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Today's Obamameter: The Latest in US Foreign Policy (30 January)

Current Obamameter Reading: Neutral

5:15 p.m. So you want to know the direction of US strategy in Afghanistan? Here's a big clue: the next American Ambassador to Afghanistan is not a diplomat. It's Lieutenant General Karl Eisenberry, who has done two tours of duty in the country, including a 18-month stint that ended in 2007.

This is the first time in my memory that a serving military officer has been appointed as an ambassador, and it effectively means that the military has locked down the key posts in the Afghan theater. Eikenberry will be working with the head of the Central Command, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, supported in Washington by General James Jones, the National Security Advisor.

5 p.m. The Pentagon is beginning to define the escalation of US troops in Afghanistan. A combat brigade of 3700 troops deployed east of Kabul this week. Five more brigades, including one for training of Afghan forces, could eventually be sent out this year, and the orders for three of those brigades, including a Marine task force, may be issued next week.

With the already-deployed brigade, the three to be deployed, and 5000 support forces, the US will be adding 25,000 troops to the Afghan theatre by mid-summer. That is an increase of about 60 percent in the American troop level: currently there are 19,000 soldiers under American command and 17,000 in NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

1:30 p.m. The US has called North Korea's rhetoric towards South Korea (see 7 a.m.) "distinctly not helpful".

1 p.m. The US Government has expressed scepticism over a deal for power-sharing in Zimbabwe between current President Robert Mugabe and the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai: ""What is important here is actions and not words. We want to see real, serious power-sharing by the Mugabe regime."

7 a.m. (Washington time): North Korea is not exactly in line with President Obama's "reach-out" strategy, scrapping all accords with South Korea. "There is neither a way to improve (relations) nor hope to bring them on track," stated the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, "Inter-Korean relations have reached the brink of a war."

CNN, meanwhile, is paying close attention to the row between Turkey and Israel at the Davos Economic Forum. Ali Yenidunya has posted an analysis for Enduring America.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said at Davos that Tehran is ready to work with President Obama. We're keeping a close eye on this, as there is talk of a secret US-Iran meeting next week --- we'll be posting on that later.

Trying to close one of the notorious chapters in the Iraq War story, Baghdad has refused to renew the license of the US security company Blackwater.

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