The US Foreign Policy establishment is being roiled by the revelations emerging from the Wikileaks secret document dump – or maybe it isn't. While the embarrassing Wikileaks leaks have made front pages around the globe, the reality so far is more heat than light: Italy's Silvio Berlusconi is a sleazebag, Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai is corrupt and possibly nuts, Russia's Dmitry Medvedev is playing Robin to Vladimir Putin's Batman, China is cyberspying on the world and Saudi Arabia wants the US to take down the
[Read part 1 here.] I’ve been following issues in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as usual, and fully exposed to US media coverage of the war in Afghanistan. (Note: what follows isn't a political criticism of "mainstream media, simply a personal thought regarding a subconscious biais present in American media).
I’ve now settled in DC, and my internship with the French embassy has been everything I hoped it would be, and more (by the way, the French cafeteria inside the embassy is awesome). Obviously, though, anything I write on this blog is just me and doesn’t reflect the position, thoughts or analysis of any anyone else – for better and for worse. Just to be clear, this means I do not speak for the French embassy, I do not speak for the French government, I speak for no one but me in my personal capacity as a blogger, no more, no less.
[Read part 1 here] Focused first and foremost on consolidating his power, like any political leader facing an insecure environment (the same principle applies to North Korea, who seeks a nuclear deterrent to ensure regime survival), Karzai failed to make the needs of the Afghan people his priority, as reflected in the flawed loya jirga most recently.
Deciding Afghanistan's Stability Everywhere but Afghanistan
The peace and stability of Afghanistan, the subject of numerous international, regional and national consultations, consistently shuts out the Afghan people themselves, and the recent peace jirga (June 2-4) hosted by Hamid Karzai was no exception. This calls into question the validity of the Obama administration’s approach, on more levels than one.
One of the key initiatives that President Obama announced during the State of the Union address was a freeze on federal spending increases, and one key area of spending he made a point of exempting was the defense budget. That reminded me of this essay on US military spending by the Cato Institute’s Doug Bandow. He does a fine job of listing the threats the United States faces in the world and our analyzing our ability to meet them, but one statistic jumped out at me: for 2010 the Pentagon budget will be roughly $700 billion, this, Bandow notes, is only a little more than the inf