I was interested to learn that talks are now underway with the Taliban in Afghanistan. That implies Obama is at last thinking of getting more American troops back home. It probably means we too can be thinking of getting our troops back.
As someone who has argued for many months that we need to get out, I will pleased when we know that at last we will do that. It was always the case that there needed to be a political settlement, and a withdrawal by foreign troops, if Afghanistan is to have any kind of stable future.
We also need an exit strategy from Libya. The immediate humanitarian mission has been accomplished,as sanctioned by the UN. Pushing too hard to kill Gaddafi and the rest of the army high command could result in more civilian deaths. This is not what the UN resolution had in mind. The UN forces need to be careful, as intervening from the skies in a civil war on the ground in urban areas is not an easy task, requiring huge patience and precision.
The good news this spring has been the emergence of some genuinely democratic movements in Arab countries, coming from within. The west can encourage and support these movements without having recourse to arms on the ground. More importantly it can make it more difficult for dictators by its diplomatic and trade responses to them.
The west needs to be careful not to compromise democratic Arab movements, and not to make it more difficult for them to recruit local support through clumsy association with the west. When it comes to intervening in Arab lands, less is better. I look forward to British troops coming home.