George E. Condon Jr. in National Journal on how President Obama's foreign policy has evolved since he took office in 2008. Condon compares Obama's previous speeches to the United Nations General Assembly to one he gave Wednesday as evidence of his evolution. "In that first address, on Sept. 23, 2009, the still-new president described himself as 'humbled' to be there... He spoke of ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and talked of 'extremists' rather than 'terrorists.' Russia was a partner, Guantanamo Bay would soon be emptied, and negotiators would find a way to close the Israeli-Palestinian divide. Overhanging all else was the need to pull the world back from the economic abyss." Now, Condon says that Obama has been replaced by a more recognizable realist. "And, today, 28,000 words and five U.N. addresses later, 'hope and change' has taken a step back; realpolitik has stepped forward... The words could have been said by any Cold War president from Truman to Reagan."
Ahmed Rashid in The New York Times on why Afghanistan is at a crossroads between chaos and stability. The author argues that the fragile power sharing agreement that was reached in the Afghan presidential election coupled with the upcoming U.S. military withdrawal leaves the country on the brink of instability. "This deal, which was brokered with help from Washington, is yet another makeshift compromise that only reveals the shortcomings of the United States’ 13-year presence in Afghanistan... And yet anything less than a heavy dose of honesty and fresh thinking by Afghans and their Western supporters will almost certainly mean the relapse of Afghanistan into civil war and the emergence of groups even more extreme than the Taliban, as has happened in Iraq and Syria." Rashid continues, "History will not look kindly on the legacy of the U.S. government and Mr. Karzai in Afghanistan. But this also means that Afghanistan’s new leaders can do better, and now, simply by acting responsibly — and working together to legitimize the results of this problematic election that has brought them to power."