Posts Tagged ‘US foreign policy’

In Robert Kagan’s excellent piece of early American history, ‘Dangerous Nation‘, a complex picture is painted of an exceptional country, whose growth endangered societies both near and far. In ‘Nation’, Kagan in great depth profiles how the people who founded and grew the United States had to deal with an enormity of challenges of the physical (great power rivals of Europe, Native American tribes, untamed frontiers) and ideological (as a liberal republic in world of monarchies and despots) nature. The superpower we see before us today was not just born that way, it had to become one. And it was not easy!

Kagan tightly ties together the seemingly contradictory notion of a United States as both a practical realist nation and one born with a revolutionary ideology that continues to shape how it sees the world. In Kagan’s words: ‘Americans did not form a nation and then embark on a foreign policy to protect and further its interests. They began a foreign policy in order to establish themselves as a nation.’ The American liberal, democratic republic was a challenge to the monarchies of Europe and the native peoples of the American continent, but as Kagan accurately points out, back then, as well as today, the American people did not view themselves as challengers or ‘dangerous’. In fact, most Americans still believe their nation’s natural tendencies are toward ‘passivity, indifference, and insularity’. Though Kagan may be going a bit over the top here, he is basically correct in noting that Americans view themselves as much more passive than the peoples of the world perceive us. ‘Dangerous Nation’s main themes of early US foreign policy are well laid out in this paragraph:

The statesman of the founding era were not unfamiliar with the ways of power politics, however. They were idealists in the sense that they were committed to a set of universal principles, the defense and promotion of which they believed would improve the human condition as well as further American interests. But they were practical idealists. In their moment of weakness they employed the strategies of the weak. They viewed alliances as necessary but dangerous. They denigrated so called power politics and claimed an aversion to war and military power, all realms in which they were far inferior to the European great powers. They extolled the virtues of commerce, where Americans competed on a more equal plane. They appealed to international law as the best means of regulating the behavior of nations, knowing that they had not other means of constraining the great powers of Britain and France. They adjusted themselves to an unhappy reality that they knew to be very much at odds with their aspirations. They looked forward to the day when, as a more powerful nation, they might begin to shape the world to conform more closely to their ideals. Fortunately for the young United States, the world was configure in such a way as to make this possible.”

Robert Kagan’s ‘Dangerous Nation’, Page 57

Besides a general analysis of the broad themes of American foreign policy from its colonial beginnings til the Spanish-American war at the turn of the 20th century, ‘Nation’ offers in-depth coverage of several crucial inner conflicts in American history. The three most intriguing conflicts detailed were the battle between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in guiding the nascent Republic, the foreign policy schizophrenia of slavery, and the still under emphasized great power coming out party of the Spanish-American war.

Kagan devotes three extensive chapters on how slavery affected American foreign policy and stances for most of the 19th century. This coverage showcases another one of Kagan’s main themes; the prominent influence of partisan politics affecting American foreign affairs. For example, in the section ‘Northern Containment, Southern Expansion’, Kagan describes how the interests of the southern states differed from the northern states in almost all cases of territorial expansion, including the Louisiana Purchase. This is an important lesson for those who believe that partisan politics ends at the ‘water’s edge’. This theme can be vividly seen in the domestic debates to decide if the US should go to war with Spain over Cuba, with many Republican operatives being against the war, before they were for it.

The study of the America’s early foreign policy is still lacking, but ‘Dangerous Nation’ joins WR Mead’s ‘Special Providence‘ and Merrill/Paterson’s ‘Major Problems in American Foreign Relations‘ series in bringing light to a fascinating topic.

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I just finished reading America and the World, a book based on simultaneous interviews of Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. The book and interviews were supposed to provide top flight analysis of the current US state and role in the world and provide insight and direction for the new president; in this it largely succeeds. Scowcroft and Brzezinski, each former US National Security Advisers for President Herbert Walker Bush and Carter respectively, are considered the wise men of US foreign policy and their arguments and analysis of numerous issues in this book largely confirms this status. (Here’s a video discussion by the three)

Ignatius skillfully leads them down many policy avenues; from the US presence in Iraq (the one main issue where the two men disagreed), how to stop Iran from getting the bomb, US-EU relationship, a rising China, resurgent Russia, and the changing nature of international politics, in other words their views on globalization. The most provocative and informative parts of the book were Scowcroft and Brzezinski’s analysis of the Cold War and its ending. Though these two scholars and practitioners had many good ideas for America’s next president, what I found myself taking away was their recollections of being in office during such trying and dramatic times. Each of these men faced the real possibility that they face and in be in charge of a nuclear war. Just listening to their cautionary stories makes one laugh when they hear that Obama is facing ‘the most dangerous and challenging foreign policy environment in US history.’

