The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

America’s long, long Afghan war

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate--Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own--

Twenty years ago this month, the last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan after a disastrous war that lasted nine years, seven weeks and three days. Barring military and political miracles, the United States will stay longer in Afghanistan than the Soviets did. Considerably longer.

Present U.S. plans to reinforce troops fighting a war that is, by most accounts, going badly, provide for up to 30,000 additional soldiers to be deployed over the next 12 to 18 months. By that time, the U.S. presence will almost have matched the Soviets' stay and will exceed it by the end of 2010.

And if U.S. history is any guide, politicians running for the 2012 presidential election will describe the Afghan war as Barack Obama's war because he switched emphasis and carried out a campaign pledge to draw down troops in Iraq and bolster U.S. forces in Afghanistan, now 36,000 strong.

Obama critics will complain about the Afghan war's cost -- probably around $70 billion a year -- and demand an accounting on what it has achieved and when it will end. So far, nobody is venturing forecasts beyond "it will be long."

from The Great Debate:

Play by the rules, close failing banks

James Saft Great Debate -- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

Why not just play by the existing rules and rescue the economy, rather than the banks and their foolish shareholders and counterparties?

The choice for the Obama administration comes down to this: pay a subsidy to weak banks and reward failure and self-dealing or shut them down and start over again.

from For the Record:

After the warm glow, telling the cold, hard truths

dean-150Dean Wright is Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards. Any opinions are his own.

The president was inaugurated in front of adoring crowds and positive reviews in the media. As the unpopular incumbent sat on the platform with him, the new Democratic chief executive took office as the nation faced a crippling economic crisis. The incoming president was a charismatic figure who had run a brilliant campaign and had handled the press with aplomb. The media were ready to give him a break.

from The Great Debate:

Obama and the Afghan narco-state

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

To understand why the war in Afghanistan, now in its eighth year, is not going well for the United States and its NATO allies, take a look at two statistics.

from The Great Debate:

First 100 Days: Obama and trade

Sean West-- Sean West is a Comparative Analytics analyst at the political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group. The views expressed are his own. --

Fear that President Barack Obama will backslide on America’s free trade commitments is misplaced—in fact, he may eventually expand America’s commitment to liberalization. His pledge to revisit the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) amidst an economic slump was one of his most widely discussed policy positions of the campaign season.

from The Great Debate:

First 100 Days: Fix the banks

morici-- Peter Morici is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Business and former Chief Economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The views expressed are his own. --

For every new president, campaign promises and inaugural idealism must give way to the hard choices that measure the mettle of their leadership.

from The Great Debate:

First 100 Days: Obama’s first climate change target

Mary D. Nichols-- Mary D. Nichols is Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, the lead agency for implementing California’s landmark climate change law, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The views expressed are her own. --

After eight years of inaction on climate change by the federal government, we can now look forward to the Obama administration tackling global warming head on. With not a minute to lose, Lisa Jackson, the soon-to-be new head of the EPA, should move quickly to capitalize on the momentum of states that have so far been the leaders in fighting global warming. There is no better place to start than by establishing a national greenhouse gas emission standard for automobiles based on California’s landmark clean car law.

from The Great Debate:

First 100 Days: Obama, Iran and Richard Nixon

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own -

Here is a piece of advice for Barack Obama for dealing with Iran, one of the countries that will loom large in his presidency. Forget the way five of your predecessors dealt with the place. Take your cue from Richard Nixon and his 1972 breakthrough with China.

Just as Nixon and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, realized that a quarter of a century of isolating and weakening China had not served America's interests, so Obama should acknowledge that 30 years of U.S. policy since the 1979 Iranian revolution has failed and that what is needed is a grand bargain, a shift as fundamental as the one Nixon achieved with China.

from The Great Debate:

Scoop! U.S. offers to cooperate with world

Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

An American president vowing to cooperate with the rest of the world would barely be news if it did not follow eight years' of George W. Bush's tenure in the White House.

Barack Obama's inauguration address was thin on foreign policy specifics, but his pledge to work with allies and adversaries on global problems from nuclear weapons to climate change was a message many have waited impatiently to hear.

from The Great Debate:

Obama: plus ça change?

Robin Shepherd is a senior research fellow at Chatham House in London. The opinions expressed are his own.

robinshepherd-cropped1Which part of the word “change” did Barack Obama not understand? A year from now it is a question that many outside America will be asking about his foreign policy.

  •