The foreign policy bait-and-switch continues. First, President Barack Obama declared the end of combat in Iraq, withdrawing some U.S. troops but leaving many others behind, possibly for decades, and redefining their role as “advise and assist” — whereupon they continued engaging in combat. Now, with Obama having publicly stated his intent to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next July, both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus are arguing for a long-term, if not permanent, U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

On the one hand, the British government has been talking lately about restoring some of its subjects’ lost civil liberties and privacy. On the other hand, it has just taken another step down the road to the total surveillance society: The Financial Services Authority, according to the New York Times, has instituted new rules requiring “all financial services firms … to record any relevant communication by employees on their work cellphones” and to discourage “employees from taking client orders or discussing and arranging transactions on their private cellphones, where conversations cannot be recorded.”

Ireland is one of many nations within the European Union that faces profound doubts about its ability to maintain its financial credibility. During the last several days, ministers of the European Union have tried to cobble together a rescue package that would allow the beleaguered country to manage its public debt.

Apparently, tobacco companies are facing stricter marketing restrictions not only in the United States, but on the global scale as well. However, in an effort to increase sales in developing nations, as well as combat the efforts of public health officials from 171 nations who are working to enforce a global anti-smoking treaty, known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, cigarette companies are prepared to go down fighting.

The recent decision by voters in Oklahoma to ban Islamic Sharia law from the courtrooms of their state has already been met with a legal challenge and a federal restraining order, setting in motion a court battle which will necessarily involve a protracted discussion of the role of Sharia law in the life of Muslims.