Afghanistan is seen as the second most corrupt country in the world according to Transparency International, trailing behind only Somalia. Iraq did not fare much better in the rankings, coming in three spots behind Afghanistan at number five.
The London Times reported that official British documents have revealed that the new Anglo-American strategy in Afghanistan is to buy off insurgents with bribes of “bags of gold.”
Just prior to the November 15 Obama visit to China, a front-page article in the New York Times began with the following sobering assessment: “When President Obama visits China for the first time on Sunday, he will, in many ways, be assuming the role of profligate spender coming to pay his respects to his banker.”
U.S. government-controlled VOA news on November 18 cited President Obama's statement that Israel's recent decision to authorize the construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem does not make Israel safer, and could complicate peace efforts. In an interview the president had with Fox News in China, he said: "I think that additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel's security. I think it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbors. I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous."
The Times of London reported on November 17 that UN and Iranian officials have been engaged in secret negotiations toward an agreement to persuade world powers to lift sanctions against Iran that would and allow Tehran to continue with most of its nuclear program in return for cooperation with UN inspectors.