These two handsome men have a lot of insight into the US's role in the world and where you can find a solid Early Bird Special in DC.

Scowcroft and Brzezinski have both been called the creme de la creme of foreign policy realists and this book does much to back this label up, but like all labels, ‘realist’ is too narrow a term for each man. Here is Brzezinski’s thoughtful analysis of a world he sees changing before his and America’s very eyes, with major implications for the whole globe:

The traditional problems of the power and geopolitics are still with us. But superimposed upon these traditional problems and also transforming their character are two novel, fundamental realities. One is the transformation in the subjective condition of humanity, what I call the global political awakening. For the first time in history all of the world is politically activated…The second reality is the surfacing of the first truly global problems of survival. The biggest problems of survival, heretofore, were national problems…now we have problems of survival of a global character.

So Brzezinski still believes in power politics, but feels that the world has changed around them, bringing new realities that the US and globe must face.  This analysis is steeped in a common thread that flows across the entire book, the Cold War is over and we need to adjust to a changing environment.

And here is Scowcroft’s excellent attempt at describing the differences between foreign policy ‘realism’ and ‘idealism’:

To me, realism is a recognition of the limits of what can be achieved. It’s not what your goals are, but what can you realistically do. The idealist starts from the other end-What do we want to be? What do we want to achieve?-and may neglect how feasible it is to try to get there and whether, in trying to get there, you do things which destroy your ability to get there and sacrifice the very ideals you were pursuing. the difference is which end of the issue you start with and…how you balance ends and means. Do you try and leap for the stars? Or are you so mired in day-to-day difficulties that you don’t even elevate your sights to believe that progress can be made. We need to strike some balance between the extremes of realism and idealism. The United States ought to be on the side of trying to achieve maybe a little more than it can.

Scowcroft is definitely in the realist camp, but sees not only the virtue of idealist and liberal values, but also believes that the US should support them, as is last line suggests.  Scowcroft, a born skeptic, who voiced his opposition to the War in Iraq before it started, still believes the US can and should exercise ‘enlightened leadership’ in the world and concluded that ‘we’re the only ones who can be the guiding light.’

In the future, I may still pick off bits and pieces of interesting analysis and arguments about various issues from this worthwhile book.

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11
Apr

Obama Abroad Review: Part 2

   Posted by: FMFP    in Middle East   Print Print

Here’s some more of my observations of President Obama’s first overseas trip:

Obama stopped in Turkey where he apologized again for our country’s past misdeeds and declared that our country was not at war with Islam. Right on. That’s exactly right. My only thought is who ever said we were. When was that declaration? Our last president made a point numerous times to state this exact message (that we were at war with radical Islam terrorists not Islam) but apparently the message never got through. Hopefully everybody’s listening this time.

Perhaps the highlight of Obama’s trip was his stop in Iraq to see the soldiers. This certainly helps morale and is a good move as our Commander-in-Chief. I was particularly intrigued by the content of Obama’s speech to the soldiers. Obama praised America’s many achievements in Iraq: “From getting rid of Saddam, to reducing violence, to stabilizing the country, to facilitating elections – you have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement.” Wow. I never believed all these things when George Bush said them but now that Barack Obama is saying them they must be true. Good for America and good for Obama for saying so.

Finally, on a little reported but odd event during the G-20 conference, Obama appeared to bow to the Saudi’s leader, King Abdullah. (picture below) Although the picture looks telling I might have it wrong. According to the White House, it was not a bow but rather Obama using both hands to shake the King’s hand. Judge for yourself.

That's Obama's Butt

If it is indeed a bow, this violates a centuries’ old American tradition of not deferring to royalty. Honestly, that doesn’t bother me that much if it was just a mistake. More bothersome, is the refusal of the White House to admit such. I thought a major criticism of Bush and rallying cry for Obama was his ability to acknowledge when he messed up. It worries me that Obama won’t admit simple errors like mistakenly bowing to royalty.

