Sunday Notes: Obama’s War, The Sunday Times’ Best 100 Blogs, and Clinton’s Asia Trip


Obama's War twn.jpg
My New America Foundation colleagues Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann have secured a full page in today’s Outlook Section of the Washington Post in a special graphic depiction full of useful data sets titled “Obama’s War.”
For a full sized pdf, click here. For more information, go to the “Obama’s War” section of the New America Foundation site.
Read through the data — which is pretty bleak all around.
In other news, The Washington Note made the list of Bryan Appleyard‘s Top 100 blogs in the Sunday Times today. Appleyard picked just six “world affairs” blogs for his roster and wrote about them:
Based in Britain, Norman Geras offers an indispensable window on the world, culling items from newspapers and blogs from around the globe so you get a regular focus on what’s caught his eye, as well as his intellectual, humane comments on what he’s found.
The blog of a high-grade Washington policy wonk, this works well as a hub — providing links to good articles elsewhere — but also as the thoughts and brief essays of a very smart man. A superb way into the mind of America.
Andrew Sullivan’s blog, like Wilkinson’s, is both a hub and a personal testament. The assumption is that you are on the journey with Sullivan, that you read him every day, as indeed millions do.
Part of Slate magazine, Mickey Kaus’s blog is a good stop for witty and non-PC politics.
Informed comment from Steve Clemons, of the New America Foundation, on DC politics and US foreign policy.
A feisty, left-leaning American news and comment blog that promises it will be “drilling behind the headlines”. Anything is game, but it naturally has its bead on the new American administration’s performance to date.
An extraordinary blog maintained by the staff of the British Embassy in Harare. It must be unique in the annals of British diplomacy — embassy officials saying what they really think (and describing the perils of going to a Zimbabwean toilet while they’re at it).

Very cool. Thank you Bryan — and I’ll offer gentle encouragement to my blogger friends at the British Embassy here in DC to begin trying to emulate their colleagues in Zimbabwe.
And for those interested, I have a piece coming out in the Daily Yomiuri about Hillary Clinton’s trip to Asia — with specific reference to Japan and what she needs to accomplish on the trip.
The paper gave it the headline: “CLINTON’S VISIT TO JAPAN / Japan must receive attention it deserves.”
But I wish it had read “Japan Needs to Work Harder to Justify American Attention it Deserves Anyway”.
My bottom line is that Japan is a globally significant stakeholder nation in world affairs and neglecting it is very wrong-headed, but Japan has to come out of its shell as well — and stop “flying beneath the radar screen” as one former Japanese Ambassador to the US told me Japan was doing on most policy matters with the US after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons


7 comments on “Sunday Notes: Obama’s War, The Sunday Times’ Best 100 Blogs, and Clinton’s Asia Trip

  1. harsha says:

    i like obama war for nation


  2. Ajaz says:

    President Obama & Afghanistan
    President Obama is getting ready to send another 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. No doubt, things are not going well in that war and Taliban have gained ground lately. But is sending more troops a wise move or will Afghanistan become for Obama what Vietnam became for Johnson – a great folly?
    After 9/11 United States had justification to attack Afghanistan because that is where Al-Qaeda planned and perpetrated attacks on New York. The initial military operation was well accomplished, but the subsequent political moves have not been savvy. United States has a fundamental deficiency that not having been a colonial power like U.K. and France, it has never had detailed ground knowledge of far off places like Afghanistan.
    The British fought the Afghans for nearly 200 years and could never gain complete control. The Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan with 140,000 troops, air planes, tanks, artillery and all kinds of weaponry and yet it lost the war and had to withdraw in shame leading to its break up. Now the U.S. and its NATO allies want to gain control of Afghanistan with just over 50,000 troops, so what are the chances of NATO’s success?
    The Afghan problem is no longer military (that purpose was achieved immediate after the US dislodged the Taliban), but it is a political problem. The ethnic Afghan make up comprises Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and other smaller groups. Pashtuns are in majority and all of the Taliban are Pashtun. Though Mr. Hamid Karzai is a Pashtun, but for many years now the US has vested major power centers with Northern Alliance players and that is not acceptable to the Pashtun majority. After Taliban were dislodged, what was needed was a unity Government with fair representation to all including majority representation to Pashtuns, but that has not happened to this day and that is the root cause of the Afghan problem.
    Some of the moderate Taliban were willing to talk to the US to become part of Afghan Government. The former Taliban Foreign Minister, Mullah Mutawakkal offered to mediate with Taliban but because of domination by Non-Pashtun Northern Alliance, both the US and Afghan Government refused to deal with the Taliban. Over time sympathies for Taliban have increased. Various Pashtun Government officials, businessmen and warlords may appear to be with Karzai Government, but they not only sympathize but also fund the Taliban’s fight because they feel it is their fight too.
    Another disastrous policy that has had enormous impact on Afghan situation is re- plantation of poppy (Taliban Government had completely eradicated it). Some brilliant minds in the CIA & Bush Administration felt that if allowed to grow poppy, Afghans will be happy and content and not fight against them! Well, the outcome has been the opposite, funds generated by sale of poppy are flowing into Taliban hands to purchase more guns and hardware to extend the fight with.
    Another significant difficulty in fighting this war is that NATO is a foreign force and Taliban are local. The populace supports the fighters the same way they supported Mujaheddin against Soviet invasion. They consider NATO forces as foreign invaders and feel justified to fight them. The Afghan Government of Hamid Karzai is impotent and considered a puppet regime despite being democratically elected. In reality Mr. Karzai’s domain does not extend beyond Kabul and the rest of the country is the wild wild west.
    The resolution of Afghan situation is in bringing all parties to the table for a dialogue including the Taliban. After all, it is their country too. Fresh elections need to be called based on fair representation for all to replace the current Northern Alliance dominated Western backed Government. Also NATO troops need to leave Afghanistan as they will always be treated as a foreign occupying force and as long they remain in Afghanistan, Taliban will fight them. They need to be replaced by UN troops drawn from a broad spectrum of nations to oversee peace.
    What Afghanistan needs more than anything else is a major reconstruction effort to bring the country out of fifteenth century into the twenty first. Instead of wasting money on fighting, a $50 billion Marshall Plan is needed to build infrastructure, educational and health institutions and capacity building. That entire Frontier region of Pakistan and the whole of Afghanistan could benefit substantially from such an effort. Taliban could be history if an honest effort is made in this direction. Just sending more troops could increase the fight and make Afghanistan into another Vietnam with no end in sight.


  3. Mr.Murder says:

    Any armed refugee(a necessity to protect your own family in a war zone- see also the Balkans crisis) is suddenly a “foreigner,” i.e. a “terrorist,” i.e. “Al Qaeda.”
    So glad we’ve simplified it. Can’t we just put up a number of people “not like us” who were justified as targets for not being like us?
    Oh, the last eight years were that way.


  4. Mr.Murder says:

    Nucor Yamato started their American steel plant in the later stages of Clinton’s Governor terms.


  5. Mr.Murder says:

    Nucor Yamato Steel, largest US producer, started as Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas. This set a pattern example of foreign competitors sourcing their plants within the US to gain better market access.
    Toyata and Nissan copied them in time.
    Japan has long been essential to our interests in Asia, providing us a base from which we can provide them military deterrent against potenital aggressors.


  6. Ben Katcher says:

    What do you think of George Friedman and others who think that U.S. and Japanese national interests will diverge sharply over the medium to long-term?


  7. Lurker says:

    Congrats on not just making the top 100 in the Sunday Times,
    Steve, but really making the top 6 of world affairs blogs. Very nice.


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