Day: November 23, 2010

Petraeus determined, Pentagon reports some progress

With David Petraeus in Paris vaunting the necessity of success in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has just issued a nuanced account of where things stood on September 30.

The Pentagon:

“Progress across the country remains uneven, with modest gains in security, governance, and development in operational priority areas. The deliberate application of our strategy is beginning to have cumulative effects and security is slowly beginning to expand. Although significant challenges exist, some signs of progress are evident.”

General Petraeus:

“Il est vital que l’Afghanistan ne redevienne jamais plus un sanctuaire pour les extrémistes”, a-t-il résumé lors d’une conférence à Sciences-Po Paris. La seule façon d’atteindre cet objectif est, selon lui, “d’aider les Afghans à assurer leur sécurité eux-mêmes”.

Or, for those without enough French to challenge my translation:  “It is vital that Afghanistan never again become a sanctuary for extremists,” he said in a lecture at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, “the only way of achieving this objective is to help the Afghans to ensure their own security.”

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Even paranoids have enemies

While the U.S. press is portraying the flareup between North and South Korea as part of a pattern of irrational and provocative behavior by Pyongyang, Leon V. Sigal in an Arms Control Today piece prepared before recent events portrayed a more nuanced picture of mutual disappointment and flagging commitment by the U.S., South Korea and Japan to engagement with the North.  While Sigal’s proposals for re-opening a peace process with Pyongyang require examination by someone more expert in this part of the world than I am, his account of past events (and his anticipation of more problems along the maritime boundary) merits a read.

There is no justification for what North Korea has done, but its motives need to be understood more fully if escalation or repetition is to be avoided.

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Fool me once…

The New York Times reports this morning that the supposed Taliban commander reported to have been in talks with the Coalition and the Afghan government was in fact an impostor.

Embarrassing as it is to be snookered even once, it would be much worse if it happens again.  Maybe the demand for cash should have aroused more suspicion even the first time around.  Would a genuine Taliban representative really require payment?

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