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10
Apr

Obama Abroad Review: Part I

   Posted by: FMFP    in Middle East, Russia   Print Print

Although Pat did a great job discussing some of the highlights of President Obama’s trip abroad, I’d like to explore a few areas I found.

To begin his worldwide tour, President Obama met with the leaders of the G-20. He proposed a global stimulus plan which, incredibly, the Europeans rejected as fiscally irresponsible. I must say it’s truly scary when even Europe is telling the US that we are spending too much money. That being said, they did manage to shovel some $1.1 trillion into the “well-run, efficient” International Monetary Fund. And of course, our friends at the World Bank and the African Development Bank got their billions as well. Perhaps the leaders should be briefed on the causes and effects of “Dutch Disease.”

On tax policy, the G-20 endorsed a blacklist for many low tax jurisdictions (so-called tax havens) that have shown varying levels of cooperation when it comes to enforcing foreigners’ tax codes. The result is a move toward a global tax cartel and away from the tax competition that has made our world so much richer over the past quarter century. Such policy also disguises the real problem – bad tax codes that are hard to comply with and lack positive incentives to work, save and invest. (See Tim Geithner, Tom Daschle, Charlie Rangel, Hilda Solis, Kathleen Sebelius, etc.) Missing from the G-20′s communique was any discussion on when the Doha trade round would begin again.

Obama continued his journey through Europe by apologizing for “America’s past arrogance” (a few times). Of course a few of these jibes were directed at the previous Administration. Although I’m not aware of any foreign leader coming to America and apologizing for his country’s past policies or previous leader, it does little to further US interests and is embarrassing. It places Obama and the US in a distasteful light.

On to Prague where Obama announced an elaborate arms control regime to reduce nuclear weapons. This sounds like a laudable goal but I’m not convinced the way to go about it is to unilaterally reduce arms and rely on a moral example to stop others from going nuclear, i.e., Iran and North Korea. Frankly, I’ve always struggled to follow this logic. It’s like laws banning or severely restricting handguns. The purpose is to limit or stop crime, but in reality the law takes guns away from law-abiding citizens while criminals continue to obtain guns and break the law.

Like common criminals, North Korea and Iran are playing by different moral codes. Codes that ignore laws or treaties that don’t fit their interest. I’m sure most of our allies would be willing to join us in reducing nuclear weapons but to do so we must acknowledge that the world will be a more dangerous place.

Speaking of dangerous, right around the time this speech was delivered we witnessed North Korea directly violate a U.N. resolution banning them from launching missiles. Rightly so, Obama expressed indignation and declared that, “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” So obviously the next step was to go to the U.N. to get….more words! On top of that the Security Council has yet to offer any response! I thought all our apologizing and genuine diplomacy was supposed to get us more sway with the international body. Unfortunately, the U.N. was destined to be a feckless organization.

Comments? The second part will be posted tomorrow.

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17
Mar

US Public Vs. US Leaders’ Views of Foreign Policy

   Posted by: Pat    in Uncategorized   Print Print

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs ran a poll in 2004 comparing the views of the general US public and US leaders on various US foreign policy issues.  I tried and tried to get the poll for posting, but alas could not.  Here is an article providing an overview of the findings by the Council itself.  I myself will discuss certain issues and findings from the poll that I believe are of most interest.

Overall US leaders and elite were more apt to support a stronger US presence in the world compared to the general US public.  This is not surprising as most everyday citizens concern themselves with what’s on the dinner table and going on at work than how the people of Darfur or Iraq are doing, though this is not to say that they don’t care or are not informed, though for many of them this is no doubt true.  For instance, Leaders favored supporting Israel and Taiwan a whole 20% more than did the general public.  There were also large disparities concerning working towards stopping global hungry and environmental degradation, both featuring strong US leader support with only mild general public backing.   

On the flip side, the general public was much more in favor of halting the flow of illegal drugs, making US military superiority a top priority, protecting American jobs, decreasing legal immigration (that’s legal, not illegal), reducing economic aid (64% to Leaders 4%), protecting oil supplies, and lastly more everyday citizens supported keeping the military base in Guantanamo Bay open (58%) than do US leaders (47%).  It is important to remember that this poll was taken in 2004 and of course that all polling is suspect.  

