A brewing split regarding whether to send more troops to Afghanistan pits Democrats against Republicans and places President Obama squarely in the middle of the disagreement. Jim Lobe wrote an excellent foreign policy analysis of the issues for the Asia Times (9/17/09). Lobe begins by saying that the question "poses one of the most difficult political challenges faced by President Barack Obama in his first year in office," asking how the President faces alienating members of his own party, while gathering a great deal of support from the opposition party. Read the rest of this insightful piece to get a very good objective picture of the Commander-in-chief's brewing dilemma.
Senators were presented with plans for success in Afghanistan and Pakistan Wednesday, according to the Congressional Quarterly (9/16/09). Six pertinent committees related to national security in the House of Representatives will be briefed Thursday. The article contains interesting specifics about the military objectives in the region, as well as reactions by the key senate committee chairmen. To quote from the Quarterly:
. . . a draft list of U.S. objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and measures of progress toward achieving them.. . [an] unclassified document, . . . shows the importance of nuclear-armed Pakistan in the administration’s approach to the regional conflict. It also shows an emphasis on soliciting support from other nations to address the problem.. . . The goal of the United States,” the document begins, “is to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.”
The United States is going to announce Thursday that it will drop plans to build a European missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic (purportedly against an Iranian missile attack), the Financial Times reported (9/17/09). No doubt, the Times wrote, this "will significantly boost US relations with Russia," who felt the "Bush era scheme . . . a threat to its national security." The story also opined that the decision was influenced by the idea that Iran's nuclear program has not progressed as fast as predicted, and that the decision also will not please the European countries originally involved in the plan.
According to the Army Times, "The Universal Camoflage Pattern" for the Army's soldiers does not do the job as well as other patterns, a new study has reported (9/17/09). HT to ProPublica for this and the following item: Pentagon Study Proposes Overhaul of Defense Base Act to Cover Care for Injured Contractors. T. Christian Miller's September 16 investigative news story reveals that "Congress could save as much as $250 million a year through a sweeping overhaul of the controversial U.S. system to care for civilian contractors injured in war zones, according to a new Pentagon study." Just like civilians at home, the contractors often face long battles to get medical treatment and disability pay.
(Image by Spc. Christa Martin 11-3-06)
- From Pravda (Russia) -- A story about a report from "US National Intelligence Strategy" is highlighted by the headline, "Aggressive Russia Threatens US Interests," (9/16/09).
- From Behind the Lines, by David C. Morrison (9/16/09). To quote:
Follow the money: “Financing is the soft underbelly of terrorism, and the financiers of terrorism greatly fear transparency and financial loss. They are particularly susceptible to deterrence through risk of exposure,” a National Post op-ed propounds. A Saudi charity believed to be an al Qaeda front has provided $15 million to Pakistani extremist groups to fund terror attacks, The International News quotes a secret police report. . . .
“Long after the ending of the Cold War, the chance that some nuclear weapons will [be used] may well be higher than it was before the fall of the Berlin Wall,” Daniel Ellsberg alerts in the Bloomington Alternative. Iran’s nuclear ambitions are “an existential threat to our way of life,” a retired general argues in Human Events.