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Egypt's Tumult Sharpens

3 Feb

The headlines from Egypt get bloodier everyday.

What started out as a massive, yet orderly protest has taken a sharp turn into chaotic combatativeness. This is not due to anything the anti-Mubarak protesters have done. Quite the opposite: they have been met with tacit support and empathy from the military, the citizenry as a whole, and even some police forces. This violent period is due to pro-Mubarak groups that are physically attacking protesters. Their validity has already been question. Many sources have reported that they come up to various Egyptians, offering what is equivalent to $8 to hold a pro-Mubarak sign. Others have noticed that they are exceptionally well organized and coordinated, making them doubt if they are truly ordinary citizens, or seasoned professionals. Whoever they are, they are manipulating the demonstration into what they want: a bloody battle.

The next few days may prove to be the most consequential of this captivating event. If the protesters fight back, a civil war will be had on Tahir Square. If they find a way to disarm pro-Mubarak groups (literally and figuratively), with non-violent force, they will have won the history books, and possibly, the rest of the world. Time will tell.

The Anti-Samson

14 Apr

photocredit: rayphua

Even the most jaded political observer can take one thing from Obama’s term thus far: he knows harmony. This shouldn’t be a shock, since his campaign platform was as much about “hope” and idealism as it was about bipartisanship and finding mutual interests. But, then again, idealists are often closet ideologues, and bipartisanship can be cast off as an empty promise or annoying kumbaya. The one reason Obama has been able to fly over either criticism is his success at achieving tangible results.

There is a discipline in Democrats today that has been missing for years, even decades. Their ambitious agenda, while inciting sparks with those hoping for a timid government, is achieving results. Campaign promises and wishful thinking are materializing at an unprecedented pace. Healthcare reform, a Keynesian economy, a nuclear-free world, and a nuclear-less (or is it de-nuclearized) Iran are either reality or look like they will soon be.

The Democrats tend to rock their own ship from clashes that are bound to occur under a big tent. But this time, they are not allowing themselves to fall off of it. Much of the credit for that discipline goes to Pelosi, but the true commander is President Obama.

In yesterday’s nuclear summit, he produced another victory: a 47-nation pact, where each will take steps to rid the world of loose nuclear materials. This, like the recent US-Russia nuclear arms reduction treaty, is not pie in the sky. They are public agreements that will play into the politics at home for each of those nations. Heads of state do not sign such pacts freely; the political impact of a signature is carefully calculated before the ink reaches paper. If that were the case, Iran and North Korea would have long ago signed such a treaty and gone back to working under the radar. Obama earned that victory the same way he has managed to herd the pack of cats known as the Democratic party. He is best when surrounded by chaos. And, put simply, that is why he is most comfortable with his party and with foreign policy.

The anarchic nature of foreign policy is so because all states fend for themselves. In the days when mercantilism was favored and countries were expected to sabotage each other’s commercial routes, or destroy their neighbor’s fleet to have an advantage in regional commerce, the anarchy was unmanageable. It was true chaos. Today, however, as so many countries have many trading partners, both for goods and finances, there is a gentleman’s agreement to be civil. Henry Kissinger knew that one way to avoid nuclear war with the USSR was to become their economic partner. Co-dependency would keep the world afloat.

There is equilibrium as long as no one makes up their own rules. That is why rogue nations have the spotlight right now. Their volatility is dangerous not only for the region, but for the entire international system.

Obama is much more effective in this chaos than many of his predecessors, because of his natural cool and appreciation for harmony. As was evident at the nuclear summit yesterday, and at the healthcare summit in February, the president knows how to mediate. He can take the good and bad of various opinions and find enough common ground to make all parties feel they are getting some of the pie, thereby fostering an honest and productive dialogue. In foreign policy, this is the core of diplomacy.

