Saturday Morning Headlines

Does Withdrawal From Afghanistan Portend Less-Engaged US?At a press conference with Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, President Barack Obama laid out the US plan for withdrawal saying that the “central goal” of dismantling the Taliban had been achieved. Leaving Afghanistan (ad Iraq) were two of the pledges made by candidate Obama in 2008 and signaled a shift inward in US foreign policy. But will there be costs globally of a less-engaged US?

Fred Hiatt argues in The Washington Post that “there are risks to withdrawal as well as to engagement” and one need only look to the last time the US left Afghanistan.

“When America last turned its back on Afghanistan, two decades ago, civil war followed, with al-Qaeda close behind. Clinton responded with cruise missile attacks, the 1990s’ equivalent of drone strikes. America learned on 9/11 how inadequate that response had been. History will not repeat itself, precisely. But if the United States retreats too quickly and too far, history will reach out to grab us back,” Hiatt asserts.

EU Will Need To Pursue Democratic Reforms Post-Crisis
Jan Techau of the Canegie Endowment for International Peace contends the European Union must move forward with democratic reform once it emerges from the economic crisis, which proponents of a more united Europe recognize. What they fail to appreciate is that there is no going back to 2008 because “too much has changed.”

According to Techau, “they don’t fully appreciate how prominently the democratic deficit features in Europe’s current crisis. Nothing has created as much resentment of the EU project as the disenfranchisement of its citizens.”

Banking Industry Needs Cultural Reform, Not More Regulation
Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury and a member of the UK Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, maintains there is a need for the “restructuring of the values within” the financial services sector

He does not argue for further regulations, but for “virtue and leadership embedded within corporate cultures, that stops people from stumbling when under pressure.”

Citizen Schools: Engaging and Educating Low-Income Students
Gregory Lamb reports on efforts to level the playing field for low-income students. The initiative, known as Citizen Schools,  is the brainchild to Eric Schwarz and involves a few simple ideas: longer school days, involvement of mentors and encouraging engagement by the students in the so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programs.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that the program has produced “measurable success” with “80 percent of students who participate in a STEM apprenticeship through Citizen Schools say they are interested in STEM careers.”








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