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On Afghan Election, Panetta is Simply Stating the Obvious

Live long enough, and you get to have diverse experiences. Today I get to defend the head of the CIA for telling the truth.

CIA director Leon Panetta is catching some flak on the Intertubes for telling Voice of America that

even if suspect ballots are discounted, President Hamid Karzai will in all likelihood win re-election.

But if you look at the numbers for 15 seconds, it's clear that Panetta is simply stating the obvious.

Panetta's full quote was:

"It's clear that there was some degree of corruption and fraud involved in the election," Panetta said. "It's being viewed now by the commissions involved in counting those votes. I think what appears to be the case is that even after they eliminate some of the votes that resulted because of fraud, that Karzai will still - still looks like the individual who's going to be able to win that election."

Here are the numbers, according to the New York Times on September 16:

Current tally:

Karzai 3,093,256 54.6%
Abdullah 1,571,581 27.8%
Valid votes 5,662,758

Ballots being reviewed:

Karzai 1,100,000
Abdullah 300,000

So, if every ballot being reviewed were thrown out, the result would be:

With all reviewed ballots excluded:
Karzai 1,993,256 46.8%
Abdullah 1,271,581 29.8%
Valid 4,262,758

But if half of the reviewed ballots were thrown out (assuming that half of reviewed Karzai ballots and half of reviewed Abdullah ballots are thrown out - that is, throwing out more than 3 times as many Karzai ballots as Abdullah ballots), the result would be

With half of reviewed ballots excluded:
Karzai 2,543,256 51.2%
Abdullah 1,421,581 28.6%
Valid 4,962,758

JFP News 9/17: A Winnable Fight - No More U.S. Troops to Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
September 17, 2009


A Winnable Fight: No More U.S. Troops to Afghanistan
The stars are aligning for a winnable and worthwhile fight on U.S. policy in Afghanistan in the next several weeks: stopping the Obama Administration from sending more troops. If the Administration sends 10,000 more troops, they'll just replace the Canadian, Italian, and British troops that are leaving.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/337

Cutting Off the Honduran Coup's Air Supply
Laura Carlsen reviews the Obama Administration's ambiguous policy moves towards the coup in Honduras.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-carlsen/cutting-off-the-honduran_b_289520.html

Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your financial contributions to Just Foreign Policy help us create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a just foreign policy.
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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The U.S. intelligence community is reporting to the White House that Iran has not restarted its nuclear-weapons development program, Newsweek reports. The latest update to policymakers has been that as of now - two years after the period covered by the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate - U.S. intelligence agencies still believe Iran has not resumed nuclear-weapons development work. Top policymakers are being told that there is no significant disagreement among U.S. intelligence agencies and experts about the latest assessments regarding Iran's nuclear effort.

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A Winnable Fight: No More U.S. Troops to Afghanistan

The stars are aligning for a winnable and worthwhile fight on U.S. policy in Afghanistan in the next several weeks: stopping the Obama Administration from sending more troops.

It should be winnable, because: the public is against sending more troops, the overwhelming majority of Democrats are against sending more troops, key Democrats in Congress have begun to speak out against sending more troops, the Obama Administration is divided, President Obama hasn't taken a public position, and the Obama Administration has signaled that it will not take a public position for several weeks. The delay gives opponents time to mobilize, more Members of Congress the opportunity to speak out before the Administration solidifies its position.

It's a worthwhile fight, among other reasons, because if we want the U.S. government to seriously pursue diplomatic efforts to resolve the Afghanistan conflict politically, we have to jam them up on the "military option."

On October 1, the U.S. plans to talk to Iran. This is happening, in part, because Washington doesn't see a "military option" in Iran now. Part of the reason Washington doesn't see a military option in Iran is because they don't perceive the U.S. public as supporting a military option.

Denying the Pentagon access to more U.S. troops isn't the most subtle, nuanced way to influence U.S. policy. But it's the main lever that the public has.

The political battle over more U.S. troops isn't a battle over what's going to happen in Afghanistan next month. The troop increase that President Obama approved earlier this year has not yet been completed. It's a political battle about what's going to happen in the next several years.

Indeed, if President Obama were to approve 10,000 more troops beyond the increase already approved, the likely effect over time would be simply to replace the troops from other countries that are almost certain to leave.

JFP News 9/16: Who's Afraid of A Terrorist Haven?

