Posted on December 24, 2010 in Viewpoint with James Zogby

Daniel Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed U.S. policy and strategy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mr. Markey also discussed a report conducted by an independent task force sponsored by the council on foreign relations of which he was program director. The report, which addresses fundamental issues in U.S. policy in the region is “comprehensive and should identify areas where progress is being made and where it's not”, Mr. Markey said. In terms of Military operations in Afghanistan, Mr. Markey said, they [military operations] don't turn into a strategic benefit because there's no one legitimate to hold that area and turn the political tide against the insurgency.” Mr. Markey also discussed the passing of Ambassador Richard Holbroke and said that he “cannot be replaced in any direct way.”


M.J. Rosenberg, Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network, discussed a scandal involving former top American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) official Steve Rosen. Mr. Rosen, following indictment by the U.S. government for misusing government secrets was fired by AIPAC. "After first defending him and saying he didn't do it, they change their mind and say he did it and they fired him", said Mr. Rosenberg. He added, "now he [Mr. Rosen] is suing AIPAC for firing him on the ground that what he was doing, which is essentially espionage…was basically what AIPAC paid him to do and therefore he was unjustly terminated." Mr. Rosenberg also discussed the role AIPAC plays in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Joost Hiltermann, Iraq analyst for the International Crisis Group (ICG), discussed the newly formed Iraqi Parliament. Mr. Hiltermann analyzed the current state of political affairs in Iraq and stated that despite the new parliament, the country’s institutions are still very weak. Mr. Hiltermann said the parliament is something that was influenced by multiple outside governments but that ultimately, the government in Iraq is not a product of outside pressure from one ideology or government and “ the end we have something that is pretty much Iraq made but there's a lot of pressure from different sides and therefore you could say that it was heavily influenced by outside parties but not by a single one." Mr. Hiltermann stated that it was unclear if and how long the government will hold.