He Could Care Less About Obama's Story - Reza Aslan (Washington Post, December 30): The main issue in U.S. foreign policy that the next president will face is repairing our image in the world. But in foreign policy, unlike advertising, image is created through action, not branding.
Bill Richardson on Pakistan and American Values - (MyFox Kansas City, MO, December 28): Democratic presidential candidate Richardson: 'We cannot win the war against Al Qaeda alone. It is urgent that we rebuild our alliances, so that we can once again lead other nations. Trust is critical to getting allies to work with us in the secret world of counter terrorism and in the open world of public diplomacy. This administration has driven away our allies with swagger and saber rattling. I will rebuild our alliances by making common cause with partners who share our values and interests.'
America's constitution produces a pure democracy we will never have - Simon Jenkins (Sunday Times, December 16): America's friends abroad have felt more despair this past five years than in the previous 50. To turn a phrase once applied to Britain by the American diplomatist Dean Acheson, America has acquired an empire but not found a role.
Pakistan's Blood-Stained Democracy - William F. Buckley Jr. (National Review, December 29): The Bush administration should announce to the waiting world that the United States cannot be charged with responsibility for maintaining order in Pakistan, and does not accept responsibility for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
Beyond Benazir: Bhutto assassinated, turmoil -- even civil war -- loom for nuclear-armed Pakistan Editorial (Los Angeles Times, December 29): The United States now finds itself with no strong ally in Pakistan besides Musharraf, and no good options remaining for promoting democratic change -- a situation for which the Bush administration is partly to blame.
Blowback from an Unholy Alliance: The U.S. and Pakistan After 9/11 - Gary Leupp (Counterpunch, December 29/30): Pakistan, more or less stable as of 2001, has in the interval been knocked off balance by U.S. action in the region. Told it must be for or against the U.S., it was obliged to obey, with grim results.
Bush's best-laid plans: The Bhutto assassination demonstrates anew the folly of the administration's efforts to manage history - Andrew J. Bacevich (Los Angeles Times, December 30): The virtual impotence of the U.S. in the face of the crisis enveloping Pakistan -- along with its complicity in creating that crisis -- ought to discredit once and for all any notions of America fixing the world's ills.
Options for Pakistan: Salvaging US Diplomacy Amid Division - Helene Cooper and Steven Lee Myers (Spiegel Online - December 28): The assassination left in ruins the diplomatic effort the Bush administration had pursued in the last year.
In Memory of Benazir Bhutto, Cut US Ties to Musharraf - Medea Benjamin (Common Dreams, August 28): The US government must use this time to radically change its policy in Pakistan.
How Bhutto Won Washington - Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times, December 30): In the end, with yet another American administration behind her, Ms. Bhutto?s Washington network only underscored how little the United States fathomed the feudal politics of South Asia, and its own ability to control events in the cauldron of Pakistan.
"Musharraf has much to answer for": After Bhutto's death, the press in South Asia and Europe fear for democracy's future in Pakistan, which could go up in "turbulent smoke and bloody dust" - Edward M. Gomez (Salon, December 28)
Iraq suicide attacks on the rise: Gen. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander, notes that despite the slight recent upturn in such bombings, violence overall has dropped to its lowest sustained levels since 2005 - Tina Susman and Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times, December 30)
Iraq Attacks Fall 60 Percent, Petraeus Says - Stephen Farrell and Solomon Moore (New York Times, December 30): The top American military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said Saturday that violent attacks in the country had fallen by 60 percent since June, but cautioned that security gains were tenuous and 'fragile,' requiring political and economic progress to cement them.
Despite Success, Iraq's Future Uncertain - Robert H. Reid, Associated Press (Washington Post, December 30): Nearly a year after the U.S. gambled by pouring troops into Iraq's capital, there is finally cause for hope that the worst of the Iraq war may have passed, even if the endgame takes longer than Americans and Iraqis want. But the political rivalries between Sunnis and Shiites that fueled the conflict remain unresolved. And time may be running out for America to midwife a solution.
