Ambassador says no more troops without improved governance; Thaksin accuses Thai leaders of "false patriotism"; Yemen says no to Iran military aid; Trade likely sticking point in Obama's China visit; and more
Top of the Agenda: US Envoy on Afghanistan
US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry expressed his reservations (NYT) about deploying additional troops to the country as the Obama administration deliberates on a new Afghanistan strategy this week. The ambassador opposes the position of US and NATO commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal, who has requested an additional forty thousand troops.
Eikenberry recently expressed concern about the reliability of President Hamid Karzai. A senior military official said last year that General McChrystal's relationship to Eikenberry has occasionally been tense. Eikenberry has been critical of McChrystal's push for commando missions, citing safety concerns, according to the New York Times.
The White House issued a statement after a top-level meeting on Afghanistan strategy Wednesday, apparently reflecting Eikenberry's concerns (WashPost). "The President believes that we need to make clear to the Afghan government that our commitment is not open-ended," the statement said. "After years of substantial investments by the American people, governance in Afghanistan must improve in a reasonable period of time."
The Washington Post reports that Eikenberry's late interventions have highlighted the difficulties of creating a strategy in which the United States is dependent on a partnership with the Karzai government, despite concerns about its incompetence and corruption.
In the Nation, Aram Roston writes that US contracting in Afghanistan is rife with shady connections between former U.S. officials and former Taliban members aimed at collecting US government funds in the name of the war effort.
In the Los Angeles Times, CFR's Max Boot says that although corruption, drug-trafficking and other civil issues are important priorities, Karzai needs to become more engaged with the war raging around him.
A CFR Backgrounder examines the troubled Afghan-Pakistani border.
PACIFIC RIM: US-China Trade
Given China's surging trade surplus and rising unemployment in the United States, the Asia Times reports that trade will likely be a sticking point during President Obama's visit to Beijing next week.
Cambodia: Former Thai president Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a 2006 coup, accused Thailand's leaders (Bangkok Post) of "false patriotism" during his first lecture as Cambodia's economic adviser.
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org