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Foreign Policy

The Takeaway

Russia marks Afghanistan withdrawal with words of advice for the U.S.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Russia last week marked the 20th anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan with avowals from its leaders that they really, truly do not want the American military mission there to suffer the same humiliating fate. But what do the Russians really want in Afghanistan and what does it say about American-Russian relations? To help answer that question, we are joined by the New York Times' Moscow Bureau Chief Clifford J. Levy, who has been following this story closely.

For more, read Clifford J. Levy's article, Poker-Faced, Russia Flaunts Its Afghan Card in the New York Times.

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The Takeaway

U.S. advisors secretly aiding Pakistani military

Monday, February 23, 2009

Our partner, the New York Times, has an exclusive story today on a secret American unit training the Pakistani military to fight al Qaida and the Taliban. To discuss the story and its implications, we are joined by Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist and author of Decent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia and Eric Schmitt, the New York Times reporter who wrote the article.

For more, read Eric Schmitt's article, U.S. Unit Secretly in Pakistan Lends Ally Support , in today's New York Times.

Here is Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke's interview on Charlie Rose clarifying the Obama administration's position on Pakistan and Afghanistan:



"Pakistan presents a much more difficult conundrum for the Obama administration and the review that it is carrying out. Afghanistan is a question of sheer neglect."
— Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid on U.S. troops in Pakistan

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The Takeaway

Hillary Clinton arrives in Beijing for talks with Chinese leaders

Friday, February 20, 2009

On Friday, Hillary Clinton arrives in Beijing for talks with China’s leaders. This is the first visit to China by a senior member of the Obama administration. Everything from the economy, climate change, trade and human rights is on the table. To talk us through the issues facing China-U.S. relations, we’re joined by Cheng Li who is research director and senior fellow at the China Centre at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. For the view from China, we turn to the BBC's Quentin Somerville in Beijing.

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The Takeaway

President Obama visits our neighbor in the north

Thursday, February 19, 2009

For his first trip abroad, President Obama decided to stick close to home. He heads to Canada today and while it's a quick visit, there are many issues to discuss with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Joining us from Ottawa is Chris Hall, the national affairs editor for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

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The Takeaway

Shoe chucker trial starts in Iraq

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush went to court today. He's charged with assaulting a foreign leader and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years, but he was greeted as a hero by supporters in the courtroom. The trial was almost immediately adjourned until March while the court sought the government's clarification on a point of order. For more on the man whose shoe was heard around the world, the BBC's Jim Muir joins us.

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The Takeaway

President Obama sends troop surge to Afghanistan

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In what he described as an urgent bid to stabilize a deteriorating and neglected country, President Obama is sending 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. This deployment will double the number of American combat brigades in Afghanistan at a time when tensions between the U.S. and Afghanistan are weakening. We turn to Emal Pasarly of the BBC for more.

For more of The Takeaway's recent coverage of Afghanistan, click here, here, and here.

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The Takeaway

Happy Birthday, Kosovo

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One year ago, skeptics predicted dire consequences as Kosovo emerged as an independent state from the former Yugoslavia. While none of the violence, extreme nationalism, or emigration of the Serb minority that was expected happened, as Kosovo celebrates its one year anniversary, not everything is coming up roses. For more we turn to Helen Fawkes of the BBC who is in Pristina, Kosovo.

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The Takeaway

Hillary Clinton takes Tokyo on the eve of Asian tour

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In her first overseas trip as Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton said she would be looking to Asia to help tackle global problems. She started her trip in Japan, which is facing down an economic crisis, from there she heads out on a tour of Southeast Asia, where she is likely to face stiff questions over the foreign policy of the last eight years. The BBC's State Department Correspondent, Kim Ghattas, is traveling with Ms. Clinton and she joins us now from Tokyo.

"This visit shows the new U.S. administration in Washington is very keen to engage with the world. Not only with its traditional partners across the Atlantic, but also, engage again forcefully with its partners across the Pacific."
— Kim Ghattas of the BBC on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's diplomatic trip to Asia

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The Takeaway

Hillary Clinton heads to Asia

Monday, February 16, 2009

Japan announced today that it is now in the midst of its worst economic downturn since World War II. Since the economies of Asia and the United States are tightly intertwined, it makes perfect sense that Hillary Clinton started her first trip as Secretary of State there. Jonathan Marcus, the diplomatic correspondent for the BBC, joins us now with details.

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The Takeaway

U.S. loses global popularity contest in face of economic crisis

Friday, February 13, 2009

There are many consequences to the financial crisis, but so far we’ve mostly focused on what will happen to the United States domestically as banks fail and jobs are lost. Now to kick us while we're down, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair stated that the economic crisis is making us unpopular globally, too, and the sinking economy now ranks among the top security threats to the U.S. For what this means for our reputation and our safety, we are joined by David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times and author of The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power.

For more of the New York Times' coverage of this issue, read Mark Mazzetti's article, Global Economy Top Threat to U.S., Spy Chief Says, in today's paper.

