In the final installment of a WorldFocus series entitled “Obama and theWorld,” Daljit Dhaliwal speaks with Adam Segal, senior fellow at theCouncil on Foreign Relations and John Delury, associate director of theCenter for U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society about Sino-American relations. Both expertsagreed that the “China threat” has been widely over-exaggerated andthat the world’s most populous nation still has many weaknesses.However both also agree that these weaknesses will not stop thejuggernaut from rapidly growing.
The US is endorsing a plan to provide financial incentives to AfghanTaliban fighters to stop fighting and work with the government inKabul. For President Barack Obama, the plan appears to be an off-rampin an increasingly unpopular war, though paying off the Taliban won’tnecessarily go over well with Americans. Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordanreports.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at L’Ecole Militairein Paris about the future of European security and the United States’role in achieving a secure Europe. Clinton says that the U.S. willcontinue to station troops and build missile defense architecture inEurope. The secretary also had strong words for Russia, admonishing anyspheres of influence Moscow may be trying perpetrate. Click here for a full transcript of her remarks.
WorldFocus’ Daljit Dhaliwal talks with Vladimir Lensky of Russia’sChannel One and former Soviet foreign ministry official SergeyShestakov. Both Lensky and Shestakov say that though Russia and theU.S. have yet to reach a final decision on a post-START treaty,relations are much more amicable now than they have been in recenthistory. Regarding Russia’s neighbors, Shestakov says “influence is thename of the game.” And as far as Russia backing international sanctionsagainst Iran, Shestakov says observers should take a wait and seeapproach as Moscow is being very “opportunistic” with respect tomounting tensions.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke about Afghan leadership andownership at the opening of the Afghanistan Conference in London.Karzai touched on his much publicized plan to re-integrate fellowAfghans into the government and mainstream society and applauded theefforts of the UN to take some Taliban members off of their blacklist.Karzai also said that Afghanistan is “looking forward to free and fairparliamentary elections,” continuing that the government plans to workwith the international community to prevent irregularities at the polls.
Marcus Mabry, international business editor of The New York Times, andJohn Authers, the investment editor for the Financial Times, talk toWorldFocus’ Daljit Dhaliwal about the impact of U.S. economic policiesoverseas, the risk of inflation in China, the fate of Japan’s economyand recovery efforts across Europe. Mabry says that though the UnitedStates has historically been the driver of the global economy,developing countries, in particular China, will have to begin to pickup the slack. Authers says eradicating severe unemployment will be key to economic progress.
Al Jazeera is reporting that secret talks among Taliban leadershas taken place in the Maldives. The meeting coincides with AfghanPresident Hamid Karzai’s introduction of a re-integration plan forTaliban fighters. The meeting, which sought to find a third solutionsomewhere between armed conflict and foreign occupation, took placewhile the U.N. removed some Taliban leaders from their blacklist. AlJazeera’s David Chater reports.
WorldFocus interviews Ahmad Kamal, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to theUnited Nations, and Hassan Abbas, a former Pakistani governmentofficial who is now with the Asia Society. The two experts say thoughU.S. foreign policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan is still rooted inthe military approach of the Bush Doctrine, it is evolving in the rightdirection. Kamal says that a Taliban power-sharing approach is anecessary avenue to explore. He also adds that U.S. drones are moreharmful than helpful as the collateral damage they cause breeds disdainfor coalition forces.
NewsHour interviews Michael Shifter from the Inter-American Dialogue.Shifter explains that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s latest move todevalue the national currency is a last ditch attempt to stabilize theeconomy that is so heavily reliant on oil revenues. Shifter says thatin Venezuela, the price of oil directly effects the political andsocial landscape.
NewsHour’s Margaret Warner interviews Luis Rueda, former deputydirector for counterintelligence at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.Rueda says that though Al Qaida’s command and control seem to haveweakened, they have adapted to fight a more fragmented war, focusing onsophisticated counter-intelligence operations. In response to thisstrengthening intelligence, the CIA is reviewing and vetting its ownagents to find out “who’s good, who’s bad and what the signs are,” saysRueda. The former field agent says that the CIA is keeping up with theterrorist organization, but that “it’s a race against time.”
Indonesia has long been seen as a breeding ground for terrorism, butthe government’s approach to the potential threat to stability hasproven to be successful. Overall, terrorism in Indonesia is decliningand it could be attributed to the government’s decision to notdeclare a war on terror. Instead terrorists, like those of the 2002Bali bombing, are tried in open courts. Officials say the approach iseffective because it rallies public support for justice while quellingconcerns of Western interference.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton spoke about the importance ofInternet freedom at the Newseum in Washington D.C. This talk comes onthe heels of Google’s run-in with the Chinese government and theirsubsequent threat to pull their products out of the country. In herspeech, Clinton identifies China, Tunisia and Uzbekistan as countriesthat have recently tightened their control over the Internet.
Troy Schneider of the New America Foundation talks with Steven Hillabout his new book, “Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way is the BestHope in an Insecure Age.” Hill says that Europe should be used as amodel for creating modern societies that take care of their peoplewhile being ecologically sustainable. According to Hill, by utilizingcommon available technology such as better insulation and various lowbudget energy generating mechanisms, Europe is positioning itself aheadof the United States in sustainable innovation.
Afghan Warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar shares his views on Afghan politics,the unraveling of Pakistan and foreign forces in Afghanistan. Hekmatyarsays that Pakistan has made grave mistakes by helping the UnitedStates, mistakes that will result in further national instability. Healso describes Hezb-e-Islami’s structure and power within Afghanistan.Hekmatyar claims that a majority of the country is in favor of theIslamist party.
It is no surprise that China has risen to economic preeminence, but thequestion remains, will it be able to keep up the pace? WorldFocus’Martin Savidge interviews the New York Times’ International BusinessEditor Marcus Mabry. Mabry says that the Chinese stimulus package, similar to the U.S.stimulus package, has largely been more effective than its U.S.counterpart because lenders have been instructed to lend money toindividuals and companies versus banks holding onto the money to recouplosses. That being said, there are talks of a possible real estatebubble in China, but Mabry says that no one will ever know until it’stoo late.
Youth in southern Sudan are taking up arms against the Lord’sResistance Army, a Ugandan militant group. This particular localmilitia, the Arrow Boys, is using all available weapons to protecttheir village from cross-border attacks. Though the Sudanese governmentis pushing for disarmament, groups like the Arrow Boys are reluctant togive up arms when they feel they can protect themselves moreeffectively than the central government. Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel Hamidreports.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is concerned about the growingviolence in the lead-up to the presidential election in Sri Lanka. TheSecretary is asking all parties in Sri Lanka to understand thesignificance of this post-conflict election and show restraint. Theelection is scheduled for Jan. 26.