December 15th, 2009
01:04 PM ET

Around the Web: British PM planning a conference

The Guardian reports that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is planning a January conference on the future of Afghanistan. The conference, to be held in London, will reportedly aim to include nearly 70 nations.

“I hope the London conference will also be able set out the next steps in a longer-term plan – the balance between alliance forces and Afghan forces as their armed forces numbers rise from 90,000 to 135,000 and possibly 175,000 – and of course on the future numbers, roles and tasks also of the police, intelligence services and local security initiatives,” Brown is quoted as saying by the paper.

Tim Hsia, described by the New York Times as an “an active duty infantry captain in the United States Army,” has a commentary at the paper’s At War blog on recent reports of private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide, now known as Xe Services, working with the CIA in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Security contracting is a business that will probably be a fixture in security operations for years to come. It is partly an outgrowth of a capitalist drive to reduce everything, even war, into purely fiscal terms. Contractors, be it those with weapons or those with cooking tools, are at first glance cheaper than deploying and sustaining an equivalent number of an all-volunteer military service members,” Hsia writes.

Some other news reports and perspectives:

- Matthew Cole and Mark Schone (ABC News): “Why Are Zawahiri and Gadahn Still Alive?"

- Oleg Kalugin (Foreign Policy): “How the Soviets invaded Afghanistan

- Shaukat Qadir (The National): “Obama’s Afghan strategy ignores facts on the ground

- Peter Feaver (Shadow Government, Foreign Policy): “Why Obama's intentionally confusing Afghan policy speech is bound to backfire

- Andrew Sullivan (The Atlantic): “Good cop/bad cop in Pakistan

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