A Conflicted Vision for Afghanistan

World Politics Review contributors John Nagl of the Center for a New American Security and Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress discuss the conflict of visions for the way forward in Afghanistan with NewsHour’s Ray Suarez. Katulis and Nagl discuss recent discouraging statements by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and how a competing vision for the future of Afghanistan could affect allied forces’ operation there.

A Nuclear Iran Is the ‘Point of No Return’

American economist, political writer, and commentator, Thomas Sowell discusses what he thinks would be the outcome of a nuclear Iran in a Hoover Institution interview. Sowell says the United States needs to take the Iran nuclear threat more seriously, seeking out military options should diplomacy fail. He continues that unlike in the Cold War where Russia feared retaliation should it launch nuclear weapons, leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran are more concerned with waging a holy war than with the consequences.

Previewing Israeli-Palestinian Talks

As Israel and the Palestinian Authority prepare to engage in the first direct peace negotiations in almost two years, NewsHour talks to David Makovsky, senior fellow at the Washington Institute and co-author of the book “Myths, Illusions and Peace,” and Ghaith Al-Omari, advocacy director at the American Task Force on Palestine and a fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Contractors to Fill Security Void in Iraq

As combat troops withdraw from Iraq, controversial private security firms are coming in to fill the security void, according to the U.S. State Department. Officials say that contractors will be subject to the Afghan legal system this time around, however skeptics remain following the now infamous Blackwater scandal of 2007.

Australia Election Preview

Australia’s economy may have weathered the global financial crisis relatively well, but the country’s economic state is still featuring prominently in hopefuls’ campaigns leading up to this weekend’s parliamentary elections. This newly elected parliament will be charged with replacing ousted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, though his party’s current leader and the country’s interim prime minister, Julia Gillard, may no longer be the obvious choice as successor.

Spending in Iraq Riddled with Corruption

Stuart Bowen, U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq, says the system that pays contractors for work in Afghanistan is largely to blame for poor work quality, unfinished projects, and gross overspending. The U.S. has spent at least $700 billion on the Iraq war over the last seven years and is expected to continue spending large amounts of tax payer dollars in that country in development, now that combat troops have been withdrawn.

Chavez Faces Challenges Ahead of Elections

Next month, Venezuela will hold elections for the national assembly — an opportunity that could either support the continued dominance of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez or reveal what some public opinion polls show as a slippage in popularity. Despite mounting domestic issues, Chavez’s advantages are numerous while the opposition continues to appear weak.

A Look Inside WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks, the controversial website where anonymous users can submit highly classified government and corporate documents, has recently come under fire for posts involving the war effort in Afghanistan. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange discusses the site and his motivation.

Governments Prepare for Cyber War

NewsHour’s Spencer Michels reports from a Las Vegas hacker conference on governmental efforts to stop online tampering that could affect critical infrastructure. Attendees at the DefCon hacker convention explain the United State military’s reliance on networks and their extreme vulnerabilities to cyber attack. Michael Hayden, who was director of both the CIA and the National Security Agency, says of the attacks, “If you do something in the cyber-domain, something happens in physical space. This is not just a video game.”

Kagame Responds to Critics

Rwandan President Paul Kagame won a landslide victory in the country’s controversial presidential election. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Kagame addresses critics who say there was no real opposition represented in the polls and adds that he has no intention of tampering with the Rwandan constitution in the future to extend his time in office as other African leaders have done.

Who is in Charge in Iraq?

Writer and scholar Reza Aslan discusses President Barack Obama’s Iran strategy at a United Nations Alliance of Civilizations debate entitled “The Future of Western Relations with the Muslim World.” Aslan says he agrees with Obama’s initial approach to an unstable Iran, however, a shift in Tehran has caused the once solid policy to be on uneven ground.

Obama: Ending Combat in Iraq

President Barack Obama speaks to the national convention of Disabled American Veterans about the impending troop withdrawal from Iraq, with an emphasis on the country’s dedication to its veterans. Click here for WPR’s Richard Weitz’s take on the speech.

The Long War in Afghanistan

The Guardian’s Sean Smith created this short film after a recent five-week trip to Afghanistan. Smith follows first a U.S. helicopter ambulance crew and then a group of U.S. marines on their daily missions. Viewer discretion is advised. This video contains distressing scenes and strong language.

The New START Treaty

United States Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller delivered a statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the new START treaty. Gottemoeller was the lead United States negotiator on the new treaty. She highlighted the fact that there were no backroom deals during negotiations, despite rumors of the contrary, and emphasized the treaty’s importance.