William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 8:24 P.M. ET:

WHEN YOU SHOW WEAKNESS – Afghan President Karzai, presumably an American friend, has ordered U.S. forces out of a strategic province in his country, charging misconduct by Afghan soldiers attached to American units.  The fact that this action has been taken so publicly indicates that Karzai is cozying up to the opposition, in anticipation of the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.  Karzai no longer has much to gain by sticking with the US.  Pretty much the story of the Obama administration and its foreign policy.

KERRY TO THE RESCUE? – Those are not inspiring words.  For his first mission, Secretary of State John Kerry will try to rescue an upcoming conference made up of Syrian opposition groups.  The conference is planned for this week in Rome, with Kerry attending.  But some key groups are threatening a boycott.  Kerry, through an envoy, is pleading with them to attend, saying that future American aid may be dependent on their cooperation.  That's nice.  Had we provided some international leadership, instead of "leading from behind," it wouldn't have come to this.  The United States has to plead to get ragtag groups to talk to us?

PREDICTION ON HAGEL – Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, for whom I have a very high regard, predicts that Chuck Hagel will be confirmed this week as secretary of defense.  But Coburn says that Hagel will be a weak secretary, who does not have the confidence of a majority of the Senate, even of those senators who'll vote for him.  From The Hill:  “'He doesn't have the confidence of the vast majority of the Senate, which weakens him in that position,' said Coburn, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in an interview on Fox News Sunday. 'The fact is that in modern times we haven't had one defense secretary who's had more than three votes against him.'"

February 24, 2013