The massive bombing of the Islamabad Marriott has deeply shaken Pakistan, offering the newly elected civilian leadership a strategic opportunity to aggressively pursue the Islamic militants that threaten the country’s viability and territorial integrity. After alienating Pakistanis with counterproductive military action against militants on the Pakistani side of the Durand line, Washington must now play a different game if it wishes to help its besieged ally. Islamabad is showing signs of a newfound resolve to decisively defeat the militants, but the government will only succeed in maintaining public support for this difficult task if the US offers Pakistan political space to take ownership of the fight and a concrete improvement in its counterinsurgency capacity.

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The current crisis in China over tainted milk products, including the furious public reaction inside the country, reminds us how hard it is to govern 1.3 billion. It is clearly against the law in China to put dangerous additives into food products. The problem in China has been and remains how  extraordinarily difficult it is for the government to enforce such laws, whether it’s product safety or environmental regulations. At the same time large numbers of Chinese demand such enforcement and seek ways to make their wishes known, difficult in a political system with few outlets for expressing the public will.  

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has staked his and his country’s future on Ukraine’s integration into Euroatlantic institutions, even going so far as to say, at an Atlantic Council luncheon on September 23, that Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity can be preserved only with “international guarantees.”

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Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko sees numerous similarities between his country's situation and that of neighboring Georgia and believes his nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity are at stake, he told an Atlantic Council luncheon in New York.

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Sitting in Bogota, I didn’t expect to see Colombian television coverage of the four-ship Russian squadron departing Severmorsk. After all, Colombia is very much focused on consolidating its recent gains against the narcoterrorist group FARC. There is now tremendous optimism in Colombia with a series of successes that began with a spring operation that killed the FARC deputy Raul Reyes and a summer operation that recovered three American hostages, Ingrid Betancourt, and eleven others. It was strange to me that the Caucasus should matter in Colombia, but to overuse a phrase, the world is interconnected now.

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Answering Russian Aggression - Mikheil Saakashvili, Washington Post

Russia Entering Third Act of Financial Tragedy - Anders Aslund, Japan Times

Russia's Perception of Reality - David Stromberg, Jerusalem Post

Pakistan: The Enemy is Closer to Home - Editorial, Guardian

The State of the World - Ban Ki Moon, Today's Zaman

Global Storm Gives Gordon Brown Shelter - For Now - Rachel Sylvester, Times of London

Hubris Comeuppance (Financial Crisis) - Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI

Welcome to the Nuclear Club, India - Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

Time to Hunt Somali Pirates - J. Peter Pham, World Defense Review

A New Transatlantic Agenda?

Let us face it:  the United States  –  and to a degree Western democracies in general – have lost a lot of stature and respect around the world during the last eight years.

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With some fanfare, General David Petraeus transferred command of US forces in Iraq to his deputy General Ray Odierno on September 17. In the last two years, much has been written about Petraeus—the architect of American counterinsurgency strategy and leader of the controversial surge in Iraq. He survived early political attacks in the American media and on Capitol Hill for being too intellectual (he has a Ph.D.) and too political. What the critics missed, however, is his warfighting skills. Far from being mutually exclusive, a general (or admiral for that matter) can be smart, politically savvy, and a consummate warfighter. After all, warfighting skills are what militaries value.

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Wake Up, Gassiev is Calling!

In the predawn hours of August 7, Russia invaded Georgia.  Gassiev, a border guard of the separatist regime in the Georgian territory of South Ossetia, was at the southern end of the Roki Tunnel that leads from Russia.  At 3:52 a.m., he used his mobile telephone to tell his supervisor: “The armor and people . . . 20 minutes ago; when I called you, they had already arrived.”  The intercepted telephone call, first reported in the September 16 New York Times, explodes the myth that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili precipitated Russia’s assault on Georgia with an ill-conceived attack on Tskhinvali, capital of South Ossetia.

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With its invasion of Georgia, Russia demonstrated the determination to “come back into the game” in style. Regenerated through the surge of energy prices, Russia’s leaders want to make up their losses from the 1990s and get payback for the accompanying humiliation. Her aggressive policies, heralded by the political use of the energy weapon starting in 2006, have been beefed up now with a willingness to openly employ military might.

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