President Obama has shown time and again that he is no idealist. If anything, he is a pragmatic reformer that has studied Niebuhr enough to know progress is slow and frustrating. The best an ambitious man can do is keep pressure on the issue and keep the columns from breaking. Unlike his predecessor, George W., Obama does not believe in going for the knockout. Even the push to pass healthcare was not a swoop from above; after nearly a year of debate and delirious politickin’, the bill was modest and tactical. While W. tore down the columns, Obama is applying consistent pressure on each, moving them where he wants. Obama prevented the hull of his ship from breaking through careful calculation, and that is something the typically energetic (i.e. neurotic) Democratic party hasn’t seen since LBJ.

The recent string of foreign policy victories will help him with the two behemoths in front of him: Iran and Israel. Many before him have failed in finding a peaceful medium when it comes to these two. He must use his calm if he wants to achieve harmony in such places that have long ago discarded civility toward neighbors.

Old Posts, Renewed

21 Jan

Here are some most posts, taken from the Archives, that are worth reading for the first time or revisiting for all the good times you had the first time. Enjoy.

SCOTUS pick reflects Obama’s politics

Afghanistan’s no. 1 domestic enemy

500 words on: Iran and Mexico, and Democracy’s growing pains

Has gay marriage hit a tipping point?

The Enduring Cost of Poverty

20 Jan

photocredit: United Nations Development Programme

Hurricane Katrina jolted us as Americans. “How could something like that happen here?” “Why so much destruction? Why so little help? Why so late?” It brought back issues of inequality, race, poverty, and what a cad once called the “Two Americas.”

After a few days of eerily similar footage coming from Haiti, after a 7.0 earthquake rocked the entire country, many more questions are raised. People will ask a lot of why’s–Why do poor countries always get struck with the most devastating disasters?–but they will also raise a lot how’s. How can we prevent this from happening again? How influential was poverty in making an earthquake that would have killed dozens in an American city, into a disaster that will leave nearly 200,000 people dead and over one and a half million homeless?

The devastation in Haiti could have happened in countless other countries. According to Dr. Jeffrey Sachs’ research, one of the leading academic voices in the field of development economics, nearly one billion people around the world, one sixth of humanity, are in extreme poverty; 1.5 billion are poor and barely live above mere subsistence. The poor and the extreme poor make up 40% of humanity. 40%. The direct effects of poverty are clear: hunger, malnutrition, disease, and lack of water and electricity. But poverty has what is called a “multiplier effect.” It turns on a chain reaction that can easily gain speed with the right push.

Haiti’s infrastructure was weak, now it’s crumbling. Haiti’s economy was teetering, barely gaining some modest momentum, now it’s completely halted. Haiti’s health and law enforcement services were spotty, now the island is best described as on the verge of “anarchy.” It seemed as if Haiti was rocking on the verge of a precipice…and this earthquake rattled it into the abyss.

The underlining poverty in that country exists despite decades of foreign aid from industrialized countries. One discussion that has left development economists with more questions than answers is how can an influx of foreign aid be effective. Some believe the focus should be the amount, making each grant small and focused, i.e. $1m for mosquito nets rather than a $10m blank check. Others think there should never be strings attached, and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on the ground should manage the use of that money. Almost everyone agrees that foreign aid, as it is used now, is a hit or miss venture. It hardly guarantees a country will be better off tomorrow than today, no matter how much money they are given.

What is a guarantee is that the pervasive poverty seen in countries like Haiti are like a puddle of gasoline, waiting for a match to fall on it. The effects of poverty are not only limited to emergency aid, but extend to people’s reactions. Frustration leads to anger, struggle leads to rebellion: the poor reach an “enough is enough” point. In a country where 80% of the population is poor, and the richest 1% own nearly 50% of the wealth, one earth-rumbling shake is enough.

Katrina reminded us that the poor are often overlooked, until we have no other option than to acknowledge their plight. Our attention hones in on them for a mere moment, compared to the years they’ve spent as a side-note in our collective conscious and politicians’ rhetoric. Katrina came and swept a city; years later, the city has been nearly forgotten. New Orleans is nowhere near done being reconstructed, but we hardly hear any stories about how much it still needs us. The city, like its underlining troubles, are once again dismissed.

