Petraeus, Sedwill, Gates, and Clinton engaging NATO

October 14, 2010 By Andy Amsler

General David Petraeus and his civilian counterpart in Afghanistan, Ambassador Mark Sedwill, have been busy in Brussels engaging with NATO allies on the war and transfer of roles to the Afghan government.  Petraeus says he is cautiously optimistic.  Their discussions precede Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton’s talks in Brussels today during an historic joint meeting of all the foreign and defense ministers of NATO countries, demonstrating the important roles both the diplomatic and military tools play in succeeding in Afghanistan.   As the Administration is expected to finish a strategic review on Afghanistan in December, there should be a focus on all three D’s—development, diplomacy, and defense—in defining a path to success.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Condoleezza Rice: Hillary Clinton doing ‘right things’ (Andy Barr – Politico)

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday praised actions of her successor, saying Hillary Clinton is “very tough” and “doing a lot of the right things.” Rice, who has mostly shied away from the public sphere since the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly she thinks Clinton is doing a good job. “Hillary Clinton is someone I’ve known for a long, long time. She’s a patriot. I think she’s doing a lot of the right things.”
This Century Goes to the Women (Muhtar Kent – Huffington Post)

Women now control over $20 trillion dollars in spending worldwide. To put that into context — that’s an economic impact larger than the U.S., China and India economies combined. But there’s so much more to the story. Here in the U.S., women-owned businesses account for nearly $4 trillion dollars in GDP. That’s right: $4 trillion dollars in economic output. This alone constitutes the fourth-largest economy in the world. Only the U.S., Japan and China are larger today. Women’s entrepreneurship doesn’t stop at U.S. borders, of course. It is soaring around the world. In fact, today, one in 11 working-age women is now involved in entrepreneurship. And the highest percentages of women business owners are in markets you might not expect. Consider this: nearly 20 percent of working women in Thailand are entrepreneurs. In India, it’s 14 percent; Argentina, 12 percent; Brazil, 11 percent; and Mexico and Chile 10 percent. And these percentages are rising every year.

Smart Power

U.S. asks Karzai for assurance on aid workers (Joshua Partlow – The Washington Post)

The United States and its NATO allies, worried about how the Afghan government’s ban on private security companies  might affect their operations, have asked President Hamid Karzai to sign a letter allowing such companies to continue protecting the foreign aid community, according to Western officials in Kabul. Karzai was given the letter by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander here, while they flew to Kandahar on Saturday, and he had been expected to sign it Monday, according to minutes of a U.S. Embassy meeting on the topic obtained by The Washington Post. But he has not yet done so, and U.S. officials have warned that the issue could escalate quickly. The minutes of Tuesday’s meeting, written by a U.S. Agency for International Development official, said William E. Todd, a top embassy official, told the group that without Karzai’s signature, the U.N. assistance mission here “would step in with its intention to close down all donor programs in Afghanistan, [and] next it could rise up to Secretary of State Clinton personally telephoning President Karzai.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

Strange bedfellows: Liberals and Libertarians call for defense spending cuts (Josh Rogin – Foreign Policy)

If there’s one thing that the liberals and libertarians can agree on, it’s the need for large cuts in defense spending in order to reduce the U.S. budget defecit. 55 lawmakers sent a letter Wednesday to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, widely known as the Debt Commission, urging them to include in their final report “substantial reductions in projected levels of future spending by the Department of Defense.” The letter was signed by leading liberal representatives such as Barney Frank (D-MA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), but also many Democrats involved in national security matters such as Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and House Oversight and Government Reform National Security subcommittee chairman John Tierney (D-MA).

Pakistan must boost taxes on the wealthy (International Herald Tribune)

After meeting the European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels, Hillary Clinton said Pakistan should make necessary reforms to increase its tax collection. “The most important step that Pakistan can take is to pass meaningful reforms that can expand its tax base,” Clinton said while talking to reporters in Brussels after the meeting. “I know how difficult it is, but it is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people.” She said Pakistan must urgently mobilise its own resources and the international community can only do so much. Clinton also urged the government to take measures to alleviate the power shortages that stifle the country’s economic growth while making life difficult for its people.