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December 2009 Archives
'Tis the season for... New Year's predictions! 2010 will be the year of/when _____. You fill in the blank, and if you want to attach a betting-like odds figure, that's OK, too. The odds, say, that Israel will launch an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities? That Pakistan totally implodes? That Gitmo really does get shut down? That North Korea gives up its nukes, that Mexico wins its war with the drug cartels? Or weigh in on this: Will Obama's global approval rating -- repeat, global -- be higher or lower at the end of 2010 than it is now?
Feel free to wander all over the geopolitical map and up and down the precincts of Washington, D.C. Is there some national-security policymaker likely to lose his or her job? Someone new likely to be added to Team Obama? A new book that's likely to be hot, hot, hot? A new paradigm that everyone will be talking about? An old paradigm that will bite the dust?
Try thinking about this one with a glass of Veuve Clicquot, or any other favorite beverage, by the fireside. And bottoms up!
20 responses: Eric Farnsworth, Paul Starobin, Winslow T. Wheeler, Joseph J. Collins, Paul Starobin, Michael Brenner, Paul Starobin, Daniel Serwer, Paul Starobin, Michael F. Scheuer, David Krieger, Michael Vlahos, Col. W. Patrick Lang, Paul Sullivan, Ron Marks, Michael Brenner, Steven Metz, Christian Caryl, Dov S. Zakheim, Christopher Preble
In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama gave expansive remarks on the nature of war and peace, and how he sees America's role as a leader among nations. He articulated a set of core principles about when the United States may use force, and to what ends, as well as how the nation will project its power in the world.
Continued American military superiority
"The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.... So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace."
A rejection of national exceptionalism, not just America's
"Even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war."
"America--in fact, no nation--can insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves."
"America cannot act alone to secure the peace."
A defense of preemptive war and human rights
"I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans.... Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later."
"Only a just peace based on the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting."
Peace "must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want."
After hearing the president's Nobel speech, do you think we have the first signs of an "Obama doctrine," a view of foreign policy, as well as global military affairs, that will guide his decisions? If so, what do you think that doctrine is? And is it a realistic one for the world that the United States confronts? Or has Obama articulated a doctrine that is fundamentally not so different from many past American presidents?
14 responses: Michael F. Scheuer, James R. Locher III, David Krieger, Patrick B. Pexton, Paul Sullivan, Chris Seiple, Michael F. Scheuer, Joseph J. Collins, Larry Korb, Dov S. Zakheim, Ron Marks, Richard Hart Sinnreich, Michael Brenner, Steven Metz
One of the legs of President Obama's triad for Afghanistan is a strengthened long-term alliance with Pakistan. Or, in Obama's words at West Point last week: "Going forward, the Pakistan people must know America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan's security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent." Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged on Capitol Hill last week that given the on-again, off-again relationship Washington has had with Islamabad over the decades, "We have a lot of work to do in trying to convince them... that we are actually interested in a long-term partnership with them." On the same day in London, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said that he, too, wanted "a long-term strategic alliance that goes beyond terrorism."
But few details have come out about how exactly this will be undertaken. Pakistan's cooperation is essential to Obama's efforts to "to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan" -- yet the U.S. is not popular in Pakistan, and Pakistanis in and out of government are suspicious of Washington's growing closeness with India. The stakes for the United States in Pakistan are probably higher than in Afghanistan. But how do we manage this relationship with Islamabad? What should be our goals in Pakistan, and how do we accomplish them? What are the specific actions you would urge Obama to undertake to make this relationship work?
13 responses: Michael F. Scheuer, Steven Metz, Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., Michael F. Scheuer, Chris Seiple, Michael Vlahos, Michael F. Scheuer, Paul Sullivan, Michael Brenner, Steven Metz, Joseph J. Collins, Evelyn N. Farkas, Col. W. Patrick Lang
President Obama has spoken and has a new plan for Afghanistan. In its essence, it calls for 30,000 more U.S. troops (possibly a few thousand more from NATO allies), a strengthened civilian effort to bolster the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai, and a long-term partnership with Pakistan that, Obama promised, would endure long after the guns fall silent in Afghanistan. He said he would introduce the new troops as quickly as possible and yet begin a withdrawal of some troops 18 months after they arrive as Afghan security forces begin to take on more responsibility, although he carefully caveated that withdrawal promise with Bush-like phraseology that the schedule could be altered by "conditions on the ground."
Will this plan work? Is it too much, or not enough? What do you think of the president's choices, and his speech?
13 responses: Richard Hart Sinnreich, Col. W. Patrick Lang, Wayne White, Ron Marks, Michael F. Scheuer, Chris Seiple, Michael F. Scheuer, Col. W. Patrick Lang, Michael Brenner, Daniel Serwer, Joseph J. Collins, Daniel Gouré, Steven Metz