In Haiti, there is an opportunity for renewal like never before. Goodwill and resources are pouring in, instilling some optimism amidst the wreckage. It may take years to regain some of the momentum this little island had before the quake, and decades more to truly be on the path to better living standards. The only way it will reach such a path is if the deeper issues are dealt with, long after we seal the dam with a  finger. Along with foreign aid, in whatever type or form,  Haiti needs ambitious and dedicated people and nations to help her stand up, for good this time, empowered and ready.

Obama's Nobel Prize speech and the necessity of Just War

14 Dec
photocredit: White House Blog

photocredit: White House Blog

There was hardly any single way President Obama could accept the Nobel Peace prize successfully. His harshest critics are his compatriots, people who should be proud that their president is being honored on the world stage, but instead are ridiculing the prize and process. So when Obama accepted his prize on Wednesday in Oslo there was little he could say to convince the bitter many. His speech spent few words on explaining why he deserved it. In fact, he downplayed it enough to potentially insult the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

What he did do was explain his intentions as president, in particular why he believes fighting in Afghanistan is justified and necessary. He went on to give a speech about the principles of ‘just war’ theory, America’s role in global affairs, and his pragmatic optimism of the future.

Just war theory has developed over many centuries by various philosophers, many attributing St. Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th century, as the father of the belief system. It regained prominence in American political discussions during the Vietnam war, arguing what is the just way to fight and end a war. One of the main proponents of including just war theory into the Vietnam debate was Michael Walzer, with his comprehensive and compelling book on morality and war, Just and Unjust Wars. Ever since the 70’s concepts like jus ad bellum (just reason to start a war), jus in bello (just way of fighting a war), and jus post bellum (ending a war justly), have been a staple of all discussions about America’s wars.

On Wednesday, President Obama gave what has to be one of his most revealing speeches on foreign affairs thus far.

Obama laid out, in what at times seemed like a professor’s lecture, the argument that the war in Afghanistan fit the just war model and was a sort of necessary evil.

The president is on record for naming Reinhold Niebuhr as one of the most influential political philosophers in his life. Niebuhr was a towering intellectual figure in the first half of the 20th century that was known for his insights into the complex relationship between morality and politics. Niebuhr was a pragmatic optimist, calling America’s pride a double-edged sword, and a man confident humanity could make progress, but in small, measured steps.

On Wednesday Obama made statements that are fairly common sense, but are hardly ever uttered by a politician, much less a president. After offering a fair share of humility, claiming his accomplishments compared to past prize-winners are “slight,” he went on to explain his war strategy. His decision to expand America’s presence in Afghanistan came after many hoped he would adopt a much more pacifist strategy, one past Nobel Prize winners, like MLK Jr., would have probably preferred.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their [Mandela, MLK, Gandhi] examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

This reinforces the so-called Obama ideology: sober, carefully optimistic realpolitik. “Evil does exist in the world,” could never be said by a doe-eyed idealist; it is a true, but loaded statement only said by someone preparing to tackle that ‘evil.’

He went on to make a very Neihburian statement about human progress:

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly inreconcilable truths — that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. “Let us focus,” he said, “on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.”

Gradual evolution in human institutions implies both pragmatism and optimism: pragmatic hopes for human progress, and optimistic that human institutions (government, alliances, grassroots organizations) will lead that effort.

Niebuhr and Walzer believed that war can not only be justifiable, but at times the best (and last) of options. Niebuhr said it was our “self-interest” to accept our responsibilities as world leader. Walzer saw virtue in military interventions during ethnic and regional conflicts, such as genocide and unjust invasions. Obama made subtle mentions of this responsibility and its benefit:

Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: 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. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

Obama furthered the point that America is, as Madame Secretary Albright used to call her, the “indispensable nation.” Global stability is at risk in Afghanistan, Obama said. A loss there is a loss felt in every other country.

[…] In many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular, but I also know this: The belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice.