Though there was some disparity, both leaders and the public favored an ‘active’ US role in the world by wide margins, but did not desire for the US to be a ‘global police force’.  When it came to stressing the spread of democracy abroad both sides were cautious (leaders 29%, public 14% approving), though I think this data should be understood to be in the context of an Iraqi state in great turmoil.  I would guess this number might start to creep up as time goes by, as to me many American citizens are inherently for promoting liberty and democracy throughout the globe.  

These numbers showcase that the so-called elite of US foreign policy and the general public do indeed have some strong differences on certain key issues.  In many ways this is quite normal as actual leaders who must make decisions on these issues on a daily basis will have to tackle them head on and almost always will have access to more information from more angles than everyday citizens.  Take a look at the short description and let us now your thoughts.  Here is also the Chicago Council’s 2007 World Public Opinion poll data to look over.  However, take the data, especially from authoritative states, with a grain, or maybe two, of salt.

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10
Mar

Obama’s ‘Realism’: Good, Bad, Meh?

   Posted by: Pat    in China, Middle East, Russia   Print Print

A hot topic recently is Obama’s foreign policy ‘realism’. Now those who visit this site regularly already know that I’ve called Obama on his realism DAYS AGO! There are those who applaud this approach, arguing that the best foreign policy doctrine is not to have one. Then there are those who fear this outcome, asserting that one of America’s greatest assets is its promotion and defense of democracy and human rights.

This brings up two issues before we can argue for either side; 1. Has Obama truly shown himself a realist by his policies? 2. And is he really departing so completely from President Bush’s so-called ‘freedom agenda’? First off, I believe that all US presidents have been at least partially liberal in their world view, even those early presidents who lead a weak, fragile state at the time. That being said, it is not like these guys only had international liberalism in their bones, blood, and sinew, as they all followed the rules of power politics in most cases, from the Jay Treaty to the Bush’s partnership with Pervez Musharraf. Bush full heartedly tried to bring democracy to two despotic states, called the Darfur conflict a genocide, criticized the Burmese military dictatorship, gave prime time to political dissidents from China and elsewhere, and made many key speeches preaching the power of liberty and human rights. YET, he cozied up with dictators in Pakistan, Egypt, China, and Kazakhstan, used military force in pursuit of US interests, and disregarded many multilateral treaties. Bush was followed both a realist and liberal foreign policy.

Barack’s election rhetoric and policies so far have definitely trended more realist (and in many ways logically follow many of Bush’s policies). He has has openly stated he will negotiate with many dictator-run states (Iran, Syria, North Korea), put NATO expansion on hold, let Russia know that deals involving security trade offs could be made, treated Britain like it was just a ‘state’, rarely discusses the liberal threesome of liberty, democracy, and human rights in speeches, and his Sec of State Hilary Clinton stated that human rights would not get in the way of US-China relations. This being considered, Obama has also leaned liberal on many occasions. His emphasis on ‘talking’ and diplomacy are not just realist measures, but seem to him to be modern ways that conflicts are solved. He has also reached out to the Muslim world in a widely heard interview and plans on making a speech in a Muslim-majority country this year. Obama also showed his trust of international institutions and treaties by raising the US ambassador to the United Nations to a Cabinet Position and in his early discussions with Russia about arms reductions and Europe regarding climate change. But overall, I do agree with the aforementioned articles that Obama is mainly following a realist foreign policy so far. (of course so did Bush before 9/11)

I googled 'Realism vs. Liberalism' and this was the first picture that came up.

So should we be concerned or pleased about Obama’s realist leanings? I think, like when given the choice between chocolate and strawberry ice cream, a little of both. The realist attributes of cautiousness and pragmatism are indeed valuable and Obama seems keen on following them in many of his policies so far. International relations are indeed fraught with dangers of missteps and a realist viewpoint can prevent the US from unforeseen calamities and overzealousness. However, if the US becomes more and more just like another state, it not only denies what it has been for its entire history, a beacon of liberty and hope, but it may also undermine the growth of a stable world, which has made a steady climb in democratization. It is not an overstatement to say the current strength of democratic governance in the international system is held up by American leadership. Specifically, states in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic States, and Poland, in many ways have their sovereignty and free political system dependent on US/NATO engagement and protection. These states will not welcome the canceling of the missile defense system treaty or talk of NATO expansion quietly fading away. In terms of Afghanistan and Iraq’s governing future, Obama has already laid framework for a less than democratic outcome. I also hear loudly how much Obama has NOT spoken about the power of liberty, democracy, and human rights and I think this is a shame as the world is listening.

