Thomas R. Eddlem
The Obama administration is pushing to leave more troops in the Persian Gulf and to create a regional equivalent of NATO in the Arabic Middle East, according to the New York Times.
North Korea bombarded a South Korean island with a barrage of as many as 170 shells in the early morning hours of November 23. “I believe we should punish them severely to a point where they will never think of another attack,” the South Korean-based newspaper Chosunilbo quoted South Korean President Lee Myung-bak as responding in a Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting after the attack. Lee's remarks were more restrained on his official presidential website, where he pledged to “retaliate against any additional acts of provocation in a resolute manner.”
The publication of nearly 400,000 secret U.S. military documents about the Iraq war by the whistleblower WikiLeaks earned condemnation from governments on three continents within hours of their posting on the Internet. The U.S. government, the British defense ministry, and the Iraqi prime minister's office all quickly condemned the documents being revealed to the public.
Japanese Financial Services Minister Shozaburo Jimi confirmed that China's central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan had not defected to the United States, something rumored from Chinese-based sources for several days over the weekend. But the question now being asked is why the rumor started in the first place.
The much ballyhooed withdrawal of “combat troops” from Iraq by the Obama administration has revealed another uncomfortable truth: The U.S. Army soldiers and Marines that are being sent home from Iraq in August (less the 50,000 “non-combat” soldiers that will remain behind) are being replaced by a new U.S. “civilian” contract army under the control of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
U.S. Commander for Afghanistan General David Petraeus told NBC's “Meet the Press” August 15 that he prefers not to talk about “winning” in the Afghan war, and that Obama's deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from the war-torn nation of July 2011 was a flexible guideline where only a “couple of thousand” U.S. soldiers may be sent home by that date.
The return of Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri to Iran from CIA custody has news agencies wondering whether he defected or was kidnapped by the CIA during a June 2009 hajj (Islamic religious pilgrimage) to Mecca. “Americans wanted me to say that I defected to America of my own will, to use me for revealing some false information about Iran's nuclear work," Amiri said from Tehran airport last week, claiming, "I was under intensive psychological pressure by [the] CIA.... The main aim of this abduction was to stage a new political and psychological game against Iran.”
Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass has penned a cover story for Newsweek magazine calling for a smaller U.S. presence in Afghanistan, but not complete withdrawal.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recommended Marine Corps General James Mattis July 8 to head the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the joint military command for the Middle East that includes supervision of the Iraq and Afghan wars. The U.S. Central Command combines theater command of the four service branches as well as special operations for the Middle East and Central Asia.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch reported April 27 that a secret Iraqi prison maintained by the current lame-duck Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki engaged in “routine” torture against detainees.