As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to withdraw from Iraq, “finish the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban,” shut down Gitmo and break through the impasse with Iran. But as president, Obama is learning that conducting U.S. foreign policy is far more difficult than simply critiquing it. As a consequence, on the central foreign policy and national security issue of the day — the global struggle against Islamic terrorists and their patrons and partners — there is far more common ground between Obama and former President George W. Bush than Obama’s supporters expected, and less change than his opponents feared. […]
South Asia Archive
CHOWKAY VALLEY, Afghanistan — When U.S. Army Capt. Joe Snowden first asked the elders in this remote valley in eastern Afghanistan to stop growing poppies, they laughed. The poppies, once processed into heroin, fuel the drug trade that provides much of the financing for the Taliban and other fighters in the area, explained Snowden, who is deployed here from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Italy. Although the elders assured Snowden that they understood this, his request still bordered on the absurd. So did Snowden’s request for the name of the leader of the local insurgent cell, which made the […]
NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff talks to Ali Jalali, Afghanistan’s former interior minister, and Clare Lockhart, a former United Nations adviser to Afghanistan, about corruption in Afghanistan. In light of President Barack Obama’s surprise visit to that country last week, Jalali and Lockhart discuss whether Afghan President Hamid Karzai is now taking up the anti-corruption cause in earnest. Having trouble viewing this video? Click here to watch.
President Barack Obama had multiple audiences in mind during his lightning 6-hour visit to Afghanistan this weekend. In both his meetings and his speech delivered to U.S. soldiers and broadcast worldwide, Obama wanted to catalyze improved Afghan government performance, reassure Afghan citizens, bolster U.S. troop morale, and make his commitment to winning the Afghan war clear to global audiences. For security reasons, Obama departed unannounced from Washington on Saturday night, arriving at Bagram airfield, on the outskirts of Kabul, early Sunday evening. He then flew by helicopter to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Afterwards, Obama returned to Bagram to address […]
The New America Foundation hosts Major General Gordon Messenger, the lead spokesman on British operations in Afghanistan and former Commander of the UK Task Force Helmand. Messenger says resources and a strong learning curve have contributed to an uptick in on the ground successes in Afghanistan. In a Q&A with attendees, Messenger answers questions about the withdrawal timeline, Afghan security forces and civilians working alongside military operations.
President Barack Obama speaks to the troops at Bagram Air Force Base during a surprise trip to Afghanistan. During his brief trip — lasting only a few hours — Obama pressured Afghan President Hamid Karzai to step up anti-corruption efforts.
Visits by Indian heads of government to Saudi Arabia are rare. In fact, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Riyadh on Feb. 27 for a three-day visit, it was the first time an Indian premier had been to the kingdom in 28 years. However, this is one bilateral relationship where substance has clearly preceded style. Not only has Saudi Arabia emerged as India’s largest supplier of crude oil, the desert kingdom is also looking to increase its commercial ties with a rising India as a way to diversify its economy. The visit culminated in a joint declaration (.pdf) that […]
I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts about why I felt so underwhelmed by Friday’s announcement that the U.S. and Russia had agreed to terms on the START follow-on treaty. Certainly, the optics work well for both sides. President Barack Obama gets a foreign policy feather to go along with health care reform in his victory cap. And Russian President Dmitry Medvedev gets to show what the good cop in Moscow’s good cop/bad cop routine looks like. And arriving at the upcoming NPT conference with the treaty in hand certainly helps Obama avoid a major embarrassment. But I’m not convinced […]
The ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA), which came into force earlier this year, is undoubtedly a milestone in the burgeoning relationship between India and Southeast Asia. Yet the future of ASEAN-Indian relations is unlikely to be comprised solely of mutually beneficial policies. In order to reap the full benefits of bilateral cooperation, both sides will have to navigate formidable challenges, think strategically about how to expand the relationship, and display courage and vision in their foreign policies. Southeast Asia and India are by no means strangers. Their civilizational and cultural links date back thousands of years and are still visible […]
NEW DELHI — Recently, both China and India increased their official defense budgets for fiscal year 2010, to $78 billion and $32 billion, respectively (although according to Western observers, China’s actual military spending is up to three times the official figures). In doing so, Beijing raised its defense allocation by 7.5 percent, and New Delhi by just under 4 percent. Besides the differences in absolute budget and percentage growth, the two countries also demonstrate contrasting approaches to achieving their overall military objectives. For China, defense spending is a means toward achieving long-term power ambitions and military supremacy, while India is […]
If you’re familiar with the conventional wisdoms of the Indian national security community, you’ll know that it is characterized by a heightened sensitivity to anything remotely resembling U.S. support — let alone favoritism — shown to Pakistan. And not surprisingly, the same holds for Pakistani national security thinkers regarding elements of the U.S.-India strategic relationship — in particular, the U.S.-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement. So what you end up with is that the Pakistanis put a request for the same kind of agreement on the agenda of the first U.S.-Pakistan strategic partnership dialogue. And because U.S. Secretary of State Hillary […]
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — The two Russian-made helicopters swooped low over the village of Mahageer, pushing a stinging swirl of dust over the vineyards and pastures. The Mi-17 transports from the Afghan National Army Air Corps’ Kabul Wing touched down in close formation, their rotors just yards apart. Squads of Afghan National Army commandos leaped from the choppers and fanned out, aiming their M-16 rifles. With the perimeter secure, the commandos pulled cardboard boxes from the helicopters. When their holds were empty, the Mi-17s lifted off, blasting the fields with a fresh wave of grit. Last week’s Afghan air assault had […]
Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton opened the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue by focusing on the heightening and strengthening of a relationship that has been flawed in the past. Clinton says attendees should come to consider security issues in a broad sense, directly addressing Pakistan’s military attendees. Foreign Minister Qureshi followed Clinton’s statements by highlighting the areas in which the two powers must work together and briefly reviewing the history of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Holbrooke briefs the press on the upcoming U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. Holbrooke announces the impressive Pakistan and U.S. delegations that will be present at the talks and emphasizes that though security is always a priority, these substantive discussions will also encompass other priorities such as the Pakistani economy and energy goals.
Food prices in Asia continue to be above what they were prior to the 2007-2008 surge. Worse, there are signs that they may increase once again owing to the existence of similar conditions, such as excess demand and rising input prices due to the increasing cost of oil. Presently, rising food prices are leading to the region’s major economies re-orienting their food management policies — a step that is likely to be the harbinger of a tougher stance by the region on the Doha Round of trade talks as well as on climate change issues. The major rice-exporting countries of […]
NEW DELHI — Last month, suicide bombers attacked hotels and guesthouses in Kabul, killing 18 people and injuring 35 more, with most of the victims Indians. India immediately rushed National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon to the Afghan capital for a first-hand assessment of security arrangements for the roughly 4,000 Indians working on various aid and development projects in Afghanistan. The bombing is the latest in a string of attacks, the most high-profile of which remains the July 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, which left 58 people dead. As a result, India has strengthened its Afghan policy […]
Child labor remains one of the world’s most persistent human rights problems, pitting rights advocates, governments and companies against tradition, the needs of impoverished families and criminal groups. Over the last few decades, rights advocates have pressured governments and private-sector actors to crack down on child labor. Individual companies and industries have responded to the calls with various measures, including enacting codes of conduct and severing ties with suppliers. Two recent stories demonstrate the strength and weaknesses of the existing strategies. Apple recently reported that audits of its supplier factories turned up violations of labor laws and the company’s internal […]