Is it time to reset the reset with Russia?
Russia – U.S.-Russian relations, which have undergone something of a restart recently, seem to be "caught in a holding pattern", writes Andrei Tsygankov in the Moscow Times.
"It seems that both sides are increasingly frustrated with each other's policies. The West has never hidden what it wants from the relationship: more favors from Moscow — from allowing transit routes to Afghanistan to pressuring Iran into nuclear compliance and negotiating a political exit for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi."
"But Moscow rightfully wants something in exchange, and when the Kremlin repeatedly gets the cold shoulder to its initiatives, this impedes the reset."
Crunching the numbers on the U.S. in Afghanistan
U.A.E. – President Obama claimed that over the last decade a trillion dollars have been spent on war. He said that with the drawdown in Afghanistan, future investment will be in the U.S. people. Alan Philps in the Abu Dhabi-based National calls these remarks "less than honest":
"There are good reasons for ending the war, but that air conditioning money is not going straight into the pockets of the American poor. Given that the annual U.S. deficit is 14 times the cost of the Afghan campaign, ending the war will not magically transform the federal finances."
Pakistan – In the Pakistan-based Friday Times, Imtiaz Gul also crunches the numbers on U.S. involvement in Afghanistan:
"Supplying a single gallon of gasoline in Afghanistan reportedly costs the U.S. military an average of $400, while sustaining a single U.S. soldier runs around $1 million a year (by contrast, sustaining an Afghan soldier costs about $12,000 a year)."
Saudi Arabia – A cynic, says an editorial in the Saudi Arabia-based Arab News, would point out that "all Obama is doing is withdrawing the extra forces he dispatched in 2009 as apart of his Afghan surge. Some 70,000 American troops will remain."
The drawdown is limited, and reflective of waning support on the part of the American public. As with Iraq, the editorial says, the U.S. should move forward with removing many more soldiers from Afghanistan, even if, as in Iraq, "terror attacks by insurgents continue."
The editorial notes that "this month alone, some 200 people have been killed in 11 major assaults" and this "is not seen, either by Washington or the Iraqi government or anyone else, as reason to delay the pullout."
U.S.-Japan relations roil over base proposal
Japan – The joint U.S.-Japan statement coming out of the June 21 meeting between foreign and defense ministers is an important step in strengthening security in outer space, cyberspace and the high seas.
Yet it is on land - specifically the location of a U.S. base in Japan - that threatens to add tension to the alliance, according to an editorial the Japan Times. What is in dispute is the planned transfer of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa Island, to Henoko in the northern part of the island.
"But both governments should realize that given the Okinawan people's vehement opposition to the transfer within Okinawa Prefecture, it is almost impossible to push the Henoko plan. The more they stick to the plan, the deeper Okinawan people's resentment will become. Such resentment could undermine ties."
Japan – Also taking up the meeting, security statement and base dispute, an editorial in Japan's Asahi Shimbun finds that "some of the new common strategic objectives the partners agreed on suggest that Tokyo bit the bullet in order to accommodate Washington's wishes."
Moreover, the strength of the agreement going forward is in question for each nation has turnover at the top: Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan is stepping down and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had his last day on Thursday.
"Given these irregular circumstances in which the ministerial agreement was hammered out," says the editorial, "a fresh round of talks must be held to give the agreement any meaning and truly deepen the bilateral alliance."