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Horse Trading on Afghanistan, Libya

President Obama will urge British Prime Minister David Cameron not to withdraw troops from Helmand, Afghanistan on his European tour, but Cameron wants more help fighting Gaddafi in return.

What’s the Latest Development?

President Obama will arrive in London tomorrow to begin discussions with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Top on the agenda will be Afghanistan, where both nations have committed major military resources to fighting the Taliban and establishing a democratic government. Obama will lobby for a continued British presence in the Hemland province and in return, Cameron is expected to ask for more American support in N.A.T.O. operations again Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi, a military campaign currently led by Britain and France.

What’s the Big Idea?

What is the future of the so-called “special relationship” between the U.S. and Britain at a time when its foreign wars have lost the public’s faith? Will the U.S. commit itself to an open-ended military operation in Libya, which is already subject to “mission creep”, for the sake of maintaining another one in Afghanistan? And can Britain deliver what the U.S. wants militarily as it prepares to make deep cuts in its military budget? A series of unenviable questions face the two leaders as they contemplate the meaning of the Arab Spring and what role the West should play in it, if any. 


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