Niebuhr thought that politics could indeed be an agent of change, but it was still politics, full of compromise and tit-for-tat. He was a firm believer that a saint could remain saintly even in hell, but very few people could pull off that feat. Anyone hoping to change the world could do so in politics, but they often fall victim to its corrupting vices. An advocate of change needs both vision and a strong stomach. Obama echoed that belief when he explained his diplomatic outreach efforts:

Let me also say this: The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach — condemnation without discussion — can carry forward only a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

The speech overall was very well-written, at times lofty and at times unfiltered and realistic. Obama was able to communicate what many felt he needed to, which was painstaking humility and an explanation of the Committee’s decision. But it also went far beyond that. It let anyone willing to listen to it in its entirety know what is fueling Obama’s foreign policy.

After the speech, I am sure the Committee was slightly disappointed, hoping he would have accepted the prize with much more panache. I am also sure, however, that many liberals and conservatives were scratching their head by the end of it: why is it so hard to pigeonhole this president into an ideology?

It’s because he doesn’t have just one, and it’s a fluid process.

It's All Political: Obama's Afghanistan Plan

4 Dec

It’s All Political is a conversation between the main author of this blog, Jaime, and a frequent contributor, Ashley. It is a commentary on the most important news, events, and ideas of the moment. Ashley’s blog can be found at Coffee Late at Night.

Jaime: Hi, Ashley. I think the important news this week needs to be addressed. It’s on everyone’s mind, and, I believe, it has brought Americans to a standstill: What was Tiger Woods’ pre-nup?

Ashley: Well at this point it seems like the pre-nup is changing based on the number of women he’s slept with outside his marriage.

Jaime: I see. So by Saturday it might be his wife who has the Nike endorsement. Well, in all seriousness, there couldn’t be a better time for President Obama to reveal–if you can even call it that by now–his plan for Afghanistan. Not only is the number one athlete in the world taking most of the headlines and water-cooler chatter, but his plan is hardly a surprise by now.

Ashley: Turns out the leaks were not quite as accurate as predicted, I thought for sure he would focus on a counterinsurgency strategy like McChrystal outlined in his August memo. But first, what did you think of the tone of his speech in general?

Jaime: I have mixed feelings about it. I like it because it set realistic, narrower goals for Afghanistan, and a strategy that I was silently rooting for. It focuses on districts, tribes, and brings interaction with Afghanistan down to the micro-level. In a way, it makes a solid Karzai government a bonus–the tribal leaders will have a stronger relationship with the US than ever before.

I thought it came short when it addressed Americans. To this day, there is no call for sacrifice by any of our elected official, in particular the president, for these two wars. I think people need to know and feel what war really costs. I am not advocating he tell people that if they don’t carpool they ride with Hitler, like during WWII, but there needs to be something he asks from us to support the burden placed on our troops, their families, and innocent civilians abroad. I know you have qualms with the process that brought him to the speech, but what did you think?

Ashley: I think we are looking at it in a similar way. I thought the speech was unsatisfying. He was giving a speech trying to justify at least another 18 months at war and he didn’t incite much passion. I was looking for him to convince doubters, give them a reason to be outraged or upset. But instead he seemed to say, “well, we’ve got to do this even though we really don’t want to.” We should want to. These terrorists came over on our turf and took the lives of our people. Have we forgotten that? I know he mentioned 9/11 but it lacked the personal touch that, say, Reagan would have had.

Jaime: It was definitely a reserved speech. Some people even called it cold and calculated. I woudn’t go that far. I think Obama was not trying to rile up the troops or stir up patriotic fervor, but calm nerves. I think he did that with a fairly comprehensive and pragmatic plan.

As for the terrorists, this new plan addresses that. There are many reasons why I am thankful Bush is no longer in office, but one is that his foreign policy was so manipulated by the neo-conservative agenda of nation-building. This is what has led to one empire after another to fall. This new plan tells people, “Yeah, that whole nation-building bit? Not so hot right now.” It is much more modest: destabilize al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, avoid a Taliban takeover of the country, and prepare the Afghan forces to keep themselves afloat. That is very different to the Bush model: build a free and democratic Muslim nation.

