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Foreign Policy

The Takeaway

Majority of Public Deems Afghanistan War 'Not Worth Fighting'

Friday, December 17, 2010

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that 60 percent of Americans say the Afghanistan war is "not worth fighting." This is a record low in public support of the war. Mary Galeti, the wife of Afghanistan veteran First Lieutenant Russell Galeti, and Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs and author of "How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle," describe their observations of public opinion, and what it might mean for the Obama administration's efforts in Afghanistan going forward.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

George Packer on Wikileaks and Julian Assange

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

George Packer, staff writer for The New Yorker, discusses what we've learned about U.S. foreign policy from WikiLeaks and this morning's arrest of Julian Assange.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Former CIA Officer on Wikileaks

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Robert Baer, a former CIA officer and intelligence columnist for TIME.com, talks about the new batch of Wikileaks documents and some of their implications.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

30 Issues: Afghanistan

Friday, October 08, 2010

Bob Woodward, associate editor at The Washington Post and the author of Obama's Wars, talks about his behind-the-scenes exploration of Obama's policy in Afghanistan.

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The Takeaway

Will Pakistan's Relief Aid Prevent Destabilization?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

20 million people have been affected by the floods in Pakistan in the past three weeks, in what some say is the worst natural catastrophe in recent history. However, even with the United Nations calling for $459 million for immediate relief efforts, aid assistance is still only trickling in. Whether it is "compassion fatigue," lack of funds or a distrust in the Pakistani government's transparency – the real question is, will a failure to act now have greater foreign policy implications for the future stability of the region?

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The Takeaway

History's Lessons on Bellicose North Korea

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In March, a South Korean warship was torpedoed, killing 46 sailors and sinking the vessel. Recent evidence strongly implicates North Korea as the most likely power responsible for the attack, though Pyonyang denies any involvement. Now, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has said his country will boost its defense, sever all trade with North Korea and deny North Korean merchant ships access to their sea lanes. The U.S. has backed the South Korean stance. 

But this is not the first time North Korea has taken a hostile maritime policy, nor is this the most explicit act of aggression by Pyongyang.

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The Takeaway

US Still Relies on Spies and Contractors in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Monday, May 17, 2010

The New York Times national security correspondent Mark Mazzetti explains that, despite thorny issues of legality, the U.S. is still dependent on a network of spies and independent contractors to accomplish its foreign policy goals in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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The Takeaway

Hillary Clinton Becomes Obama's Best Asset on World Stage

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two years after a contested and hot-spirited primary campaign, Barack Obama's strongest rival has morphed into a great ally as the president and the secretary of state find their footing on the international stage. It took some time for Hillary Clinton to find her voice in the Obama administration, but is now a strong member of the team.

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The Takeaway

Meet Google's 'Secretary of State'

Friday, April 23, 2010

Yesterday, we talked about Google's emerging foreign policy, as it deals with take-down requests from governments around the world. Today, we speak to the executive who is in effect the company's "Secretary of State."

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The Takeaway

What is Google's Foreign Policy?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Last month Google said enough is enough and moved its search operations out of mainland China, causing noticeable diplomatic waves. Yesterday, the company took another step, revealing some of the extent of its foreign policy. It published this explanation of censorship requests from all the governments with whom they deal.

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The Takeaway

Takeouts: A Blast In Baghdad, Rafael Nadal Retires From Australian Open

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

  • BAGHDAD TAKEOUT: A suicide attack rocked Baghdad this morning, killing at least 18 people and injuring dozens. Joining us from Baghdad is The New York Times' John Leland.
  • SPORTS TAKEOUT: Earlier today, Rafael Nadal bowed out of the Australian Open after he suffered a knee injury during his quarterfinal game against Andy Murray. Jon Wertheim, senior writer at Sports Illustrated joins us from Melbourne, Australia to explain what happened.

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The Takeaway

Pakistan a Key Player in US Afghanistan Strategy

Thursday, December 03, 2009

You might call the nation of Pakistan the buried headline in President Obama’s big Afghanistan speech Tuesday. Like Afghanistan, Pakistan faces its own instability and its own Taliban problem. Its president, Asif Ali Zardari, has looked in recent days significantly weakened. Last Friday Zardari handed over control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal to the prime minister, and he’s facing pressure from the Obama government to crack down on the same insurgent groups whom Pakistan's army and intelligence services have themselves cultivated as a kind of secret weapon.

So what does a U.S. strategy in Pakistan look like, and is Pakistan a strong enough partner for that strategy to succeed? We're joined by Ahmed Rashid, longtime Pakistani journalist and author of “Descent Into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia.” We're also talking with Adil Najam: He's professor of International Relations at Boston University, and he worries that even if President Obama is succesful in Afghanistan, we may lose Pakistan as the Taliban is forced over the Afghan border.

