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This page shares comments and links to recent news headlines on global issues and foreign policy or national security news from an American conservative political perspective.  Most comments are in response to AP stories, with links to www.Breitbart.com where users can add their own comments.
We may also add links to other sources of information over time.  The purpose of this page is to make it easier for visitors to quickly find background on recent global news.  The "conservative search" tool above also makes it easy to find and compare what some others are saying on any topic.  Similar tools make it easy to search across the websites of Republican US Senators and House members..
For convenience, we have reorganized this archive of news headlines and related comments for global issues according to national or topic focus.
Topics from global news (more will be added as appropriate over time)
bulletAfghanistan and Pakistan
bulletChina
bulletJapan
bulletNorth Korea
bulletGuantanamo
bulletIndia and Sri Lanka
bulletIran - see election protest news
bulletIraq
bulletLatin America - regional
bulletVenezuela
bulletHonduras
bulletEurope - EU, NATO regional
bulletEastern Europe
bulletRussia
bulletG20 Summit
bulletUnited Kingdom
bulletMiddle East - regional
bulletUnited Nations and IAEA
bulletUS military capabilities
bulletSomalia - piracy
bulletZimbabwe
bulletMiscellaneous comments
We don't attempt to link to all foreign policy stories.  This is a selection of news which we regarded as significant enough to be worth finding again for future reference, rather than just newsworthy for one day.  Refer to our main News Highlights section for recent domestic and international news.
Recent global news headline links and comments - see Archives below for prior news
January 13, 2011 - F-35 looking more like white elephant - Joint Strike Fighter program, including the debate over the need for a second engine for political reasons - Alternate fighter jet engine funded until March 4
January 9, 2011 - For jubilant voters in South Sudan, new country nears - Then what?
December 23, 2010 - Portugal's debt rating downgraded by Fitch
December 18, 2010 - Raul Castro touts economic changes - and - Cuban-Americans haul goods home on holiday visits
December 18, 2010 - Zimbabwe's Mugabe: Party ready to regain dominance - and - Zimbabwe's Mugabe says party out of 'doldrums'
December 13, 2010 - Ukraine to open Chernobyl area to tourists in 2011 - Not your typical eco-tourism adventure tour - later version of the story
November 24, 2010 - After crisis, Dubai refocuses while tackling debts
November 18, 2010 - More bad news for new START - Russia nuclear treaty in jeopardy during lame duck session
November 17, 2010 - Obama enlists big guns to help save nuclear treaty
November 16, 2010 - Chinese missiles can ravage U.S. bases
November 16, 2010 - GOP senator deals setback to nuclear treaty
November 16, 2010 - Obama's hopes for Russia nuclear pact fade  Biden says nuclear pact failure would endanger US
November 16, 2010 - Irish crisis, contagion fears loom over EU meeting
November 3, 2010 - Obama's star fades in Muslim world
November 3, 2010 - US submits to UN human rights review
November 3, 2010 - US to spend $511 million to expand Kabul embassy
October 27, 2010 - Lugar: Fallout from election could derail vote on START treaty - It is one thing to sign laws without reading them, and quite another to sign treaties.  Laws can be easily amended or repealed when their flaws become obvious.  Bad treaties don't go away.
October 27, 2010 - Germany pushes state default proposal at EU summit
October 20, 2010 - US to sell $60 billion in advanced arms to Saudi
October 13, 2010 - EU struggles over ways to prevent new debt crisis - EU leaders use the financial crisis to vote themselves greater powers.
August 19, 2010 - Australian PM faces voter backlash at election
July 27, 2010 - France declares war against al-Qaida
July 1, 2010 - Clinton treads lightly on Russia's doorstep - Praising closer ties to Moscow?
July 1, 2010 - Secret list shows fate of Argentine disappeared - Where tyranny leads.
June 23, 2010 - Times Square car bomber details his chilling plot - largely ignored by the media while attention is on other stories, this should be a sobering reminder to everyone of the need to remain vigilant and defeat these terrorists, rather than rationalize ignoring them again.
June 15, 2010 - China and other countries buy US Treasury debt - For now.  Watch what happens to interest rates whenever they cut back on their purchases or holdings.
June 4, 2010 - Report: Myanmar seeking nuclear weapons - Likely North Korean involvement.
June 4, 2010 - Exiles, Hong Kongers break silence on Tiananmen - 21 years of denial
June 2, 2010 - UN expert: 'Targeted killings' may be war crimes - Do we have a spare drone available to circle menacingly over the next UN Human Rights Council meeting?  Why have terrorists never targeted this organization? They know that many of the participants are on their side. Let's stop pretending that these "experts" have any sort of moral authority to sit in judgment of our actions in wartime. War is not an academic exercise or a legal dispute. It exists because of the failure of people such as these to confront the real threats in the world while they enjoy the ability to criticize us with impunity. Relocate their comfortable offices from Geneva to Peshawar or Kandahar, and don't fund a lot of security for them. Let them see what it is like to be the targets of those who they seem to regard as innocent victims, without any protection at our expense.

UN criticism not likely to stop CIA drone strikes - later version of the story, elaborating on how this could be used to rationalize the extradition and foreign trial of any CIA officers involved.

June 2, 2010 - China says no thanks to US defense chief - Being snubbed.  Interesting timing, given the current controversy over the North Korean sinking of a South Korean ship, as well as weak efforts at the UN to get the Chinese to agree to somewhat stronger sanctions against Iran.  Meanwhile, there's not much progress on currency revaluation, either.  The Obama administration seems more interested in talking to the Chinese about the immigration law in Arizona.
March 9, 2010 - Sarkozy's party braces for electoral wipeout
March 9, 2010 - Merkel says EU bailout fund would halt speculators - Comment:  Does anybody else remember how George Soros made his fortune by betting against the Bank of England?
February 18, 2010 - Niger soldiers go on state TV to confirm coup - Comment:  It remains to be seen whether this will lead to a better outcome for the country or not, but regime change was needed.
February 17, 2010 - EU president pushes for economic power - Comment:  Never let a good crisis go to waste.  Another transparent power-grab for more economic control by the statists in Europe.
December 2, 2009 - UN says global economy will bounce back in 2010 - Comment:  Wow, I guess we should all feel reassured because some UN economists think that the US economy will grow again in 2010 if we keep doing more deficit spending and "stimulus" programs, and also give more global regulatory power over financial markets to UN agencies.  Did any journalists bother to go back and check the accuracy of their prior annual forecasts in recent years?  Like most such reports, the language includes enough caveats to be able to claim that virtually any scenario was either predicted or could not possibly have been foreseen.
November 27, 2009 - Eq. Guinea leader expected to win near 100 percent - Comment: Thirty years of failure, like Zimbabwe, with no end in sight.
November 27, 2009 - Filipino candidate files to run despite slaughter - Comment:  Updated
November 26, 2009 - Filipino who lost wife in massacre files candidacy - Comment: There are still people in the world who are willing to risk their lives to stand up to tyranny, despite the dangers.  If you want to read an interesting history book sometime, try to find "Benevolent Assimilation" - about the role of the Progressive movement in the conquest of the Philippines a little over a century ago.
November 21, 2009 - Obama trumpets Asia trip as boost to US economy - Comment: Try not to laugh hysterically or scream too loudly at this ludicrous spin job.  "I will not let up until businesses start hiring again, unemployed Americans start working again, and we rebuild this economy stronger and more prosperous than it was before."  True enough.  He promises to not let up or wise up while he destroys our economy and national security until we vote him out of office in 2012, just like Carter.
November 10, 2009 - Obama says he wants to visit Hiroshima in future - Comment: He can't make it on this trip to Asia, but it is high on the agenda for his next world apology tour.  The real crime against humanity was his election.  That's what Americans will need to apologize about to the world.
November 9, 2009 - Obama confronts an Asia reshaped by China's rise - Comment:  The global apology tour heads to Japan, China, Singapore and South Korea. 
November 9, 2009 - Merkel thanks Gorbachev on Berlin Wall anniversary - Comment: Never forget how fortunate we are that this had a happy ending.  This was a very dangerous transition period for Europe.

Meanwhile, Obama chose to skip the 20th anniversary celebration, and Hillary Clinton tried to suggest that there needed to be greater European and global unity on current issues such as climate change.  Always pushing the Obama agenda - despite the obvious failure of statist rule which is right in front of her face.

November 4, 2009 - Israel: commandos seize Hezbollah-bound arms ship - Comment:  Exposing what the Iranian and Syrian leadership have been doing to stir up trouble in the Middle East.
October 19, 2009 - No winner for $5 million African leadership prize - Comment:  And the winner is ... none of the above.  Too bad that the Nobel committee didn't think of this first.
October 9, 2009 - Further reaction to the news of Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
bullet GOP, even some liberals, dismiss Obama peace prize -  - Comment:  The Nobel Prize for narcissistic rhetoric and appeasement, and little else, is now given to Obama as for Carter and Gore in the past.  Why not call it the award for promoting state socialism?  The good news is that Carter lost to Reagan, Gore lost to Bush, and Obama is now on track to lose decisively in 2012.
bullet Obama says he'll accept Nobel as 'call to action'  Republicans should also take this as a "call to action".  Get organized ASAP to defeat the Obama agenda and win in 2010 - 2012.
bullet Obama to give $1.4 million Nobel prize to charity.  The Tides Foundation, perhaps?  ACORN?  Let me venture a wild guess - it won't go to charities which support our veterans.
bullet Obama's daughters excited about dad's Nobel prize   What about Bo?  Did he soil the carpet?  (It was his birthday.)  How do Bill and Hillary feel about this, given the Clinton Global Initiative?
bullet Gore calls Obama's Nobel Prize win well deserved  Look where he was talking. Watch out for the Copenhagen summit on climate change this December.
bullet GOP chairman scoffs at Obama winning Peace prize  Maybe an award for wealth transfer?   Attempted destruction of American capitalism and global leadership?
bullet AP Analysis: Obama's Nobel honors promise, not action  Remember, the deadline for the nominations was in February, shortly after he took office - and before the Tea Party revolt here.
bullet Obama sharply shifts US policy but peace elusive: analysts  Failure is now an option. The irony is that the news came at about the same time as NASA deliberately crashed a spacecraft into the Moon while looking for evidence of ice.  Let's search for intelligent life in Washington DC.  We can now safely rule out the need to look for it in Norway.
bullet From right and left, questions about peace prize  Like Carter, he should feel humbled and undeserving, because he is undeserving and should be humbled by the 2010 elections.
bullet AP Analysis: A great prize, but will it help goals?
bullet Gasps as Obama awarded Nobel Peace Prize   http://www.nobelpeaceprize.org 
bullet Obama wins shock Nobel Peace Prize
bullet Membership has its privileges - Satire by Iowahawk blogger on Big Hollywood
bullet Nobel Peace Prize citation for Obama  The official rationalization of this absurd choice.
bullet List of Nobel Peace Prize winners since 1980  Some good choices, but definitely an odd mix
Iran news - see separate page about the Iranian election protests, prior news, and background
Please support the independent Iraq and Afghanistan war reporting by Michael Yon, such as this moving "No young soldiers" post from August 10.  Click here to support his work.
Congress: A threat to Human Intelligence, and a friend to tyrants.  Why not encourage the critics of our intelligence agencies to meet in Swat or Waziristan, including Nancy Pelosi, for some direct fact gathering and an open dialogue with the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders about their grievances against us?  If they think outreach is such a good idea, let them lead it.  Recent CIA allegations by Democrats in Congress.
September 20, 2009 - Al Qaeda threatens Germany in second online video - Comment:  Al Qaeda is trying to target perceived weak political commitment to the NATO presence in Afghanistan, just in time for German elections.  Would Germany simply cut and run if attacked, as Spain did?  If so, expect other European countries to be targeted whenever their commitment to the war is being challenged politically.

See also: Japan may provide more aid to Afghanistan - in which Japan's new political leadership is moving to cut their commitment to Afghanistan and just provide money.  That will reinforce the Al Qaeda belief that western democracies are weak and will eventually choose to retreat rather than fight.

By the same logic, look for US attacks in the cities of prominent left-wing critics of the war in Congress.  It may be a stupid strategy which will backfire here, as 9/11 did, but such terrorists look to exploit perceived weaknesses.  Would an attack in Germany increase political pressure to withdraw from the war, or would it rally Germans, as 9/11 did, to fight this war rather than treat it as a domestic law enforcement problem?  One could argue that it would be smarter for Al Qaeda to not attack Germany, and just wait - as in Japan.

The tribal nature of the Islamist radicals may distort their perception of weakness and how best to exploit it.  For example, as much as many Americans may hate the political positions of Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, that doesn't mean that Americans would regard an attack on San Francisco or Las Vegas as a local problem or a legitimate enemy move against the specific power base of key American political leaders.

This article puts forward the Al Qaeda theory again that, in a democratic society, the people who elect the leaders are not innocent and are therefore legitimate targets for terrorists.  That logic clearly applied to the 9/11 attacks on New York City as a political and economic target, as reinforced by other attempted attacks which failed.  By the same logic, Chicago is almost certainly a prominent target as Obama pushes the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

What Al Qaeda leadership apparently fails to grasp is that we respond to external threats as united Americans - not as tribal political interest groups in each city.  It may be easier to drive a wedge between European nations where many people still want to believe that terrorism is somebody else's problem, as though they could remain neutral in this fight and thus escape any harm by simply blaming others for it.

It is the nature of Americans, however, to believe that we are all in this together - and that we fight to win rather than just to arrange a viable political "exit strategy" to save face without accomplishing the mission.

Will the Germans actually suffer a major attack?  Will they waver or become stronger in response?  Given German history, Al Qaeda may be making another very serious miscalculation by anticipating weakness.  Germans may be reluctant to resort to war because they have known the full horrors of unleashing it, but a major attack on Germany would likely harden their resolve to fight back vigorously, as 9/11 did in America.

September 5, 2009 - Caribbean islands crack down on illegal immigrants -  Comment:  Illegal immigration is not just a problem in the United States.  Note how the media narrative on immigration is already being framed from the perspective of the "rights" and "discrimination against" the poor migrants.  Do they obtain rights equal to citizens just by crossing a border illegally and then working hard?  Do immigration laws matter, if migrants feel that it is perfectly justifiable to violate them for their own benefit?
September 5, 2009 - G-20 pledge continued economic stimulus - Comment: Pay attention to the preparations for the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, as well as the Copenhagen summit later this year.
September 4, 2009 - European countries call on G-20 to tackle bonuses
September 2, 2009 - Bloodshed at Iranian camp tests US-Iraq transition - Comment: Outrageous.
August 31, 2009 - Brazil’s new oil framework: following in Chávez’s footsteps? - Comment: Another remarkable coincidence in Petrobras news.  The stock tanks after the government imposes new rules - soon after the US investment (Aug 18, below) and George Soros changed his holdings.  See the Bloomberg report on the recent market reaction.
August 19, 2009 - Hungary remembers picnic that cracked Iron Curtain - Comment:  How many people here remember what happened, including the policies which led up to it over the Reagan years?  At the time, Reagan was reviled by many Europeans who bought into the leftist rhetoric that he was crazy and on the wrong side of history by standing up for liberty.  West Europeans had largely accepted that the East would continue to live under tyranny, and many on both sides were fearful of the reunification of Germany.
August 18, 2009 - Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling - Comment: Wall Street Journal article about White House support for Petrobras.  What a remarkable coincidence - just a few days after George Soros made some changes to his large investment stake in Petrobras, as Bloomberg reported August 14.
August 8, 2009 - Top terror suspect reportedly killed in Indonesia - Comment:  Another one of the Bali and Jakarta hotel bombers checks out.  Hopefully this will help to expose others there.
July 16, 2009 - China's growth accelerates on stimulus boom - Comment:  Reliable statistics?
July 15, 2009 - US Treasury chief in Gulf to drum up support - Comment:  Looking for more money, as in China recently.  See also US-UAE Business Council.
July 15, 2009 - French auto workers threaten to blow up factory - Comment:  How will the "Invest in France" economic development marketers spin this story for potential foreign investors?  See also: French Nortel workers secure talks after blow-up threat - Is this a new trend for labor negotiations?
July 15, 2009 - In Egypt, Non-Aligned nations focus on meltdown - Comment:  Deja vu.  Castro blames it all on the United States as the non-aligned push their old new world order agenda ideas again.  Unfortunately, Obama may actually take such ideas seriously, as shown by his global apology tours.
July 11, 2009 Obama speech in Ghana, with comments (like his June speech in Cairo).
July 11, 2009 - In personal terms, Obama hails Africa's promise - Comment:  More "Obama fever"
July 11, 2009 - Obama declares to Africa: End tyranny, corruption - Comment:  Ironic. Obama is the closest America has come to a charismatic, populist "big man" tyrant such as the ones who have helped to destroy Africa.  He talks as though he thinks Africa needs more community organizers teaching people how to feed at the government trough of larger and more "just" or "fair" social programs in order to succeed.

See further comments and the full text of Obama's speech in Accra, Ghana

July 10, 2009 - Medvedev sees single currency dream in G8 coin gift - Comment:  Don't underestimate this risk.  Many people thought that the Euro would never happen in Europe.  It may seem crazy, and could be very harmful to US interests, but Obama hasn't spoken out firmly against the idea.
July 9, 2009 - World leaders vow to restart stalled trade talks - Comment:  Back to the Doha round, at least in theory.  In practice, prior rhetoric of this nature has consistently led to no action.
July 9, 2009 - AP Analysis: Mixed reviews greet Biden as a diplomat - Comment:  Hillary seems to be keeping a low profile, perhaps to avoid taking the blame for Obama's mistakes.  Meanwhile, Biden is making Spiro Agnew look good.  Where's the Biden-ism books and memorabilia, as with "Bushisms"?
July 9, 2009 - House passes $48.8 billion foreign aid bill - Comment:  Note IMF funding debate.
July 9, 2009 - AP Analysis: Obama's global reach only goes so far - Comment:  His foreign policy is hopeless.  Other world leaders will be even less receptive as his popularity at home slides - like Carter.
July 8, 2009 - Obama, summit partners, eye intense global talks - Comment:  Setting the stage for more damage in the months ahead, particularly at Copenhagen in December on climate change.
July 8, 2009 - Khmer Rouge twisted prisoner's ankles with pliers - Comment:  More gruesome reminders of the ruthless tyranny in Cambodia under Pol Pot.
July 4, 2009 - Reuters - Russia scolds OSCE for equating Hitler and Stalin - Comment:  Perhaps Obama would like to express his point of view on this history debate while he is in Moscow with Putin?
July 4, 2009 - Obama's trip: 3 more countries, 1 broad mission - Comment: Russia, G8 and Ghana trip plans.  Be wary of the desire to reach agreements just to create the political illusion of progress.  Will Obama say anything about the new "Unity" initiative of the African Union while in Ghana?
July 2, 2009 - Africa leaders agree to Libya-led AU changes - Comment: What are Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and other African leaders doing to the African Union?  Is this really a step towards "Unity" across Africa?  It will be interesting to follow.  The idea that this would somehow lead to a "United States of Africa" seems a bizarre stretch of the imagination.  These are not exactly federalists.
July 2, 2009 - FBI notes: Saddam Hussein sought familiar refuge - Comment:  Worth reading, both as a reminder of who Bush removed and why he did it, and to note that Saddam was more afraid of Iran.
July 2, 2009 - Obama to tell Putin: Time to move past Cold War - Comment:  Obama was still just a college student when Reagan firmly brought it to a successful conclusion despite all his liberal critics.  Obama doesn't seem to have a firm grasp of that recent history, much less current foreign policy issues.

Read past the headline for some other memorable quotes, such as "I'm not reconciled with that" when asked about the risk of Iran getting nuclear weapons during his term of office.  How weak is that?

July 1, 2009 - Khmer Rough survivor's paintings saved his life - Comment: Grim reminder of the genocide perpetrated by the Pol Pot regime in the Carter years (see related June 29 story).
June 29, 2009 - Group favors 4-step plan to scrap nuclear weapons by 2030+ - Comment:  Watch out as Russia and others see another opportunity to exploit Obama's naivete / weakness.  As we celebrate July 4, Obama will be preparing to quickly replace the START 1 deal with Russia.
June 29, 2009 - Weeping, 1st Khmer Rouge prison survivor testifies - Comment:  How many people remember Pol Pot's reign of terror?  Remember who was the US President (1976-1979)?  Remember the debate over the legitimacy of his genocidal regime - and the one that replaced it?
June 28, 2009 - Obama officials say talks with Iran still possible - Comment:  Note this quote by the AP report of what the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said: "The legitimacy of the government, while questioned by the people of Iran, is not the critical issue for the U.S. goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear capability".   Wow.  Tyrants of the world, rejoice.

