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Af-Pak Strategy, Russian Relations, and the G-20 Summit

March 30, 2009


Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

  • Earth Hour: In an editorial, the paper describes Earth Hour, billed as the biggest climate change protest ever, when non-essential lights were switched off for an hour, as a symbolic and largely meaningless gesture.

Boston Globe

  • Afghanistan: Scott Payne of the think tank Third Way, and Peter O'Brien, an Afghanistan veteran, write that Afghanistan seems doomed to collapse back into chaos. The United States and NATO cannot succeed in Afghanistan without restoring some semblance of security for the people, they say.

Business Day (South Africa)

  • G-20 Leaders: In an editorial, the paper says going into this week's meeting of G-20 leaders, there isn't enough emphasis on emerging economies and how to ensure they can play their part in mitigating the global downturn.

Business Standard (India)

  • Afghan Exit Strategy: In an editorial, the paper says the Obama administration has done a neat about-turn on policy in Afghanistan. From seeking military victory, Washington has moved to a search for deals with the "good Taliban" that it has suddenly discovered exist, and this, it says, suggests the beginnings of an exit strategy.

Christian Science Monitor

  • Afghanistan: The Monitor too considers President Obama's strategy for Afghanistan. In an editorial, it says he's taking a big risk by trying to push more responsibility for Afghanistan onto Europe, the UN, China, Russia, and Iran as well as the governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Daily Star (Lebanon)

  • Olmert's Failure: Yossi Alpher, a former senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, writes that perhaps the most inexplicable aspect of Ehud Olmert's largely failed three years as prime minister of Israel was his extensive yet totally unproductive series of meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Financial Times

  • Greenspan's View: Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, notes considerable fear in the marketplace that the unprecedented set of stimulus programs and efforts to recapitalize banks with sovereign credits will fall short of success. It is thus useful, he writes, to contemplate alternatives to that distressing outcome.
  • Afghan Policy: In an editorial, the paper welcomes the Obama administration's review of policy in Afghanistan that is just as much about Pakistan. It puts less emphasis on appealing to its allies for more troops to get behind an ill-defined strategy, and has instead started to define goals that might be achievable, it says.
  • G-20: In a further editorial, the paper describes this week's meeting of G-20 leaders as a defining moment. At a time of economic crisis, the leaders of countries that generate the vast bulk of global economic activity must point the way towards shared solutions, it says.

Globe and Mail

  • G-20 Summit: Paul Masson and John Pattison, authors of a study on international financial policy reform, say it's unlikely that a major change to the global financial architecture will be reached at the G-20 summit.


  • Afghan Solution: Commentator Max Hastings applauds President Obama for his renewed attempts to achieve a solution in Afghanistan. The consequences of allied defeat in Afghanistan, and of an enhanced threat to Pakistan, appear quite as grave as U.S. and British policymakers suggest, he judges.
  • Russian Relations: Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's permanent representative to NATO, acknowledges the recent crisis in relations between Russia and the West, but says there is enough ground to expect the recovery of trust and the expansion of cooperation, particularly in the security sphere.


  • Af-Pak: In an editorial, the paper says with only 4,000 additional U.S. military trainers announced for the ongoing war in Afghanistan but $7.5 billion for Pakistan over the next five years, President Barack Obama's new Af-Pak policy seems more about outsource than surge.

New York Times

  • Zimbabwe Aid: In an editorial, the paper calls on the United States and Europe to help the reformers in Zimbabwe deliver on their promises of improving people's lives by providing increased financial resources. But aid, it says, should continue to be channeled indirectly.
  • Holy War: Douglas Feith and Justin Polin of the Hudson Institute write that the Islamist extremists' war in Pakistan is a civil war within Islam. This, they say, should show U.S. policymakers the wisdom of working to persuade Pashtuns to reject the Taliban.

Jordan Times

  • Arab Summit: In an editorial, the paper considers the importance of Monday's twenty-first Arab summit being held in Doha. It says a demonstration of statesmanship and determination on the part of the Arabs will give something substantial to the U.S. administration to work with.

News (Pakistan)

  • Af-Pak Policy: Zeenia Satti, a Washington-based consultant, writes that the Af-Pak strategy unveiled by Barack Obama is good news for the Afghan people and bad news for the Afghan leadership. For Pakistan, she says, the opposite is the case: good news for its leadership but bad for ordinary Pakistanis.

Sydney Morning Herald

  • Obama's Gamble: In an editorial previewing the G-20 summit, the paper accuses President Obama and the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown of embarking on a policy gamble of enormous size and consequence, betting that governments can spend their way out of the global financial freeze.

Times of India

  • Dalai Lama: In an editorial, the paper describes South Africa's decision to deny the Dalai Lama a visa as disappointing. The Chinese, not to mention the South Africans, have given a new handle to supporters of the Tibetan cause, it judges.

Times of London

  • Future of Iraq: In an editorial, the paper says while the worst of the bloodletting may be over, Iraq has barely begun to win the peace. Iraq is unquestionably better that the Stalinist dictatorship that used to oppress the majority and exterminate dissent, it adds: how much better it will become is another question.

Wall Street Journal

  • Pak-Af Policy: Graham Allison of Harvard and John Deutch of M.I.T. think President Obama has got his AfPak policy the wrong way round. We suggest renaming the policy "PakAf," they write, to emphasize that, from the perspective of U.S. interests and regional stability, the heart of the problem lies in Pakistan.
  • North Korea: In an editorial on North Korea, the paper says having succeeded in extracting concessions from President Bush in exchange for promises to give up its nuclear program, Pyongyang is looking to get the new administration to repay for the same phony terms.

Washington Post

  • Meeting Medvedev: In an editorial previewing this week's meeting between Presidents Obama and Medvedev, the paper says whether the reset envisaged by the Obama administration will be acceptable to Medvedev or to Russia's de facto top ruler, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, remains to be seen.
  • Haitian Immigrants: Also in an editorial, the paper calls on Washington to grant temporary protected status to immigrants from Haiti. Deporting them would devastate a country that can ill afford to take more economic hits, it says.

Washington Times

  • Obama's Strategy: In an editorial, the paper examines President Obama's description of his "stronger and smarter" strategy in Afghanistan. His approach certainly is stronger, with a planned deployment of 4,000 troops in addition to a previously announced 17,000-troop surge, the paper says: but it is hard to call the plan smarter.