Operationalizing the Gant Approach in Afghanistan

BruceR offers some typically thoughtful suggestions for operationalizing Maj. Jim Gant’s “One Tribe at a Time” approach, which I tore to shreds here, but have since seen increasingly mentioned as playing a major role in the Obama administration’s strategy discussions. Here’s Bruce’s jumping off point: You can’t rebuild Afghanistan using Gant’s methods, true, but I thinkit’s really being looked into more as another method of keeping theenemy hopping in areas where a sustained government or ISAF presence isuneconomical at present. And that’s not a totally crazy idea. If the alternatives are Predator strikes and SOF kinetic ops involvingblack-painted helicopters and […]

PHNOM PENH — The trial of a Khmer Rouge prison commandant who oversaw the deaths of at least 12,000 people has wrapped up. But in his final statement, Kang Guek Eav, also known as Duch, stunned the court by asking for an acquittal. It was a complete about-face from a desperate man who had acknowledged he was guilty of crimes against humanity and breaches of the Geneva Conventions, although claiming he acted under orders and amid fear of retribution. The three Cambodian and two international judges declined the request and ended the trial. Sentencing is expected early next year. In […]

“Rebalancing” has been the watchword of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy to date: rebalancing the global economy between East and West, rebalancing domestic needs and foreign responsibilities, and — soon enough — rebalancing the international security burden among the world’s great powers. One number explains why that last rebalancing is necessary: It costs the United States $1 million a year to keep a soldier inside a theater of operations such as Afghanistan. The math is easy enough: For every thousand troops, the price comes out to $1 billion a year. So when the president announces, as he’s expected to do […]

Obama, Right and Wrong

Another thing about Giovanni Grevi’s notion of an interpolar world is that it seems very consistent with the Obama administration’s emphasis on a “multipartner” world.Significantly, in this context, the major objective in internationalrelations shifts from advancing individual interests toward identifyingcommon ones, in order to convince the increasing number of players thatnow wield de facto vetos to lift them. Obama seems to get the importance of this kind of consensus-building, even if his knee-jerk criticsdon’t. The most recent case in point is China’s vote at the IAEA to censure Iran, which is apparently a direct result of Obama’s allegedly “deliverables-free” China […]

A United Front Against Iran

The IAEA has censured Iran and is demanding Tehran freeze nuclear operations at asecret facility. The stern move by the agency is a victory for theObama administration says Iran expert Ervand Abhrahamian. WorldFocus’Martin Savidge talks with the history professor about what thecensure could mean for United States global positioning among powerssuch as Russia and China.

Obama Briefs World Leaders on Afghanistan Policy Before Speech

NewsHour interviews the New York Times’ Eric Schmitt on the lead up tothe roll-out of President Obama’s new Afghanistan policy. As Schmitt pointsout, the Obama administration has already started to discuss the planwith insiders, though the president is expected to outline his policypublicly tomorrow night.

The Realist Prism: Obama Promises with One Hand, Delays with Other

In May, I raised concerns that the “first steps” taken by President Barack Obama had given the administration some “breathing room” in terms of deliverables. No one expected back then that Washington would be moving on key initiatives. It was understood that the new team needed to get settled: The first hundred days is not a good time for breakthroughs. But six months later, it still doesn’t seem like a good time for them. At the Guadalajara summit in August, any effort to move forward on a series of important issues dealing with North America — trade, energy security, coping […]

In hosting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this week for the first state visit of his administration, President Barack Obama can claim to be taking India seriously as a partner and rising power. But Indian doubts remain. U.S.-India relations are currently drifting, rather than surging forward as they had been for a decade. Bilateral ties developed an unprecedented intimacy under President George W. Bush, capped by an agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation that required both countries to take considerable political risks and overcome stubborn international opposition. Building on work begun by President Bill Clinton, Bush and his Indian counterparts unshackled […]

The New Afghanistan Policy

President Barack Obama has decided on a strategy for Afghanistan.NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff talks to presidential historian and authorMichael Beschloss, Andrew Kohut, president and director of the PewResearch Center for the People and the Press, and Josh Gerstein, WhiteHouse reporter for Politico to get some insight into public opinion ofthe war, parallels in history and how this policy will play out formembers of Congress with their constituents.

