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Riding the Tiger > Category: Afghanistan

Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

U.S.-Pakistan Relationship: “One of the Most Severe Roller Coaster Rides in History”

President Barack Obama with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Vice President Joe Biden

President Barack Obama with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Vice President Joe Biden during a statement in the Grand Foyer of the White House following a trilateral meeting. May 6, 2009

The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has received substantial attention at the NATO summit this week in Chicago. Just before the summit commenced, a deal to reopen supply lines through Pakistan to Afghanistan collapsed. President Barack Obama refused to meet with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari without a deal on the supply routes, a measure of just how much the relationship between the two countries has deteriorated.

In April, Bruce Riedel, senior advisor on South Asia and the Middle East to the last four presidents of the United States in the staff of the National Security Council at the White House, spoke about the relationship between the United States and Pakistan at the Miller Center. He said the relationship between the two countries “can only be described as one of the most severe roller coaster rides in history.” Read highlights of Riedel's in-depth analysis of the relationship.

Barack Obama’s Protected Flank

Obama and Karzai in Afghanistan, May 1, 2012.

President Barack Obama participates in a bilateral meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

On Wednesday, the Miller Center welcomes Peter Bergen for a forum on his new book, Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden--from 9/11 to Abbottabad. Today's post on Obama and national security comes from Stephen Knott, Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, and author of Rush to Judgment: George W. Bush, the War on Terror, and His Critics.

For the first time in decades the Democratic Party will nominate a presidential candidate whose reputation as a tough, formidable Commander-in-Chief seems secure. Throughout much of the Cold War, the Republican Party held an edge on the “toughness” issue, be it Goldwater vs. Johnson, or Nixon vs. McGovern, or Reagan vs. Carter and Mondale, or Bush vs. Dukakis. Not since 1960, when John F. Kennedy condemned the Eisenhower/Nixon administration for passively standing by while the Soviet Union surpassed the United States has the Democratic Party been so well positioned to outflank the GOP on an issue Republicans once owned.

A Decent Interval

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Today, on March 29, 1973, the last U.S. troops left Vietnam. As the country debates the war in Afghanistan and a new poll indicates that two-thirds of Americans are against U.S. involvement in the war, it is interesting to listen to this secret White House recording from 1972 between President Richard Nixon and his National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, as they discuss a time frame for pulling American troops out of Vietnam.