The first multi-party elections held in Sudan in two decades began Sunday. In a complex three-day balloting process, Sudanese are choosing not only their president, but also their national and state assemblies, their governors and other local officials.
It's been four days since an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile and since then, the country's military and police force have been tested in some of the hardest hit areas, where there have been reports of curfews, looting, and vigilantes protecting their threatened property. At the same time aid has been arriving from around the world, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arriving in the capital yesterday.
The United States military is getting more involved in the Haiti relief effort by the day. On Wednesday, 4,000 more troops were added, bringing the total U.S. presence in the country to about 16,000. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the nation's highest ranking military officer, tells The Takeaway that he recognizes the scale of the U.S. footprint and insists the focus is to support other organizations. He also says the use of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is an option in the treatment of the many wounded Haitians.
John Hockenberry sat down with Adm. Mullen in the Pentagon on Wednesday. Here is a partial transcript of the interview.
In 2001, many were excited at the prospect of Hamid Karzai leading Afghanistan's transitional government forward. After winning the country's first presidential election, hopes ran high that Karzai would usher in a transparent, clean government. The recent presidential elections, however, were messy and tarnished by allegations of fraud. What's happened since the heady days of 2001?
We're joined by Ambassador Robert Finn, associate research scholar with the Liechtenstein Institute at Princeton and former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2002 – 2003. We are also joined by Nadir Atash, former Afghan government official and author of "Turbulence – The Tumultuous Journey of One Man’s Quest for Change in Afghanistan."
Hamid Karzai has been sworn in today as the president of Afghanistan for a second five-year term. After an optimistic first presidential election in 2004, this second election was, in the words of President Obama, "messy." It was fraught with allegations of corruption, and looked like it might require a run-off. However, today's inauguration officially secures Hamid Karzai as president for the next five years. The inauguration itself is to be held as a private event on the heavily-secured presidential palace grounds. Anand Gopal of the Wall Street Journal, on the ground in Kabul, gives us the scene during the inauguration.
President Karzai still faces great international pressure to address corruption in the government in order to continue receiving support from the United States. Earlier this week the Afghan government announced plans to create a major anti-corruption unit to investigate senior officials. This Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on ABC's The Week "I have made it clear that we're not going to be providing any civilian aid to Afghanistan unless we have a certification that if it goes into the Afghan government in any form, that we're going to have ministries that we can hold accountable."
We discuss this statement and the possible impact on the future of Afghanistan with Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Hakimullah Mehsud is the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban. He's an enemy of Pakistan and, by extension, the United States. However, to some in his own ranks he is a hero: a young Pashtun willing to stake everything on upholding the Taliban's cause. BBC Urdu correspondent Haroon Rashid has met Hakimullah Mehsud many times and offers us a profile of the apparently charismatic young leader.
The following clip is in Pashto, but the images of Hakimullah Mehsud are fascinating in any language:
As the U.N. General Assembly convenes, it brings together all of its 192 member countries; this year, the U.S. is playing a larger role than usual. President Obama will attend some of the proceedings this week, starting with a summit on climate change. Then the General Assembly debate takes place, where a speech by Obama is scheduled to follow a speech by Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. We talk to BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus, who is in New York covering the events.
For hundreds of years, mariners have dreamed of a shipping shortcut through the Arctic that would allow them to speed trade between Asia and the West. Two German ships became the first-ever Western commercial vessels to sail that route, thanks to the recent thawing and withdrawal of the Arctic sea ice due to global warming. BBC Moscow correspondent Richard Galpin tells us what he saw as one of the first journalists onboard this historic journey.
Yesterday President Obama announced that he is scrapping the Bush administration's plans for a land-based missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. He's opting instead to focus on a defense system that would intercept shorter-range missiles from Iran. This move has upset Poland and the Czech Republic, but pleased Russia, who was against Bush's plan. Is this an intelligent decision based on new information about Iran's weapons? Or will it empower Russia and Iran at the expense of American allies? We speak to former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, who served under President Bush, and to Alexander Cooley, professor of International Relations and Foreign Policy at Barnard College. (Click through for a full interview transcript.)
The World Health Organization said last week that within the next 20 years, depression will become the largest health burden on society. But treatment for mental health is often underfunded, despite the fact that it drastically affects productivity in many countries. We talk to Professor Cary Cooper, who teaches psychology and health at Lancaster University in Britain. We also speak with Dr. Shekhar Saxena, program manager of the WHO's Department of mental health and substance abuse.
America's top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, submitted a strategic review yesterday to General David Petraeus and to NATO. A version of that report will land on the desk of President Obama soon. While the full text of the report hasn't been made public, what has come out is a glimpse of the general's assessment: that the current strategy in Afghanistan is not working. With us is Richard Kemp, former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan. He is author of the book "Attack State Red."
There's another school of thought that we don't hear from often: instead of a military surge, what is needed is a political surge. Fotini Christia joins the conversation -- she's an assistant professor of political science at MIT and recently returned from Afghanistan.