The White House word of the day, both for David Axelrod on ABC and Susan Rice on NBC, was to characterize Ahmedinejad's accusations as "bloviating".  Is this latest stunt trying to suggest that Bill O'Reilly of Fox News is the moral equivalent of that tyrant?  That seems similar to other red herrings, like their attacks on Rush Limbaugh.  The obvious point is that it is the Obama administration which is doing the bloviating these days - through empty rhetoric as they try to distract from their failed policy initiatives and growing evidence of weakness and naivete.

June 24, 2009 - US rescinds July 4 invites for Iran diplomats - Comment:  Duh!  Finally - one day after Obama defended the invitations again at his press conference.  We challenged the idea here from the start (June 2).  Fox News and others finally challenged it this week.
June 3, 2009 - Bin Laden's Obama criticism a sign he is worried - Comment:  Still hoping to stage a comeback after finally being put on the defensive for almost eight years now.
Japan news headlines links and comments
September 14, 2010 - Japan leadership battle Tuesday could bring new PM
August 15, 2010 - Japan PM shuns shrine, apologizes at WWII ceremony - How is Obama missing this chance to show our tolerance and forgiveness of the Japanese, and apologize for how FDR incarcerated so many Japanese-Americans during World War II?  Surely he should schedule a visit to bow at this Shinto shrine, and express the opinion that they should be free to build a similar shrine at Pearl Harbor, and adjacent to the Iwo Jima Memorial by Arlington Cemetery.
June 8, 2010 - Japan's new 'grass-roots' PM names Cabinet
June 5, 2010 - Japan's new leader faces test to win back voters
June 2, 2010 - Japan politics shaken by PM Hatoyama's resignation - He didn't last long.
November 17, 2009 - AP SPIN METER: Did Obama grovel? - Comment:  As a former Foreign Service Officer, the State Department guidance for basic etiquette or diplomatic protocol when meeting their peers in other countries does not necessarily apply to a President when meeting a foreign leader.  Diplomats are commissioned as personal representatives of the President, and as such, are expected to display cultural sensitivity and avoid unintentional offense to foreign leaders in the country to which they have been assigned. 

Sometimes, as in a demarche, it may be appropriate to reflect that the President has been offended, displeased, or strongly disagrees with something which is harming the relationship between the governments.  While a diplomat may follow some local customs as a sign of respect and friendship, that should not include actions which would be interpreted as American subservience or weakness.  Working level contacts with government officials may be less sensitive in this regard than an Ambassador or the President who is meeting a head of state or top official, and the same logic applies to visiting members of Congress.  It is one thing to show mutual respect and friendship when warranted by the relationship, and quite another matter to bow to foreign leaders.

One would think that Obama would have learned that lesson by now.  He is evidently a slow learner in this regard, or is simply willing to appear naive, obsequious and weak as he continues his global apology tour.  As President, he is free to bow to whoever he pleases, whether or not his diplomats do so or recommend it.  That may have adverse consequences among American voters, and reinforce an image of weakness among foreign observers, but the President is free to appear as weak and naive as he pleases.  The same is true of Congressional delegations, which are also free to make harmful protocol gaffes against all advice.

November 16, 2009 - Outrage in Washington over Obama's Japan bow - Comment:  It is customary for subjects to bow to their rulers in many countries as a sign of respect in those cultures.  It is not customary for American leaders to bow to foreign leaders.  There are better ways to show mutual respect than to subordinate our own cultural traditions as free individuals who don't bow to rulers, even though we may treat them with dignity and respect if their actions have shown that they deserve it.  In this case, there was no reason to insult the emperor, but no need to bow either.  It was a protocol gaffe.
November 10, 2009 - Obama says he wants to visit Hiroshima in future - Comment: He can't make it on this trip to Asia, but it is high on the agenda for his next world apology tour.  The real crime against humanity was his election.  That's what Americans really need to apologize to the whole world for doing.
November 9, 2009 - Obama confronts an Asia reshaped by China's rise - Comment:  The global apology tour heads to Japan, China, Singapore and South Korea. 
September 25, 2009 - Japan launches probe of secret pacts with US - Comment:  We should unilaterally announce plans to remove the 50,000 US forces in Japan, thereby leaving Japan exposed to the rising military power of China and Russia as well as the lunatics in North Korea.  Let them think about that scenario as they start to posture about abandoning military agreements with the United States for the sake of domestic populist political expediency.  Take them at their word.  End the relationship now.

Make it clear right now - before they expose any such secrets - that by taking this action Japan will no longer be defended by US forces or by US nuclear or anti-missile capabilities.  Let Japan invest in their own defense according to their own perceived threats and national security interests, and see how the Chinese, Russians, and Koreans like the prospect of a re-militarized Japan.

August 31, 2009 - Japan's next PM: change agent, but he's no Obama
August 31, 2009 - Japan's new leader a question mark over US ties
August 31, 2009 - Japan opposition takes on economy after landslide - Comment: Liberal populism comes to Japan, exploiting voter frustration for a landslide win by promising social benefits for all after demonizing corporate influence.  Sound familiar?  Don't bet on economic recovery in Japan anytime soon.  The question is when the people will wake up, as in the Tea Party movement here, and realize that this new emperor has no clothes.  What's the opposite of Meiji?  (enlightened rule)  The leadership may change, but the Japanese bureaucracy won't.  Policies are firmly entrenched with special interest groups.
August 30, 2009 - Hatoyama not likely to change US-Japan alliance - Comment:  Reality check?  Will the left be able to turn Japan's economy around?  It's so much easier to criticize than to govern.
August 29, 2009 - US closely watching pivotal Japanese elections
August 17, 2009 - Campaigning begins for Japan's Aug. 30 election - Comment:  Even the Japanese are finally starting to give up on the big government approach of the liberal bureaucrats.
July 14, 2009 - Japan's ruling party defeats no-confidence motion
July 13, 2009 - Japan's ruling party could lose power in elections
North Korea news headline links and comments
January 20, 2011 - Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights Into North Korea - Feedback about changes in North Korea from the perspective of refugees and advocates for humanitarian aid
December 23, 2010 - War rhetoric rises between North and South Korea
December 23, 2010 - AP Interview: Richardson has hope for Koreas - "... their credibility is suspect".  What credibility is left to be suspect?  Maybe they realize that they have pushed their luck too far when all they can get is a visit by Richardson, rather than Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter.
November 21, 2010 - Scientist: NKorea built uranium enriching facility - and - Mullen: NKorea report shows belligerent behavior - Why is this a surprise to anyone?  What do they propose to do about it?  What have they done?
October 13, 2010 - A rare glimpse at a different side of North Korea - Is it real, or staged?
June 4, 2010 - Report: Myanmar seeking nuclear weapons - Likely North Korean involvement.
June 4, 2010 - Gates accuses NKorea of reckless aggression
June 4, 2010 - SKorea seeks UN action against NKorea over ship
December 7, 2009 - Obama sending envoy to communist North Korea - Comment:  Is there any reason to believe that this is anything more than an attempt to exploit Obama's obvious weakness?  It's another chance for North Korea to get something for pretending to be willing to negotiate seriously.
December 1, 2009 - NKorea revalues money, causing black market chaos - Comment:  Further evidence, if any was needed, of the economic chaos.  Note the delusion of achieving prosperity by 2012, and the gap between the former official exchange rate (145) and the black market rate (3000).  The 100:1 change in the currency may shake out hidden savings which are being wiped out by finally recognizing the compound costs of many years of real inflation and economic failure.  It may, however, trigger a flight to hard currencies despite the high black market prices.
August 31, 2009 - UAE seizes North Korean weapons. Now what? - Comment:  Not much.
July 18, 2009 - US envoy calls for patience on North Korea - Comment:  Why does he think that their provocations are "unsustainable", and not likely to get worse if we continue to simply ignore them?  That would seem to disregard the evidence that their military has been ramping up their brinksmanship lately.
July 13, 2009 - Report: NKorea's Kim has pancreatic cancer - Comment:  Speculation, skepticism.
July 11, 2009 - Scholar: NKorea wants US show of remorse - Comment:  Let Al Gore do it.  He is already discredited as someone who tells lies in public with a straight face.  The US government should not.  Besides, it sets a bad precedent for the government to simply accept the advice of such scholars.  The fact that this advice was publicized, rather than given in secret, exposes the manipulation attempt involved.
July 8, 2009 - White House among targets of sweeping cyber attack - Comment:  North Korea?
July 4, 2009 - North Korea fires missiles in 4th of July salvo -  Comment:  Final count - seven.  The White House reaction is to ignore the obvious provocation.  Will it even be discussed in Moscow / G8?
July 4, 2009 - South Korea says North Korea fires 2 missiles off east coast - Comment:  No sign of a long-range one yet, but it's already July 4 in Korea, so they're clearly trying to be provocative again.  A third missile was fired shortly after this initial report.
July 2, 2009 - Missile experts see Soviet parts in NKorean rocket - Comment:  Interesting analysis.  Perhaps Obama could ask Putin how North Korea obtained this Cold War era technology?
July 2, 2009 - NKorea test-fires 4 short-range missiles - Comment:  Less noticed is that the US test-fired a Minuteman III ICBM across the Pacific at the Marshall Islands a few days ago.  That was reported to just be a routine, scheduled test - unrelated to any North Korean provocations.
July 1, 2009 - WFP says funding shortfall for NKorea food aid - Comment:  As Kim threatens more missile tests and arms proliferation in defiance of the UN, the UN worries about giving him more food aid.  That makes N Korea even more reliant on food and energy from China.  Is this a problem for us?
June 29, 2009 - June photo of NKorea's Kim may be recycled: report - Comment:  The key point is that all the sudden leadership transition efforts suggest that Kim's days are numbered.
June 28, 2009 - Uranium gives NKorea second way to make bombs - Comment: See below.
June 26, 2009 - US will not use force to inspect NKorean ship - Comment:  Spineless Obama leadership again, as already proven by the catch and release policy towards Somali pirates.
June 25, 2009 - N. Koreans mass at rally in capital to denounce US - Comment:  Celebrating the start of the Korean War with the typical mass rally, rather than lamenting it.  Crazy, as usual.
June 24, 2009 - North Korea threatens US; world awaits missile - Comment:  We should just as ostentatiously retarget many of our spare nuclear ICBMs on Pyongyang, and be ready to shoot down their missile.  Show that this game of North Korean brinksmanship and blackmail is over, despite their long-standing threats to attack Seoul in retaliation for any perceived provocation at all.
June 24, 2009 - Report: NKorea's Kim using gifts to win support - Comment:  Trying to maintain a failing dynasty through bribery.  They can take it now, but do better once he is gone.
June 3, 2009 - Asian editorial excerpts - Comment: Seoul reaction to North Korea succession plan.
June 3, 2009 - US urges NKorea to end provocative behavior - Comment:  Pretty, please.
June 2, 2009 - Report: Dear Leader will give way to Commander Kim - Comment:  Are we ready for a belligerent Stalinist nuclear state to be run by a 26 year old?  Will North Korea's military agree?
June 1, 2009 - Reports: NKorea Kim's youngest son named successor -  Comment:  Will the North Korean military accept this succession plan, if it is true?  See also Kyodo version of the story.
May 31, 2009 - US journalists' trial begins in NKorea this week - Comment: Like the recent show trial in Iran, this is all about political pressure.  Unfortunately, Americans who do stupid things to put themselves in such predicaments do not take precedence over other national security interests.  They will probably be convicted and, if they are lucky, will then be expelled once the North Korean leaders conclude that they are of no further value as a bargaining chip.  Efforts to make their case a major issue will be counterproductive despite good intentions, as in Carter's handling of the Iran hostage situation.

The US government should very quietly urge the Chinese to help persuade North Korea to expel them after a show trial which is presumably intended mainly to intimidate other foreign journalists and to send a clear message to any North Koreans about the dangers of talking to such journalists.  There should be no illusion in North Korea that they can be traded back to us like hostages for some advantage, because that would just reinforce the idea that similar kidnappings can be useful tools in future crises.

May 30, 2009 - Gates: Tougher sanctions against NKorea needed - Comments:  Does anybody really believe that the North Korean leaders fear sanctions?  We're talking about a regime which let perhaps a million citizens starve to death a few years ago rather than change their policies.

It's time to put this regime under some real pressure - such as by talking to the Chinese and Russians in secret about supporting a coup in which China would quickly seize direct control of North Korea, thereby avoiding the risk of a flood of refugees into China or South Korea, and avoiding the risk of attacks against South Korea, Japan, or any US forces in the region.  In short, let North Korea find out through their "intelligence" sources or news leaks that we are plotting with the Chinese against them.

That would leave the regime to wonder whether China is really still their friend or not.  South Koreans and Japanese would certainly not welcome the idea of China taking over North Korea, but it might be preferable to a rogue military regime taking over North Korea and presenting an even larger threat than Kim for decades to come.  In short, the Chinese could quickly bring the country under very tight control, so a tyrant like Kim might fear that a coup led by China could very quickly succeed.

If the Chinese ever crossed the border to confront the North Korean military from the rear in support of a coup, the regime would quickly collapse because it is so reliant on military support and is concentrated against other perceived threats, such as South Korea.  It may seem to be completely irrational for us to expect the Chinese to actually lead a coup, but Kim might just be paranoid enough to really fear it.  He will have no fear of UN sanctions.  Like most tyrants, he will only fear the loss of his own power or life.  He has trusted the Chinese, so his Achilles heel is to shake that trust by exposing this vulnerability.

No matter how much we or the Chinese might deny any such plot, Kim might fear it, and might purge his military leadership of anybody who is perceived to be a potential threat in that regard - thereby stirring up potential military dissent and resistance to his continued rule without any overt provocation.

May 29, 2009 - NKorea test-fires missile, slams Security Council - Comment:  Time to get tough.  If this goes without any meaningful response again, it will just embolden them and other tyrants.
May 27, 2009 - NKorea threatens to attack US, SKorean warships - Comment:  Is their political and military leadership really delusional enough to risk war again?  Will China intervene to stop this?  It may be time for China to remind North Korea of their weakness, despite all the big military parades in Pyongyang.  It would also be a good time for both Japan and South Korea to make it clear to the Chinese that they will quickly ramp up their own military programs now in the wake of such provocation - unless China does something tangible soon to put the North Korea regime under much tighter control.
May 26, 2009 - AP Analysis: US looking for Russians, Chinese to lead - Comment:  Is this what Joe Biden was talking about, when he said that Obama would be tested within 6 months and might appear to be making the wrong decision?  With so many wrong decisions already in just 4 months, it is going to be difficult to choose, but surely this is a top contender for the prize.  It's bad enough to try to pass the buck to the UN.  Why is it such a good idea for Russia and China to assert their power now, even if they surprise us by actually doing so?  Do we support them collapsing the Pyongyang regime in favor of setting up a more compliant one to their liking?  Isn't that what the Soviets did in Afghanistan?
May 26, 2009 - UN Amb.: NKorea feeling sting of global scorn - Comment:  "Sting"?  Does anybody really believe that the North Koreans will be talked into changing their belligerent behavior?  Even if Russia and China agree to stronger UN sanctions, North Korea will scorn them with impunity.

AP Analysis: NKorea's bomb test adds to atomic threat - In the past, Iran and Venezuela have sent observers to North Korea during tests, and North Korea was helping Syria.  It should be pretty obvious that the real danger isn't just North Korea, but rather their history of selling weapons to raise money

Obama welcomes South Korea to anti-nuke group - A symbolic gesture toward North Korea.

May 25, 2009 - North Korea declares it conducted nuclear test - Comment:  Memorial Day provocation and proliferation threat from the North Korea military as it readies for power after Kim goes. 

Japan, EU: NKorean nuke test violates UN sanctions - US offers "quick and pointed" criticism?  If China is so "resolutely opposed" to this, why don't they do something about it?  Cut off all aid at least.

Obama: N. Korea 'recklessly challenging' the world - Welcome to the real world beyond rhetoric.  So, is it time to declare Joe Biden a prophet for predicting that his apparent weakness would be tested?

April 6, 2009 - Experts argue if N Korea's launch suggests progress - Comment:  The question of whether or not this Stalinist regime is yet managing to actually master basic 1950's missile technology is largely beside the point.  It wants to be perceived as a threat to others, and maintain the illusion of success at home.  The larger threat is the unpredictable leadership transition and the dangers posed when this regime collapses.  Tyrants don't generally go away quietly, or by diplomatic agreements.
Iran news headline links and comments
Iran news - see separate page about the recent Iranian election protests
July 17, 2010 - Police detain 40 after Iran mosque bombing - blaming the US, as usual
January 30, 2010 - Iran's opposition leaders call for big turnout on anniversary of '79 revolution - Comment:  Further preparations for a big Feb 11 protest rally by the opposition on this symbolic date.
November 29, 2009 - Iran Lawmakers Earmark $20M for Militants - CBS News - Comment:  Why can't Congress appropriate a few billion in response to help opposition groups against this regime?  If they can give away $300 million just to bribe Mary Landrieu to vote for the health care bill, and billions to pay off the Congressional Black Caucus, surely we can outspend and outsmart Iran at this deadly game.
November 14, 2009 - Opposition: Iran rulers more brutal than shah - Comment:  Meanwhile, our president is even worse than Carter at dealing with tyranny, rather than emboldening tyrants.  Deja vu?
November 14, 2009 - Iran policing Internet in new attack on opposition - Comment: Net neutrality, Iran style.  Send secret police after anybody who posts anything offensive to the regime on the Internet.  Of course, Obama will not comment or criticize this. He and his advisors are probably just envious.
November 4, 2009 - Iran opposition protesters return to streets - Comment:  Since Obama still can't even decide what to do about troops in Afghanistan after all these months, and his alleged deadline for firm action such as sanctions on Iran passed quietly in September without incident, clearly it is up to the people of Iran to deal with the tyrants in power on their own.  Obama is no friend of the Iranian people.  He's even worse than Carter - which is no small accomplishment in so few months.
November 4, 2009 - White House monitoring crackdown in Iran - Comment:  The White House expresses deep concern, as usual, and hopes the violence will not spread.  Great - then why not actually do something for a change to put some real pressure on those tyrants who are cracking heads?

Follow #IranElection on Twitter for news directly out of Tehran and protests in other cities in Iran.

November 4, 2009 - Iran police, protesters clash at US Embassy rally - Comment:  Perfect timing - the 30th anniversary of the attack on the US Embassy is now celebrated with "death to the dictator" chants, and "death to Russia" by some reports.

Meanwhile, Obama declined to show up at the 20th anniversary ceremony commemorating the destruction of the Berlin Wall despite a personal invitation from Angela Merkel.  He probably didn't want to remember that Reagan and Bush contributed to that success over authoritarian statist tyranny, socialism, and communism.  Maybe he will go celebrate Carter's failure in Iran by meeting with Ahmedinejad soon.

October 26, 2009 - Pakistan arrests 11 Iranian guards close to border - Comment:  This is a serious provocation of Pakistan by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
October 19, 2009 - Iran: US, Britain, Pakistan linked to militants - Comment: Iran is putting pressure on the Pakistani government, which is presumably what the terrorists intended (to distract and divide the Pakistani Army during their offensive in South Waziristan).  Pakistan should not fall into this trap.
October 19, 2009 - Iran signals it may not strike nuclear deal - Comment:  Surprise, surprise.
October 18, 2009 - Iran bombing kills 5 Revolutionary Guard leaders - Comment:  The allegation of US involvement is absurd, as usual.  Obama clearly wouldn't ever authorize something like this, and it was too successful.  Besides, the US has shown little interest in the Baluchistan region of Iran or Pakistan.

One possibility is that the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan are looking to deflect the Pakistani Army from their focus on South Waziristan. Stirring up trouble on the Baluchi frontier with Iran from their base in Quetta might raise fears of conflict with Iran over such cross-border raids, and thus prod the Pakistani Army to have a more visible (and unpopular and risky) presence in the Quetta area. The same logic might apply to any efforts to stir up trouble in other places, like the Kashmir region or in various cities within Pakistan. In short, use small attacks in many places to try to scatter Army resources and make the government of Pakistan look ineffective and weak.

