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JFP News 9/24: 500,000 Troops in Afghanistan?

Just Foreign Policy News
September 24, 2009


Tell President Obama: No More Troops for Afghanistan
Some of Obama's advisers are urging him to reject General McChrystal's request for more troops. With Obama publicly deliberating, now is the time to weigh in. Send President Obama a letter. Urge him to reject the request for more troops and turn U.S. policy away from military escalation and towards diplomacy and negotiation.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/nomoretroops

Scholars, NGOs Appeal to President Obama for UN Security Council Meeting on Honduras
Brazil has asked for an emergency UN Security Council session on the crisis in Honduras. The State Department has said it is viewing Brazil's request positively. Scholars and NGO leaders have initiated a letter to President Obama urging him to support Brazil's request. You can sign too.
http://bit.ly/3KGt7g

Video - Andrea Mitchell: 500,000 Troops Needed for Afghanistan?
Journalist Andrea Mitchell is reporting that in the classified section of the McChrystal report on Afghanistan was a statement that 500,000 troops would be needed in Afghanistan. That's total troops, not U.S. forces, but Mitchell makes the point that since many are deeply skeptical that McChrystal's goals for increasing Afghan troops are realistic, it's reasonable for President Obama to view McChrystal's request for more U.S. troops very skeptically, since the request for more U.S. troops is based on a promise of a "success" in which there are 500,000 troops overall.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWX794aJ_y8

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JFP News 9/12: The Real Failure of the Afghan Election

Just Foreign Policy News
September 23, 2009


The Real Failure of the Afghan Election
The post-election claims about the Afghan election have had the unfortunate effect of obscuring a far more fundamental consequence for evaluating the future of US policy. The fundamental failure was not the attempted theft of votes by some Karzai supporters and some Abdullah supporters. The fundamental failure was the failure of the US and allied forces to provide security for the election, as they had promised to do. If the US and its allies could not establish security for this single event, an event on which they were highly focused, an event for which they had explicitly increased their forces in the country, that suggests that current plans to provide security by increasing foreign forces will fail, absent a broad political process to resolve Afghanistan's conflicts - a political process that must include the "Taliban" insurgencies to be successful.
http://www.truthout.org/092209R?n

Withdraw from Afghanistan with a Public, Negotiated Timetable
In this short video from the CATO forum, Just Foreign Policy makes the case for a timetable for withdrawal.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/exit-afghanistan

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U.S./Top News

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JFP News 9/22: Brzezinski suggests U.S. threaten Israeli planes to deter Israeli attack

Just Foreign Policy News
September 22, 2009


Now is the Time to Restore President Zelaya
Secretary of State Clinton says that "now that President Zelaya is back, it would be opportune to restore him to his position." But before there can be a diplomatic solution, the U.S. must make clear to the coup regime that a violent crackdown won't solve the crisis. Urge the State Department and the White House to speak out forcefully against violent repression.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/342

Withdraw from Afghanistan with a Public, Negotiated Timetable
In this short video from the CATO forum, Just Foreign Policy makes the case for a timetable for withdrawal.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/exit-afghanistan

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Honduran authorities maintained a security cordon around the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa Tuesday after forcefully dispersing supporters of ousted President Zelaya, CNN reports. Police and soldiers blocked off streets throughout the capital to enforce a nationwide curfew. All flights in and out of the country were canceled. The de facto authorities isolated the Brazilian Embassy by cutting water, power and phone lines to the building. The U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa was closed. The State Department said U.S. diplomats remained in contact with both sides in the conflict.

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Hillary: Now Is the Time to Restore President Zelaya

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya returned to Honduras yesterday; President Zelaya is under the protection of the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa. The coup regime immediately declared a curfew; Honduran military and police have surrounded the embassy, violently dispersing President Zelaya's supporters.

As Secretary of State Clinton has noted, the question of whether President Zelaya can return to Honduras has been resolved by events. He has returned. The question is now restoring him to office.

Speaking after meeting with Costa Rican President Arias, Secretary Clinton said:

now that President Zelaya is back, it would be opportune to restore him to his position under appropriate circumstances, get on with the election that is currently scheduled for November, have a peaceful transition of presidential authority, and get Honduras back to constitutional and democratic order in a very - on a very clear path toward that goal.

That's good. But before there can be a diplomatic resolution of the crisis, the US must make clear to the coup regime that a violent crackdown will not be a way out. The reports from Honduras indicate that a violent crackdown is already underway.

Brazil's Foreign Minister Amorim has warned that any threat to President Zelaya or the Brazilian embassy would be a grave breach of international law. OAS Secretary General Insulza said the de facto authorities must be responsible for the security of President Zelaya and for the Brazilian Embassy.

But an adviser to the coup regime's foreign ministry claimed that international law would not stop the coup regime from raiding the Brazilian embassy.

JFP News 9/21: President Zelaya Returns to Honduras

Just Foreign Policy News
September 21, 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.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/337

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) President Zelaya returned to Honduras Monday and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy, Reuters reports. His appearance in Honduras increased pressure on the country's ruler Roberto Micheletti to cede power, Reuters says. Several thousand Zelaya supporters gathered outside the embassy while a military helicopter clattered overhead and a small group of police stood 100 yards away. The U.S. called for restraint. Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorim said he was hopeful Zelaya's return could start a new stage in negotiations to end the crisis.

2) OAS Secretary General Insulza said the de facto government authorities must be responsible for the security of President Zelaya and for the Brazilian Embassy, the Buenos Aires Herald reports. The OAS held an emergency meeting in Washington to decide when Insulza will be able to travel to Honduras.

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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

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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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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.