Tough planet: Waldo’s compound in Pakistani military neighborhood

They knew.

The joke is already circulating that President Obama knew how to find Osama bin Laden’s compound because it’s near a golf course.

It’s also right next door to the Pakistani military academy, in a section of the city where many of the residents are senior military officers.  (H/t: Free Republic) The idea that bin Laden could possibly have been living there without the knowledge of the Pakistani military, much less the ISI (intelligence service), strains credulity to the breaking point. Continue reading “Tough planet: Waldo’s compound in Pakistani military neighborhood”

Turkey Rising

“Neo-Ottoman” outreach?

Turkey’s pulsating new foreign policy is so multifaceted it may soon run out of Turks to keep it going. With “tectonic” geopolitical shifts creating new opportunities, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is executing a pretty tectonic plan of his own. The unmistakable themes are regional leadership, Islamic-world leadership, and putting Turkey in the broker’s seat for as many points of conflict as possible.

The Turkish effort in Libya is gathering steam, with the dispatch of warships to enforce the embargo and the visit to Ankara on Monday of a Qaddafi envoy, reportedly in Turkey to discuss a truce. Turkey is being billed overtly as a “mediator,” perhaps in part because NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh-Rasmussen was also in Ankara Monday.

The Erdogan government may have no better luck brokering a Libyan truce than the African Union had the week before last, but Turkey is forging ahead in the political-momentum sweepstakes. On 31 March, Erdogan became the first Turkish prime minster ever Continue reading “Turkey Rising”

Peace in Our Time

The gathering storm.

Americans are naturally focused on the upcoming election and the effect Obama is having on our polity and economy.  But the effect he is having on our national security may be an even longer-term consequence, because there isn’t much we can do about his foreign policy between now and January 2013. The Senate can stymie some of his worst agenda items, like the New START treaty, but its advise-and-consent role is inadequate to the important task of constructing and executing a positive policy – one with initiative and ingenuity.  For that, we rely both constitutionally and traditionally on the president.

There are a number of disquieting developments in national security over the past year, and some just over the past few weeks. Continue reading “Peace in Our Time”

Red Sun, Narrowed Eyes

Obama’s “diplomacy of deference” is producing a Japan That Can Say Go Away.

The erratic diplomacy of the Obama administration is already bearing unsavory fruit in a quarter Americans have long thought of as relatively stable:  our relations with Japan.  Notwithstanding the president’s unseemly bow to Emperor Akihito in November, the alliance is more strained in late 2009 than at any time since 1945.  Asian editorialists discern strategic implications in a flurry of visits between Japan and China in the last month.  And Team Obama, along with the Western media, has been largely silent on the visit to Japan of Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, during Christmas week.

The major point of contention between the US and Japan, the Marine Corps air base at Futenma, on Okinawa, involves legitimate concerns on both sides. Continue reading “Red Sun, Narrowed Eyes”

An American Decision

Multilateral, shmultilateral. Here we are, in Afghanistan, and it’s an American decision that will make all the difference.

The Obama administration came into office promising to use “all the elements of national power” (or, in the bumper-sticker version, “smart power”). Why use military force—unilaterally—if diplomacy and economic power and multilateral action can do the trick?

The campaign in Afghanistan, already a multilateral action for the record books, is now framing that question in stark and concrete terms. One reason the Obama administration may have been caught so flat-footed by the troop request from General McChrystal is that the multilateralism of our approach to the Afghan problem has rarely, if ever, been surpassed. Continue reading “An American Decision”