October 13, 2009 - Iran: Probe opens into opposition leader Karroubi - Comment: The tyranny goes on. So do the meaningless Obama speeches.
October 13, 2009 - Russian FM: Threats of Iran sanctions won't work - Comment:  Now that Putin's hand is stronger after the latest election, and Obama is demonstrably weak, why would Russia cooperate?
October 10, 2009 - New Iran sanctions could strengthen Rev. Guard - Comment: Similar excuses were used in the past to justify not standing up to the Soviet Union.  The return of Carter foreign policy?
October 7, 2009 - Iran FM accuses US in nuke scientist disappearance - Comment:  Interesting.  Did an Iranian scientist defect in Saudi Arabia, and disclose some of the Iranian plans in recent months?  That might explain why the Iranians recently revealed a hidden facility after realizing that it had been exposed.
September 30, 2009 - West goes to Iran talks - and readies sanctions - Comment: This AP writer says "The fact that the meeting is taking place at all offers some hope ..."  Stop repeating the White House talking points!  It would offer some hope if the Iranians actually wanted to talk about ending their nuclear weapons ambitions as well as their support for international terrorism because they feared that it would soon lead to their own destruction rather than expansion of their own power or the return of the twelfth imam after triggering a global holocaust.  This meeting is a terrible diplomatic blunder by Obama, who is rapidly proving his potential to be a far worse president than Carter (no small accomplishment).
September 28, 2009 - Iran tests its longest-range missiles - Comment:  Given their recent expressions of friendship and military cooperation, try doing a 1200 mile radius from Venezuela.  That's just enough to reach Miami - but their range is increasing with North Korean and Russian technology.

Iran says advanced missiles can target any threat

Pay dirt: Digging, clues revealed Iranian site - Exposed after many years of persistent lies.  How can we possibly trust any agreement with this duplicitous Iranian regime of fanatics to be verifiable?

September 25, 2009 - AP Analysis: New Iran charge boosts sanctions move - Comment: Read the ludicrous bit at the end from a source in Kuwait who seriously suggests that unilateral disarmament moves by established nuclear powers might somehow persuade Iran to give up their nuclear program.

US, UK, French heads demand Iran nuke site opened - Comment:  Wasn't the Obama deadline for some sort of firm Western response September?  Now it's December?  What next?

Officials tell AP Iran has second enrichment plant

New Iranian enrichment plant sparks western fury - Comment:  Fury?  So what are they going to do about Iran?  Wag their tongues at Ahmedinejad in the UN about this "serious violation" which "strengthens our suspicions"?  Netanyahu warned about what we eventually did to flatten German cities in World War II.  The problem is that a twelver like Ahmedinejad may actually want to provoke such an Armageddon.

We should go back to a new version of a mutual assured destruction policy. If Iran tests one nuclear weapon, then every nuclear power in the world has the right to conduct nuclear tests of their own in Iran.

Make it clear that they will gain no advantage by having such a weapon. On the contrary, they will assure their own annihilation.  They may be able to do harm to us, but we can certainly do far more harm to them.  Few countries will be keen to obtain nuclear weapons once they see how well our modern ones work. They won't be joining an exclusive club of military powers. They will be assuring their own destruction.

September 6, 2009 - Ahmadinejad, Chavez back 'revolutionary' nations
September 6, 2009 - Arms dealer's arrest exposes Iran's smuggling
August 31, 2009 - Report: Doctor confirms Iran prisoner abuse death - Comment:  The tyranny goes on. Will Obama even bother to express his typical "deep concern" about this bit of news? More likely, it will be ignored, like all the other atrocities which don't seem to bother him very much.
August 27, 2009 - Iran ayatollah: Opposition not stooges for West - Comment:  Another strange twist.  While their Stalinist show trials continue, Khamenei finally admits that the protests weren't driven by the West.  Is the criticism of prisoner abuse actually causing some softening of the hard line against the protesters?  The renewed criticism by Montazeri remains interesting.  Is Khamenei ready to give up on the show trials in order to try to save face, now that the election fraud and repression of protests seems to have worked as intended?
August 25, 2009 - Diplomats: Iran's enrichment program stagnates - Comment:  The speculation is that Iran is running out of uranium ore just because it isn't easy to legally import under the sanctions now in place.  On the other hand, why should we be confident that they can't acquire what they need through their black market connections?  Can we really trust this IAEA skepticism when so much in Iran is hidden?
August 20, 2009 - Outgoing IAEA chief has tough choice on Iran - Comment:  Watch for this report to be punted beyond November, as it has been since last September.  How about a Nobel for appeasement?
August 20, 2009 - Iran lawmakers warn of clash over new government - Comment:  Purging the critics while rewarding the Revolutionary Guards for their support.  Chutzpah!
August 16, 2009 - Iran defies condemnation, expands opposition trial
August 11, 2009 - Iranian opposition puts election unrest toll at 69 - Comment:  The fact that the government doesn't really care how many Iranians it killed to disrupt the protests is the one detail which seems to be beyond dispute.  The end always justifies the means for such tyrants.
August 9, 2009 - Clinton: No illusions Iran will return to talks - Comment:  Gradually retreating from the Obama charm offensive / US apology tour in the face of continued tyranny.  Remember the promise to do something if there is no response by September.
August 9, 2009 - Iran judiciary looks to calm prison abuse outrage - Comment:  Montazeri has compared the show trials to Stalinist tactics.  Even Hillary Clinton has finally noticed.
August 8, 2009 - Iran brings Frenchwoman, embassy staff to trial - Comment:  A mass show trial with opposition leaders mixed in with British Embassy workers as a further outrage.
July 18, 2009 - Powerful Iranian cleric says country in crisis - Comment:  Massive protests again.  It's still not clear whether Rafsanjani and Mousavi can turn these protests to their own advantage.
July 16, 2009 - Iranian nuclear chief resigns - Comment:  Quietly, 20 days ago.  Related to his support of Mousavi and Rafsanjani?  Another indication of leadership bickering behind the scenes.
July 14, 2009 - In month's turmoil, Iran death toll still unknown - Comment:  The cover-up goes on.
June 3, 2009 - Rival: Ahmadinejad moves Iran toward dictatorship - Comment:  Not really.  He's still just the barking mad dog out front.  The Supreme Council is where things are dictated.
June 2, 2009 - US inviting Iranian diplomats to July 4 parties - Comment:   Let's do better than the White House and State Department on this outreach initiative.  Let's invite all the Iranian refugees in this country who have fled the tyranny in Iran to live in freedom here to join us at Tea Party protests across America on July 4, and show their opposition to appeasement toward the Iranian zealots.
June 1, 2009 - Conservative rival gains ground in Iran - Comment:  Watch this election as well as the one in Lebanon.  No matter who wins, the outlook is uncertain but probably not very good.
May 24, 2009 - Iran cuts access to Facebook as election looms - Comment:  Before the "Tea Party" movement here took advantage of Facebook and other social networking channels to rally opposition to what our political leaders have been doing to us, young Iranians and people in other countries who face even worse tyranny have already found their voice and potential for collaboration through online channels.  It's now being blocked by the leadership as a potential threat to their power.

Meanwhile, the Obama White House staff is producing their own online propaganda videos and direct online communications now, much to the chagrin of some members of the White House press corps.

May 20, 2009 - Iran says it tests missile, Israel within range - Comment: Just in time for the election in Iran, and the Netanyahu visit to Obama.  Is it true?  Past claims were not always reliable, but it is an indication of intent to be able to credibly threaten Israel or others as soon as possible.
April 9, 2009 - US dealings with Iran remain on a slippery path - Comment:  Dangerously naive and weak would be more accurate, not slippery.  Why engage them at all before their elections?  Let them make the first move if they have any serious interest in negotiations which address our concerns.
March 21, 2009 - Iran's response to US shows mind-set of leadership  - Comment:  At least AP reporters in the region seem to understand how naive and harmful Obama's approach may prove to be.  Like Bill Clinton in Iraq, he may have just thrown any real opposition movement in Iran under the bus.  Ahmedinejad and Khamenei can claim victory over George Bush's obvious support of regime change.
March 21, 2009 - Iran's supreme leader dismisses Obama overtures - Comment:  Nothing lost in translation this time, unlike the "reset" overture to Medvedev recently.  They don't want to be friends, especially during their election cycle.  Happy Nowruz, Obama.  Welcome to the real world, like Carter.  Still waiting for "moderates" to be elected to power in Iran, 30 years later?  Hello?  Is anybody there?
March 16, 2009 - Adviser: Khatami to pull out of Iranian election - Comment:  This may help to rid Iran of Ahmedinejad in the June election, but change very little.  Less barking, but the same threat.  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is still the hard-liner to watch as a long-time close confidant of Khomeini.
Afghanistan and Pakistan news headline links and comments
Will a local "awakening" strategy work in Afghanistan?  Commentary from early February 2009.
Please support the independent Iraq and Afghanistan war reporting by Michael Yon, such as this moving "No young soldiers" post from August 10.  Click here to support his work.

Why You Should Read and Support Michael Yon by J.R. Head in Big Hollywood blog

January 13, 2011 - US rushes to strengthen local Afghan governments
January 9, 2011 - Pakistan's release of militant stirs questions
January 9, 2011 - Thousands rally in Pakistan for blasphemy laws
January 3, 2011 - US general: Deal with tribe in Taliban bastion
January 3, 2011 - Pakistani PM tries to avert government collapse
January 3, 2011 - Pakistani gov't in dire straits as key party quits
January 2, 2011 - Key party pulls out of Pakistan's ruling coalition
January 2, 2011 - Senator proposes permanent US bases in Afghanistan - What is he thinking?  This defies all political, foreign policy, and military counterinsurgency logic. The focus needs to be on building up local leadership to take responsibility for their own future.  We don't need permanent military bases to have an "enduring relationship" with the people of Afghanistan. If we are perceived to be propping up the Afghan central government, then any harm they do to their people will be blamed on us even though we have no real control over their actions. We won't get credit for whatever good they may do. Our continued presence will serve to motivate terrorist opposition.
December 28, 2010 - Commander: US can't seal Afghan-Pakistan border
December 1, 2010 - Former US envoy warns of failure in Pakistan
November 29, 2010 - AP Exclusive: Close calls for al-Qaida's No. 2
November 27, 2010 - Shiite deal gives militants new Afghan access
November 24, 2010 - No quick pardon for condemned Pakistani Christian
November 24, 2010 - Protesters oppose pardon for Pakistani Christian - The blasphemy law from the time of military ruler Gen Zia ul Haq is used by hard-liners to settle grudges with Christians.
November 21, 2010 - Afghans losing patience in war - Afghans, or liberal US media?
November 15, 2010 - Karzai remarks raise questions about Afghan war
November 14, 2010 - Karzai says US should reduce operations' intensity
September 25, 2010 - US wants more aid recognition in Pakistan
September 4, 2010 - Taliban threaten to attack Afghan polling stations - It would have been more newsworthy if they had not threatened to attack them for a change.
August 3, 2010 - Pakistani school seeks to turn boys from Taliban - Look at how the Taliban trained youths to hate and terrorize both Pakistani and American authorities.  Barbaric.
August 3, 2010 - Afghanistan's ranks of civil servants under siege - Taliban rules of engagement.  Would this apply to Afghans working in DC?

Taliban code of conduct seeks to win hearts, minds

August 3, 2010 - Pakistan's leader says world losing Afghan war - and later version
May 3, 2010 - Video shows Pakistan Taliban boss alive
March 6, 2010 - Report: Afghan 'civilian surge' is struggling - Comment:  No surprise.  This never made as much sense on the ground in Afghanistan as it did for politicians and bureaucrats in Washington.
February 19, 2010 - Taliban leader escapes US missile, brother killed - Comment:  Getting close.
February 19, 2010 - US Marines seize Taliban headquarters, IDs, photos
February 18, 2010 - Afghan Taliban chiefs arrested in Pakistani sweeps - Comment:  The usual convoluted conspiracy theories about the government of Pakistan seem to be circulating.  The more simple explanation is that the Zardari government leadership and military has demonstrably decided that it is not in their interest to ignore the Afghan Taliban in their midst because they have proven to be a real threat to the Pakistani government despite past efforts, as under Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf, to cut deals with them.
February 17, 2010 - Pakistan confirms Taliban leader's arrest - Comment:  The good news is that he is talking.  The bad news is that the White House is already claiming that this is a great success, without giving credit where it is due, although it was successfully kept quiet for about a week.  One can only hope that the Pakistanis won't turn him over to be sent to Guantanamo.  At least it is hard to imagine how Holder could come up with any excuse to give him Miranda rights and a trial here.
February 15, 2010 - Report: Taliban's top military commander captured - Comment: Good news, but why did the NY Times need to run this story now, rather than hold it further while any intelligence value of this capture is fully exploited?  Sure, the bad guys probably got the news pretty quickly and scattered into hiding, but is this administration a little too anxious to put a success story out there?  Was the ISI similarly too eager to announce a success while facing more criticism, such as the latest complaint from India after another deadly attack against a target near Mumbai?

Maybe it's a good thing that the Obama administration has still never organized the promised group for high-value terrorist interrogations by their new rules.  Let the Pakistanis lead the interrogation.

Having visited Americans who had the misfortune to be arrested in Karachi, even though they were often afforded better treatment than Pakistani criminals, I have little doubt that this guy will wish that he had been arrested by American military forces and given Miranda rights by Obama instead.

I vividly remember how a Pakistani chief of police described some of his preferred interrogation methods for uncooperative prisoners. Rest assured that it makes Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo look very appealing. At least the leftists can rest easy, knowing that he won't be waterboarded. It will be much, much worse unless the CIA officers persuade the ISI to do a good cop / bad cop routine with him and he cooperates.

January 20, 2010 - Gates: Terror groups aim to destabilize South Asia
January 2, 2010 - Afghan parliament rejects most Cabinet nominees - Comment:  Too bad that we can't get our Senate to do that.  Checks on power - what a concept!
January 2, 2010 - Gloom and fury as Pakistan attack toll nears 100
January 1, 2010 - Pakistan Taliban claims it carried out CIA attack - Comment:  The key point is that the Pakistan Taliban are losing to the government offensive there, and the ones who thought they could escape that action by attacking Americans in Afghanistan rather than the Pakistani government are mistaken.  This will increase pressure on the government of Pakistan and the ISI to root out the Taliban leaders behind such attacks, rather than delude themselves into thinking that they are not really a threat to Pakistan.  The myth that these barbarians could be useful to the Pakistani government is shattered.
January 1, 2010 - Police: Suicide bombing kills 88 in NW Pakistan - Comment:  Yet another reminder of the ruthless nature of this enemy.  One can only hope that such continued atrocities will continue to turn the Pakistani people against them, rather than be used by politicians like Nawaz Sharif as an excuse to try to take over the government.
December 16, 2009 - Pakistan court kills amnesty covering president
December 8, 2009 - Afghan leader: Afghanistan will need international military aid for at least 15 years - Comment:  If you can't keep the troops, at least keep the money.
December 7, 2009 - Jobs, not Taliban, are the worry in Afghan town - Comment:  Reality check.  Government is not the solution.  It can't sustainably replace the trade activity in this region.  In case anyone hasn't noticed yet, Obama can't even create or save jobs in this country.  Maybe he could bring a Chicago-style patronage system to Afghanistan through local community organizing work, but the money for it will soon run out because they don't have a large tax base to fleece.
December 5, 2009 - Lawmakers get little reaction to Obama's war plan -  Comment:  Useful reminder that Barbara Lee (D-CA) voted against the war in Afghanistan in 2001.  Maybe people aren't calling because they are too busy preparing to vote these members of Congress out of office.  For example, Paul Hare (D-IL) reports only 3 calls so far.  Maybe his constituents have finally figured out that it doesn't really matter what they say to him.  Waste of time.  They just have to get rid of him.  We may want to support the troops, but that doesn't extend to Obama and members of Congress.
December 5, 2009 - Little resistance on day 2 of US-Afghan offensive
December 4, 2009 - US Marines launch large offensive in Afghanistan
December 4, 2009 - Congress worries about Obama's plan for Pakistan - Comment:  Insult our friends and apologize to our enemies.  What a plan!  Pakistan has actually been making good progress against the insurgents this year under their new leadership, in case nobody in Congress has noticed.  They have been taking tough, unpopular decisions and fighting the enemy despite the bloody consequences.  Meanwhile, it took Obama over 3 months to make a speech which really said nothing new, and was mainly focused on domestic politics rather than defeating the enemy.  This article gives you a good idea why some members of Congress really need to be targeted for defeat in 2010.
December 3, 2009 - Pakistan: We need more clarity on US plan - Comment:  Don't we all?  Note that the Pakistani government has made a lot of progress against the insurgents this year.
December 3, 2009 - US Congress worries over Obama's plan for Pakistan  and another version Congress worries about Obama's plan for Pakistan - Comment:  More posturing by Kerry.

Congress, Obama spar over paying for Afghan plan - Murtha and others can play to their anti-war base, knowing that Republicans will support the necessary funding for the troops.

AP Analysis: Afghanistan pullout date not definite - Dare we say dithering again?  If the goal is to put pressure on the Afghan government to step up to the plate in the expectation that we will start to leave in 2011, then it doesn't sound like much pressure at all.  More like wishful thinking or political cover for domestic purposes.  The exit strategy is to be ready to weasel out of whatever happens for domestic political purposes.  Take credit if it goes well, and change strategy again if it doesn't.

December 2, 2009 - Obama's Afghan plan represents high-stakes gamble - Comment:  "Training enough civil servants to run a government extending from Kabul to remote villages and towns nationwide will take time and resources."  They still don't get it.  It's not about establishing a stronger central government in Kabul which can reach into every village.  It's the other way around.  What part of "We the people" doesn't Obama understand? Afghan power is local - not central.
December 2, 2009 - Rumsfeld Cries Foul on Obama Claim Troop Requests for Afghanistan Were Denied - Comment:  Too polite to shout "You lie!"  He's just calling for Congress to check the facts since Obama asserted that troop requests by commanders had been repeatedly denied.

The West Point cadets had to applaud politely on cue and try to stay awake or stifle yawns and appear respectful during the speech, but Rumsfeld is under no such constraints now - like Cheney.

December 2, 2009 - Gates, Mullen & Clinton argue for new Afghan plan - Comment: Note that the next strategy review and discussion of exit plans is planned for December 2010 - which by a remarkable coincidence is right after the 2010 elections.  Why not start 3 months earlier to allow time for thorough consideration of his strategy by voters?  Does anybody else notice the irony of Albania being the first country to pledge support?  It used to be one of the most hard-line communist regimes.

Sec'y Clinton: Obama's Afghan policy right for US

Gates: 'Severe consequences' for Afghan failure

AP FACT CHECK: Obama skims over some Afghan realities - update: tough realities

Joint Chiefs head: War strategy refines US focus

Gates: US cannot cede Afghanistan to Taliban

December 2, 2009 - Analysis: A war strategy with echoes of Bush - Comment:  This might be a good time to go back and take another look at this Foreign Policy magazine article from Jan/Feb 2009 which addressed the thoughts of Admiral Michael Mullen and General David Petraeus about the war in Afghanistan at that time, and how it differed from the surge strategy in Iraq as elaborated in the 2006 update to the Army Field Manual.   Counterinsurgency Field Manual: Afghanistan Edition  If you want to read the 2006 manual, the Federation of American Scientists website has published a copy.
December 1, 2009 - Afghan official: US target for Afghan army too low
December 1, 2009 - President Obama telephones Pakistan's Zardari: statement
December 1, 2009 - Gibbs: Deployment to Afghan will be accelerated - Comment:  The fewer troops than requested would be deployed within six months rather than spread over 2 years, but there is no clarity yet about the conditions which could stall the actual deployments.  If the troops were requested urgently 3 months ago for action to avert the risk of losing within a year, does the fact that Obama has backed off a decision to spread out deployments over a 2 year period represent progress?  This would seem to just be more political posturing after facing criticism about it.
December 1, 2009 - Obama speech: More troops, no endless commitment
December 1, 2009 - Official: Obama ready to suggest Afghan endgame
December 1, 2009 - Official: Afghan buildup involves 30,000 troops
November 30, 2009 - Obama facing tough selling job on Afghan policy - Comment:  Americans aren't opposed to the war.  They're opposed to defeat - sacrificing soldiers without even having a clear commitment and plan for victory, while the priority in Congress seems to be the political exit strategy.
November 29, 2009 - Pakistan's president told to give up powers - Comment:  It would be a serious mistake to think that Nawaz Sharif would be a better friend in Pakistan than he was in the past, when his government helped to create the Taliban nightmare which Zardari is fighting today.
November 29, 2009 - Senator says Afghan forces, not US, key to success - Comment:  Carl Levin test markets the Obama talking points for the Tuesday night speech at West Point. What a disgrace.