Just Foreign Policy News
September 16, 2009


Just Foreign Policy News on the Web:
[To receive just the Summary and a link to the web version, send a note with subject: "subscribe JFP News short summary" to naiman@justforeignpolicy.org.]

Paul Pillar: Afghanistan a "Terrorist Haven"? So What?
It's been a parameter of debate that the United States cannot allow Al Qaeda to re-establish a "terrorist haven" in Afghanistan. But in today's Washington Post, Paul Pillar challenges this assumption.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/333

Al Jazeera video: UN inquiry finds Israel guilty of Gaza war crimes
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/334

Venezuela's "troubling" military spending?
Secretary of State Clinton has urged Venezuela to be "transparent" about its military spending. Borev.net publishes graphs that put this concern in context. Looking at military spending for 2007-8, among Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Venezuela, Venezuela comes in last, both in absolute terms, and as a share of GDP.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/335

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Summary:
U.S./Top News

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Venezuela's "troubling" military spending?

Secretary of State Clinton has urged Venezuela to be "transparent" about its military spending - implying that Venezuela's military spending is something that should be of concern to Americans. The blog Borev.net publishes a pair of graphs that help put this concern in context. Looking at military spending for 2007-8, among Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Venezuela, Venezuela comes in last, both in absolute terms, and as a share of GDP.

 

UN inquiry finds Israel guilty of Gaza war crimes

A United Nations fact-finding inquiry has found that Israel committed war crimes during its attack on Gaza last winter, Al Jazeera reports:

Paul Pillar: Afghanistan a "Terrorist Haven"? So What?

It's been a parameter of debate that the United States cannot allow Al Qaeda to re-establish a "terrorist haven" in Afghanistan. When I say it has been a parameter of debate, I mean that even many critics of the war, and those who have argued for a timetable for withdrawal or exit strategy, have accepted this as an assumption, and argued that there are better ways to achieve this goal than by maintaining the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan. (As recently as Monday, I made such an argument.)

But in today's Washington Post, Paul Pillar challenges this assumption.

Paul Pillar has what one could call "impeccable establishment credentials." Pillar was deputy chief of the counterterrorist center at the CIA from 1997 to 1999.

Pillar asks:

How much does a [terrorist] haven affect the danger of terrorist attacks against U.S. interests, especially the U.S. homeland?

And he answers:

not nearly as much as unstated assumptions underlying the current debate seem to suppose. When a group has a haven, it will use it for such purposes as basic training of recruits. But the operations most important to future terrorist attacks do not need such a home, and few recruits are required for even very deadly terrorism. Consider: The preparations most important to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks took place not in training camps in Afghanistan but, rather, in apartments in Germany, hotel rooms in Spain and flight schools in the United States.

As Pillar notes,

The issue today does not concern what was worth disrupting eight years ago. And it is not whether a haven in Afghanistan would be of any use to a terrorist group -- it would.

Palestinian Female Prisoners Accuse Israeli Guards of "Humiliating" Searches

A group of female former Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails have accused prison guards of carrying out "humiliating" internal body searches in violation of Israel's prison code, Al Jazeera reports:

JFP News 9/15: US Cancels Visas of Honduras Coup Leaders

Just Foreign Policy News
September 15, 2009


Just Foreign Policy News on the Web:
[To receive just the Summary and a link to the web version, send a note with subject: "subscribe JFP News short summary" to naiman@justforeignpolicy.org.]

CATO Forum: Should the United States Withdraw from Afghanistan?
Unfortunately, the CATO forum was not webcast live as previously advertised; apologies to those of you who tried to watch live.
However: the full video of the event is now posted:
http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=6496
The presentation of Just Foreign Policy is posted here:
Withdraw from Afghanistan with a Public, Negotiated Timetable
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/329
We are working on a video excerpting highlights of the forum. Watch this space.

Members of Congress Urge Caution on Colombia Basing Agreement
Sixteen Members of Congress - fifteen Representatives and a Senator - have written to Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates, urging caution in expanding the U.S. military presence in Colombia.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/330

Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your financial contributions to Just Foreign Policy help us create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a just foreign policy.
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Summary:
U.S./Top News

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Congress Members Urge Caution on Colombia Base Agreement

Sixteen Members of Congress - fifteen Representatives and a Senator - have written to Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates, urging caution in expanding the U.S. military presence in Colombia. The letter is here.