"Let's face it: This crisis started here. That's just a fact. And we can argue about whether or it started with bad lending in Florida and California or whether it started with bad judgments on Wall Street, but it started here."
— David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times, on the global spread of the economic crisis

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The Takeaway

Afghanistan looms large for Obama administration

Friday, February 13, 2009

President Obama has no shortage of challenges before him on the home front. But overseas, no problem looms larger than that of Afghanistan, where Taliban militants continue to gain ground and popular support. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke is in Kabul on what has been called a fact-finding mission. And the Obama administration is expected to announce a troop surge soon. For in depth look at the situation in Afghanistan, The Takeaway is joined by Parag Khanna, a Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation and author of The Second World. The BBC's Martin Patience remains to provide his insight.

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The Takeaway

Richard Holbrooke in Kabul as U.S. reviews Afghanistan policies

Friday, February 13, 2009

Following a four day trip to Pakistan, U.S. Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, is in Kabul on what has been described as a fact-finding mission. As the Obama administration carries out a major review of the policies in Afghanistan, Holbrooke prepares to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss the worsening security situation. For more, the BBC's Afghanistan correspondent Martin Patience joins us from Kabul.

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The Takeaway

The fate of U.S. military air base in Krygyzstan remains unclear

Friday, February 06, 2009

While most Americans may wonder where in the world is Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. military is very aware of it this week. The United States and NATO have longed use a base in Kyrgyzstan as a vital stopover in the supply route for their operations in Afghanistan. That may be changing though, because Russia offered the country two billion dollars in aid if Kyrgyzstan agreed to close the base. For more, we turn to the BBC's Olexiy Solohubenko.

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The Takeaway

Election wrap up from Baghdad

Monday, February 02, 2009

In 2005, Iraqis went to the polls to elect leadership, but the Sunni population refused to participate. Last weekend Iraqis went to the polls again and everyone turned out. Anthony Shadid, Middle East correspondent for The Washington Post, joins us now from Baghdad with an account of how the elections went and what outcome is expected.

For more of Anthony Shadid's insight, check out his book Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War

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The Takeaway

Face off: Gerry Adams on George Mitchell

Thursday, January 29, 2009

When President Obama needed to appoint an envoy to the Middle East, he turned to former senator George Mitchell. Why? Because Mitchell has a long track record of facilitating peace among warring parties. One of his most noted successes was in establishing peace accords in Northern Ireland. So who better to tell us what those sitting across the table from Sen. Mitchell can expect than Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein? He joins us to give his perspective on facing Mitchell and what Mitchell faces in the current conflict in the Middle East.

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The Takeaway

Obama extends a hand to the Middle East

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

President Obama gave his first televised interview last night, but his audience was far from home. Instead, Obama chose to speak to the residents of the Middle East via the Dubai-based television network Al Arabiya. He did his best to show that Americans are not the enemy and pledged to extend a hand to the Muslim world. For the reaction to this interview we turn to BBC Correspondent Jon Leyne in Tehran, Iran.

Watch the President's interview on Al Arabiya:

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The Takeaway

Obama babysteps into the fray in the Middle East

Friday, January 23, 2009

President Obama had a second busy day in office. He immediately named former Senate majority leader George Mitchell as special envoy to the Middle East and former United Nations ambassador Richard Holbrooke as envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. This move makes it clear foreign policy is a priority for the new President. We're joined by Daniel Levy director of the Middle East Initiative at the New America Foundation for his take on these appointments. Mr. Levy was a member of the official Israel negotiating team at the Oslo B and Taba talks in 1995.

"We might have mid-east peace before we know who the second Minnesota senator is."
— Daniel Levy on the prospects of peace in the Middle East under the Obama administration

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The Takeaway

Hugo Chavez humbled in the face of falling gas prices, maybe

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a frequent (and loud) critic of the United States. Despite his dislike for the country, the nationalized oil business that props up the nation's economy sells billions of dollars of oil to the U.S. Due to Chavez's bombastic personality, many big oil companies don't bother drilling in Venezuela anymore. But now that gas prices have plunged, Chavez is gently cozying up to companies like Chevron and Shell to see if they'd like to return to Venezuela. For more on this turn of events, we are joined by Simon Romero who is covering this story for the New York Times from Caracas, Venezuela.

Read Simon Romero's article, Chávez Allows West to Make Oil Bids as Prices Plunge, in today's New York Times.

The video below is one of Chavez's more outspoken moments at the United Nations.

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The Takeaway

A new chapter for Senator Hillary Clinton

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Senator Hillary Clinton goes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today for confirmation hearings. For insight into what we might expect if Clinton takes the reins as Secretary of State, The Takeaway turns to Washington Post Group syndicated columnist Maria Cocco, who has covered Senator Clinton since 1993.

For more on the President-elect's cabinet selections, check out our guide to his inner circle.

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The Takeaway

China doesn't want our debt either

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The American economic boom couldn't have happened without China's willingness to buy up American debt. While the American economy has hit a road bump (or maybe a pothole), China has been able to avoid the same market turmoil. Until now. With a downturn in its own economy, China isn't interested in acquiring any more American debt and that is having a profound impact on our ability to borrow. New York Times' reporter Keith Bradsher is following this story in Hong Kong.

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