Douglas MacArthur must be rolling in his grave. No more "Duty, Honor, Country" at West Point.
Shirk your duty, dishonor your office, and apologize for your country.  That's the Obama doctrine.
November 29, 2009 - Senator: Troop hike must help boost Afghan forces - Comment:  Note the bit at the end - Carl Levin picking up on Kerry's talking points about blaming Bush.  Why not blame Clinton for not taking Osama bin Laden seriously as a threat and going after him for eight years, despite having the intelligence in hand to recognize the danger?  He may not have specifically known about their 9/11 plans, but what about the first World Trade Center bombing on his watch?  Why was that just treated as a law enforcement issue, when it was clearly intended to be an act of war against us from the perspective of the terrorists?  Why didn't he go after OBL while he was in Sudan?

Wait - maybe it's Reagan's fault for not letting the Soviets win in Afghanistan!  That's right!  That would have solved all our problems there!  The Soviets could have massacred all the Islamist radicals, and we could have just expressed our "serious concern", like Obama - or like Clinton did with the Taliban.

No wait!  Maybe it's Mortimer Durand's fault!  If he hadn't split the Pashtun tribal area when setting up the modern border between Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1893, maybe none of this would have ever happened.  That's right!  It's the fault of those scheming British imperialists!  It's not Obama's problem!

November 29, 2009 - Senate report: Bin Laden was 'within our grasp' - Comment:  Let me make sure that I understand this weasel Kerry correctly.  It took Obama over three months to decide whether to agree to add forces in Afghanistan after his commander urged him that action this year is essential to achieve victory.  It has been over 10 months since he was elected - during which time he kept saying how important the war in Afghanistan was.  He then decided to provide fewer troops than requested, and drag out their deployment over two years.

Now Kerry is choosing this moment to release a partisan staff report alleging that Bush failed to deploy enough troops into Afghanistan before December 2001, even though before September there were no forces in place or scheduled to support any such deployment.  Kerry and his friends have fought consistently against military spending and deployments at almost every opportunity, and he lost the election for very good reasons to Bush.  No politics in the timing of this report, of course.

Afghanistan was a sovereign state in 2001 under the Taliban rule. Kerry obviously thinks we should have invaded quickly with more forces to get Osama bin Laden, despite the predictable condemnation among his friends in Europe, the UN, and elsewhere of any such invasion. Perhaps, by this logic, he would now favor Obama sending massive forces over the border into Pakistan to try to hunt down OBL and others there? No - he's reluctant to see our forces increased at all. He wants the Afghans and Pakistanis to solve this problem somehow, so that he can go back to ignoring it. Hypocrite! Weasel!

Over Tora Bora - blog entry in Mudville Gazette is a nice reality check for perspective on this story

November 28, 2009 - Obama prepares to announce Afghan surge - Comment:  Shouldn't this be called something other than a surge, since it will reportedly be dragged out slowly over two years, with many caveats to stall the deployment if there are more "surprises", such as pervasive corruption?

US eyes Afghan drawdown starting by 2013: report - Giving the Taliban a chance to plan ahead.

November 28, 2009 - Afghanistan, Iraq: different wars - Comment:  Anybody with even very superficial knowledge of the region should have known this many years ago.  Afghanistan is different, as pointed out in response to a February 1, 2009 piece in the Weekly Standard about the surge idea.
November 27, 2009 - US buildup seen as helpful in 2 Afghan provinces - Comment:  Some progress is being made through local tribal leadership channels.  Will Obama's policy reflect any recognition that Afghans don't trust or want a strong central government?  He seems to be incapable of understanding that.  It is completely foreign to his big government ideology and his view of local "community organizing" as the solution for all of his "social justice" priorities.  Afghans don't need or want to be more subservient to a stronger government in Kabul.  They know where tyranny leads, because they have endured almost nothing else for a very long time.  It's not just about corruption.
November 26, 2009 - Britain's ex-top spy attacks govt over Afghan war - Comment:  Interesting critique - "... the reason for change looks rather more like political damage limitation, than vigorous belief in the policy."   Alleging that the war effort has not been explained or funded well politically.
November 26, 2009 - Karzai renews call on Taliban to lay down weapons - Comment: Reaching out to the Taliban while Obama gives them less reason to stop fighting against Karzai.  If Mullah Omar were really smart, he would cut a deal quickly with Karzai, thereby giving Obama an excuse to declare victory and leave quickly. Then they could fight it out for power after we are gone - just like the way that we screwed up the endgame after the Soviets pulled out.  Would Obama or Congress do anything to help the people of Afghanistan after pulling out, especially since there would be plenty of excuses to rationalize doing nothing for them?  Luckily, Mullah Omar is not that smart.
November 24, 2009 - Obama promises to 'finish the job' in Afghanistan - Comment:  Just as decisively as Carter finished the job in Afghanistan and Iran, no doubt.  Afghans recognize weakness.
November 24, 2009 - Wooing of Taliban fighters is dangerous game - Comment:  Lunch with our side, dinner with the Taliban.  If your life was at stake, would you bet on Obama's commitment?
November 24, 2009 - Obama to unveil plan to add troops in Afghanistan - Comment:  As predicted, the process of test-marketing the domestic political reaction to the policy begins.  Note that this may also be used now as an excuse for a new war tax in order to try to drive up opposition to the war at the same time as he leaves the door open to not deploy forces very rapidly.  Instead of a surge strategy, this seems to be a bleed to death strategy for defeat with a focus on how to exit ASAP.  Deja vu. The Democrats had the same Iraq strategy.
November 23, 2009 - Obama could lock in Afghanistan decision Monday - Comment:  No decision will be announced until after the Thanksgiving recess in Congress.  They'll just keep leaking these sorts of trial balloons about their intentions to test how much political push-back they face, because the real focus is on domestic politics and the "exit strategy" so that he can declare the slow plan to be in progress, and thereby try to deflect criticism of it for many months, even if it is a failure.
November 21, 2009 - Afghan road builder's dream thwarted by violence - Comment:  A good example of the challenges posed by trying to invest in infrastructure projects without better security to defend the projects as well as the people who are behind them.  The bureaucrats who come up with these project ideas and plans aren't the ones whose lives are on the line to make them a reality.  There needs to be local support, rather than just technocrats telling the locals that they know best.
November 19, 2009 - Clinton asks Karzai to bring technocrats into government - Comment: She still thinks that a stronger central government is always the solution to any problem - just like the technocracies which other statists have imposed to repeatedly make a bad situation even worse.  Is it possible that Afghans don't want a stronger central government, whether by warlords or bureaucrats?   Is it really better to have an unaccountable bureaucrat who pretends not to be a tyrant, rather than somebody who is at least honest about his intentions?
November 19, 2009 - AP Analysis: US works with and around Afghan leader - Comment:  Pot calling the kettle black?  "I'm less concerned about any individual than I am with a government as a whole that is having difficulty providing basic services to its people".  Of course, there is no such failure or any corruption in this administration or in our Congress or state and local governments.  Pay no attention to the corruption in Illinois, as shown by a few political suicides and prosecutions.  There was never corruption in Arkansas or New York politics either, as Hillary can readily assure Karzai.
November 19, 2009 - US woos skeptical Pakistanis on Afghan strategy - Comment:  Why should anyone in Pakistan be skeptical about America's strategic commitment under Obama?  After all, it's like deja vu from the Carter era, or the rapid collapse of US support after the Soviets withdrew.  While Pakistan is fighting the insurgents, Obama can't even decide yet when to make a decision.
November 17, 2009 - Pakistan army shows off gains near Afghan border - Comment:  Maybe the Taliban have a sense of humor after all - if they're reading Douglas Adams' "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" in their spare time in South Waziristan.  Ah, the interconnectedness of all things ...
November 17, 2009 - Afghanistan slips in corruption index despite aid  - Comment:  Perhaps the aid has contributed to the corruption?  Maybe more government is the problem, rather than the solution?

Who does Transparency International survey to compile this perception index?  Note that this is "based on surveys of businesses and experts", and yet is spun that "to improve on the corruption perceptions index, it is imperative that "citizens believe that they have a government that works for them." "

If that were true, wouldn't they be surveying Afghans rather than experts and business leaders from elsewhere? Perhaps Afghans don't perceive the corruption in such a simplistic way. Local "corruption" may be seen as normal and not particularly harmful, since it is a pretty traditional way of life. What may be perceived differently is the money which goes into distant government programs, such as to empower and enrich some people in Kabul without necessarily delivering much benefit at the local level.

Maybe the fact that corruption may be common at all levels disguises the distinction between local deals which reward results and distant deals which seem to deliver very little. Foreign business leaders and "experts" may confuse the usual tribal skepticism in the benefit of a strong central government with willingness to accept local corruption as a well-established practice which seems to work well despite any ethical concerns about it - as in Chicago.

November 13, 2009 - Militants turn on spy agency in Pakistan - Comment:  Sadly, this shows that the Pakistani military offensive is working.  If the militants were not retaliating against ISI offices, there would be more reason to suspect that a double game is still being played by some in the ISI.

Instead, the more subtle question now is how successful the militants have been in targeting those in the ISI who are actively fighting them, perhaps without killing those who may still sympathize with the Taliban or help them.  If these attacks were precisely targeted against key foes in the ISI and not friends, rather than randomly bombing obvious ISI buildings, would moles inside the ISI be helping them and eliminating rivals?

So far, from a distance, the attacks seem to just be ruthless retaliation against obvious ISI targets, without any remarkable level of sophistication or success at targeting some officials and not others.  Like the random attacks on civilians in markets as easy targets, they seem intent on intimidation and spreading terror in general, without showing any capability for more precise targeting of key officials as hard targets.

November 5, 2009 - Pakistan Taliban chief urges troops to fight army - Comment:  Getting worried about desertions and defeat?  Meanwhile, they blow up yet another school for girls.
November 1, 2009 - AP Analysis: With few options, US accepts Karzai - Comment:  Efforts by Democratic strategists to help boost Abdullah's candidacy during the election process have failed.

Afghan's Karzai effectively handed 2nd term

November 1, 2009 - White House: Afghan troop decision with weeks - Comment:  Still trying to decide when to decide to decide.  As predicted, it won't come before the US elections as his main focus.
October 29, 2009 - Obama considering scaled-down Afghan war plan - Comment:   This shows that his real focus is domestic politics rather than Afghanistan.  He's test-marketing his "strategy".
October 28, 2009 - Afghan strategy to focus on major population centers: report - Comment:  Leaking military strategy ideas for political reaction before  taking a decision is yet another mistake.
October 28, 2009 - US diplomat resigns over Afghan war - Comment:  Worth a closer look.
October 28, 2009 - Afghan support for democracy on decline even before election - Comment: Poll taken before the election still showed 78% support for democracy despite obvious frustrations.
October 27, 2009 - AP IMPACT: Troops already outnumber Taliban 12-1 - Comment:  Superficial  paralysis by analysis. This decision should have been taken months ago, in which case the additional troops would already be there rather than not available until sometime in 2010 now, if ever.  Gibbs: Obama closer to decision on Afghanistan  Not until after the US election next week, however.
October 26, 2009 - Pakistan arrests 11 Iranian guards close to border - Comment:  This is a serious provocation of Pakistan by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
October 24, 2009 - Pakistani army takes Taliban chief's hometown - Comment:  Symbolic.  It will be interesting to see whether the Pakistani army can keep the terrorists on the run into the winter - when it may be easier to track them down if they are hiding in any concentrations outside of the villages (infrared tech) and take them out with less risk to civilians. Winter on the run in that region is no picnic - especially if US and NATO forces can shut down escape routes across the passes into Afghanistan.
October 24, 2009 - Al-Qaida and the Taliban: Knowing your enemy - Comment:  AP overview of the complexity of the war strategy as rationalization for continued indecision by Obama.
October 21, 2009 - Dick Cheney's remarks to the Center for Security Policy - Comment:  "The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger."  My own choice of words - back on September 30, when a decision was already long overdue.  Then there was the news flash on October 13 that Obama might actually decide to make a decision within a few weeks.  There are similar stories being floated today about whether to make and announce a decision prior to the outcome of the Afghan runoff election on November 7, knowing that such election results won't be available right away.

This is beyond waffling.  This seems to be a firm commitment to failure, now reinforced by lies from Rahm Emanuel alleging no prior strategic review of Afghan policy since 2001, even though Bush quietly did one for the transition team.  The point is that the Obama team seems clueless about how to handle Afghanistan at a time when they just want to focus on quickly pushing their domestic policy agenda through Congress.

Cheney: Obama's Afghan War Strategy 'Bears Striking Resemblance' to Bush's  When the Obama staff persists in telling lies and blaming Bush, the gloves come off - even if many in the media will ignore it.

October 21, 2009 - Afghan coalition government is an option, US says - Comment:  Why on earth would the US government get involved in trying to promote the negotiation of a power-sharing deal or coalition government in Afghanistan?  Instead of creating legitimacy as a truly independent government chosen by the free will of the Afghan people, that will make it look as though it was a deal brokered by the U.S. to install a new regime which suits our interests, even if they have to ignore the Afghan constitution to do it. 

That would be a gift to the Taliban, and turn many Afghans against us.  The Obama administration is either clueless, or is deliberately promoting a path to early failure in Afghanistan with plausible deniability of accountability for that outcome.  In short, simply let Afghanistan fall apart, and then walk away from it.  Betray the eight years of sacrifices by our military there.

US signals Afghan coalition government is possible - Later version of the White House talking points.  There is nothing subtle about this. It is direct interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, just like Obama meddling in Honduras. Every nation should denounce it. This will be perceived as a ploy to set up a weak puppet regime as the Soviets did, and Afghans will rightly resent it and fight against it.

It is hard to imagine a more misguided policy, because the blowback will extend beyond Afghanistan to convince skeptics in other countries that America no longer promotes democracy, but rather just does deals behind closed doors to serve the American political agenda.

Afghan ambassador comes out swinging against election critics - points out that a coalition is illegal.

October 21, 2009 - Afghan president's rival accepts Nov. 7 runoff - Comment:  How much election fraud can Afghans organize in just 3 weeks, now that they know the methodology used to detect it?

Afghans take steps to prevent fraud in next vote  Fewer polling places, with many new officials.

October 21, 2009 - Missile strike could complicate Pakistan battle - Comment:  The Pakistani deal with the terrorists who focus just on US and NATO forces doesn't put them off-limits for US missile strikes.
October 19, 2009 - Nearly a third of Afghan president's votes voided
October 19, 2009 - Pakistan steps up border offensive - Comment:  Did this really include a deal to not go after some of the terrorists in Pakistan who are primarily targeting US forces in Afghanistan?  Perhaps John Kerry and General Petraeus would like to ask about that little detail during their meetings this week?
October 19, 2009 - Afghan fraud panel voids thousands of Karzai votes
October 18, 2009 - Iran bombing kills 5 Revolutionary Guard leaders - Comment:  The allegation of US involvement is absurd, as usual.  Obama clearly wouldn't ever authorize something like this, and it was too successful.  Besides, the US has shown little interest in the Baluchistan region of Iran or Pakistan.

One possibility is that the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan are looking to deflect the Pakistani Army from their focus on South Waziristan. Stirring up trouble on the Baluchi frontier with Iran from their base in Quetta might raise fears of conflict with Iran over such cross-border raids, and thus prod the Pakistani Army to have a more visible (and unpopular and risky) presence in the Quetta area. The same logic might apply to any efforts to stir up trouble in other places, like the Kashmir region or in various cities within Pakistan. In short, use small attacks in many places to try to scatter Army resources and make the government of Pakistan look ineffective and weak.

October 18, 2009 - Taliban vow to defeat army in Pakistan offensive - Comment:  Isn't that what they said in Swat, before they were defeated and driven out?  What else would they say?  They have to try to maintain the myth of their popularity and power.  If the local tribal leaders turn on them, they're toast.
October 18, 2009 - Afghan opposition: Karzai delaying election probe Comment:  It's time for a little brinksmanship. If Karzai wants to declare himself to be the winner despite the many serious allegations of fraud, which are sufficient to weaken his credibility as the legitimate leader even if he may have actually won by a narrow margin, then Obama needs to declare that he will no longer support the Karzai government, and start preparations to withdraw rather than increase our forces there - despite the obvious fact that it is not really in our interest for Afghanistan to become a failed state again. The point is that it will become a failed state anyway if they don't do a runoff election to prove, beyond any credible doubt among Afghans, who is the winner.  We have to show that corrupt elections have consequences.
October 17, 2009 - Pakistan starts critical offensive against Taliban - Comment:  Meanwhile, more US news media coverage is given to a ridiculous balloon chase than to this critical offensive.
October 17, 2009 - Afghan president under pressure over fraud rulings
October 14, 2009 - Obama talks US nonmilitary efforts in Afghanistan - Comment:
October 14, 2009 - AP sources: Afghan corruption worries McChrystal - Comment:  How much would it cost us to buy off enough corrupt Afghans to prevail?  Surely we have deeper pockets than the Taliban and Al Qaeda or even the drug lords. We just have to get over our reluctance to pay local or national leaders off (other than here).

Think of it as inflating the price of corruption until the enemy can't compete.  Pay to play, as they call it here in Illinois politics.  Compare that Democratic political strategy to the cost of war, or of losing.

October 14, 2009 - Afghan presidential runoff would face challenges - Comment:  Yes, among the obvious points, they have stalled the process into the Afghan winter, and have done nothing to prepare.
October 14, 2009 - Pakistanis flee border region ahead of offensive
October 13, 2009 - Obama: Afghanistan decision in 'coming weeks' - Comment:  A real news flash.  Obama may actually decide to make a decision to change his previous decision within a few weeks.
October 13, 2009 - Fallen Marine's father wants change in Afghanistan - Comment:  We questioned these new rules of engagement as soon as they were made public.  They are almost as crazy as the NATO catch-and-release policy for Somali pirates, which keeps setting them free.
October 13, 2009 - Karzai staunchly defends Afghan election balloting

Afghan frustration mounts over vote delay

October 13, 2009 - Pakistani jets soften up militant targets - Comment:  There seems to be too much talk in advance about an assault in South Waziristan.  One has to wonder whether that is really the plan.
October 12, 2009 - Security of Pakistan nuclear weapons questioned - Comment:  The ability of a few terrorists to attack an Army headquarters building in Rawalpindi, or other buildings in nearby Islamabad, does not equate to the capability to seize nuclear weapons.

That would be like thinking that a terrorist attack on the Pentagon Metro station or parking lot or some other government building in Washington DC would put our nuclear weapons at risk. They aren't stored there, and the level of security is completely different.

The current government in Pakistan seems to be doing far more to address the threat than the predecessors. That's why these attacks are happening. We should be more worried if the terrorists there were quietly working on their plans to attack us, rather than living in fear of defeat again as in Swat. They need to be perceived as having some successes to show in order to recruit and maintain morale, so they keep hitting targets of opportunity, and that is helping to turn the Pakistani people in general more firmly against them.
October 12, 2009 - US civilian program for Afghanistan failing: report - Comment:  Perhaps there aren't so many civilian Obama fans out there who want to put their lives on the line for his new policy.  The military has to salute and obey their commander in chief even when he makes obvious blunders and doesn't back them up, or undermines their mission and intelligence support, but civilian volunteers are free to choose for themselves whether they want to do his bidding.  Apparently there's not enough danger pay or other incentives to get Obama fans to try to carry out his flawed strategy. 

The new White House political strategy seems to be to just blame it all on Karzai and corruption (nothing new in Afghanistan) and walk away, regardless of the risks of failure, rather than risk facing up to the fact that the plan was naive and flawed from the start.  See more thoughts on winning in Afghanistan.

