to govern as is their responsibility.”

Republican and Democrat lawmakers clashed over Obama’s healthcare plan, which goes into effect today and is at the center of the budget disagreement. Various federal agencies and departments – including NASA and national park services – are hit hardest by furloughs. The political stalemate bodes ill for the mid-October deadline to raise the country’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling. If the government fails to raise the ceiling the U.S. treasury could default, which would significantly roil international markets. UK Prime Minister David Cameron told Sky News that “It is a risk to the world economy if the U.S. can’t properly sort out its spending plans.” Follow live updates on the shutdown here.

Pope Francis kisses a baby as he leaves at the end of a mass in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican, September 29, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Curia cure. Pope Francis begins a series of closed-door meetings with a papal advisory board of eight cardinals on Tuesday, hoping to rid the Vatican of what he called a “Vatican-centric vision”:

As the talks began, left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper published a long interview conducted by its atheist editor last week in which the Argentine pope spoke frankly about the problems facing the Vatican administration, known as the Curia. He said too many previous popes in the Church’s long history had been “narcissists” who let themselves be flattered by “courtier” aides in the Curia instead of concentrating on the wider mission of the universal Church. “The (papal) court is the leprosy of the papacy,” said Francis… There are some “courtiers” among administrators in today’s Curia, he said, adding that its main defect is that it is too inward-looking. “It looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, in large part temporal interests. This Vatican-centric vision neglects the world around it and I will do everything to change it,” he said.

The Vatican bank, which has a long history of corruption, issued its first report today in an effort to become more transparent.

South Korean soldiers travelling in their self-propelled artillery vehicles, wave to the crowd during a parade marking 65th anniversary of Korea Armed Forces Day in front of Sungnyemun Gate in central Seoul, October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Seoul shows strength. In a rare military parade, South Korea showcased two new missiles built to reach North Korea’s artillery and long-range missiles:

Both of the indigenously developed missiles have been deployed. They were unveiled in February after the North conducted its third nuclear test in defiance of international warnings, two months after it successfully launched a long-range rocket and put an object into space. “We must build a strong anti-North deterrence until the day the North drops its nuclear arms and makes the right choice for its people and for peace on the Korean peninsula,” South Korean President Park Geun-hye said at the parade marking the founding of the South’s armed forces 65 years ago.

Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel said on Monday that the U.S. won’t cut back on its presence in South Korea, where 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed.

Nota Bene: Russia doubts Syria peace talks will happen as soon as November.


Moving out  Reuters columnist John Lloyd bids adieu to European centrism. (Reuters)

Buried secrets – Discovery of mass graves pushes genocide probe in Romania. (Associated Press)

Senior-friendly – Sweden is the best place to be an elderly person. (BBC)

Skateistan – A program teaches young Afghans how to skateboard. (The Guardian)

Texting fail – An apparent drop in French job seekers was a technical glitch. (Quartz)

From the File:

  • Egypt court to hear appeal against Muslim Brotherhood in weeks.
  • Iraq violence kills nearly 900 in September.
  • Bosnia holds first census since war.
  • ICC unveils arrest warrant for Ivory Coast politician.
  • Kurdish militants say Erdogan’s efforts aren’t aimed at making peace.
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