June 24th, 2011
09:26 AM ET

Daily Roundup: Military leaders express reservations on Afghan exit

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The two top U.S. military commanders expressed support (NYT) for President Obama's plan for a phased withdrawal from Afghanistan, while noting it was more expedited than they would have preferred.

General David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan, told the Senate Intelligence Committee the schedule was "more aggressive" than he would have recommended. His comments echoed those of Admiral Mike Mullen, who expressed reluctance about sacrificing "fighting power in the middle of war." Mullen said the withdrawal presents a"manageable risk" (ABC).

As the United States looks ahead to implementing the withdrawal, the Obama administration is focusing attention on Pakistan (AP), where administration officials say al-Qaeda and its allies are still plotting attacks against the West. Afghanistan could take on new significance for the United States as a base from which to launch strikes against militants inside Pakistan.

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Did President Obama's troop drawdown plan for Afghanistan undercut the campaign against the Taliban or was it too limited to meet U.S. goals? CFR President Richard N. Haass and Senior Fellow Max Boot offer differing takes on the new battlefield deployment.

Seven experts review Obama's plan for ending the war in Afghanistan in this Foreign Policy roundup.

The percentage of Americans who favor removing the troops as soon as possible has reached an all-time high, according to this Pew Research Center survey.

As U.S. forces are gradually withdrawn over the next three years, it is Pakistan's six hundred thousand-strong army (WashPost) that will become the dominant military force in the region and will try to shape its future, writes Fareed Zakaria.

MIDDLE EAST: Tensions Build on Syria-Turkey Border

Syrian forces backed by snipers and tanks stormed the border town of Khirbet al-Jouz (NYT), sending hundreds of refugees fleeing to Turkey. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Syrian troop movements were "very worrisome" (BBC) and warned of escalation. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked Syrian repression as "savagery" (Guardian) and urged President Bashar al-Assad to fire his military mastermind, his brother Maher, and implement reforms.

Large numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees from Libya and Syria could create a dire situation, as many of the countries to which the people are fleeing allow them few–if any–rights, benefits, or protection, says ForeignPolicy.com.

Libya: New U.S. intelligence shows Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi is "seriously considering" fleeing Tripoli (WSJ) for a more secure location outside the capital, although the timing of such a move isn't known.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA: Phone Records Show ISI-bin Laden Link

Mobile phone records (Telegraph) taken from the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad show that he was in contact with commanders from Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a terror group backed by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, in Pakistan's proxy war with India in Kashmir.

Heightened tensions between the United States and Pakistan come as Washington continues to want Pakistan's help in killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda that fled to Pakistan, notes this CFR analysis brief.

PACIFIC RIM: Wen Declares Victory on Chinese Inflation

In the Financial Times, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao declared victory over domestic inflation, saying the government has reined in price pressures and is experiencing "steady and fast growth."

Japan: Japan's Defense Ministry said eleven Chinese warships (AP)were spotted in international waters off the country's southern island of Okinawa. Japan claimed no territorial violations, but the movements are sensitive because Japan and China dispute claims over small islands in the East China Sea.

AFRICA: U.S. Calls for Sudan Peacekeepers

The United States introduced a draft resolution at the UN (BBC) calling for more than four thousand peacekeepers to be sent to the disputed region of Abyei. The area between north Sudan and south Sudan has been the scene of heavy fighting, and a recent demilitarization deal is said to be fragile.

Rwanda: A former Rwandan minister, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, has been jailed for life for genocide and incitement to rape (CNN) at the UN-backed court for Rwanda. She is one of the first women to be charged with genocide.

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AMERICAS: United States Announces Strategic Oil Release

Responding to the ongoing loss of crude oil because of supply disruptions in Libya and elsewhere, the Energy Department will releasethirty million barrels of oil (Reuters) from its 727 million barrel reserve. The U.S. release would be equivalent to about a day and a half of total U.S. oil consumption.

With the United States hurting economically, there's a case to be made for easing near-term burdens on the economy even if it complicates long-term policy, writes CFR's Michael Levi, but it's not clear where this intervention ends.

Venezuela: Venezuelan officials issued reassurances about President Hugo Chávez's health (WSJ) after his brother said Chavez would remain in a Cuban hospital for up to twelve more days. His absence has sparked concerns about who would replace the leader, who has been in office for twelve years.

EUROPE: Greece Agrees to More Spending Cuts

Greece has agreed to additional spending cuts (FT) after international lenders found that a €28 billion austerity package set last month was no longer sufficient. Athens must receive a €12 billion aid payment by mid-July or it will default on its sovereign debt.

This Backgrounder looks at the eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path of European integration, but now buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed.