October 12, 2009 - Problems beset Afghan recount - Comment:  This process is dragging on too long.  Like most UN initiatives, it lacks urgency and focus on something more than bureaucratic procedure.  It should be intuitively obvious that the level of fraud was sufficient for any outcome to not be regarded as credible by enough Afghans for the government to function effectively over the years ahead.  There needs to be a runoff - very soon - so that there is a clear winner beyond dispute.
October 11, 2009 - UN official says 'widespread fraud' in Afghan vote
October 11, 2009 - Afghan vote fraud 'significant': UN special envoy
October 7, 2009 - Pakistan's military concerned over US aid bill - Comment:  Domestic politics.
October 6, 2009 - Al-Qaida showing smaller presence in Afghanistan - Comment:  Starting to make thin excuses for Obama's reluctance to fight the war which he pretended to support during the campaign.
September 30, 2009 - Congress approves tripling aid to Pakistan - Comment:  Symbolic gesture, recognizing recent progress by the new government in Pakistan and the need to do more.  To put it in perspective, however, this is $1.5 billion over 5 years for a critical national security interest of this country.  Compare that to Senate rebuffs Obama, McCain in backing cargo jets on the same day, in which $2.5 billion is being redirected to buy 10 C-17s which the military says it doesn't really need.
September 30, 2009 - Obama's war council divided on Afghanistan - Comment:  Dithering. Any general worth his stars doesn't rely exclusively on the sifted information he receives up through the formal chain of command. He goes to the front and talks to the people who are leading the fight, especially if there seem to be unexpected problems and a potential need to change direction. A president needs to reach out beyond his White House staff, political advisors, and the fawning bureaucrats protecting their careers to avoid making really dumb mistakes (remember Kennedy?). This would be like having a CEO who never takes time to talk to anyone in the company other than his friends at the top, and thus loses touch with the reality of the business.  He's totally clueless as a real leader of anything more than mindless drones who worship his rhetoric.

After he finishes his Olympic sales pitch in Copenhagen as cover, Obama should get back onto Air Force One and head to Kabul for a heart-to-heart with McChrystal and his team, as well as Karzai and preferably Abdullah to show his concern about election fraud. If he comes back to Washington to hold more inconclusive meetings and speeches, that will be a mistake.

September 25, 2009 - Militant says Pakistani Taliban stronger than ever - Comment:  Honestly, what would you expect him to say to a reporter?  Admit that they have been weakened and divided?  As winter approaches in the tribal region, the military will have some advantages to patiently exploit.
September 22, 2009 - AP sources: Instead of troops, maybe more drones - Comment:  Going back to the pre-9/11 strategy, like Clinton's preference to fire a few missiles into the dirt and declare that he had retaliated and might even do more someday if provoked - which was never really credible.   This will reinforce the Taliban and Al Qaeda expectation that Obama will eventually give up and pull out if they continue to apply enough pressure to raise the political cost of fighting the war.

Obama - go watch "Charlie Wilson's War" and pay attention to the final scene.

We screwed up the endgame in Afghanistan by leaving the Afghans to suffer under different tyrants once the ones of concern to us (Soviets) were gone. The way to finish the game is to not treat them like pawns in our own grand Asian or global strategy, as past empires have done, but rather to work with the local Afghan leaders (not the latest corrupt tyrant wannabes in Kabul). Look at how quickly public attitudes shifted against the Taliban in Pakistan once their atrocities in Swat reminded citizens elsewhere of the threat they posed, and how little they had to offer other than sustained and brutal misery.

September 20, 2009 - Taliban leader Omar says foreign troops face defeat - Comment:

It's easy to miss the obvious point in this AFP story, like so many AP and other fringe media versions of coverage of Afghanistan. The reports keep tabulating US and NATO casualties, as though that were the key metric of success or failure. When was the last time that you heard a reliable report of the total Afghan or Pakistani casualties - combatant or not?

Afghans notice that, as do Pakistanis. That feeds into the radical rhetoric that we don't care how many of them die, as though this were our fight rather than their own, or as though we were trying to build up an empire to rule over the region, like the reference to Alexander and others. We're too close to Karzai, and too engaged in ruling from Kabul rather than working with local leaders.

In the war against the Soviets, the ratio was more than 10 Afghans per Soviet because there was no hesitancy to slaughter entire villages in reprisal raids after attacks by the mujahideen. That didn't intimidate the Afghans - it hardened their resolve to take their country back, but they needed our help to pull it off (Stingers, etc.) against Soviet helicopter gunships and other weapons. It's a myth that Osama or Mullah Omar led and won that fight. They were largely irrelevant to it.

The question here is not the American strategy for victory, but rather the Afghan strategy for creating a successful country that no longer requires our presence. Karzai seems to have made little progress in that direction, so even the Pashtuns are losing patience with him. That doesn't mean that Afghans want the Taliban and leaders like Omar to come back. The foreign media may ignore how many Afghans the Taliban are still killing, and that may intimidate some Afghans, but even the Soviets couldn't rule by intimidation.

September 15, 2009 - AP Analysis: White House postponing hard calls on war - Comment: Stalling while they push their domestic agenda as a higher political priority.  Was the shift in strategy and recent increase in troop levels just a diversion to avoid political criticism while setting the stage for failure and a hasty retreat later? In other words, let the Democrats in Congress insist that they are listening to their  constituents by pushing for no more troops, and for a withdrawal timeline, so that the White House can then comply without appearing to be responsible for whatever harm eventually comes out of it.  This may not be about developing a winning strategy.  It is about Obama stalling and trying to find an exit strategy after pretending during the campaign to be committed to the war in Afghanistan as a matter of political expediency at that time.  It may not be high on his priorities now that he really has to take responsibility for the war results, even though he really has little control or influence over events in Afghanistan.
September 15, 2009 - Recount order affects 10 percent of Afghan vote sites - Comment:  Still no indication how long this recount process may take.  They need to cut it short and do a runoff election with better controls on fraud if the next government is to have the public support it needs to succeed.
September 10, 2009 - Pakistan arrests Swat Taliban leaders - Comment: More progress
September 9, 2009 - The enemy has figured us out - Comment: interesting blog post about a recent ambush of Marines.  There's also related coverage on other blogs such as http://www.mudvillegazette.com/
September 9, 2009 - Afghan recount ordered because of fraud charges - Comment: The recount process will take months, and worsen the problem.  We're not talking about doing this quietly in Minnesota with a bunch of lawyers while people wait patiently and joke about it.  This will feed the violence.  The recount is not likely to solve the fundamental problem, which is that the Afghan people need to feel that their authority is being respected.  The UN and Afghan leadership need to put an end to this drama quickly by calling for a runoff election right away as the best way to settle the matter.
September 8, 2009 - Afghan recount ordered; Karzai nears outright win - Comment:  If he is declared the victor without a runoff election after so many fraud allegations, the risk is that Afghans will oppose the government in Kabul even more forcefully than the Iranian protesters did in Tehran.  Since we can't get caught in the middle of ruthless repression Iran-style, and the Taliban know it, that creates an opportunity for them to exploit this crisis and capitalize on any frustrations with the government in Kabul.
September 7, 2009 - Observers say neat Afghan vote totals show fraud - Comment:  They obviously need more community activists to teach them how to do election fraud without it being so transparent.
September 4, 2009 - Dems signal resistance to Afghan troop increase - Comment:  Impatient to retreat and focus more spending on their domestic agenda rather than national security interests.
September 2, 2009 - Spy chief among 23 killed in Taliban suicide blast - Comment:  Revenge?
August 31, 2009 - Gates: Report details highs, lows of Afghan fight - Comment:  So far, there's talk about a new strategy, but not much evidence of it, or why it should be expected to work better.
August 31, 2009 - A 'civilian surge' to Afghanistan is just starting - Comment:  Agricultural specialists, educators, engineers ... and lawyers?  Why are we exporting lawyers to Afghanistan?  If we think Afghans are starting to distrust us or prefer the Taliban, wait until we send them more lawyers!
August 31, 2009 - US general: New strategy needed to defeat Taliban - Comment:  So, what is it?  Given the headline, you might expect some hint of a new strategy, or some facts to support the premise that Obama's recent strategy and leadership change before a major offensive against the Taliban in one of their strongest regions of support is working. Instead, they're still trying to delay talking about any need for more troops or money while the domestic political agenda remains the priority in Washington.  Obama probably can't even understand that Afghans don't want a strong central government.  Remember how they fought the Soviets and the regime they imposed? It's about liberty and local tribal control of their own lives, not elections.  The Taliban were just tyrants with a different agenda.  That's why Afghans were glad to be rid of them, too.  Remember the "Articles of Confederation" stage of our own history, when people in the various states didn't even want to trust a strong central government to have even the most basic authority?
August 29, 2009 - Karzai increases lead to 46 pct in Afghan election - Comment:  There may have been fraud, but it still doesn't seem to have been enough to assure a victory for Karzai without a runoff election.  It's even hard to organize fraud well on a national basis in Afghanistan, given the local tribal focus of the society.

Bottom line: Are we trying to help create a strong central government in a country where the people are justifiably suspicious of any national leaders, given the long history of national tyranny and relentless local resistance to it? Corruption at the local level may seem pervasive from our societal perspective, but that doesn't mean they want to escalate it to the national level. Locally, they can still control it.  Nationally, it becomes a threat to all except the small elite in power.  That unites diverse opposition as a check on power. 

August 29, 2009 - US faces smaller, smarter enemy in Afghanistan - Comment:  Actually, the most dangerous battle is among specious politicians in Washington.  That's where al Qaeda still expects to win.
August 29, 2009 - Pakistan destroys suicide bomber training camp - Comment: More progress.
August 27, 2009 - In southern Afghan city, fears of Taliban takeover - Comment:  As in Swat, it may actually make tactical sense to let the Taliban make temporary gains in places where the locals may turn on them, but preferably in remote places where it will be easier to target them once they feel that they can act with impunity.  Kandahar isn't such a place.  It may draw Taliban back from places like Quetta and some of the more remote Pushtun areas, and concentrate their atrocities in a major city where locals have been more supportive.  That would give them an operating base among many supportive civilians again and perhaps stronger ties to the drug trade and other smugglers in the region as a way to help fund their operations.  The fact that many Kandahar residents would not want the Taliban to return, while others might welcome them, makes this a more dangerous place in which to lose control.  It will be costly to regain it if lost again.

Not enough Americans are paying attention to the situation in Afghanistan these days. Obama's new strategy could still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at a tremendous future cost, just as Bush Sr and Congress blew the endgame after the Soviets were forced out and thereby set the stage for the rise of al Qaeda and the Taliban. As Obama's political support and agenda in Congress collapses like Carter's, the risks are high that he will just throw the Afghans under the bus again, and thereby set the stage for future crises in the region. He seems clueless about how to deal with a country where people don't want a strong central government.

August 25, 2009 - Pakistani Taliban admit leader Mehsud killed - Comment:  Asif Ali Zardari seems to be making good progress now - including the death of Mehsud, allegedly Benazir Bhutto's murderer.  The news media narrative a few months ago about his alleged weakness or corruption seems to be changing.
August 24, 2009 - Young Guantanamo prisoner back in Afghanistan - Comment: Not to be outdone by the Scots and their Lockerbie terrorist release, this resembles the European catch and release policy.
August 24, 2009 - Algorithms to stop fraud in medieval Afghanistan - Comment:  There is no truth to the rumor that Al Franken won a stunning victory in a write-in campaign at the last minute.   We'll know that the media has turned on this war when they start showing reruns of "The Man Who Would Be King" (see Wikipedia synopsis) as evidence that Obama's excellent adventure in Afghan politics is futile or dangerous.
August 24, 2009 - AP Analysis: Fraud cases threaten US strategy - Comment:  New narrative emerging.  The media seems ready to declare defeat already for the new strategy in Afghanistan.
August 24, 2009 - Afghans move toward reconciliation with Taliban - Comment:  Too eager to cut a deal, as in Pakistan previously?  Are there weaknesses to exploit, or is this just to relieve the new pressure?
August 24, 2009 - Series of raids by Pakistan police foil attacks - Comment:  More good news.
August 23, 2009 - Afghan commission: fraud filings could sway vote - Comment:  Will the alleged fraud be enough to avoid a runoff election in October?  After the toothless international response to the fraudulent election next door in Iran, why would anyone in Afghanistan see a problem with stealing an election?
August 23, 2009 - Obama facing hard choices on Afghanistan war plans - Comment:  Leadership?  Sounds like a political "don't ask, don't tell" policy for unpopular force levels.  Worse than Lyndon Johnson?
August 23, 2009 - Mullen worried over public support for Afghan war - Comment:  As Obama's popularity slips, is he going to defend this alleged priority from his campaign, or throw it under the bus too?  The Democrats always alleged that this was the "right" war on which Bush should have concentrated, rather than the "war of choice" in Iraq.  Now that Obama is actually responsible for this war, expect hypocrisy.
August 23, 2009 - Pakistan Taliban commander vows Afghan fight - Comment:  Infighting is good.  Rivalries create opportunities for intelligence operations.  They also expose the Taliban's true nature to locals.
August 23, 2009 - Ruthless new Pakistan Taliban leader named - Comment:  Expect more attacks as internal rivalries for leadership continue.  That should help to turn more Pakistanis against the Taliban.
August 20, 2009 - Polls close and counting begins in Afghanistan - Comment:  Despite Taliban efforts at intimidation through threats of reprisals for voting, the Afghans remain defiant and are voting again.
August 19, 2009 - Afghans vote for president amid fears of attacks - Comment:   Meanwhile, the US news media shows remarkably less interest in growing US casualties now that Obama is leading the war.
August 19, 2009 - Pakistani Taliban's deputy head takes over group - Comment:  Competition for a leadership position with a pretty short life expectancy these days.  That shura meeting must be a target.
August 17, 2009 - Threat of violence looms over Afghan vote - Comment:  The real story is that the election looms over the threat of violence as well as the power sought by the central government.
August 17, 2009 - Pakistan captures spokesman for Baitullah Mehsud - Comment:  Thanks.  Note that local tribal leaders are helping to turn in the Taliban.  This is crucial progress.
August 17, 2009 - Pakistani Taliban says bombs a 'gift' for US envoy - Comment:  Hubris.
August 16, 2009 - US envoy praises Pakistan progress against Taliban - Comment:  Shifting focus to economic development and energy.  Military "winding down" offensive against Taliban?
August 16, 2009 - Taliban threatens polling stations in Afghanistan - Comment: Predictable.
August 11, 2009 - US Army brigade retools for new Afghan mission - Comment:  A little AP recognition that Afghanistan is really another world by comparison to Iraq.
August 9, 2009 - US, Pakistan increasingly believe Mehsud dead - Comment:  Perhaps the Taliban rivalries over a successor will provide further opportunities to divide and defeat them.
August 8, 2009 - Militants say Pakistan's Mehsud alive, deny report - Comment:  Not dead yet?  It's hard to know who to trust at this point, but sooner or later the truth will become clear.
August 7, 2009 - Aide says Pakistani Taliban leader Mehsud is dead - Comment:  One more bad guy is taken down, but with many more left to go.  Good news, if the report is true.
July 18, 2009 - Pakistani jets kill 9 militants in northwest - Comment:  Getting closer to Mehsud?
July 14, 2009 - 23 militants dead in clashes in NW Pakistan - Comment:  It will be very interesting to see whether this situation spreads.  If local tribes start to turn on the Taliban and al-Qaeda, somewhat like the "awakening councils" in Iraq, then the situation in the northwest frontier could change dramatically.
July 10, 2009 - Pakistani refugees begin returning home - Comment:  Rapid reconstruction is critical.
July 8, 2009 - Pakistani officials: Suspected US strikes kill 45 - Comment:  The Taliban can't operate as comfortably with relative impunity in Swat and South Waziristan now, but it's a vast area and won't be easy to control even if they eventually manage to kill some of the leaders.
July 2009 - Pakistani media reports; The rise of the Taliban, the fall of Karachi - Comment: Interesting recent translations from MEMRI  (Middle East Media Research Institute) - www.memri.org  The gist is that citizens are being blackmailed into giving money to the Taliban.  The part of Karachi mentioned in one report (Clifton) is an affluent area where many foreigners and business leaders live.
July 2, 2009 - US Marines launch major offensive in Afghanistan - Comment:  New strategy?
July 1, 2009 - Poll: Pakistanis view Taliban as threat to country - Comment: 80% view them as a threat to Pakistan, and 70% favor how the government has been going after them recently.  Regardless of the actual numbers, this represents a very significant swing in Pakistani public opinion recently, and is fundamental to an effective counterinsurgency strategy in the country.  Source: WorldPublicOpinion.org
July 1, 2009 - Major military operation under way in Afghanistan - Comment:   A major test.
June 28, 2009 - Afghan minister says drug strategy is 'perfect' - Comment:  Not the new one.  The failure to make significant progress at limiting Afghan opium production for decades.  The new policy will basically abandon the pretense that it is working, and shift the blame elsewhere instead.

June 27, 2009 - US announces big shift in Afghanistan drug policy - Comment: What alternate crops do you suggest which grow like a weed in such a climate and are worth so much?

June 26, 2009 - AP Analysis: Relieved US keeps base key to Afghan war - Comment:  Money is no obstacle for this President, anyway.  Why not pay 3 times as much as before?
June 24, 2009 - US general says troops need new view of Afghan war - Comment: More on the new policy of treating any civilian areas as sanctuaries for the Taliban.  Let's see now - how did that policy work out for the Pakistanis when they gave the Taliban control of Swat for a while?  Are we just giving the Taliban a green light to exercise ruthless control in civilian areas, as in the past, so that they will get full blame for any casualties as a reminder of what Taliban rule was like?

How can we make progress at helping Afghans to build a better future if we follow this strategy?  Why would local tribal leaders support us if they know we will back off if they come under attack?  Are we trying to lure the Taliban back into Afghanistan along with pressure now from Pakistan?

June 24, 2009 - Pakistani Taliban chief dodged missile: officials - Comment:  If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  Steady, patient pressure often develops opportunities.
June 23, 2009 - Taliban commander shot dead in northwest Pakistan - Comment:  Signs of a power struggle within the Taliban as the Pakistani Army steps up the pressure on them?
June 22, 2009 - New US battle rule: No fighting near Afghan homes - Comment: Now it's official.  All the Taliban and Al Qaeda supporters have to do is hide behind civilians in the villages, and they're safe.  Is this any way to fight an insurgency?  Is this a deliberate plan for failure?  Will Afghan security forces take the lead now in going after the Taliban in villages or remote areas?
June 2, 2009 - General: War in Afghanistan is `winnable' - Comment:  The focus still seems to be on limiting our rules of engagement to avoid civilian casualties, rather than to reach out to local leaders.
May 27, 2009 - Civilians suffer in Pakistan army war on Taliban - Comment:  Try turning that headline around for the truth - Civilians suffer as Taliban fight for control of Pakistan.  Why should we expect the Pakistani Army to fight and defeat the Taliban without many civilian casualties?

The Taliban murder civilians deliberately to enforce their control, and use them as hostages or "human shields".  It will be a bloody fight, but the myth that the Taliban can operate with impunity in the frontier needs to be shaken severely enough that local tribal leaders will risk standing up to their tyranny.  The Army won't defeat the Taliban alone, but it can weaken them until the tribes turn on the Taliban.  That will also require high confidence that the Pakistani government will better respect their local tribal interests rather than soon go away again and leave them exposed to vicious Taliban reprisals.

May 24, 2009 - Pakistan troops retake bloody intersection - Comment:  Continued progress, but reporters remain skeptical of the military reports in the absence of more direct observations of events.  They were always free to report on the latest Taliban atrocities, but those rarely made the headlines because killing innocent civilians was expected, rather than something newsworthy to these reporters.
May 24, 2009 - Afghanistan's rebuilding looms as sequel to Iraq's - Comment:  There probably has been a lot of waste in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there has also been a lot of progress.  Since any Inspector General justifies staff and funding by finding problems, that's the focus of their reports.
May 22, 2009 - UN seeks $543 million for Pakistan war refugees - Comment:  Reporters remain skeptical about whether the Pakistani Army is making the claimed progress.  The flow of refugees out of the area, however, would suggest that they are taking it to the Taliban now.
May 19, 2009 - Clinton to detail US humanitarian aid to Pakistan - Comment: $10 million?  For an estimated 1.5 million potential refugees from the fighting in Swat?  Do the math.  This is the strategy for winning hearts and minds?  Demonstrating Obama's commitment to the importance of this conflict?  See subsequent Clinton details US humanitarian aid to Pakistan - which reports 2 million refugees and a total of $110 million in aid (some through State, and some from Defense), without very clear details.
May 19, 2009 - Pakistan races to deal with 1.5 million refugees - Comment:  We ignored the plight of Afghans and Pakistanis after the Soviets pulled out, and look where it got us.  Here is a chance to win back some hearts and minds - or to reinforce the extremists for a very long time by ignoring refugees.
May 5, 2009 - Thousands flee Pakistan valley as truce crumbles - Comment:  Just in time for the meeting between Obama, Hamid Karzai, and Asif Ali Zardari.
April 24, 2009 - Pakistani Taliban pull back to Swat stronghold - Comment: A tactical retreat after a brief foray in the direction of Islamabad to reinforce their image of power, and the government's weakness.  Meanwhile, Obama has "expressed dismay" about this latest advance by the Taliban.   He doesn't get it.