What Will the Surge Do?

White House officials have announced that President Barack Obama hasfinished gathering information about the situation in Afghanistan. Heis expected to address the country on Dec. 1, telling the nation of hisplans for a troop surge. In light of the news, WorldFocus speaks withJuan Carlos Zarate, a senior adviser for the Center for Strategic andInternational Studies in Washington. Zarate says additional troops willbe used to confront the Taliban in new areas such as the East and Southand enable forces to not only secure the territories, but to keep themfrom returning to Taliban rule.

China’s Noisy Subs

Three posts of interest to China naval gazers (as opposed to a Chinese navel gazers), two from the Federation of American Scientists, here (filled with juicy links) and here, and one from Arms Control Wonk’s Jeffrey Lewis. In a nutshell, China’s navy has made some impressive progress. But their latest-generation nuclear-powered and nuclear warhead-capable submarines are too noisy to pose a credible second-strike deterrent given U.S. and Japanese anti-sub capabilities. That makes it, according to Lewis, “a very impressive submarine — for the 1960s.” He also raises some questions about China’s strategic approach to their use. Hopefully we’ll never get […]

Off the Radar News Roundup

– China’s defense minister gets face time with Kim Jong-Il on the third day of his visit to North Korea. – A high-ranking Chinese military envoy was in Moscow for discussions with Russia’s defense minister. – A high-ranking Chinese political envoy was in Quito to discuss deepening ties with Ecuador. Among the deals signed was a credit line for Ecuador to purchase Chinese military aircraft. That’s pretty remarkable, given the extent to which Ecuador’s military has historically been U.S.-trained, equipped and oriented. (Little-known fact: There’s a small but visible Chinese expat population spread throughout Ecuador. Second little-known fact: Ecuadoran-style Chinese […]

President Barack Obama failed to wring any concessions from China in his maiden voyage to Beijing last week. But the disappointing visit is only a symptom of the Obama administration’s dysfunctional and poorly conceived China policy, which, though well-intentioned, threatens to undermine U.S. objectives and wreck its global image. Dubbed “strategic reassurance,” the policy envisions a tacit bargain whereby the United States mollifies Chinese fears of containment, while Beijing assuages U.S. concerns about its global intentions and shoulders more international responsibilities. But so far, the policy has confounded more than clarified. Some China watchers wonder where Obama will strike the […]

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Two years after its formation, a controversial military program to embed civilian social scientists inside combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan is scrambling to recover from a string of crises. How the so-called “Human Terrain System” responds to a spate of combat deaths and a disastrous employee pay cut will determine whether the program survives in its current form. Human Terrain System, headquartered at Fort Leavenworth, in Kansas, is the brainchild of Montgomery McFate, a Harvard- and Yale-trained anthropologist. In a series of journal articles(.pdf) in 2005, McFate outlined the basic shape of what would become HTS. […]

India’s Economy Is Going Strong

Bilateral economic ties are sure to be at the top of the agenda forIndian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit with President BarackObama in Washington this week. India, though still home to a staggering800 million people living on $2 a day, has an economy that is booming.The New York Times’ Vikas Bajaj tells Fred de Sam Lazar of NewsHourthat it was most likely the Indian perception of undeveloped financialinstitutions that saved their economy from the toxic assets that led tothe financial crisis.

Pakistani Army Boasts Success in South Waziristan

The Pakistani army says they have made progress in South Waziristan inthe first five weeks of their campaign. Faster than expected, the armyhas driven Taliban leaders out of the region — they’ve “melted away”as one analyst put it. Army officials say their strategy has been tocut off Taliban supply lines and to go after forests and caves. Thoughthe campaign has been instrumental in changing public opinion of theTaliban, analysts say it is unlikely that the army will launch asimilar campaign in the North. Voice of America’s Meredith Buelreports.

Obama Welcomes Singh

President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speakat the official arrival ceremony for Singh. The ceremony is the firstof its kind since Obama has been in office. “It is fitting that you andIndia be so recognized,” Obama told Singh. The following days willpresent India and the United States with opportunities to discuss keyissues such as enhancing bilateral trade and the war in Afghanistan.

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