|Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
issues from and for policy makers and opinion leaders.
New York Times
Europe and Afghanistan
Afghanistan is not and should not be just the United States' fight. Al Qaeda has used its sanctuaries in Afghanistan and Pakistan to plot and launch attacks on European cities. We welcome the news that some of America's 42 military partners in Afghanistan plan to send more troops.
To beat Al Qaeda, look to the East
In testimony last week before Congress, the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, insisted that President Obama's revised war strategy will "build support for the Afghan government," while Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top American commander there, vowed that it will "absolutely" succeed in disrupting and degrading the Taliban.
Military time, Civilian time
The problem with public military timelines is that if they are too short, your enemy will wait you out, and if they are too long, your enemy will drive you out. President Obama has come under fire for saying that United States forces would begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011. Was this a good idea?
A sharp turn toward another Vietnam
As a U.S. senator during the 1960s, I agonized over the badly mistaken war in Vietnam. After doing all I could to save our troops and the Vietnamese people from a senseless conflict, I finally took my case to the public in my presidential campaign in 1972. Speaking across the nation, I told audiences that the only upside of the tragedy in Vietnam was that its enormous cost in lives and dollars would keep any future administration from going down that road again.
The real stakes in Afghanistan
Oddly, President Obama's West Point speech never probed the critical long-term stakes for the United States in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Three issues central to the outcome should enter the public debate as his strategy is launched.
Work to be done
Despite its months of deliberation, the Obama administration left some important questions unresolved in its new plan for Afghanistan. In part this was because of unsettled differences among administration policymakers; in part because agreements are lacking with allies. If these gaps are not filled in the next several months, the Afghanistan strategy may fail well before the July 2011 date that President Obama set for beginning a U.S. withdrawal.
Russia and Nato: A frozen conflict
President Barack Obama has had precious little to show for his big foreign policy idea of constructive engagement. Attempts to get Israeli and Palestinian negotiators round the table are deadlocked. Iran has rejected an imaginative offer to enrich uranium outside its borders, and is headed for another round of UN sanctions. Mr Obama opted to go in the opposite direction by committing more troops in Afghanistan. After all the soaring hopes and high-flying rhetoric of his speeches, it looks very much like business as usual. The only bright spot on the horizon is America's transformed relations with Russia.
Pakistan: Dangerous escalation
With every passing month, Barack Obama is sinking deeper into a long-term regional conflict in Afghanistan. The latest ominous sign was a report in the New York Times that America had threatened to target two Taliban groups sheltering in Pakistan if the government in Islamabad refused to do the job itself. This was characterised as a bald warning, rather than an ultimatum, and it went like this: unless the Pakistan army moved against Afghan Taliban leaders in the frontier town of Quetta, and the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, America would do so with drones. They could even deploy US special forces on Pakistani soil.
Wall Street Journal
President Obama and a New World Order
The last time I looked, our world had two poles, one in the North and one in the South. In my view, these are all the poles we need—and it seems that recent world history points towards the same conclusion. The doctrine of a unipolar or bipolar world as the ultimate guarantor of global peace and stability has had its chance—and blown it.
In 1945, the United States faced a dire threat. The rising power of the Soviet Union and the spread of communism in Eastern Europe -- and, soon enough, worldwide -- represented a new enemy that imperiled postwar hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world. The United States was poorly equipped to comprehend, let alone respond to, this emerging global danger. The federal government had few experts who spoke Russian or had a deep knowledge of Russian history and culture; universities were barely better off. The field of Soviet studies emerged as a response and became the catalyst for a network of area studies programs that would soon follow.