We shall see where this leads. Having all the bad guys feel confident that they are winning, and can now operate with impunity in the Swat valley, and try to push into less friendly areas, may actually help to isolate and consolidate this enemy in one place instead of having them scattered all over the frontier.

It's not clear that the Pakistani military is really willing to confront them now, instead of enjoying their perks while still pretending that India is the main threat to Pakistan.  Then again, there's little evidence that Obama wants to do anything more than talk and befriend tyrants, either.

Politically, the Taliban need to overreach and turn Pakistani public opinion against themselves despite any misgivings or the usual gripes about their existing government, particularly given their economic crisis. They need Swat as a poster child for just how bad Taliban rule in Pakistan could be for everyone else.  That means the people of Swat are being sacrificed to the Taliban as an example for others in Pakistan to see.

The Taliban have supporters in the frontier region, but are much less likely to be popular in the Punjab and Sind once people focus on what their rule would actually mean for themselves, instead of just as the usual anti-corrupt-government griping and partisan politics, such as the self-serving moves by Nawaz Sharif.

This could push Pakistan back to military rule as the lesser of evils, and that's unfortunate because it might lead to civil war against the tribal regions. That would rip the country apart as partition from India did.

April 23, 2009 - US lacks civilians for Afghan 'civilian surge' - Comment:  So, Obama is having trouble finding civilian volunteers to help rebuild Afghanistan through central government sponsored initiatives, so it looks as though he is going to call up the reserves again to do it, after talking about how important it was to not rely so heavily upon our reserves or outside contractors.  How's military recruitment going these days?
April 6, 2009 - Afghans welcome but also doubt new war strategy - Comment:  Justifiable skepticism.  These people remember the misery which weak American presidents ignore, and fear it.  The Taliban leaders assert that they will fight to the death against us - not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but in America if they can pull it off.. So this is how we open a new diplomatic dialogue?
March 27, 2009 - AP Analysis: New war strategy requires outside help - Comment:  What new war strategy in Afghanistan?  Ask the Europeans for more help?  Ask Pakistani leaders to crack down on Al Qaeda, and rein in ISI collaboration with the Taliban or other Islamist radicals, despite the recent deal in Swat, while asking Afghan leaders to negotiate with the Taliban?  Is everybody confused yet?
March 27, 2009 - Obama widens al-Qaida war, making it his own - Comment:  Maybe he will deploy liberal community activists to the tribal areas to protest corruption in Kabul and Islamabad?  Is there real recognition of the importance of working with local tribal leaders, as in the "surge" strategy?  Are we demonstrably on the side of "we the people" in Pakistan and Afghanistan, or more corruption?

Remember this quote from the article:  "I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future," Obama said. "That's the goal that must be achieved. That is a cause that could not be more just."

Comment: This may seem to be a "just cause" from a populist American political perspective, but that's irrelevant.  Wars are not won by their cause being "just".  They are won by defeating the most determined enemy despite the cost of doing so.  Are these lofty war goals attainable with the limited resources involved?  Will Afghans and Pakistanis share this goal?  Some of their leaders may share our perception of al-Qaida as a threat, but they and their people have many complex goals.  You might as well declare that it is our goal to rid Afghanistan and Pakistan of guns.  Lofty rhetoric, but not a viable strategy, because few people in the tribal regions of either country would share such a goal.  They really do cling to their guns and religion - and certainly don't trust a strong central government, because they already know that it has rarely brought them anything except prolonged misery.

February 28, 2009 - Pakistan says Taliban beaten back in border region - Comment: It may not seem like much at first, but limiting where the militants can operate with impunity is important, both symbolically and from a military counter-insurgency standpoint.  It also prods the worst militants who are not tied to one local tribal area to move on to some other which is perceived to be more safe.  That concentrates them as a target in places where their actions may soon wear out their local welcome.
February 27, 2009 - Pakistan opposition chief warns of dangerous chaos - Comment:  Ironic criticism since Nawaz Sharif was a major beneficiary of martial law in the past, as under Zia ul Haq
February 25, 2009 - Pakistan FM pushes US for drones - Comment:  Tricky issue, like the F-16 sales in the early Reagan years.  Given the Kashmir situation, India surely won't like this idea.
February 25, 2009 - Experts say Pakistan is on trajectory to failure - Comment:   Experts may not be the right choice of words in this AP story, but economic progress in Pakistan is very important.
February 25, 2009 - Pakistan court bars opposition leader from office - Comment:  Good for them.  Look at what happened to Pakistan during the rise to power and past tenure of Nawaz Sharif  Remember, he rose through his support of military dictator Zia ul Haq - who led the growth of radical Islamist groups in Pakistan.  Look at the nuclear program, his war with India, rise of the Taliban, etc.
Middle East news headline links and comments - Israel, Palestinians, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.
October 22, 2010 - Mideast sides eye US midterms and impact on talks
June 10, 2010 - Turkey's Erdogan: emerging leader in Muslim world
May 24, 2010 - Emirates targets reform after Dubai debt crisis
December 14, 2009 - Dubai gets $10B from Abu Dhabi to cover debt
December 7, 2009 - Dubai World looks to sell assets in quest for cash - Comment:  No bailout by the government.  So much for the "too big to fail" premise on which many bankers and property investors were counting.  Bursting this speculative bubble will hurt many in the short term, but in the long run, a bailout would do even more damage.  A reality check was already long overdue.

An interesting twist is the high level of Iranian investment in Dubai, and how that may play out.

December 2, 2009 - Dubai mega-tower `last hurrah' to age of excess
December 1, 2009 - Dubai tries to calm panic over new debt crisis
December 1, 2009 - World markets up as Dubai contagion fears ease
December 1, 2009 - Dubai's leader tries to calm panicky investors
November 30, 2009 - Dubai official: Dubai World's debt its own - Comment:  No bailout?
November 30, 2009 - Dubai exchange nosedives as trading resumes
November 29, 2009 - UAE to back banks amid Dubai meltdown - Comment:  Another bailout?
November 28, 2009 - Dubai looks to oil-rich neighbor for possible aid - Comment:  Abu Dhabi to the rescue?  Note the Dubai World impact on commercial real estate developer Nakheel.
November 27, 2009 - Dubai debt fears stalk world markets - Comment:  It could get worse.
November 26, 2009 - Dubai debt move 'carefully planned': top official - Comment:  Watch for more news on this Dubai World situation.

Asia markets slide on Dubai debt fears

October 13, 2009 - Palestinians say hopes in Obama 'evaporated' - Comment:  Join the club.  How long did it take them after that big Cairo speech to figure this out?   Just over 4 months.

It's not the pro-Israel lobby that is the problem, contrary to that old excuse. The problem is that too many Americans bought into his empty rhetoric at first, but now have quickly figured out that they made a big mistake by electing both Obama and a Democratic majority in the House and Senate. That will be fixed in 2010 before he and his friends can do too much damage, so if the Fatah leadership is smart, they won't fool around and waste any time about trying to get the best deal they can soon. Otherwise, by next year, he will have thrown them under the bus as a low priority while he fights for political survival here.
August 30. 2009 - Digging up the Saudi past: Some would rather not - nothing before Islam?
August 30, 2009 - Al-Qaida claims attack that injured Saudi prince - heck of a rehab program, eh?
August 20, 2009 - The Weekly Standard - About that Saudi Rehabilitation Program - Comment:  This illustrates why it may not be a solution for the Yemeni prisoners at Guantanamo, despite wishful thinking by some clueless liberals.
June 28, 2009 - 1 killed as rivals trade gunfire in Beirut - Comment:  Back to old tactics.
June 24, 2009 - Obama sending ambassador to Syria after years - Comment:  Apparently doing the same with Venezuela, too.  Meanwhile, Dennis Ross bailed out as his Iran envoy.
June 5, 2009 - Obama calls for new effort for 2-state solution - Comment:  Note that the Germans may be quick to criticize Guantanamo, but don't want to accept any of the prisoners.
June 5, 2009 - AP Analysis: Obama tries evenhanded approach - Comment:  How is it evenhanded to hardly say a word in defense of all that we have done for the benefit of Muslims?  Indeed, the very premise of talking to the "Islamic world" accepts the false idea of radicals that all Muslims are engaged in a great clash of civilizations with the West, as if they were all a single special interest group rather than a highly diverse mix of people in different countries and cultures who frequently do not agree with each other on very much.  This myth of a common enemy is one of the most fundamental tools of the terrorists, and he just reinforced this "us vs. them" perception by pretending that it we somehow wronged all of them in the past, and promise to behave now.
June 4, 2009 - Obama speech at Cairo University - full text as published by the White House

Obama's speech at Cairo University - with our comments - he definitely doesn't deserve tenure.

June 3, 2009 - Obama visits Saudi king before high-stakes speech - Comment:  " meant to ease long-held Muslim grievances against the United States"?   "In one gesture, organizers made sure that members of Egypt's main opposition movement, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, would be in the audience at Cairo University."  Why not invite Ayman al Zawahiri and his friends, too?
June 3, 2009 - To open a Muslim dialogue, Obama visits Saudi king - Comment:  How on earth can he talk about "misapprehensions" about Muslims in the West as the moral equivalent of the hate mongering and terrorism spread by Islamist extremists - notably the Wahabbists from Saudi Arabia?
June 1, 2009 - Mideast trip next step in Obama's Muslim outreach  - Comment: Note the careful AP editing of the earlier story below.  It is no longer a "big gamble".  The reference to CAIR is gone.  Try looking up CAIR with our "conservative search" tool if this puzzles you.  Spin control?
June 1, 2009 - Obama's outreach to Muslims is a big gamble - Comment:  Trying to sell it as a prudent or brilliant gesture rather than another naive and reckless mistake at a very dangerous time.  Success is now defined as progress from outright hostility to grudging disapproval of US policies, as though the possibility of standing up for what we believe is simply irrational and out of the question..
May 31, 2009 - Muslims want tangible change on Mideast from Obama - Comment:  Let's hope that they are as disappointed as we are by his actions.  Why isn't the focus on the tangible change which we want to see from them?  Why do we accept that our policies are the source of all problems?  Why do we accept their allegation of our "occupation of Iraq", rather than liberation of it from tyranny?

The correct response should be that we will respect them when they earn our respect, not demand it.  We owe no apologies to "Muslims", because we treat them with respect here.  What we don't respect are the tyrants among them who have perpetuated misery and conflict in their region for centuries, and who wish to spread their tyranny to other countries, including our own.  We resolutely oppose them.

May 22, 2009 - Lebanon spy cases highlight Mideast espionage - Comment:  Just in time for the elections in Lebanon, even though the author of the article denies it as a factor.
May 22, 2009 - Hezbollah says Biden visit interferes in election - Comment:  This is perhaps analogous to Spiro Agnew - trying to isolate him from American news media gaffes.
May 5, 2009 - Iran, Syria back Palestinian militancy - Comment:  This really shouldn't even be considered newsworthy, but apparently some liberal leaders have trouble seeing the obvious threats.
April 24, 2009 - Hezbollah win in Lebanon would be big upset - Comment:  Pay attention to this, like the rise of Hamas in Gaza.  Once in power, their first priority will be to consolidate their power.  Tyranny.
April 6, 2009 - Obama to Muslim world: No US war with Islam - Comment:  This has already won praise from Muslim groups like CAIR, but with no call for reciprocal assertions by the Islamist radicals that they are not at war with us.  As the "war on terrorism" rhetoric is replaced by vague euphemisms, this may make some Bush critics feel better, but the problem is that there needs to be relentless pressure on our actual irreconcilable enemies rather than all this rhetoric about wanting to be friends.  We can be friends with those who want to reciprocate - but must stand firmly against our adversaries.
March 1, 2009 - Clinton to announce $300 million pledge to Gaza - Comment: Why are we propping up Hamas by such aid to Gazans while rockets are still being fired into Israel?  If they ever honor their ceasefire agreement, perhaps it might merit consideration.  Until then, it's a total waste.
News - February 21, 2009 Syria, US explore improving ties as Kerry visits - Comment:  Note that Secretary Clinton is keeping her distance out in Asia, while setting up special envoys for trouble spots.
News - February 18, 2009 Assad: Syria wants better relations with US - Comment:  Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Benjamin Cardin (D- MD) are on Congressional delegations to Damascus.
Latin America - regional news headlines, links, and comments
January 1, 2011 - Bolivia's Morales: Fuel prices to rise 'someday'
December 31, 2010 - Bolivian president cancels gasoline price increase
December 30, 2010 - Protests intensify in Bolivia over gasoline prices - Morales morass. Statist price controls to distort markets for political advantage lead to failure and market disruption. It's just another form of political redistribution of wealth. Eventually, you run out of other people's money to support favored groups.
December 27, 2010 - Lula's legacy, leaving behind a transformed Brazil
July 5, 2010 - Vote shows Mexicans have little faith in any party
July 1, 2010 - Secret list shows fate of Argentine disappeared - Where tyranny leads.
June 20, 2010 - Ex-defense chief wins Colombia runoff in rout
January 18, 2010 - Pinera victory could complicate Chile's diplomacy
December 15, 2009 - Mexico's Calderon proposes major political reform - Don't hold your breath.
November 30, 2009 - Ballot box gives ex-guerrilla Uruguay's presidency - Another left turn.
November 26, 2009 - Jobs, economics complicate Brazil's Amazon fight - Comment:

Expect more stories like this as the Copenhagen summit approaches.  Does anybody else wonder why the government inspectors show up soon after the damage is done, in order to document but not stop it?  They are to be rewarded for more such "enforcement" efforts - even while great damage goes on.

Of course, there is no corruption in the Brazilian government in these provinces at the local, state, or national level, as anyone familiar with Brazilian politics in these states can readily attest.  Why would isolated government officials risk getting killed on a very low salary to stop influential criminals?

There are some very honorable environmentalists out there, but this is like trying to police the Wild West from a comfortable office in Washington DC or Brussels, or trying to enforce Prohibition in Chicago.  Don't expect "The Untouchables" to show up in the Amazon just because world leaders decide to pay off the Brazilian government for more such enforcement activity. That would be like paying Chicago politicians to track but not stop Al Capone, thus playing both sides.  It just raises the political corruption cost of "protection" for the criminals.  Any honest cops work at their own peril.

November 2, 2009 - Latin American leaders move to extend their rule
October 26, 2009 - Ex-guerrilla just shy of outright win in Uruguay - Nov 29 runoff election
October 25, 2009 - Uruguayans vote for ex-rebel or ex-president
October 6, 2009 - 2016 Olympics a crowning glory for Brazil leader - Comment: Congratulations.
August 26, 2009 - Debate on possible third term for Colombia's Uribe - Comment:  This would not be a good precedent for democracy in the region, any more than in Venezuela, Honduras, etc.  Find a successor.
June 3, 2009 - OAS lifts ban on Cuba after 47 years - Comment:  More overtures to the leftists.
June 1, 2009 - Clinton tries to remake US image in Latin America - Comment:  Note the remark about Obama's empathy with leftist leaders in the region, as already demonstrated previously.
Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) news headline links and comments
November 25, 2009 - Pentagon official on Guantanamo closure resigns - Comment:  Curious timing.  The decision was last week, but it was announced just before Thanksgiving, when it would predictably attract less attention.  Note that lawyer Greg Craig, portrayed here as a supporter of the plan, resigned November 13 - just before Holder announced his plan for  trials in New York right after Obama left on his trip to Asia.
November 15, 2009 - Dozens of Gitmo detainees finally get day in court - Comment: Once again, the application of strict evidence standards for criminal trials of US citizens necessarily leads to acquittals of potential terrorists whose guilt cannot be proven beyond any reasonable doubt.  This is madness.  We may as well simply adopt a catch and release policy for all suspected terrorists in the future, or simply kill them on the battlefield rather than capture, interrogate, detain, and turn them over to judges at needless expense.  NATO forces already follow a catch and release policy for Somali pirates just because there is ambiguity about their authority to arrest and prosecute them even if they are caught during an attack.
November 15, 2009 - Lawmakers discuss plan for Gitmo inmates in Illinois - Comment:  Don't we need to keep that idle prison capacity available for the isolation of corrupt Illinois politicians?
August 8, 2009 - Afghan jail conditions hamper Gitmo prosecutions - Comment:  Incorrect.  Obama policy changes hamper prosecutions by treating enemy combatants like American criminals.
May 26, 2009 - Pentagon: Some released detainees return to battle - Comment:  The reporter seems to be keen to push the idea that some of the released prisoners may never have been terrorists in the first place, or that some may have joined Al Qaeda after their detention (i.e., we provoked them).  The obvious point is that this "catch and release" program has cost more innocent lives, even if some of the detentions may have been in error.  Keeping them locked up did not cost more lives, despite all the allegations that Gitmo has had some unproven "recruitment" value as a symbol.  The terrorists had no need for such a symbol, because they couldn't care less about how we treat our prisoners - since they brutally torture their own.  They already recruited and attacked us for many years before we responded.
May 20, 2009 - Pentagon official: US must take Gitmo prisoners - Comment:  Does anybody else think it is a bit arrogant for an Obama appointee to lecture members of  Congress on their decisions?  Who ever heard of this official before?  Who elected her to dictate what civilians should accept here?  There is no good reason to close Gitmo.  It's ideally suited to the unique role for which it was created.  The fact that some liberals and foreigners don't like it is no excuse for doing something even worse.  See the related story Judge says US can hold detainees indefinitely
Somalia - Somali piracy news headline links and comments
April 21, 2009 - Chuck Norris blog on dealing with Somali pirates, and relevant American history
September 9, 2010 - US Marines take back pirate-held ship off Somalia - Great job by our military, as usual.  Will they now follow the usual "catch and release" policy of this administration and NATO?  How many pirates have been released?  The AP should do follow-up reporting.
August 20, 2010 - Judge: Somali pirates who fired on US Navy are not really pirates
September 21, 2009 - Video: Somali crowds vow allegiance to bin Laden
September 15, 2009 - Insurgents vow to avenge US raid in Somalia - Comment:  Progress against the threat of al Qaida making Somalia their next operating base.  Good intelligence work over recent years obviously led to this action.  One doesn't develop this sort of success overnight or simply by luck.
September 7, 2009 - Somalia, neighboring Seychelles clash over pirates - Comment:  Trading hostages for pirates?  It still seems to be a "catch and release" policy toward pirates, particularly now that less international attention is on the problem, as though it were old news or an inevitable problem.
June 5, 2009 - British navy sinks pirate boat - Comment: This Reuters headline is a bit misleading.  They sank the boat - but then let the pirates go, as has been recent NATO policy.  They were armed with weapons and grappling hooks for piracy, rather than for fishing, but they were still released for "lack of evidence" since they hadn't successfully finished their crime yet.  When will this insane and dangerous "catch and release' policy toward these pirates be stopped?
May 14, 2009 - US Navy detains 17 suspected pirates - Comment: Will it follow the "catch and release" policy adopted by NATO countries?  See April 14 - 18 stories on Somali piracy below.  This seems to have quickly disappeared from the news, with no follow-up reports about the actions taken.
April 18, 2009 - NATO frees 20 hostages; pirates seize Belgian ship - Comment: But did you look beyond the headline at the rest of this story?  They let the three captured pirates go because they said they had no legal authority to arrest them!  This is the European response to piracy!  If you can't arrest the pirates, then why can't you at least shoot them on the spot rather than catch and release them?  The Dutch literally set them free because they were "not Dutch" - and thus not within their mandate.  So, if NATO forces confront pirates, all the pirates have to do is give up to be set free to do it again.