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen poignantly quoted an Obama intro to one of theologian/realist theorist Reinhold Niebuhr’s books: “there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. We should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction.”

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3
Feb

A Realist Turn in Afghanistan?

   Posted by: Pat    in Middle East   Print Print

It is being reported that the US Joint Chiefs of Staff will issue a report recommending that the Obama administration lower its expectations for a democratic Afghanistan and instead concentrate on regional stability and defeating Al Qaeda and the Taliban. I have not seen the report myself, but Politico’s David Cloud asserts that the report by the JCS has come to the conclusion that the Bush administration’s emphasis on creating a free, open Afghan society and governance may be too difficult to obtain in a timely manner and should be looked at as a ‘vision for the future’ and not as a ‘goal.’

090203_afganistan2_cloud297.jpgThe report calls for ‘narrowing’ the US/NATO goals to ‘just’ defeating the Taliban and Al Qaeda, uprooting their sanctuaries in Pakistan, and ‘ensuring’ regional stability. The thought that these are ‘narrow’ goals is laughable considering how challenging they have and will continue to be. Nevertheless, this is definitely a more realist outlook than trying to obtain a democratic and liberal style governance and society in the Afghan state.

This report, which should be out in the open and on the president’s desk soon, comes at a crucial time as the Obama administration is preparing to send around 12,000 more troops into the conflict.  Obama, who seems like he has realist, pragmatic leanings, may be sympathetic to this plan and will accordingly direct these incoming troops to these newly-focused goals.   It is also well-known that Obama staked much of his campaign rhetoric onchanging US-Afghan War policy and putting the conflict to the forefront of American foreign policy.  We’ll have to see how Obama, Petraeus, Bob Gates all see this plan in the next few weeks.

The war in Afghanistan has been going on for nearly 8 years now, (for the people of Afghanistan, a lot longer), and though I don’t see the American people wavering too much in support of the effort, there is definitely those who feel like some progress needs to be shown. Will a concentration of forces, resources, and strategy centered on the specific goals of stopping Al Qaeda and Taliban’s refuge in Pakistan and a lessening of talk and efforts for state building bring some tangible results to show the American people and the world. And maybe this will allow more breathing space and time for the Afghan government to grow in strength. Can the US have its cake (regional security) and eat it too (Afghan/Pakistan democracy)?

What goals should the US emphasis in Afghanistan? Would the JCS recommendations undermine the democratic gains already made in the country and possible in the surrounding region?

(Photo Source: AP)

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I listened (and kinda watched) Robert Baer’s presentation in front of the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, found below. Baer, a former CIA agent and author of ‘The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower‘, is an astute and seasoned veteran of US-Iran relations. He is a strong believer that the US must look past President Ahmadinejad’s erratic behavior and focus on the real center of Iran’s power, Ayatollah Khamenei, who he sees as a rational political being. Baer extends his argument by asserting that the Shia of the Middle East are overall more predictable and rational than their Sunni brethren. In any case, the main point from Baer is that the US can and should negotiate the Iranian state.

The debate over whether the Islamic Republic of Iran is a rational state like all others in the international system is an important one with obvious implications. I have covered the issue at least twice in my academic career, writing a paper that argued Iran should be considered a normal state (Iran: Welcome to the Nuclear Family), and one that argues the opposite (Iran’s Continuous Revolution). In the first paper, I argued that a nuclear armed Iran would act rationally like other states armed with such a destructive weapon, cautiously. The second paper argued that ever since the 1979 Islamic-controlled revolution the state has been led by leaders who have in many ways gone against international norms and followed irrational foreign policies.

I think Bush looked at the Iranian regime the way my second paper did, as a state that would not follow the rules and couldn’t be dealt with directly. Judging by Obama’s early rhetoric and call for direct negotiations, one has to think he believes the country’s leaders are rational and in turn can be diplomatic partners. Though contrary to most accounts, the Bush administration did at times ‘talk’ with Iranian counterparts, but usually only on low levels. The past administration also joined the Europeans in making the Iranian state several decent offers to stop enriching uranium, but without success or really even any signs of progress. Obama has led one to believe he will take a more forward approach to the Iranian regime, but exactly how still remains to be seen. I doubt Obama himself will head to Tehran any time soon, but one can see him sending Sec of State Clinton to meet with Iran’s equally prominent Foreign Minister at a neutral site in Europe some where.

