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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Obama and Medvedev Hold More Substantial Talks

President Obama is meeting with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev today to discuss shared political interests, including nuclear non-proliferation and if the U.S. will use Russia’s airspace to reach Afghanistan.

This meeting comes two months after the presidents committed to reducing thier respective nuclear arsenals and at a time when Russian approval of the Obama administration stands at a lowly 15%, reports the Huffington Post.

Nevertheless, the meeting is especially important as Medvedev undertakes his own pathway to peace in the Middle East. In June, Medvedv held talks with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarack to discuss a two-state solution and settlements. According to Al Jazeera, Russia will host a peace summit later this year.

— Tina Carter, Trinity ’10

17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan

February 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Fulfilling a campaign plan and meeting widespread expectation, President Obama has decided to send about 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, Politico reports.

Obama cited a direct threat to the United States from Al Qaeda as part of the rationale for his decision.

“The situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action,” Obama said, announcing the deployment in a written statement. “The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe haven along the Pakistani border.”

Obama said he approved a request from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to deploy a Marine Expeditionary Brigade later this spring, and an Army Stryker Brigade and the support forces later this summer. He said the upcoming drawdown in Iraq allows him to move more troops into Afghanistan.

Obama has announced a 60-day review of his Afghanistan policy but had to order up these forces sooner because units need to train for their new mission, and commanders want them in place ahead of the traditional fighting season as the weather improves.

This development should come as a surprise to no-one. The security situation in Afghanistan has been going downhill for some time, with the New York Times reporting a40% jump in civilian casualties in 2008. This news follows fast on (but is almost certainly not in reaction to) an opinion piece written today by Major General Jim Molan of Australia, who was chief of operations of the multinational force in Iraq in 2004-05, in which he calls for a major increase in the size of the NATO force in Afghanistan.

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A central question for the Barack Beat

January 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Where does the United States go first to shape then sustain Muslim world policy in the Barack Obama presidency?

The argument for Gaza becomes weighty if the index is human misery, misery on a level, even without international coverage (limited by Israeli censors). It is pitched most poignantly in the Will Youmans blog posted on the Palestine Center website.

As President Barack Obama assumes office, his first diplomatic overture to the region should be to immediately address Palestinian suffering in Gaza. Treating Gaza’s health care crisis with action would go a long way to address the urgent medical needs of Gazans and re-position the United States, whose image suffered tremendously due to the government’s complicity in the recent Israeli offensive, as a force of good in the region.

As Palestinian hospitals and doctors struggle to care for the wounded, any medical relief steps by the United States would help fill an urgent shortage in medical care, and send a powerful message to the Arab world. Amjad Atallah, director of the Middle East Task Force at New America, proposed early on that the United States should “do something to show everybody, the Arab world, the Muslim world, that the US cares and empathizes with the casualties that have resulted from this conflict.”[1] He recommended the United States set up a field hospital on the Egyptian-Gaza border with the International Committee of the Red Cross shuttling the injured out of Gaza.

Is Youmans, a 24/7 Palestine watcher, right? What would be the consequence of this bold act for other steps forward in hearts and minds diplomacy, with George Mitchell, he of Irish peace fame, in the driver’s seat for the Obama administration?

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