Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Details

May 7, 2009

OBAMA/The devil’s in the details, the saying goes, and we’ll find out plenty of details today about two big initiatives of the Obama administration: the budget and the bank bailout.

Afghan solution: pomegranates for poppies

April 23, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has an idea for dealing with the heroin trade in Afghanistan: pomegranates. AFGHANISTAN

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Defending women’s rights in Afghanistan and Pakistan

April 4, 2009

Barely had President Barack Obama outlined a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan meant to narrow the focus to eliminating the threat from al Qaeda and its Islamist allies, before the U.S.-led campaign ran into what was always going to be one of its biggest problems in limiting its goals. What does it do about the rights of women in the region?

First Draft: Afghan plan

March 27, 2009

President Barack Obama to announce plan to send more troops to Afghanistan to help stabilize the country after Democrats for years criticized his predecessor, George W. Bush, of ignoring that war because of Iraq.

U.S. stimulus to cost more than Iraq, Afghan war so far

January 30, 2009

US/WASHINGTON – Republican critics of the Democratic-backed landmark stimulus package are pointing out that its 800-billion-dollar-plus price tag would — “in one fell swoop,” as Republican Representative Todd Akin put it — consume more resources than have been laid out for two wars, so far.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Obama’s South Asian envoy and the Kashmir conundrum

January 24, 2009

Earlier this month, I wrote that the brief given to a South Asian envoy by President Barack Obama could prove to be the first test of the success of Indian diplomacy after the Mumbai attacks. At issue was whether the envoy would be asked to focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan or whether the brief would be extended to India, reflecting comments made by Obama during his election campaign that a resolution of the Kashmir dispute would ease tensions across the region.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Obama and his South Asian envoy

January 12, 2009

There's much talk about President-elect Barack Obama possibly appointing Richard Holbrooke as a special envoy to South Asia. The New York Times says it's likely; while the Washington Independent says it may be a bit premature to expect final decisions, even before Obama takes office on Jan. 20.

The First Draft: Monday, Dec 15

December 15, 2008

For Detroit’s struggling automakers, the wait continues.

There will be no word on the fate of the struggling industry’s financial bailout at least until President George W. Bush is safely home later on Monday after ducking shoes in Iraq and visiting U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the White House says.
.SAUDI/

The double life of Robert Gates

December 11, 2008

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is leading a double life these days.
 
Maybe that’s not so tough for a former spymaster but it does make for some awkward moments.
 AFGHAN-USA/GATES
As the only member of President George W. Bush’s Cabinet asked to stay on under Barack Obama, Gates has to juggle working for the current White House and preparing for the next administration with the president-elect’s transition team.
 
“There’s only one commander-in-chief at a time and so I’m not forgetting at all, for a second, who is the president until noon on Jan. 20,” the former CIA director stressed to reporters on board his plane as he flew to Afghanistan this week.
 
But Gates admitted his dual role did “create some occasional awkwardnesses.”
 
Sometimes, he recounted, he has to say: “I would love to come to this meeting at the White House but I actually have a meeting with the transition.”
 
Gates made clear he had never missed a meeting with Bush.
 
But he added: “Let’s just say that if I’m faced with a choice between attending a principals’ meeting on an issue that I think is not particularly hot and meeting with the transition folks, I’ll opt for the latter.”

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Mumbai attack and Obama’s plans for Afghanistan

November 28, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As if the challenge facing President-elect Barack Obama of stabilising Afghanistan was not difficult enough, it may have just got much, much harder after the Mumbai attacks soured relations between India and Pakistan -- undermining hopes of finding a regional solution to the Afghan war.