The Obama administration’s progress in terms of US-Iran negotiations (besides the nuclear issue, Iran is an important player in Afghanistan and Iraq’s present and future) will largely depend on reciprocal diplomatic advancements from the Ayatollah, and that is where the previous argument comes back into play. What drives Ayatollah Khamenei and his partners? Do they seek to spread their version of Shia Islam across the Middle East, destroy Israel, and battle the ‘Great Satan’ United States as long it exists? Or is the state just following pragmatic policies that strengthen it at home and abroad?

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15
Jan

Terrorism in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

   Posted by: Pat    in China, Russia   Print Print

The Foreign Policy Association just made a big mistake…they published me. I wrote a short descriptive/analytical piece for the FPA about the rise of Islamic terrorism and extremism in Central Asia and how it was spilling over into the Afghan/Pakistan borderlands. Here is an excerpt below:

The border between the states of Afghanistan and Pakistan is now arguably the most active front in the war on terror. Foreign terrorists and extremists have come to the volatile border from the Middle East and Central Asia and there is real fear that these perpetrators may bring the war back to their home countries. Even more worrisome is that several of the militant groups involved in the current Afghan/Pakistan/US/NATO conflict hold broader goals of attacking American and Western interests. Central Asia, defined here as Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Uighur-dominated Xinjiang Province in western China, with Afghanistan and Pakistan as integral neighbors, also has vibrant militant groups threatening the governments of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and before the Olympics the Chinese government was targeted for several attacks by Uighur separatists with ties all the way to Pakistan. This briefing will analyze the rise in terrorist and extremist activities near the Afghan/Pakistan border, explore the major Islamic extremist groups active in Central Asia, discuss the reasons for their presence, and provide policy recommendations for the US, local actors, and regional groups.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban’s Foreign Helpers

In the last year or so there have been continual reports of a greater presence of foreign individuals and groups participating in extremist activities undermining Afghanistan, Pakistan, and regional stability. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have done an excellent job recruiting foreign jihadist to their fight against the US/NATO, Afghan, and Pakistani forces. Several disturbing trends have been recorded, including a rising use of suicide bombings and the recruitment and use of children in combat. Since 2001, there have been over 260 suicide bombings in Afghanistan alone, not to mention the hundreds that have recently occurred in Pakistan and Iraq, and unfortunately this number has only been increasing. US officials have stated that Al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the Afghan/Pak border have systematically created an underground network into Central Asia, which has brought in approximately 200 children into the violent conflict. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been called ‘feeder channels’ for the terrorist groups. Pakistani journalist and scholar Ahmed Rashid told Radio Free Europe: “We’ve seen more and more of these people coming in. We have seen more suicide bombers in Afghanistan who supposed to be Uzbek from Uzbekistan. Clearly, there’s something going on here.”

I’m assuming now you are totally hooked and are desperate for the rest, right?  Click here to continue reading the piece.  Thoughts?  Criticisms?

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I would like to share with you two videos that bring interesting views and ideas about many important issues facing the world and more specifically the Obama administration.  The first video is more all encompassing and features Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haas and Brookings Institution Saban Center’s Martin Indyk being interviewed by The Man, aka Charlie Rose.  The video covers many issues (listed below) and is centered around the new book ‘Restoring the Balance: A Middle East Strategy for the Next President.’  The book features many worthy and proven IR scholars, but how many times must we here that America has been off-balance and needs a new direction, are we really that off our historic trajectory?  

Issues covered:

  • Assigning a US envoy each for Israel-Palestinian and Pakistan
  • US rapproachment with Syria
  • Unconditional negotiations with Iran
  • Iraq falling off in its centrality to US foreign policy
  • Obama’s likely slower moving democracy promotion
  • Balancing with and against Russia

The second video is a short clip featuring research fellow Neil Joeck from Lawrence Livermore National Labs speaking about Obama, Pakistan, and the use of nuclear weapons.  Joeck outlines:

a possible Obama nuclear policy, which may include reducing the U.S. nuclear stockpile and acknowledging weapons only be used as a deterrence.

However, Joeck says America’s stance will have little affect on Pakistan because the country does not need to use nukes as a deterrence, but rather to prevent a conventional war with India.

He also said, “From Pakistan’s point of view nuclear weapons are not ethically bad or morally bad.”

 

 

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