The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I sat down and talked about the upcoming release of the White House’s Afghan Strategy Review; the prospects for the New START Treaty, and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to Pakistan.
- The strategy review is unlikely to produce major changes in U.S. policy in Afghanistan. Secretary Robert Gates has been optimistic about the progress in training Afghan security forces, even as the signals coming out of the administration indicate that substantial reductions in U.S. troops levels are being pushed back to 2014.
- Senate action on New START will depend in good part on how long it takes Congress to enact the tax cuts deal worked out earlier this week. House Democrats are unhappy with the deal that the White House struck, and they have pledged to try to improve it.
- Premier Wen’s visit to Islamabad highlights evolving Chinese-Pakistani ties and the jockeying for position between Beijing and Washington for influence in South Asia. China has a long history of supporting Pakistan’s nuclear program, and it may soon agree to build a one-gigawatt power reactor.
Other commentators and news outlets are considering these same issues. The New York Times reports on the likely results of the review, and Bloomberg considers the British perspective on Afghanistan. The Hill covers the administration’s most recent assessment of the math on New START and Time’s “Swampland” blog considers the possible connections between the tax deal and New START . The Global Security Newswire explains the nuclear aspect of Wen’s visit to Pakistan, while the Financial Times looks into the financial considerations.
(Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pin medals on U.S. soldiers while visiting Afghanistan this week. Pool New / courtesy Reuters).