STORY #1: Aim high, fall short
That’s exactly what the U.S. might be doing in light of a wave of attacks by Afghan troops on the NATO forces training them to take over their own security. The general worry is that this will result in a) NATO troops pulling out too soon, for the sake of saving more lives, or b) those same troops pulling out too slowly as they “pause” to deal with this. But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney isn’t worried; in fact, his exact words were “It doesn’t affect the timeline.”
For now, maybe it doesn’t. But if this isn’t handled properly (have they considered that the Afghans might have collective PTSD?), it certainly will, and Carney – and, by extension, the entire White House – will look like chumps. Here’s what I would have said: “While we hope that actions taken to stop these attacks will not affect our withdrawal timeline, we must accept the possibility of delays.” That way, if things do go well, they look like they examined the issue seriously and didn’t just dismiss some very legitimate concerns over infighting with large firearms.
STORY #2: A funnier dismissal
That came from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, seeking to assuage the worries of Chinese officials that the U.S.’s new geopolitical focus on the Asia-Pacific region had “too much emphasis on China’s military build-up rather than economic or diplomatic efforts.” Now why would that be, Chinese officials? Are you worried that they might find something disagreeable about your military build-up? Hmmm?
Of course the focus is “aimed to contain China,” per the headline of the above-linked article. But that containment doesn’t have to be on a military front. That’s a red herring for both sides. We’re all well aware of how much muscle China can flex by virtue of how much foreign debt it holds, and how many trade relationships it has. That’s not a ball off of which you’d want to take your eye.
STORY #3: Shit just got (Is)real
Iran has insisted for at least a year that Israel and the U.S. were behind covert attacks on its nuclear program – as if any other country were a suspect. This week, an official disclosed that power lines leading to two of their centrifuging facilities had been blown up, leading to speculation that those fighting Iran’s nuclear program are actually in Iran. I ask you: If you had the choice between a group of American soldiers and a group of Israeli ones, which do you suppose would be less difficult to tell apart from any Iranian? And which has one of the deadliest spy services on the planet? And which has a head of state that keeps talking about Iran getting a nuke real soon? (None of this is a bad thing, by the way. This is better than sending in the ground troops.)