Meanwhile, Europeans are talking about how to send more aid to the area so that young people in Somalia won't be tempted to go into piracy.  This is not a joke!  They actually believe this nonsense.  What on earth is going to reward them as much as going into piracy if there are millions in ransoms to be paid by the shipowners and insurers, and virtually no consequences for these crimes?  This is like expecting Afghans to grow low-value subsistence crops instead of high-value weeds like opium.

April 14, 2009 - Ending Somali piracy: few options for US forces - Comment: the usual European liberal hand-wringing about having few good options other than to just pay off the pirates.  This has been their approach since the days of Thomas Jefferson.  Even in that era, with far more limited military capabilities at our disposal, we stood up to piracy and didn't agonize over it as a legal or human rights dilemma, or blame it on the impoverished societies from which the pirates came.  We killed pirates. We didn't agonize over the insurance companies, valuable cargo, or the American lives lost.  We took the fight to the shores of Tripoli, and even though it didn't end piracy, the pirates chose other targets who were still willing to pay bribes and ransoms, rather than American ships.  Today, relatively few ships may be of American registry or have American crew members, but global trade is critical, as is continued respect for the superiority of our naval capabilities in a dangerous world.  We don't need to try the Clinton approach to nation-building in Somalia again.  We just need to kill enough pirates to make it clear that this is not a viable business model for them, no matter how bad life is in Somalia.
Europe, EU and NATO -  regional news headlines, links, and comments
October 20, 2010 - French strike to save 'birthright' of privileges
June 27, 2009 - European leaders mark Iron Curtain fall in Hungary - Comment:  This outcome was not inevitable.  It required strong leadership - unlike what we have today.

NATO and Russia resume military ties - 10 months after the Russian invasion of Georgia

Russia news headline links and comments
December 10, 2010 - Gorbachev warns about Russia's stability
November 18, 2010 - More bad news for new START - Russia nuclear treaty in jeopardy during lame duck session
November 17, 2010 - Obama enlists big guns to help save nuclear treaty
November 16, 2010 - GOP senator deals setback to nuclear treaty
November 16, 2010 - Obama's hopes for Russia nuclear pact fade  Biden says nuclear pact failure would endanger US
October 27, 2010 - Lugar: Fallout from election could derail vote on START treaty - It is one thing to sign laws without reading them, and quite another to sign treaties.  Laws can be easily amended or repealed when their flaws become obvious.  Bad treaties don't go away.
June 24, 2010 - White House points to success as Medvedev visits - What success?
March 20, 2010 - Thousands rally in Russia against economic policy
December 3, 2009 - Putin: Will consider running for president in 2012 - Comment:  Why am I not surprised?  Does anybody seriously think that he won't?
November 26, 2009 - Putin in France to further energy and military goals - Comment:  Note the gas pipeline deal, rather than just the naval deal.  Russia and China are investing in military, energy, and other international power at the same time as Obama is making apologies for America.
November 24, 2009 - France shows off cutting-edge navy ship in Russia - Comment:  Note the explanation about how long it took them to land forces in Georgia.  Nothing for Obama to worry about?  He's got to focus on his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech about making the world safe for narcissists.
November 21, 2009 - Russia president criticizes ruling party over vote - Comment:  Meanwhile, Putin launches the Russian version of "cash for clunkers".  In a time of economic crisis, he can't afford to be perceived as less socialist than Obama.  They need to go back to buying loyalty the old way, through payoffs and intimidation of opposition, rather than by overtly rigging election results.
November 14, 2009 - US sees progress on arms control talks with Russia - Comment:  Why is the December 10 deadline so important? Just because of the Nobel prize? This is an extremely important negotiation - they need to take the time to do it right, and not cave in just to get another photo op for Obama to pretend that he is doing something good.
November 5, 2009 - Who built Berlin Wall?  Most Russians don't know - Comment:  All the history education that fits the party line (see other stories below).  On the other hand, how many Americans know the history of the Berlin Wall today?  Obama has even declined to go to the ceremony for the 30th anniversary of the end of the Berlin Wall - even though he was glad to visit adoring German crowds back in his election campaign.  Maybe he doesn't want to celebrate the end of statist tyranny while his own ambitious agenda is falling apart under the pressure of citizens despite any deals among political leaders.
October 25, 2009 - From ecological Soviet-era ruin, a sea is reborn - Comment:  The destruction of the Aral Sea is a timely reminder of the damage which statists can do, and how hard it can be to reverse what they impose. Why don't they talk about this in Copenhagen before they unite to make the world much worse for the alleged greater good?
October 25, 2009 - Opposition activist killed in southern Russia - Comment: Declare official outrage and take action to round up all the usual suspects.  Haven't we seen this movie before?
October 19, 2009 - AP Analysis: Washington's overplayed hand on Russia - Comment:  That's putting it very charitably.  How about "Obama and Clinton both conned by Russian leaders"
October 13, 2009 - Russian FM: Threats of Iran sanctions won't work - Comment:  Now that Putin's hand is stronger after the latest election, and Obama is demonstrably weak, why would Russia cooperate?
October 12, 2009 - Putin's party sweeps local polls, opposition alleges fraud - Comment:  Don't hold your breath for Obama to express any "deep concern" about this.  Congratulations are more likely.
August 31, 2009 - Putin blames WWII on West's deal with Hitler - Comment:  Note the May 19 story below about enforcing state control of history.  That's why Russians actually believe things like this.
August 26, 2009 - Russia admits mystery ship may have had suspect cargo - Comment:  Not a lot of transparency in Putin's Russia these days.  It may not be nukes, but this looks very suspicious.  It looks as though they are stalling while trying to get everyone on the same page with a plausible cover story.
August 11, 2009 - Thais reject US request to extradite arms smuggler - Comment:  Did the US bungle this extradition case?  Deliberately, perhaps?  Or did Russian influence affect the outcome?
August 11, 2009 - Chechen activist, husband found dead in car trunk - Comment:  Isn't it remarkable how these atrocities against government critics consistently go unsolved in Russia?
August 8, 2009 - Medvedev: Defeat of Georgia showed Russian might - Comment:  Yes, attitudes toward Russia have changed.  As in the Cold War, there is less trust about their intentions.  Is the mark of a great nation the power to intimidate neighbors? Even in Europe people are waking up to the dangers of reliance on Russia.
July 16, 2009 - US 'disturbed and saddened' by Russian killing - Comment:  One week after Obama met with her organization as well as Putin, who she criticized.  Is Putin testing him?  If so, this reply fails.  Mourners weep for slain Russian human rights activist
July 15, 2009 - Russian activist abducted in Chechnya found slain - Comment:  Recent Putin critic.
May 22, 2009 - Russia, EU spar over energy supplies at summit - Comment:  Russia clearly intends to keep using energy dependence to apply pressure on the EU and others.
May 19, 2009 - Russian commission to guard against false history - Comment:   This is where tyranny leads - making it a crime (again) to disagree with the official version of events.  How do liberal academics feel about this?  Where is the outrage about the need for "transparency" or investigations?
May 9, 2009 - Russia displays military might on Victory Day - Comment:  Largest show of force since Soviet times as NATO does training in Georgia.  Did you ever notice that we don't celebrate victory any longer?  No more V-E day, V-J day, etc.  At least the Russians still know what they want.  How many Americans even respect Memorial Day as more than a day off from work, or the start of summer?
Sweeping problems under the bear rug, Soviet style.   Freedom of the press in Putin's Russia.
G20 Summit / EU economic news headline links and comments
October 23, 2010 - G20 summit moves closer to agreement on currencies
October 22, 2010 - Currencies center stage as G20 gets underway
June 24, 2010 - Leaders differ on how to nurture a global recovery
June 24, 2010 - G20 leaders facing worries about rising deficits - Really?
Financial Times - The Economists' Forum column by Martin Wolf - February 25, 2009 - "What Obama should tell the leaders of the Group of 20".  He suggests a letter and getting more engaged now to chart a different course - before EU bureaucrats drive the London summit agenda in the wrong direction.  See our thoughts about the G20 Summit in April 2009 and recent World Economic Forum - "While you were sleeping"  These initiatives are still moving forward quietly, and should be alarming.
November 6, 2009 - G20 officials seek support for future growth - Comment:  Since when is it in our interest to participate in an international "collectivist" peer review process among developed countries to coordinate economic policies?  They tried that in the USSR - and it failed miserably.   The solution to achieve growth isn't for governments to try to manipulate global markets.  It's robust competition, rather than a rigged market in which unaccountable international bureaucrats try to pick the winners and losers, thereby making subservience and corruption the key to success rather than performance.
September 25, 2009 - G-20 leaders push global economic reforms Friday

Costly and really brief: Is G-20 really worth it? - Comment:  No.

September 21, 2009 - Clout fading, US vies to set G-20 meetings agenda - Comment:  As in the London G20 summit, European and other foreign bureaucrats seem to be shaping the agenda while it remains difficult to even discern a coherent summit strategy out of the White House.  Is that the strategy?  Is Obama's strategy to just let others take the lead, and go along with whatever damage they inflict on us?
September 8, 2009 - G-20 Pittsburgh Summit National Press Club Briefing
September 5, 2009 - G-20 pledge continued economic stimulus - Comment:  Do we really want the US government to be collaborating with foreign governments to impose salary controls on bankers?  That is a very slippery slope.  Why should Americans and Europeans or others face the same salary cap rules?  This expands government power and control over industry, and such practices lead to greater corruption.    Meanwhile, blind faith commitment to the "stimulus" plan goes on.
September 4, 2009 - European countries call on G-20 to tackle bonuses - Comment:  Pay attention to the preparations for the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh.
News update - February 22, 2009  - EU leaders back sweeping financial regulations - Comment: The EU is moving forward with Angela Merkel's vision of global financial market regulation as we warned during the World Economic Forum event in Davos in January.  Watch out for the European Council meeting in March and the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in April, which Obama will attend in London.
United Kingdom news headline links and comments
June 4, 2010 - Royal whoops: US admits queen's birthday blunder - Maybe the Queen should give Hillary a "reset" button as a gift from the new Tory PM, showing that they want to change the relationship back to the special one we had for decades before Obama and all his czars took over.
May 24, 2010 - UK government details spending cuts
May 3, 2010 - Too posh? Class may be an issue in UK's May 6 vote
March 29, 2010 - UK: Conservatives tackle taxes for election
January 18, 2010 - Britain's Conservative Party goes back to basics
October 11, 2009 - Nasty, or nice? New mood among UK's Conservatives - Comment:  Is reaching out to gays really that important an issue for the Tories?
June 3, 2009 - UK's Brown struggles to weather expenses scandal - Comment:  Meanwhile, the expense reports of US House members are now being made more available as damage control.
June 3, 2009 - Fourth UK minister quits, dealing blow to PM - Comment:  Very little attention was paid here in the media to the resignation of Jacqui Smith, who had the audacity to put conservative US talk radio host Michael Savage on a list of extremists / terrorists who would not be allowed into the UK.  As the UK headline said, rats deserting a sinking ship.  Daniel Hannan ripped into Brown recently.
May 26, 2009 - UK opposition leader Cameron outlines reforms - Comment:  Imagine the level of frustration at being almost completely stuck with a government for 5 years, despite poor performance.  American voters should be grateful for the opportunity to quickly reverse the mistake in 2010.
May 19, 2009 - UK Commons speaker steps down over expense scandal - Comment:  Taking the fall in an effort to get this scandal to blow over.  Labour's reign would seem to be in growing jeopardy.
May 18, 2009 - British lawmakers call on Commons speaker to quit - Comment:  Wish we could get a new Speaker here, too.  The damage being done here is more than fudging on expense reports.
May 5, 2009 - UK bars 22 alleged extremists, including show host - Comment: This includes conservative American radio talk show host Michael Savage.  This is almost as monumentally stupid as what Homeland Security did recently here.  In their zeal to not offend Muslim extremists, they have padded their list of extremists with various people whose dissenting views are unwelcome in the UK, thus confusing incitement to perpetrate hate crimes and terrorism with freedom of speech.  Meanwhile, Homeland Security hastily withdrew their "Domestic Extremism Lexicon" after well-deserved criticism.

Will Obama perhaps reciprocate by blocking any visa application by European MP Daniel Hannan?  After all, his blunt criticism of Gordon Brown and similar Obama policies makes him a radical extremist, too.

China news headline links and comments
March 7, 2011 - China challenges US predominance in Asia-Pacific
January 9, 2011 - Gates says China moving fast on new weapons -  Pay attention.
December 28, 2010 - China changes rare earth quota basis, cut by 35%
December 28, 2010 - China cuts rare earth export quotas, U.S. concerned - Economic pressure?  Not the first time.  Remember that they did this with Japan in late September.
December 23, 2010 - US sees 'troubling trend' of Chinese economic intervention
November 24, 2010 - Vatican denounces China for bishop ordination - Strange provocation
November 16, 2010 - Chinese missiles can ravage U.S. bases
October 20, 2010 - China paper blasts Western-style democracy
October 20, 2010 - China's rapid growth slows further
October 20, 2010 - Diplomats: China tries to block UN Sudan report
September 28, 2010 - US seeks to ease Chinese fears - Should we fear them, instead?
September 28, 2010 - Lawmakers urge Obama challenge China on clean energy
September 28, 2010 - China lifts rare earth export ban to Japan - after flexing new power
September 25, 2010 - The Message of Tokyo's Kowtow - strategic threat?
September 25, 2010 - China rises and rises, yet still gets foreign aid
August 18, 2010 - iPhone-maker rallies workers after China suicides - Foxconn morale-boosting exercise
July 2, 2010 - China installs 40,000 security cameras in Urumqi - Big brother, for July 5.  Remember the iconic Apple ad with the 1984 "big brother" scene, throwing the hammer through the screen? It may have been aimed at IBM's PC market, but the Uighurs probably need to find similarly creative ways to call attention to their plight. Instead of street violence, they need to expose the repression in non-violent ways. Like the repression of protests in Iran, or the current stories about the "disappeared" in Argentina's past, tyranny by authoritarian regimes may be brutally kept secret or continue for a long time (as in North Korea), but eventually becomes unsustainable once exposed effectively to people who lose their fear of repression and decide to stand up for liberty. That doesn't mean all protests are by good people with legitimate issues, but the people can usually figure out which side to trust, and which to fear. Exposing the truth is an essential first step.
June 19, 2010 - China to allow more exchange rate flexibility - Watch the other hand.  Is this an election year gambit to help Obama a bit? If so, is there a quid pro quo to come, even though it is ostensibly a unilateral move by China?
May 24, 2010 - China backs exchange rate reforms but no timetable - Note that the Chinese are pushing the Obama administration to lift export controls on "dual use technology", such as high technology of potential military value.  Meanwhile, they're dodging the currency manipulation issue.
May 18, 2010 - US senators blast Arizona-China rights comparison - Michael Posner has been a loose cannon on deck in relations with China from the start.  A complete ideological disaster.  The fact that he was confirmed by the Senate just shows how urgently it needs to be changed.
May 10, 2010 - Leader of China's restive Xinjiang region says security remains key amid new policy direction - Other reports indicate that 140 Uighurs may have been killed recently.  In any case, the regime still seems determined to crack down with force against any protests, and to stifle any outside coverage of the news (Internet service blocked, reporter access limited, etc.).
March 13, 2010 - Economy the focus as China political session ends
March 13, 2010 - China's new generation picky about factory jobs
March 13, 2010 - China to bid on US high-speed rail projects
March 12, 2010 - China government advisers urge steady economy
January 11, 2010 - China says missile defense system test successful
December 10, 2009 - Fast-growing Christian churches crushed in China - Comment:  So when is Obama going to address this issue in his contacts with Chinese leaders, instead of just pleading with them to follow his lead on climate change and not stop loaning us money?  Oh, I forget - he won't want to intervene in their internal affairs (unless in Honduras, or perhaps to pressure Israel?)
November 25, 2009 - State-run magazine reports on black jails in China
November 23, 2009 - China activist who spoke out on quake gets 3 years - Comment:  At least they were polite enough not to announce this during Obama's visit, as he tried to avoid embarrassing them by not saying much about human rights issues. So much for his speech about being more open to criticism (which was given to a rigged audience of party supporters, and then censored in China)
November 22, 2009 - Shock: SNL takes on Obama in earnest - entertaining spoof of the China trip
November 19, 2009 - AP NewsBreak: China holds, mistreats US geologist - sending a message?
November 17, 2009 - AP Analysis: Obama's China trip shows power shifting - Comment:  At least there is a little recognition that leaders in China may have a different perception of the way forward in this relationship.  In short, bow deeper to them, not to Japan and South Korea or others.
November 17, 2009 - Obama, Hu vow cooperation but produce few deals - Comment:   Why is the reporting all about Obama, with very little insight into Hu's objectives and what Chinese leaders wanted?  Note the comments at the end about their plans for Copenhagen summit.
November 16, 2009 - Chinese censors block Obama's call to free the Web - Comment: Remember in 2010 what Obama said about our freedom to criticize him on the Internet, even when it irks him.
November 16, 2009 - Obama prods China to take global role on climate - Comment:  Is this really the most important issue in our relationship with China?  It's the economy, stupid.  China knows that.
November 9, 2009 - China executes 9 suspects over July ethnic riots - Comment:  The European Union and United States have evidently decided that repression in China is just an internal matter - and not even something about which they should express serious concern or seek any changes by the government.  If this is the policy, then we should send all of the Uighur prisoners at Guantanamo back to China, and not worry about what China may do to them.  Why are those Uighurs more worthy of protection?
October 28, 2009 - Time to end 'on-off' US-China ties: Pentagon - Comment: Preparations for Obama visit November 15-18
October 28, 2009 - Envoy: No China-US climate pact from Obama visit - Comment: Still trying to get a deal with China as a stick to beat Congress with in the effort to pass cap and trade.
September 30, 2009 - China's 60th anniversary stirs pride, also unease - Comment:  Something else to worry about.  While Obama exudes weakness at every opportunity, China is showing off the military power in which they have been investing heavily for many years now.
September 21, 2009 - Clout fading, US vies to set G-20 meetings agenda
September 21, 2009 - China says military arsenal comparable with West - Comment:  This news coincides with the UN General Assembly and G20 summit this week.  Watch the October 1 show of force.
September 21, 2009 - China's military power takes 'quantum leap': defence minister
September 21, 2009 - AP: UN climate chief says China poised to lead - Comment:  This will provide political cover for the Obama administration to do more harm to the US economy by pushing the cap and trade legislation forward this fall in connection with the Copenhagen summit talks.  China needs to clean up the environmental nightmare which it has created in recent years, but that doesn't mean that the United States should adopt the suicidal cap and trade proposals.  It's a domestic issue for China, just at the USA adopted various environmental policies as a domestic policy decision in recent decades.

September 10, 2009 - Top US official: Climate bill urgently needed - Comment: Pay attention to what is being done to replace the Kyoto agreement in the Copenhagen summit this December.  Special envoy Todd Stern (bio here) has been leading the State Department discussions with China and India behind the scenes in recent months.

September 9, 2009 - US House Speaker: World can learn from China on climate - AFP version of the above story.  She's clueless. Watch out for what happens in Copenhagen this December. They will be telling many more fairy tales as that approaches. Some may believe them, but many Americans are waking up to the threat. Pay attention to the G20 summit in Pittsburgh this month. Our liberty can be eroded by stealth through informal agreements between governments and regulatory revisions which don't require Senate review and consent. Watch for regulations to be tweaked quietly behind the scenes to push the environmental agenda if it attracts public resistance.
See this Sept 9 press release:  Pelosi Remarks Before Meeting With Chairman Wu Bangguo of the National People's Congress of China  Note the preparations for the Copenhagen summit.
August 25, 2009 - Chinese president visits restive Xinjiang region - Comment:  Crackdown follow-up.
July 18, 2009 - Report: Group tied to al-Qaida threatens China - Comment:  A new target?  Perhaps this is intended to provoke even more extreme Chinese repression in order to expand the crisis and thereby try to grow al-Qaida influence in the region and gain sympathy again from disillusioned financial supporters.
July 14, 2009 - China city tense after police shooting kills 2
July 13, 2009 - China eases security as Urumqi gradually reopens
July 12, 2009 - China raises injured toll from riots to 1,680
July 11, 2009 - Uighurs dispute China's breakdown of riot dead
July 8, 2009 - China tries new openness with foreign media - Comment:  "new openness"?  State propaganda and a controlled press is now OK as an alternative to facing a news blackout?
July 8, 2009 - Columns of troops pour into China's restive west - Comment:  Show of force.  Note that Hu Jintao left the G8 summit in Italy to return home and deal with this uprising.

