A Finnish defence official I spoke to brought up an interesting point about Obama’s likely strategy for Afghanistan: one way or another, the U.S. needs to engage China to secure its help in preventing Pakistan’s implosion. In this context, sending Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry to Kabul makes more sense than I allowed. Eikenberry has an M.A. in East Asian studies from Harvard; he studied in Hong Kong and Nanjing and speaks Mandarin Chinese.
If Obama’s goal is regional diplomacy, which it should be, both as yet unannounced nominations — old North Korea hand Chris Hill is said to go to Baghdad — might end up being good news instead of just perplexing.