Missiles, Elections, and Rallies, oh my.
I can’t say I’m all that surprised that Silvio Burlesconi announced the withdrawal of a sixth of Italian troops from Afghanistan; I think Gary Schmitt over at the new Defence Studies blog pretty much covers all the important points.
Everyone’s talking about Missile Shields right now. Nathan Hodge gives some of the tech specs of what the program might look like. Danger Room is always a good source of acronyms if you’re running low. The DIME Blog’s Dennis Murphy talks about Sec. Gates and strategic communication:
And so the Secretary’s action closed a proverbial say-do gap and made inroads in the elusive battle of ideas. It was a first, but important step in the right direction in this ongoing and generational ideological struggle.
Frank Kaplan at Slate breaks down the decision to step away from the Eastern European program, and the NYT reports that NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is encouraging the US, Europe, and Russia to link their defence shields.
Robert Burns (AP) offers an analysis of this move in US Missile Defence, which segues us nicely into–
But witnesses reported that demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans had taken complete control of Tehran’s expansive Seventh of Tir Square. Video posted to YouTube showed thousands of others holding up green ribbons and rallying peacefully in Tehran, Esfahan and Shiraz. Late in the morning came reports of tear gas being fired into crowds in the capital, but they could not be confirmed.
I’ll confess to being petty enough to enjoy the Iranian people not taking Ahmadinejad’s bullshit lying down.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan Thursday to press Kurdish leaders to compromise on the controversial issue of sharing Iraq’s oil wealth. Biden met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani, in the regional capital of Irbil.
The great unanswered question about NATO withdrawal from Iraq, in my opinion, is whether Kurdish autonomy will be tolerated.
The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing called “Exploring Three Strategies on Afghanistan; video is available at that URL. I for one am going to spend part of my precious Saturday living the dream of watching Senate hearings in my pajamas.
The NYT continues coverage of the Afghani election:
The prospect of a runoff election is growing after President Hamid Karzai was awarded 54.6 percent of the votes in the much disputed presidential election last month. But even as American officials noted that the Afghan authorities had begun printing ballots for a second round of voting, these officials said they were worried that a runoff could not be held before Afghanistan’s fierce winter starts in November.
…Time to start talking about a Transitional Authority, folks.