Ashley: I support his plan. I think he set things on the right track so that we can hopefully make progress. I’m also pleased with his decision to focus on Taliban forces. While the number of troops is important, it’s what we do with those troops that will make the difference. So, I can support the strategy, but can you guess what I don’t support?

Jaime: Does it rhyme with limeline?

Ashley: You’re good. Why on earth would he announce a timeline for the war? How can you convince people that this is a war we should be fighting when you give them an 18 month deadline?

First off, we don’t have enough troops over there even with the surge to get this done in 18 months. Second, is there any reason why he couldn’t have waited out the withdrawal announcement? I feel like Obama is trying to please both sides..”yes we’ll give you more troops but we’re also getting the troops out of there.” It doesn’t make sense to me. He should have let the troop surge sink in before sharing the “possible” withdrawal date with everyone, including al Qaeda and the Taliban, who he pretty much invited to just wait out the war. I have a feeling this will come back to bite him in his re-election campaign.

Jaime: It sounds like you are looking out for him. I didn’t know you had a hidden Obamamaniac in you, Ashley. I think the deadline makes sense in any war where there is an occupying force that does not intend to colonize the land but is waiting to hand it over to the local government. Americans are barely getting over their Iraq war fatigue. An open-ended war would not only be a drain on the American spirit, but on any politician looking to make progress on other issues in spite of it.

It also makes sense geopolitically: the US needs the Afghan government to understand we will leave them once the burden is too much. If the plan focused more on the macro-level, and relied on Karzai becoming the Superman he is incapable of being–being a fraud does not help–I’d think a deadline would be a dangerous thing. But this plan relies on cooperation from districts, provinces, and tribes. The Karzai government is almost an afterthought. There is greater power in Afghanistan at the local level than at the federal level.

As for al-Qaeda and the Taliban, if there seems to be insufficient progress in closing off their access to power in Afghanistan, Secretary Gates and Clinton, along with the Joints Chief of Staff, have testified that the deadline is “flexible” and based on “a review of the conditions” in late 2010. Even if it weren’t, Obama would not want to be the president that left Afghanistan an anarchic power vacuum.

Ashley: Don’t get too excited! I was merely stating that I’ll be the first to point this out come re-election. Sure, we’re tired from Iraq, but do the American people really want another war that turns out to be a failure? I think saying that we will be there until the job is done would be more uplifting than plotting an escape route.

We need to acknowledge that annoucing a withdrawal date is going to encourage members of the Pakistan Army to hedge their bets with the Taliban to protect themselves after we pull out. I think Rep Mike Pence said it best when he said,”It never makes sense to tell the enemy when you’re going to quit fighting in a war.” I understand that the President was trying to convey to the people of Afghanistan that we will allow them to build up their nation and stand on their own two feet, but in this case I believe that the President made the wrong decision. He is putting the security of Afghanistan at risk, especially for an arbitrary cut off date.

Jaime: 2010 is shaping up to be a very interesting year. Not only are there very important, and potentially crippling elections for both parties, but Obama will have essentially owned the economy, the war, healthcare, and global warming. It will be interesting to see what Democrats and Republicans use as turning points in the war, and how they will use them against each other. I think the first thing to look out is how many base-level members of the Taliban turn in their allegiance and become a part of the counter-insurgency. On top of the secretaries and the Joints Chief of Staff, Former Centcom commander Anthony Zinni has been a strong advocate of this strategy. Back in October, 2009, he said the US should “absolutely” be “negotiating with Taliban elements.” Do you think this may the first sign of success or failure for this plan?

Ashley:  I place a lot of value on what Zinni says, considering he foresaw problems arising from Afghanistan before 9/11 happened. I think that the strategy will be effective as long as we keep our focus on the Taliban as well as al Qaeda, who while smaller in numbers, pose a huge threat on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. We also need to continue to build up Karzai’s regime,as difficult as that may be, with Clinton leading the way. I’m just relieved that Obama finally made a decision. I’m interested in seeing how things pan out in the next few months, with the President being heavily critized from both parties. I think that a successful end to the war in Afghanistan could single-handedly get him re-elected, but I don’t see that happening in 18 months.

