Civilian Surge for Afghanistan -- New Strategy Needs New Coordination

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has committed the Obama administration firmly to closer civil-military cooperation on development and humanitarian aid as a key component of the new U.S.-led “surge” in Afghanistan. (Watch her press conference in Kabul here.) In this initiative, she has outspoken support from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has voiced his conviction the Pentagon needs to operate in tandem with “soft power.” The two cabinet secretaries’ ability to see eye-to-eye is a change from recent eras in Washington when inter-agency conflict over policy dogged U.S. operations in combat theaters, including Iraq.


Europe Must "Emancipate" Itself -- Obama Offer Can't be Refused

By Jean-Claude Casanova

(This article appeared in Le Monde newspaper in its edition dated Nov. 16, 2009.)

At the end of President George W. Bush’s second term in office, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the distinguished analyst, put forward the idea that two conditions had to be met in order to advance transatlantic relations: America had to go through “regime change,” and another “regime” had to emerge in Europe. He meant that the United States had to have a presidency with a less unilateral vision of the world, and that Europe had to achieve a higher degree of political unity. Now Barack Obama has been elected and the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified. Have these conditions been met?


High Speed Internet Access -- New "Entitlement"?

Old-fashioned telephone service on a nationwide basis has been a U.S. objective since 1934, and it has been largely achieved, with 95 percent penetration. Today one of the hot buttons in telecom policy in the US and Europe (and elsewhere) is the need to provide universal coverage for broadband service that can make the internet fully available to users, particularly in remote areas or deprived inner-city zones. (“Broadband access” means the facility allowing an individual computing device to connect by telephone, cable or wireless, to the internet at a megabit-per-second speed, with the target rising toward 100 mbps in many places.)


Journalists Say Press Freedom Sliding in Europe

Some major European governments are interfering more and more with the media in their countries, according to a report by working journalists. The 2009 annual survey released by Reporters Without Borders, a non-governmental organization based in Paris, said that the downgrading included several leading members of the European Union, notably Italy.