A Nation Still at War

August 9, 2011

A Nation Still at War

Panetta vows to push on in Afghanistan; Obama and Carney cancel public appearances; Seoul's national security adviser heads stateside.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida yesterday for a change in leadership at the Special Operations Command . Admiral Eric Olson , a Navy SEAL, will hand control over to Admiral William McRaven , another SEAL. Looming over the ceremony was the memory of the recent deaths of over thirty service members (many of them SEALs) in Afghanistan on Saturday. Panetta said that the deaths were “a reminder to the American people that we remain a nation still at war.” It would be even more tragic, he continued, “if we allowed it to derail this country from our efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and allow them to establish a safe haven in Afghanistan.”

Without much explanation, President Obama cleared his public schedule today and cancelled a speech he was expected to give in Virginia about fuel-efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles like trucks. Instead, he had private meetings with industry officials this morning and will sit down with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner a day after the stock market took a nosedive. White House spokesman Jay Carney also cancelled his daily briefing.

South Korea’s national security adviser is on his way to the United States today for a three-day visit. He is expected to meet with this counterpart Tom Donilon as well as envoy Stephen Bosworth . The question of how to follow up on the recent bilateral talks between U.S. and North Korean officials is likely to top the agenda.