Morning Brief: Surging into Afghanistan

Top Story The United States is aiming to send 20,000 to 30,000 additional troopsto Afghanistan before this summer, according to Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Three thousand will be sent next month. Most of the troops will be sent to bolster struggling European forces in southern Afghanistan. Though he ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
590930_081222_surge5.jpg
590930_081222_surge5.jpg

Top Story

The United States is aiming to send 20,000 to 30,000 additional troopsto Afghanistan before this summer, according to Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Three thousand will be sent next month. Most of the troops will be sent to bolster struggling European forces in southern Afghanistan.

Though he stressed that progress had been made by the troops already there, Mullen said, "We may have overstated the focus on the ability of the centralgovernment to have the kind of impact that we wanted given the historyhere in Afghanistan."

Top Story

The United States is aiming to send 20,000 to 30,000 additional troopsto Afghanistan before this summer, according to Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Three thousand will be sent next month. Most of the troops will be sent to bolster struggling European forces in southern Afghanistan.

Though he stressed that progress had been made by the troops already there, Mullen said, “We may have overstated the focus on the ability of the centralgovernment to have the kind of impact that we wanted given the historyhere in Afghanistan.”

Gen. David McKiernan said he hopes the additional troops will allow international forces to reach a “tipping point” against the Taliban that will allow aid and development groups to do their work. At the same time, NATO forces will begin a strategy of reaching out to local tribal leaders, to enlist them in the fight against the Taliban. This is a central aspect of the “clear, hold, and build” strategy that now-CENTCOM Commander David Petraeus employed in Iraq.

So far, NATO has avoided discussions of actually arming local militias for fear of destabilizing the government in Kabul. Though as one NATO diplomat said, “Getting weapons in Afghanistan is not a problem.”

Middle East

The Iraqi government is rushing to find a way to allow non-U.S. troops to stay in the country next year after Parliament rejected a law that would do so.

The World Bank slammed Israel’s new checkpoint plan for the West Bank.

Iraq began a new prosecution of “Chemical” Ali Hassan al-Majeed, who is already sentenced to death.

Iranian authorities raided and shut down the human rights organization run by Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. 

Asia

China is blocking Internet access to the New York Times. The specific reason is unknown. 

Japan’s economic outlook is increasingly bleak. Auto-giant Toyota is facing severe cutbacks.

Accused arms dealer Viktor Bout testified at his extradition trial in Bangkok.

Americas

Canada is rolling out a $3.3 billion bailout package for Detroit automakers to keep Canadian plants open.

Colombia’s Farc rebels are planning to release six hostages in the next few days.

Nine decapitated corpses were found in southern Mexico.

Europe

Russia approved an extension of presidential terms from four to six years.

Belgium’s government collapsed after a failed attempt at a bank bailout. The country’s king and political leaders are running out of options.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko called on President Viktor Yuschenko to resign over allegations of currency speculation.

Africa

The African Union is holding crisis talks on Somalia.

Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe says that despite the country’s new unity government, he will not budge on the controversial policy of seizing of white-owned farms. A U.S. envoy said that the United States would not support any government that included Mugabe.

World Economy

Markets in Europe and Asia fell, partially due to slumping car sales.

Oil rose to $43 a barrel with news of the U.S. auto bailout.

Repairs began on the severed underwater cable that disrupted Internet access for millions in the Middle East and Asia last week.

U.S. Presidential Transition

Obama announced a special task force to address the concerns of the American middle class. It will be led by Vice President Joe Biden.

Harvard physicist John Holdren will be Barack Obama’s top science advisor. 

Obama took off for a vacation in Hawaii.

Today’s Agenda

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visits Russia.

The European Union-Brazil summit kicks off in Rio de Janeiro with Nicolas Sarkozy in attendance.

Happy Hanukkah. 

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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