Surge and spin cycles - Michelle Malkin (Washington Times, December 29): There should be no question what the top story of the year was: America's counterinsurgency campaign in Iraq, the Democrats' hapless efforts to sabotage it, and the Western mainstream media's stubborn refusal to own up to military progress.
Top Ten Myths about Iraq 2007 Juan Cole (Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion. December 26): 1. Myth: The reduction in violence in Iraq is mostly because of the escalation in the number of US troops, or "surge." Fact: Although violence has been reduced in Iraq, much of the reduction did not take place because of US troop activity. Guerrilla attacks in al-Anbar Province were reduced from 400 a week to 100 a week between July, 2006 and July, 2007. But there was no significant US troop escalation in al-Anbar. Likewise, attacks on British troops in Basra have declined precipitously since they were moved out to the airport away from population centers. But this change had nothing to do with US troops.
An Iraqi solution for Iraq Editorial (Boston Globe, December 27): The sooner Iraq's contending sects and factions accept that none can dominate and that all stand to prosper from a regional power-sharing arrangement like that envisioned in the present constitution, the sooner Iraq's oil wealth will rain down on its people. And the sooner a disastrous occupation can end -- and US forces can come home.
Worthy and Unworthy Victims: Turkey's Bombing of Iraq - Anthony DiMaggio (CounterPunch, December 28): American media attention to the repression and terror of foreign countries is not driven by legitimate humanitarian concerns, but by the strength of the alliance between the U.S. and the country in question. Little else can explain why the very same Iraqi Kurds who are regarded as worthy victims when killed by US enemies such as Saddam Hussein are not worthy when killed by an allied government like Turkey.
Cold War Lite - Brian Whitmore (RFE/RL, December 29): This was the year Vladimir Putin implicitly compared the United States to the Third Reich and it was the year that -- despite the occasional diplomatic language to the contrary -- the last remnants of the vaunted strategic partnership between Russia and the West appeared headed for the dustbin of history.
Bear Market : Cold War classics for an age of a resurgent Russia - Ernest Lefever (Opinion Journal from the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, December 29): 1. "The Twenty Years' Crisis: 1919-1939" by E.H. Carr (Macmillan, 1939). 2. "Darkness at Noon" by Arthur Koestler (Macmillan, 1941). 3. "The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness" by Reinhold Niebuhr (Scribner, 1944). 4. "The Super-Powers" by William T.R. Fox (Harcourt, 1944). 5. "The True Believer" by Erich Hoffer (Harper & Row, 1951).
The Poles Get Cold Feet Editorial (New York Times, December 30): Polish and Czech leaders seemed initially to like the idea of a European-based missile-defense system because they saw an American military presence on their soil as further protection against Russia. Russia's theatrical fury over the plan, coupled with the Bush administration?s general decline, has taken the gloss off. Why not put Russia's intentions to a practical test by seriously exploring President Vladimir Putin's offer to share a Russian early-warning radar in Azerbaijan? American officers who have checked out the site have come away impressed with its capabilities.
Long, Gone Neocons: The Bush administration is no longer influenced by neocons. Instead, it's governing the way its predecessors have - Michael Young (Reason, December 27): It's time to stop referring to the neocon policies of the Bush administration. The neocons are gone, many for so long that no one seems to remember their leaving. What we now have in Washington is a mishmash of old political realism and improvisation, topped with increasingly empty oratory on freedom and democracy. That should please quite a few of Bush's domestic critics. He's returned to the futile routine in the Middle East that they always urged him to.
Balance of Power Is Continuing to Shift From the US Leon Hadar (antiwar.com, December 29): If the financial crisis at home has accentuated US geo-economic weakness in the form of massive deficits, a weak dollar and rising oil prices, the mess in Iraq and the continuing tension with Iran and other global military diplomatic problems like North Korea expose the erosion in US geo-strategic power. The growing anti-globalization sentiment and anti-immigration mood in the United States in the form of political pressure in support of protectionism and isolationism suggest that the adjusting of US interests and policies to the changing realities of weakening American economic and military power will not be easy.
Passport Update: What's In Store for 2008 - Patricia Kushlis (Whirled View, December 26)