Jaime: If we don’t see a resolution to the Afghanistan war within 18 months I guess we can just keep tallying the mistresses that played “18 holes” with Mr. Woods. What is your count so far?

Ashley: I believe we are up to three at this moment, but tomorrow is another day.

In Afghanistan, it's all about the numbers

11 Nov
photocredit: The US Army (flickr)

photocredit: The US Army (flickr)

Let’s say you’re visiting Earth from another planet. You have no reliable information on what’s been going on in 2009. You read a hastily written and vague brief titled “America in 1,000 words.” Near the end, it mentions that there is a major war afoot, one the “wimpy Democrats are like really, really against” (I told you it was hastily written).  When you are about to find out where this war is located, it smudged–fax machines will do that to you. But you read your Cliffnotes on America up until 2006, so you figure, “Duh. Iraq!”

Silly alien.

One reason the Democratic Congress has approval numbers that are not that much better than the Republicans had in 2006, is their flippancy. The war they (eventually) feverishly opposed was Iraq, but this year it became Afghanistan. What was consider the “good war” of the two is now the newest version of “our Vietnam.” Afghanistan is not Vietnam, but Democrats are giving that argument some credence, and thereby making themselves look weaker by presenting it. Maybe the “wimpy” label was not so far off.

Democrats feverishly opposed Iraq because they could feverishly support Afghanistan. It was good, just, worthy of sacrificing some of our best men and women, and worthy of the surmounting monetary cost. But now that Iraq is looking pretty stable, they need a new straw man. Enter the new Vietnam.

The war in Afghanistan is definitely not popular, with over 45% of Americans preferring to remove troops from the battlefield. Democrats might have switched their tone because of this. It’s unpopular, so lets boo the ugly prom date. But their party leader, President Obama, may once again go against the wishes of their progressive ambitions.

Afghanistan is torn, tattered, and in shaky condition after a sham election and pervasive violence that torments Afghans and their neighbors. President Hamid Karzai is unpopular amongst his people, and unreliable amongst White House officials. He vows to fight corruption just a few weeks after he blatantly committed electoral fraud and strong-arming. The insurgency within Afghanistan does not only target American soldiers, but Afghan civilians, Pakistan, and often collaborates with the Taliban to bring them back to power. In a word, it’s broken. This is why Obama knows he cannot see this war through a Vietnam lens.

The war in Afghanistan is more about the numbers than Vietnam ever was. Nixon and Kissinger thought they could win Vietnam by just overpowering the Vietcong with agent orange and carpet bombing, with more troops, more power, and less restraint. It failed, mainly because the enemy was not a single entity. The entire country was, in one way or another, supporting the insurgents. The only way to win in Vietnam would have been to obliterate the country or win each of their hearts. Both are pretty hard and expensive to do.

It is not a matter of whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, but how many and why. The country’s administration is incompetent at best, corrupt at worst, so why send more Americans there to lose their lives and prop their illegitimate institutions? What good is a promise to improve things, if it comes from Karzai? And if things are going to get better, won’t sending more Americans deflate the urgency Afghan security forces and politicians have to make themselves the keepers of their country’s security? If we lose Afghanistan, will Pakistan soon follow?

According to WH advisers, Obama is asking these questions, and becoming increasingly frustrated with the Afghan government. He is taking his time to weigh all of the proposed plans (some call for 10k more troops, some 30k, some none, some suggest pulling out completely). He may be doing this to check the country’s temperature: how much power will Karzai have once he starts trying to crack down on violence and government, earnestly or not? A month from now, will things be better, worse, or altogether different?

Obama will put more boots on the ground–begrudgingly.  It must be done, because Afghanistan can be won. Insurgents are not fighting united with the Afghan people, but beside them and sometimes against them. Civilians fear the insurgents, but possibly fear the void an American pullout would create even more. How many more troops American will send to the land that defeated the USSR and Alexander the Great will depend on how confident they are a reliable ally is on the other end. That, Mr. Karzai, is where you come in.

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