The Envoy

  • On the 10th anniversary of the American war in Afghanistan, the former top U.S. military commander in the war said the United States and its allies are only "50 percent of the way" toward achieving their goals.

    American military commanders have repeatedly sought over the past decade to "put time on the Washington clock," as retired General David Petraeus once put it, by describing the progress their forces made in the counterinsurgency campaign.

    However, Petraeus' predecessor as the top commander in Afghanistan, retired General Stanley McChrystal, sharply broke with that message Thursday in bracing remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations.

    "We didn't know enough and we still don't know enough," McChrystal said, the Guardian's Declan Walsh reported. "Most of us, me included, had a very superficial understanding of the situation and history, and we had a frighteningly simplistic view of recent history, the last 50 years."

    McChrystal resigned his command last year after a Rolling Stone article reported that his staff disparaged the civilian leadership of the war from the White House; a military investigation subsequently cleared him of wrongdoing and questioned the accuracy of the report.

    Read More »from McChrystal: Ten years in, goals in Afghanistan only “50 percent” met
  • Iran's envoy to UN atomic agency borrows the Israelis' chair. (Foreign Policy/Turtle Bay)In the high-stakes arena of international nuclear politics, Middle Eastern adversaries Iran and Israel rarely miss a chance to publicly declare their hostility. But sometimes, like everybody, their envoys apparently get distracted from the whole arch-foe, kabuki body language such demonstrations of formal hostility mandate.

    Witness that Iran's diplomatic delegation somehow managed to park itself at Israel's seating area at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency last week, as originally reported by Foreign Policy's Turtle Bay blogger Colum Lynch.

    In the photo provided to Lynch, Iran's envoy to the UN atomic watchdog agency, Dr. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, seems simply to be too absorbed by the diplomatic business at hand to notice the symbolic--if no doubt inadvertent--seat-swap with the Israeli delegation on the conference floor. (That's Soltanieh, bearded in the white shirt, sitting at the Israeli delegate's seat, flanked by two standing Iranian aides, conferring with his Cuban and Irish counterparts.)

    Read More »from Iran’s nuclear envoy borrows handy nearby chair–of Israeli delegation
  • Mitt Romney announces his foreign policy team

    Mitt Romney speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Aug. 30, 2011. (Eric Gay/AP)In a move to highlight his national security credentials in the GOP presidential race, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has publicized a new roster of campaign advisers working on foreign policy and defense issues. The announcement comes ahead of a major foreign policy speech that Romney is scheduled to deliver at the Citadel military college in South Carolina on Friday.

    The new team, which the Romney campaign listed in a PR announcement to the press on Thursday, draws heavily on Republicans with mainstream policy credentials--a clear point of continuity with the playbook the Romney campaign has adopted in domestic, social and economic policy. The list features few advisers affiliated with the more aggressively hawkish or isolationist wings of the party--but the exceptions are notable.

    Not surprisingly, the list leans heavily on veterans of past Republican White Houses.  Here, for example, is a partial list of some of the more prominent former Bush White House hands now working on the Romney foreign policy team: former CIA Director Michael Hayden, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman, former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim, former State Department Policy Planning Chief and North Korea expert Mitchell Reiss. The roster of George W, Bush veterans also include Robert Joseph and Stephen Rademaker, who both served as under secretaries of State for international security and arms control; former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky; former State Department envoy on war crimes Pierre Prosper, former spokesman for the U.S. viceroy in Iraq Dan Senor; and former CIA counter terrorism chief turned Blackwater executive Cofer Black.

    Advising Romney on Afghanistan and Pakistan: the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Ashley Tellis, and former Bush-era Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs James Shinn. On Asia: former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Evan Feigenbaum, now affiliated with the Council on  Foreign Relations. On Defense: former Reagan Navy Secretary John Lehman and Roger Zakheim.

    Among those advising Romney on the Middle East: former Bush deputy National Security Adviser on Iraq adviser Meghan O'Sullivan, and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Mary Beth Long.

    However, some Washington Middle East experts have already flagged Lebanese-American scholar Walid Phares as a controversial co-chair of the Romney Mideast team.

    "Walid Phares is advising Romney on Middle East policy? For realz? That's terrifying + not just because of [Lebanese Forces] LF history," George Washington University Middle East expert Marc Lynch wrote on Twitter, referring to Phares' past reported role with the right-wing Lebanese Christian militia during that country's civil war. "To be clear: I have nothing against Gov. Romney," the Center for New American Security's Andrew Exum similarly wrote at Twitter. "But appointing Walid Phares your M.E. advisor is NUTS." Phares, now affiliated with the National Defense University, was an outspoken advocate of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and of a hawkish Middle Eastern policy during the Bush years.

    The region is the subject of such American national security preoccupation given the nearly 40,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, the Iran nuclear issue, the stalemated Israeli Palestinian peace process and the Arab spring revolutions that have convulsed the region the past year.

    Meanwhile, a key Romney nonproliferation adviser, the Heritage Foundation's Kim Holmes, has opposed American ratification of the U.S.-Russian START nuclear arms reduction treaty, which has been overwhelmingly supported by lawmakers from both parties going back to Reagan. The Senate ratified the new START accord last December.

    Also advising Romney: Brookings foreign policy scholar Robert Kagan, former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Kristin Silverberg, former Assistant Secretary of State for non proliferation Stephen Rademaker, two former Bush-era U.S. ambassadors to Brazil (John Danilovich and Clifford Sobel), former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and former Rep. Jim Talent (R-Mo.).

    You can read the full (and quite long) list or Romney advisers below the jump:

    Read More »from Mitt Romney announces his foreign policy team


(679 Stories)

Follow Yahoo! News