Obama says Afghanistan strategy will remain, but McChrystal is gone; strategists rethink Afghanistan strategy; China arrests 10 "hardcore terrorists"; Julia Gillard is Australia's first female Prime Minister; Iran is ready for fuel sanctions; G8 in Canada open to developing nations

Top of the Agenda: McChrystal Replaced with Petraeus

 

President Barack Obama named General David Petraeus to replace General Stanley McChrystal as the top military commander for Afghanistan after McChrystal and his staff made a number of critical and derogatory remarks that appeared in a Rolling Stone article. The president stressed his Afghanistan strategy would remain the same (NYT) despite public setbacks and growing doubt. Choosing Petraeus, attributed with overseeing the turnaround in the Iraq war, may avoid some of the near-term problems associated with removing the commander (WashPost) of a war effort involving 120,000 U.S. and NATO troops, billions of dollars in reconstruction projects, and sensitive diplomatic negotiations. "The decision to name Petraeus is the least disruptive way of removing McChrystal," Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told the Washington Post. "Petraeus knows the strategy inside and out, he knows the plans--he is as much of an architect of this as General McChrystal."

But going forward, questions remain about the efficacy of the strategy and whether Petraeus will be any more successful than McChrystal at employing it. June has been the deadliest month for NATO troops since the war in Afghanistan began, with seventy-nine casualties so far (AFP). Petraeus has already said he would recommend delaying the pullout of U.S. forces (BBC) from Afghanistan beyond 2011 if need be, arguing security and political conditions in Afghanistan must be ready to handle a U.S. drawdown.

Analysis:

In this First Take, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass says it was wise for the president to act swiftly to replace his theater commander and he should act no less decisively in reviewing policy on Afghanistan.

Michael Codner, head of military sciences at the Britain's Royal United Services Institute, examines the nomination of Petraeus (BBC) and whether he has what's needed to "deliver Afghanistan."

CFR's Max Boot notes that the turnaround in Iraq did not happen overnight (NYT) and warns that the increase in casualties in Afghanistan is not "necessarily a sign of impending disaster."

Background:

Read President Obama's speech on the nomination of General Petraeus as top commander for the mission in Afghanistan.

In Foreign Affairs, Stephen Biddle, Fotini Christia, and J. Alexander Thier write that the West's attempt to build a centralized government in Afghanistan fits poorly with the country's history and political culture. The most realistic models of governance are decentralized democracy and a system of internal mixed sovereignty.

 

PACIFIC RIM: China Arrests "Hardcore Terrorists"

 

Chinese officials said ten "hardcore terrorists" (BBC) have been arrested for allegedly planning to carry out attacks in the Xinjiang region during unrest between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese last year. The announcement comes as the region prepares for the first anniversary of the ethnic riots that caused an estimated 200 deaths. Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uighur Congress based in Europe, called the timing of the announcement politically motivated. (al-Jazeera)

Australia: Julia Gillard became the country's first female prime minister (NYT) after Kevin Rudd stepped down amid plunging approval ratings and rising opposition from his center-left Labor Party.

 

ELSEWHERE:

- Iran Prepared for Fuel Sanctions
- Developing Nations to Attend G8

This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org

Comments (1)

by stuart munro on June 25, 2010
stuart munro

McChrystal is well out of it.

If Obama extends Petraus's deadline and commits a lot more troops, it may be that something that could be mistaken for victory could briefly be achieved - or at least the poisoned chalice of the Afghan war could be passed to the next president.

As it stands, the war has obscure objectives, and began with several years of fighting that caused indiscriminate civilian casualties. It will take a long time to regain Afghan's trust, if indeed it can be regained at all.

Given repeated reports of transport companies making significant payments to the Taliban for safe passage, the merits of extending the war even if one believed in its ostensible mission civilatrice would have to be called into question.

In fact, whether America is ready to admit it or not:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St7nQnxpOZA&feature=youtube_gdata

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