TRANSNATIONAL: G20 Moves to Stabilize Food Prices

G20 agriculture ministers agreed on measures designed to lift global food production (NYT) and improve supplies, while mitigating price swings. The ministers also agreed to remove export restrictions on food for humanitarian purposes and reaffirmed opposition to export bans, which will be taken up by the World Trade Organization.

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Topics: Afghanistan • Daily Roundup • Military

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    "As U.S. forces are gradually withdrawn over the next three years, it is Pakistan's six hundred thousand-strong army (WashPost) that will become the dominant military force in the region and will try to shape its future, writes Fareed Zakaria."
    The question is, can the U.S. rely on Pakistan's army?

    June 24, 2011 at 10:54 am | Reply
  2. SarahPalin

    I like reservations. We should have more reservations. When I'm elected president, I will create reservations for the Old, Sick, Poor, Elderly, and Gay people. Then they can be slaves to my rich republican friends. We will air lift our table scraps and slop to them for food.

    June 24, 2011 at 10:57 am | Reply
  3. Silent Hunter

    30,000 troop withdrawl from Afghanistan it is about bloody time. What is Petraeus talking about MORE AGGRESSIVE than he would of recommended? Does General Petraeus personally pay for the Afghanistan campaign? Does he know how much taxpayer money it takes to feed the war machine? Obama is doing the right thing but 6 months too late. The little amount of skirmishes the U.S has faced in the past couple months would of had warranted a troop movement sooner. Now Obama should be concentrating on creating jobs and trying to get the economy stabilized and try not to fall down the bankrupcy hole like GREECE. It is Greece's own fault for being broke. Mismanaged funding, Corporate tax cuts, mostly retired population and most of all CORRUPTION in the government. Nobody should send them anymore bailouts. Didn't we send them money last year and the year before? I guess those Greek hookers are really expensive!!!!!
    As the cost of gas keeps skyrocketing out of control the government is going to release 30 million barrels of oil from its reserve. That is going to drive the price of gas even higher. Just keep in mind that the U.S still doesn't pay that much for gas as in Edmonton Alberta Canada we are paying $1.21/litre that works out to $5.49/GALLON and we refine it here in the Edmonton. So look at the bright side of things at least you still have friendly neighbours like us to share OUR OIL with.

    June 24, 2011 at 11:15 am | Reply
    • Gary Ryan

      Is everybody in this government of ours so stupid that they haven't realized that this group of people running our government and all of the congress;house;and senate have been loosing billions of dollars in these country's that we have been fighting in and haven't a clue as to where the heck it is.And now they want all of the senors in this country to fork up more to set-up this country of Afghanistan so it can run itself.They want the senors here to make up the loss of all of that money & guns that nobody was watching out for. then on top of this they have had duplicate programs running in the U.S. that have cost this country billions.I have never seen such a corrupt government in this country in my life.I am truly ashamed to let some one know that i am an American.And this isn't the only corrupt government we have had go back all of the years since this one .Bush; and more politician's then i can think of.I'm a republican but won't be voting any more because there is no one out there to vote for;and no way to control what goes on in Washington.Once their in;their in.They literately do what they want.they get paid a massive pension;great medical plan;retirement plan;and all on the backs of the people who put them in there in the first place.I'd like to get rid of all of the politicians in Washington and start with a fresh bunch accountable to the public,directly,where we could set up some kind of system to stop the corruption in Washington starting with the Special Interests people.illuminate that group all to gather.make it a low that anyone giving money to a politician for his vote on any bill be jailed for 20 years for bribing a government official.

      July 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Reply
  4. anarchteacher

    Obama, in his speech on Afghanistan, never mentioned the most important factor in our continued presence in that "graveyard of empires" - The Narcosaurus.

    It is something never openly discussed in Wall Street bank board rooms, the CFR's Harold Pratt House headquarters, or the network news rooms of the mainstream media.

    Certainly never before the American people.

    But it is one of the central driving factors of our imperial foreign policy with the Third World, and has been for decades.

    Last week we observed the 40th anniversary of the beginning of Richard Nixon's War on Drugs upon the American people.

    When will we observe the commencement of the covert War for Drugs, which has lasted over sixty years, and whose massive institutional corruption, money-laundering, and military interventions have fueled the military-industrial complex and the National Security State?


    June 24, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Reply
  5. Matt

    Obama went off on his own tangent and picked at the 5 year plan like a vulture, when he had picked the flesh off he started on the skeleton, until it was a pile of bones. His admission of defeat shows that even with the best officers and military in the world, his Afghan war plan was a total failure and impossible to implement.

    All he managed to do was get some fine damn Americans killed.

    June 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Reply

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