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Rory Stewart: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan after 9/11, talking with citizens and warlords alike. Now, a decade later, he gives a TED Global talk in Edinburgh and asks: Why are Western and coalition forces still fighting there? He criticizes the surreal optimism that every one of the last six years has been described by generals and politicians as the "decisive year" for Afghanistan.  For this year, he brings up a slide with a quote from German Foreign Minister Westerwelle. (Reminds me of The Friedman unit coined by Atrios)

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Our Wars of Choice Harm our Interests

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, calls for a  doctrine of restoration that "would help the U.S. shore up the economic foundations of its power." He is basically urging more limited foreign policy engagements, which would mean that the US should act more like the European countries.

Haas wants to reduce wars of choice, like the war in Libya. He also blames Obama for turning the war of necessity in Afghanistan into a war of choice, because of targeting the Taliban rather than Al Qaeda. I understand the logic, but wasn't President Bush going after the Taliban as well?

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Outspoken Helmut Schmidt

Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt is the only elder statesmen who constantly smokes cigarettes on TV and sometimes uses the term "shit" as a description. He gets away with it because of his huge popularity. His outspoken manner and lack of concern for political correctness also reinforces his popularity, especially at a time, when Germany is governed by uncharismatic politicians, who lack vision and do not even make much of an effort explaining their policies (link in German).

Schmidt has used the term "shit" repeatedly when talking about the World War II. Last week, however, he used the term (for the first time?) to describe the financial crisis.

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Obama Turns to Europe?

"Aspreading financial crisis has accomplished what tradition, habits of alliance management and shared security concerns could not: It has given Europe a central place in President Obama's view of global affairs," writes Jim Hoagland in The Washington Post:

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Ronald Reagan Love-Fest in Europe, but not in Germany

"There's been a lot of love for the 40th president of the United States these past few days in Europe," writes Robert Zeliger in Foreign Policy. Ronald Reagan got a street named for for him, was honored with statues in Budapest and London and with a Catholic Mass in Krakow.

I remember that there was a short debate in Berlin about a memorial or street for President Reagan, but the leftist government does not like him. It's all politics and ideology. Even a small memorial plaque in the ground at the Brandenburger Gate was rejected, as Majjid Sattar wrote in the German FAZ newspaper in February.

Instead of honoring the US president who urged the General Secretary Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall," the square next to the Brandenburg Gate hosts the The Kennedys Museum, even though President John F. Kennedy acquiesced to the communist construction of the Berlin Wall.

The German fans of JFK should read Fred Kempe's new book "Berlin 1961". Kempe is the president and CEO of the Atlantic Council and argues in the Amazon Q&A:

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"The European Onion"

No typo in the headline. Professor Julian Lindley-French repeatedly refers to the EU the "European Onion" in Can Europe's Small Leaders Make Big Strategy?

Thus, as Panetta takes high office China's 2010 White Paper on China's National Defence (CND10), published earlier this year, offers essentially more essential reading than the increasingly irrelevant and misnomered European Security Strategy and, dare I say it, the 2010 NATO Strategic Concept. Whilst China is unabashedly nationalist and strategic, both the European Onion and the Atlantic Alliance have become unashamedly astrategic. A gap between words and deeds now yawns. In that context how one organises the transatlantic relationship or indeed the Onion is beside the point - the re-organisation of the irrelevant by the incapable in pursuit of the unattainable.

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