Chinese troops flood streets after riots - later version of the story

July 7, 2009 - Armed mobs spread ethnic strife in China's west - Comment:  So how are those Uighurs from Guantanamo doing these days in their new island homes?  Note the government crackdown on Twitter and other networking or communications channels, as with the Iran protests.  Has Obama expressed his "deep concern" about this situation yet?  Will he meddle in it, as in Honduras?
June 24, 2009 - Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo placed under arrest - Comment:  Clearly Nancy Pelosi's fawning visit didn't have much influence on this case.  The crackdown continues.
June 2, 2009 - China clamps down ahead of Tiananmen anniversary - Comment:  Blocking social networking sites and cracking down on dissent again, 20 years later, to keep "heavenly peace".
June 2, 2009 - China, US to resume high-level, annual discussions - Comment: No mention of the Chinese laughing at Geithner's assertion that their US investments are safe.
May 31, 2009 - Tiananmen: A battle of remembering vs. forgetting - Comment: 20 years later.
May 31, 2009 - Geithner calls for closer economic ties with China - Comment:  If business leaders were worried about the trade deficit and currency manipulation in China in the past as a problem, look at the situation now that China has been given more leverage through reckless spending.
May 30, 2009 - Geithner wields little leverage in China talks - Comment: The story mentions that China holds $768 billion in US debt (as of March), but neglects to mention whether that is increasing or decreasing.  With so much new debt being created by the exponential growth in spending programs, is China still willing to invest in our debt?  That's why Geithner is now going to China "hat in hand".
May 9, 2009 - Government blunts activism set off by China quake - Comment:  A good case study of how authoritarian regimes respond to the threat posed by volunteers and non-governmental social organizations which can spread the dangerous idea of not relying on central government for everything.
March 28, 20090 - China challenges US global financial leadership - Comment: Read this carefully.  China is boldly asserting the superiority of their one party, central state planning model.  Ahead of the G20 summit, it is pushing for more global regulatory powers and a global currency.
India and Sri Lanka news headline links and comments
December 5, 2009 - Communist rebels gain strength in rural India
June 1, 2009  -Sri Lanka says it's poised for economic takeoff - Comment:  Government pushing for development after recently claiming to have defeated the Tamil Tiger insurgency of the last 25 years.
April 24, 2009 - UN says nearly 6,500 civilians killed in Sri Lanka - Comment:  Will the Tamil Tiger insurgency finally be defeated?  Perhaps civilians are finally turning against them.  What's Obama's policy?
Iraq news headline links and comments
January 14, 2011 - Iraq's oil expansion plans face major challenges - Decades of investment in corruption and the military instead of modern oil industry infrastructure will take time to reverse.
June 4, 2010 - US general: most al-Qaida leaders in Iraq killed - More progress.
March 29, 2010 - Prominent Iraq politicians fail to win seats - Comment:  The ability to vote for individual representatives, rather than just political parties, yields some surprises.  Could it be that some of the self-selected party leaders in Baghdad are out of touch with their constituents?  Perhaps we have trained them too well, so that they are now as clueless as our representatives in Washington.
October 18, 2009 - Leaving Iraq ends US mission veiled in ambivalence - Comment:  Thank you. The fact that the US news media has paid very little attention to the improving situation in Iraq in recent months is an interesting sign of progress. They aren't even paying much attention to Afghanistan. They're more focused on whether the situation in Afghanistan, and the indecision shown by Obama, is bad for Obama and the rest of his agenda. Meanwhile, the real progress which the new government in Pakistan has been making is also largely ignored or denigrated - after it was repeatedly alleged by our news media to be too corrupt or incompetent to do anything soon after it was elected.  While Obama has dithered and made speeches, Pakistan has accomplished a lot to confront and defeat the radicals in just a few months.
October 14, 2009 - Government says 85,000 Iraqis killed in 2004-08
August 30, 2009 - American commander: US on the road out of Iraq - Comment:  Massive logistics.
August 26, 2009 - Powerful Iraqi Shiite leader dies in Iran - Comment:  The key question still seems to be whether there is rising Iranian influence in Iraq as the elections approach.
August 24, 2009 - Shiite groups announce new alliance minus Iraqi PM - Comment:  Another new  development which suggests Iranian meddling behind the scenes.  Just another remarkable coincidence?  Interesting timing, so soon after the major attack below, which served to discredit the current leadership.
August 19, 2009 - Iraq: Wave of Baghdad blasts kills at least 95 - Comment:  Testing the Iraqi security forces and trying to stir up violence again.  Reminiscent of Iranian terror tactics in Lebanon in the 1980s.  Who stands to gain from attacks on the Finance and Foreign Ministries?  Does al-Qaida really have much interest in trying to "undermine public trust in the Shiite-led Iraqi government".  This seems more like brutal intimidation by Iran's hard-line regime to the Iraqi politicians who haven't been willing to follow their lead.
August 17, 2009 - US commander in Iraq wants troops in disputed land - Comment:  Don't assume that it is over.  The terrorists will keep looking for weaknesses and rivalries to exploit.
May 26, 2009 - Army chief says US ready to be in Iraq 10 years - Comment: Misleading headline.  There's a big difference between contingency planning (having the force structure in place to be capable of sustaining prolonged deployments in the region despite other commitments and global threats) and actually planning to leave troops deployed in Iraq for another decade.  He's right in terms of Army planning, but this may create some political headaches as red meat for the liberal media and critics.
April 24, 2009 - Iraqi blasts stir worries of insurgent push - Comment: Of course, there's no suggestion that Obama's recent weakness towards terrorists and tyrants has anything to do with this new offensive.
Zimbabwe headline links and comments
March 2, 2011 - Zimbabwe to seize foreign businesses - running out of money to steal
January 2, 2011 - Visitors snap up 100 trillion Zimbabwe bank notes - Adventures in hyperinflation and economic failure
April 20, 2009 - Zimbabwe admits raiding private bank accounts - Comment:  Where tyranny leads.
US military capabilities - news headline links and comments
June 1, 2009 - Gates: More missile defense spending possible - Comment:  We might decide in the future to plan to close the barn door again, after the horses are all gone.  How reassuring.
April 6, 2009 - Big cuts seen for F-22, other big weapons programs - Comment:  Unilateral commitment to long-term military weakness.  Carter and Clinton are probably proud of Obama.  This administration may weaken the US military so much that their legacies will seem to be less significant.  The F-22 program is just one part of this story.  There's far more to it - including the lack of long-term strategic threat assessments as other countries continue to invest heavily in their militaries.  Veterans really need to look into this plan, as do other Americans, and protest to Congress.
February 24, 2009 - No terror talk: Homeland Security head's new tone - Comment:  Yes, why can't we all be friends, like Carter and Hamas?  They all want peace - the piece called Israel, that is.  We were all so much happier before 9/11 reminded us that the world remains a very dangerous place.  Remember - "It's the economy, stupid"?  All this foreign stuff distracts from the domestic power agenda.
United Nations and IAEA news headline links and comments
August 25, 2009 - Diplomats: Iran's enrichment program stagnates - Comment:  The speculation is that Iran is running out of uranium ore just because it isn't easy to legally import under the sanctions now in place.  On the other hand, why should we be confident that they can't acquire what they need through their black market connections?  Can we really trust this IAEA skepticism when so much in Iran is hidden?
August 20, 2009 - Outgoing IAEA chief has tough choice on Iran - Comment:  Watch for this report to be punted beyond November, as it has been since last September.  How about a Nobel for appeasement?
July 3, 2009 - US welcomes Amano as new head of IAEA - Comment: see May 26 story below
July 2, 2009 - Japan happy that Amano elected next IAEA chief, vows backup
July 1, 2009 - WFP says funding shortfall for NKorea food aid - Comment:  As Kim threatens more missile tests and arms proliferation in defiance of the UN, the UN worries about giving him more food aid.  That makes N Korea even more reliant on food and energy from China.  Is this a problem for us?
May 26, 2009 - Candidates to head nuclear agency make their case - Comment: While North Korea tests another nuclear weapon, the IAEA can't even reach agreement on picking a new leader.  To avoid any risk of controversy in their selection, none are addressing any of the most obvious threats.  Is it any wonder that North Korea, Iran, and others make a mockery of the IAEA process, as Saddam did?
March 11, 2009 - In Congress, UN chief calls US 'deadbeat' donor - Comment: Recall what Gordon Brown said at the World Economic Forum about "a breach of the promise of global prosperity".  Maybe the time has come for some severe budget cuts and job losses at the UN, too.  Reality check.
March 5, 2009 - AP Interview: Gorbachev criticizes Putin's party - Comment:  Note the comments about the role of the G-20, as well as what Vaclav Havel said about Gorbachev's legacy.
March 5, 2009 - A surer Assad reaches out to US to aid needy Syria - Comment:  Talk is cheap.  It remains to be seen whether Syria is really doing more than hoping to exploit weak US leadership.
March 1, 2009 - Iran has fissile materials for bomb - Comment:  Maybe, maybe not yet.  Time is clearly running out as the Supreme Council and the barking mad dog out front keep stalling for time.
Venezuela news headline links and comments
December 29, 2010 - AP source: US revokes Venezuelan envoy's visa
December 27, 2010 - Chavez bids critical farewell to adversary Perez - Chavez may be succeeding at his goal of creating a classless society.  He shows no class at all.  He even has the audacity to criticize the "egotistical" style of government of his predecessor.
December 25, 2010 - Venezuelan ex-president Carlos Andres Perez dies
December 23, 2010 - Venezuelan students protest against university law
December 18, 2010 - US, Venezuela at odds on ambassador, Chavez powers
September 26, 2010 - Chavez fights for control in congressional vote
September 9, 2009 - Venezuela's Chavez wants 'union' with ally Belarus - Comment:  With friends like these ....  Did Obama miss apologizing to Belarus for something yet?  Bring back the USSR?
September 6, 2009 - Ahmadinejad, Chavez back 'revolutionary' nations
September 5, 2009 - Tens of thousands protest Chavez in Venezuela  - protesting indoctrination in schools and also Chavez opponents, supporters rally in Venezuela
September 4, 2009 - Thousands around world rally against Hugo Chavez - Comment:  Congratulations.  Despite the state media control in Venezuela, activists are figuring out how to use Internet tools like Facebook to organize opposition to this tyrant.

Too bad that virtually none of the news media in the United States has paid any attention to this story - like our own Tea Parties or the protests in Iran.  Are they on the side of the tyrants (like Obama), or do they just think that any such resistance is futile and therefore not newsworthy?

August 25, 2009 - Chavez: Venezuela ready to sever ties to Colombia - Comment:  Will Obama back away from the base deal?
March 5, 2009 - Chavez orders expropriation of Cargill rice plant - Comment: This is where populist socialism leads - expropriation of businesses, regulatory shakedowns, unchecked power, etc.
Honduras news headline links and comments
March 4, 2010 - Clinton urges recognition of Honduras government - Comment:  Trying to quietly put this foreign policy debacle behind Obama, who never should have cut off relations last year.
December 2, 2009 - Honduran Congress votes against restoring Zelaya -  Comment:  So much for Obama trying to save face after reflexively backing the leftist friend of Chavez.
November 30, 2009 - Honduras hopes to move past coup with election - updated - Initial reports suggest that Porfirio Lobo will win with a larger voter turnout than the last election.  The voters in Honduras don't seem to agree with Obama's policy to try to reinstate the leftist Zelaya, even if just temporarily until January 27 so that Obama can try to save face for this foreign policy debacle. He has nobody to blame but himself for this mistake. He reflexively backed the wrong side.
November 29, 2009 - Honduras hopes to move past coup with election - Comment:  Let's see whether the voters in Honduras agree with Obama's policy to try to reinstate the leftist Zelaya, even if just temporarily until January 27 so that Obama can try to save face for this foreign policy debacle.
August 25, 2009 - US Embassy in Honduras to stop issuing most visas - Comment:  Ridiculous move.
August 19, 2009 - Latin leftists fear a Honduras coup domino effect - Comment:  Not to mention American leftists, who are starting to fear that they will be voted out of power at the next election since they don't have the luxury of being able to change the U.S. Constitution so easily to perpetuate their rule.
July 4, 2009 - Honduras leaves OAS after body decries coup - Comment: Smart move!  Let the OAS try to explain why it was trying to expel Honduras while recently preparing to welcome Cuba.  Beat the leftists at their own game of exploiting populist nationalism when facing foreign pressure.
July 3, 2009 - Honduras rejects OAS appeal to restore president - Comment: How ironic is this in the context of the timid Obama response to media arrests and ruthless repression of protesters in Iran?

"On Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras issued a statement expressing "deep concern over restrictions imposed on certain fundamental rights" by Micheletti's government, including a curfew in force since Sunday, and "reports of intimidation and censorship against certain individuals and media outlets."

July 3, 2009 - Interim Honduran leader hints open to early vote - Comment:  Smart tactical move.
July 2, 2009 - Opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor - A  'coup' in Honduras? Nonsense
July 2, 2009 - SC senator defends ouster of Honduran president - Comment: Jim DeMint finally speaks up.  Look for his new book, "Saving Freedom".
July 2, 2009 - OAS chief says sanctions likely in Honduras - Comment:  Hopefully they will be as ineffective as elsewhere.  AP Analysis: US leverage small in Honduran coup  Good.  Back off.
July 1, 2009 - Honduras governments' isolation grows after coup - Comment:  Where are all the liberal pundits now who always allege that foreign pressure will just stiffen the nationalistic resolve of the people to resist such pressure, and thereby make a conflict more difficult to resolve by negotiation?  Suddenly everybody is in favor of ultimatums and threats?  Why?  Because Honduras isn't a threat?  Do different rules apply when left-wing leaders fail to perpetuate their own grip on power as intended?
July 1, 2009 - OAS gives 3-day deadline to Honduran coup leaders - Comment:  Is the OAS now going to make threats?  On what authority?  Isn't this internationalist meddling in internal affairs?

Honduran coup leader to AP: Zelaya won't return - Comment:  But don't let him stay here.

June 30, 2009 - AP Analysis: Obama's swift stand on Honduran coup - Comment: Trying to spin the Obama response as a bold new approach to Latin America, without even asking the question of whether active support for Zelaya's return now is in our national interests, even if we don't like the general idea of military coups and didn't encourage or support this one.  Why was he silent for so long about the repression in Iran, but swift to denounce the coup in Honduras?  Aren't we meddling in the internal affairs of Honduras by insisting that Zelaya be returned to power?

Think about it.  If the military in North Korea were to launch a coup to oust Kim, even though we had nothing to do with it, would we insist on the restoration of Kim as the legitimate ruler?

Likewise, suppose that the Revolutionary Guards in Iran switched allegiance from Khamenei to Rafsanjani or maybe even brought back Montazeri by surprise.  Would we insist on restoration of Khamenei and Ahmedinejad as the legitimate rulers of Iran, since we have obviously avoided making any official statements to acknowledge the apparent election fraud (now and in the past)?

Zelaya was trying to perpetuate his own power by changing the constitution of Honduras (as his buddy Chavez has done in Venezuela).  In this scenario, why wouldn't Obama take a similar line to the one he had for Iran, and say that it's an internal affair in which we have no intention to meddle?

Why are we meddling on behalf of the restoration of a regime?  Do we really want to set a clear precedent in Latin America that regime change by military coups (even ones in which we did not encourage such a regime change) will never be accepted as legitimate, even if the new government is more favorable to our interests or more popular than the one removed by the military?

What signal does this send to opponents to tyranny?  As shown in many countries, sometimes the repressive power of a government can only be stopped by their military refusing to support it.  Think back to the rigged elections in Zimbabwe as another example.  Mugabe's military might be very unlikely to risk giving up their special status, but if their role is to crush any opposition rather than to defend the rights of the people of Zimbabwe to free and fair elections, should we really be sending a signal that no coup by domestic leaders (not foreign intervention) will be legitimate, even if it has the effect of quickly restoring a constitutional democratic process by removing a tyrant?  In other words, note that this Honduras coup wasn't designed to put the military in charge forever.  On the contrary, it removed a leader who was unwilling to accept his constitutional term limit.

To put this in perspective, suppose that Obama initiated a populist campaign to ignore the amendment which limits him to two terms in office, and used all the power at his disposal to persuade party leaders in Congress to do this.  Would this violate his oath of office to defend and uphold the Constitution?  Should he have the power to easily change it to his own liking?  That may seem absurd to us, but that's because our Constitution is - by design - not easy to change.

Some countries make it far too easy for tyrants to simply change the rules to suit themselves.  Should we really be defending all "legal" tyrants?  Why not let the Hondurans sort this one out?

June 29, 2009 - Leaders from Obama to Chavez blast Honduras coup - Comment:  Unlike the comments by Susan Rice about Iran yesterday, political legitimacy is suddenly an issue.  Tyrants of the world, rejoice.  Regime change is no longer of interest.  Empty rhetoric is back.
June 29. 2009 - Ousted president, replacement duel for Honduras - Comment:  Obama has now joined EU leaders, as well as Chavez (close friend of the deposed leader), in denouncing the first military coup in the region in many years.  The last such attempt was against Chavez.
June 28, 2009 - Honduran military ousts president ahead of vote - Comment:  Deja vu.  Obama is "deeply concerned" again while waiting to see what happens next in this latest coup.
Eastern Europe news headline links and comments
November 17, 2009 - Czechs celebrate fall of communism 20 years ago - Comment:  Note that it did not fall quietly.  The initial response, as usual, was brutal repression to try to intimidate the protesters.  The people won, but the transition from statist rule has not satisfied everyone's expectations.
November 9, 2009 - Merkel thanks Gorbachev on Berlin Wall anniversary - Comment: Never forget how fortunate we are that this had a happy ending.  This was a very dangerous transition period for Europe.  They thanked Gorbachev, but what about Yeltsin?  What about Reagan and George HW Bush?

Meanwhile, Obama chose to skip the 20th anniversary celebration, and Hillary Clinton tried to suggest that there needed to be greater European and global unity on current issues such as climate change.  Always pushing the Obama agenda - despite the obvious failure of statist rule which is right in front of her face.  Clinton praises Germany on Berlin Wall tour 

November 5, 2009 - Who built Berlin Wall?  Most Russians don't know - Comment:  All the history education that fits the party line (see other stories below).  On the other hand, how many Americans know the history of the Berlin Wall today?  Obama has even declined to go to the ceremony for the 30th anniversary of the end of the Berlin Wall - even though he was glad to visit adoring German crowds back in his election campaign.  Maybe he doesn't want to celebrate the end of statist tyranny while his own ambitious agenda is falling apart under the pressure of citizens despite any deals among political leaders.
March 1, 2009 - Merkel, EU reject bailout for eastern Europe - Comment: EU leaders are reluctant to bail out Eastern Europe, where some even allege that this may be a new "Iron Curtain".
February 26, 2009 - Eastern Europe's fall puts Continent on edge - Comment: Story in the Christian Science Monitor with related coverage about the growing risks in Eastern Europe.
February 28, 2009 - Chechen leader imposes strict brand of Islam - Comment: Watch this risk.
Miscellaneous commentary on foreign policy or national security topics
NY Times Magazine - November 4, 2007 - "Is (His) Biography (Our) Destiny?" - Comment:  Early background piece, including Obama's approach to international relations, foreign policy issues.
While you were sleeping.  The World Economic Forum dream of global economic regulation.
Is an "awakening" strategy viable in Afghanistan, as in Iraq?  Why it may be worth at try.
Planned future topics for commentary on national security or foreign policy issues
Economic power can be lost.  Prosperity is not a birthright of Americans.  We have to earn it daily.
Chasing jobs across borders.  It's a global economy.  Deal with it.  We can compete if we try.
Lessons learned from Iraq and Iran.  Where will they be in 20-30 years?  Next year?
Lessons learned from Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Ignored local tyranny can go global.
Lessons learned from the end of the Cold War.  Unsustainable economic disparities.
Lessons learned from Japan, Korea, and the "Asian Tigers".  Industrial policies have limits.
Lessons learned from China and Taiwan.  30 years of transformation.  What now?
Lessons learned from Brazil and Zimbabwe.  Elections are not enough to prevent tyranny.
 
 

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