Gen. Petraeus confirmed as Afghanistan commander, saying it will get tougher (+ analysis); South Korea rejects talks with North; Merkel's presidential candidate squeaks in; Latin America bucks trend, forecasts 4.5% growth; and more
Top of the Agenda: Petraeus Addresses NATO
General David Petraeus, the new commander of the US mission in Afghanistan, addresses the North Atlantic Council (AP), NATO's top decision-making body, Thursday. Petraeus was unanimously confirmed (BBC) as the mission's commander by the US Senate Wednesday. This week, Petraeus described Afghanistan's security situation as tenuous, saying it will get "tougher before it gets easier."
Petraeus may not be the only change in command in Afghanistan (NYT). The two top US civilian officials in the war also face an uncertain future with at least one senior White House official suggesting General Stanley McChrystal's departure could be used as an excuse to clean house. Administration officials have begun floating the idea of replacing US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry with Ryan C. Crocker, the former ambassador in Iraq who created a close partnership with Petraeus during Iraq's troop surge. As for Richard Holbrooke, the administration's special representative to the region, US officials said his job was more secure than it was six months ago. But both Holbrooke and Eikenberry have been instructed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take a hard look at their civilian team, which critics say contains several difficult personalities that may not mesh well.
CFR's Stephen Biddle says the Afghanistan situation is "uncertain" and hard to evaluate.
In this First Take, CFR's 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.
In this podcast, Afghanistan's minister of mines and two World Bank experts discuss how to manage the country's potentially significant cache of mineral resources.
Watch President Obama's speech on the nomination of General Petraeus as top commander for the mission in Afghanistan
In this December 2009 CFR meeting transcript, Richard C. Holbrooke, US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, discusses US policy in Afghanistan.
PACIFIC RIM: South Korea Rejects Talks with the North
South Korea rejected North Korea's proposal (AFP) for direct military talks on the sinking of a South Korean warship, saying the issue should be addressed under the armistice which ended the Korean War. CFR's Nicole Lewis says China is unlikely to exert more pressure on North Korea, so Washington should redirect its own role in brokering inter-Korean peace and engaging Pyongyang.
Philippines: Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said she would push for changes to the country's constitution to open up the economy (Reuters) to more foreign investment, creating a potential distraction for the economic reform agenda of the new government of Benigno Aquino.
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org