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The Takeaway

The Next Five Years With President Karzai

Thursday, November 19, 2009

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.

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The Takeaway

Palestinian President Abbas Won't Seek Re-Election

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told his political allies that he will not seek re-election in January. Israel's president and defense minister, along with the president of Egypt and the King of Jordan, have all called Abbas asking him to reconsider. Abbas is expected to give a speech later today, where he will express his frustration with the peace process.

Officials say Abbas told President Obama in October that he would not run for re-election unless Israel agreed to freeze the building of settlements in the West Bank, thereby allowing him to resume peace talks without losing all credibility. Aaron David Miller, public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., joins us with his thoughts on the move. Miller has served as an adviser on Middle East politics to both Republican and Democratic Secretaries of State.

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The Takeaway

The Dangers of Historical Comparisons in Afghanistan

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Earlier this week we made a comparison between the Vietnam War and the current U.S. war in Afghanistan. One of our listeners responded with a rebuttal. Jonaid Sharif said we were

"comparing the Taliban — vicious and medieval — to the Viet Cong, who were fighting for progress and national liberation ... The Viet Cong were supported by half of the world ... I have yet to come across anyone who openly endorses the Taliban."

Today we look at Afghanistan from an Afghan perspective. Jonaid Sharif is a professor at Paine College in Augusta, Ga., where he teaches Pashto language. He is himself Afghan-American. We're also joined by Christine Fair, a professor at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University; and Lyse Doucet, BBC Correspondent in Kabul.

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The Takeaway

Report: Brother of Afghan President on C.I.A. Payroll

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The New York Times reports today that Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, is on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency. The news comes as a surprise because Ahmed Wali Karzai is also allegedly a big player in Afghanistan's illegal drug trade. Times national security correspondent Mark Mazzetti gives us the story.

For more, read Mark Mazzetti's article, Brother of Afghan Leader Is Said to Be on C.I.A. Payroll, in today's New York Times.

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The Takeaway

October Deadliest Month for US Troops in Afghanistan

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Six staff members of the United Nations were killed and another nine wounded in an armed attack on a central Kabul guesthouse this morning. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was the first step in a campaign to prevent the upcoming runoff in the nation's presidential election. This attack comes hard on the heels of yesterday's attacks that killed eight American troops in multiple bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan. The deaths make October the deadliest month for American troops there since the war began in 2001. We speak to BBC correspondent David Loyn, the author of "In Afghanistan: Two Hundred Years of British, Russian and American Occupation," about the state of the international effort in Afghanistan. We're also joined by New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker, with an update on the president's decision on whether or not to send additional troops to the embattled nation.

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The Takeaway

Did Secretary Clinton Get a Russian Cold Front?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton returned empty-handed from talks with Russia this week. She had hoped to get Russia's support for imposing sanctions on Iran, but her Russian counterpart was not interested in punishing Iran's nuclear ambitions. Was the rebuff political or personal? We talk with Will Inboden, a former member of President George W. Bush's National Security Council, for an assessment of Clinton's role in the Obama administration's diplomatic strategy.

What were Russians expecting from Sec. Clinton's visit? Here's a clip from Russia Today:

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The Takeaway

The War in Afghanistan: Veterans' Stories

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Today marks the eighth anniversary of the U.S. sending troops to Afghanistan. To help mark the occasion we get the personal stories of three veterans of that war: Joe Sturm, Marco Reininger and Genevieve Chase.

On Oct. 7, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the U.S. military would be making strikes against al-Qaida targets and Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan. By November 2001, the U.S.-backed military alliance had taken Kabul. By December 7, the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar had fallen. Eight years later we are still there. There are currently 68,000 troops in Afghanistan, and 869 American lives have been lost since the beginning.


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The Takeaway

The Karzai Government: Friend or Foe?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

As Washington debates whether or not to send more troops to help stabilize Afghanistan, big questions remain about the strength and legitimacy of the Afghan government. President Karzai has defended himself and the integrity of the country's electoral process against allegations of fraud in the country's second-ever presidential election. Presently Karzai has 54.6 percent of the vote, well ahead of his leading challenger, Abdullah Abdullah. The ongoing recounts and fraud investigations by the Election Complaints Commission, however, could drive Karzai's total below the crucial 50 percent, forcing a runoff election. To find out more about the relationship between the U.S. and the Karzai administration, we speak with Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born former U.S. Ambassador to Agfhanistan. He currently runs his own consultancy firm called Khalilzad Associates. (Click through for the full interview transcript.)

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