FROM Peter Tomsen
Can Diplomatic Fanfare Translate to Long-Term Security in Afghanistan? Ashraf Ghani has completed his first visit to the United States as Afghanistan's President, cutting a very different figure from his predecessor, Hamid Karzai. But public diplomacy is one thing. Security in a corrupt home country is another. After President Obama agreed to extend the US presence in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani addressed a joint meeting of Congress . He used words America never heard from his predecessor — despite all the dollars spent and the lives lost in his country.
Preliminary Results Reveal an Afghan President - But Will He Be Accepted? Preliminary results from Afghanistan’s runoff presidential election were released today. Some 1900 polling paces have been audited after charges of widespread ballot stuffing and audio tapes purporting to show election officials engaging in voter fraud. The Independent Election Commission says President Karzai’s hand-picked candidate, Ashraf Ghani is the winner with 56% of the vote, but the opposition, led by Abdullah Abdullah, says it won’t accept that outcome.
US Turns over Security to Afghan Forces, Plans Talks with Taliban The NATO coalition formally turned over authority to the Afghan government today, as the US and the Taliban announced that direct talks will begin next week. Today's transfer of authority has been long anticipated. Talks with the Taliban are a surprise. Peter Tomsen, who was US special envoy and ambassador to Afghanistan from 1989 until 1992, is author of The Wars in Afghanistan : Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers.
Developing Threats to US and NATO Plans in Afghanistan In Washington yesterday, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron promised to stay the course in Afghanistan. Today, Afghan President Karzai told US Defense Secretary Panetta he wants NATO to end its combat mission next year instead of 2014. He also said that troops now deployed in the countryside should be garrisoned only in large bases.
Developing Threats to US and NATO Plans in Afghanistan There were two major setbacks today for US efforts to wage war and negotiate peace in Afghanistan. President Karzai said NATO troops should leave the countryside and return to large bases, ending their combat mission next year instead of 2014, and the Taliban suspended conversations with the United States. The troop movement will put security for civilian developers in the hands of Afghan forces, with private aid companies already in fear for their safety . Many are already so worried they have plans to pull out, with the prospect of suing the US Agency for International Development for material breach of contract. We hear about growing threats to the scenario outlined by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron this week in Washington.
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.
GOP 'Nukes' the Senate filibuster on SCOTUS nominees Senate Democrats today blocked Judge Neil Gorsuch's appointment to the US Supreme Court… but just for the moment. The Republican majority has changed the rules to force a likely confirmation as soon as tomorrow.
The US gets deeper into Middle East wars. What's the endgame? President Trump welcomed Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to the White House today… just one of the changes in America's approach to the Middle East since Barack Obama left office. We hear about that and the escalation of warfare as well as civilian casualties.