"National Security Brief: August 17, 2011"
— Clinton also told an audience at the National Defense University that the U.S. debt ceiling political crisis “cast a pall over our ability to project the kind of security interests that are in America’s interests.”
— The U.S. military estimates $360 million in U.S. tax dollars have wound up in the hands of the Taliban, criminals and power-brokers, highlighting the problems faced by the Obama administration’s strategy of awarding U.S. financed contracts to Afghan businesses and the rampant corruption in Afghanistan.
— A new Rand Corporation report explores the possibility of a negotiated end to the 10-year-old Afghanistan war and finds that there are enough overlapping interests among the parties to offer some hope of success but compares the process of negotiations to herding cats.
— Libyan rebles have made “significant advances” in northwest Libya and in the regions of Misrata and al-Brega over the past few days according to a NATO military spokesperson who observed, “Anti-Qaddafi forces are now assuming control of the key approaches to Tripoli.”
— The rebels said their campaign against Muammar Qaddafi’s government has entered a “decisive phase” and that they expect victory by the end of August.
— Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he will “continue to cooperate with the Americans” if the United States vetoes Palestinian statehood at the U.N. next month.
— U.N. officials report that as many as 10,000 Palestinian refugees have fled the Syrian port city of Latakia during the Syrian military’s four-day assault which has included shelling from navy ships.