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US Marines talk new language

Evidence that front line troops and not just generals have learned lessons from Iraq and are talking a new language - report from Helmand by Peter Graff of Reuters.

"We learned that we can't just go around kicking down doors because that won't work. In Iraq, what really helped us win over there, make the situation better, was gaining the trust of the people, becoming friends with them."

Its clear from an interview with VOA that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is fully on board.

New US approach to war in Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal picks up on the new US commander in Afghanistan's 'new way of war'.

He's creating a Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination cell of 400 officers who will spend years focussed on the war, so they build up local knowledge and relationships instead of all rotating out every 12 months. This is critical if the West is to win this war.

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Twitter vs trad journalism

Reporting of the Iranian protests has proved that citizen journalists with mobile phones, Twitter and Facebook can defeat censorship.

But they haven't been able to answer the question at the heart of the story: what is the proof that the election result was rigged?

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Has Al Qaeda defeated itself?

Interesting article by Fawaz Gerges of Sarah Lawrence University in New York on how Al Qaeda's mass killing of civilians has destroyed its support among Muslims. I suspect he's right, but the opinion polls he quotes are not as conclusive as he says.

"If you wonder what has happened to al-Qaida, follow the trail of Arab and Muslim public opinion, and you'll get a clear picture of its massive crisis of authority and legitimacy."

Read the full article on Open Democracy

New US thinking

In January, ten Americans who have held top jobs in past administrations, Democrat and Republican, gave President Obama a crisply-written and practical peace plan for the Middle East, 'A Last Chance for a Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement'.

It argues three key points, all of which are reflected in Joe Biden's speech to AIPAC:

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Biden's mailed fist in a velvet glove

Vice President Joe Biden's speech to AIPAC, the main Israeli lobby in Washington, on 5th May is worth reading all the way through.

He's absolute in his support for Israel's future as a Jewish state and his rejection of Hamas as terrorists. But he's equally clear that the US is taking a totally new approach to Middle East peace.

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Majority of Jewish Israelis still support 2-state solution

A majority of Jewish Israelis - 58% - still support a two-state solution to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, according to a new poll by Israel's Rafi Smith Institute for Ynet.

That's even though the last election showed Israelis had shifted to the right. Add in the 1.4 million non-Jewish Israelis - Palestinian Arabs who live within the 1948 borders of Israel - most of whom support a two-state solution, and that's a big majority of Israelis.

OneVoice: more than 70% support two-state solution

The OneVoice Movement's latest poll says 74% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and 74% of Israelis support a two-state solution. The field work was done before the Israeli assault on Gaza in December-January, though.

Last Chance and Accidental Guerrilla

David Gardner's new book Last Chance: the Middle East in the Balance is excellent, arguing that the West has consistently undermined democracy and its own interests in the Middle East by supporting tyrants.

Jon Snow says 'this is a book that should be in the hand baggage of every one of President Obama's Middle East negotiators.' I think it already is, or at least the ideas are in their heads. I hope so.


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