Today’s Headlines

June 21, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Obama to announce Afghanistan withdrawal plans Wednesday (Washington Post, Karen DeYoung and Scott Wilson)

President Obama will announce Wednesday his decision on how many troops to withdraw from Afghanistan next month, concluding a process of consultation with his advisers and commanders that will set the military course for the rest of the war. The announcement will set a withdrawal schedule for the 33,000 “surge” troops Obama sent to Afghanistan early last year as part of an escalation that his commanders say has succeeded in clearing Taliban fighters from key areas in southern Afghanistan.

John McCain, Lindsey Graham fade on defense (Politico, Scott Wong)

Even within their own party, Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham now have to shout to be heard. It’s a stunning change for two men who have been the leading voices for their party’s interventionist vision on foreign policy and now find themselves on the periphery of a debate over the conflict in Libya that is reshaping the GOP’s stance on war and executive branch power.

Farewell to GOP interventionism? (Politico Op-Ed, Joe Scarborough)

It is laughable to suggest that any Republican who does not support being involved simultaneously in three hot wars is taking up the cause of the John Birch Society, turning their backs on internationalism and calling for bringing our troops home. Though you would never believe it listening to the former POW, there is a middle ground between McCain’s interventionism and Ron Paul’s isolationism.

Smart Power

Investment in agriculture and access to markets will help to feed the world (Guardian, Lucy Muchoki)

Ensuring food security is not only about production, but also about access. And so we need to see greater cohesion on international responses and policies that support access and distribution. On average, only 16% of crops enter international markets, and this can drop even lower when countries introduce export bans during times of food insecurity. Between 2006 and 2008, international food prices doubled and agricultural exports fell by 12% due to countries reacting with export restrictions or bans. By 2009, 100 million additional people had been pushed into the ranks of the world’s hungry.

Politics/Foreign Policy

White House, lawmakers speed up debt-reduction talks (Washington Post, Lori Montgomery)

The White House and congressional leaders are accelerating negotiations over the biggest debt-reduction package in at least two decades amid mounting concern that the effort is running out of time. “There’s a large degree of apprehension,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “This is a seminal moment where we can do something great for the country. But there’s apprehension about it, because of the pace at which it’s going and the level of detail.”

Smart Power Setback (New York Times, David Brooks)

Much of the aid effort was premised on the assumption that development would foster stability. Young men with jobs wouldn’t plant roadside bombs. Communities with growing economies would reject the Taliban. This assumption was based on the modern prejudice that bad behavior has material roots. Give people money and jobs and you will improve their character and behavior. In Afghanistan, as elsewhere, this assumption seems not to be true.