Afghanistan

Why Scott Gration really resigned.
"Some people had to go to some real shit holes to escape him."
June 29, 2012

Updated at 3:03 p.m. When U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration resigned his position early this morning, he said in an emailed statement, “differences with Washington regarding my leadership style and certain priorities lead me to believe that it's now time to leave." That's putting it gently. A former State Department official with a long service record in the Africa bureau and a former ambassador told me that Gration’s tenure in Kenya was marked by constant friction with his superiors and a refusal to abide by State Department protocol and security measures.

The Need to Lead
June 07, 2012

Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global PowerBy Zbigniew Brzezinski (Basic Books, 208 pp., $26)  When it comes to offering a vision to guide American foreign policy, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s latest book, unlike so much other literature of this type, refuses to lament or exaggerate the alleged decline in American power and influence. Instead Strategic Vision offers a kind of blueprint—a path that Washington must take, in Brzezinski’s view, to ensure a secure international order, in which free markets and democratic principles can thrive.

The American Media Gets an Egyptian Presidential Candidate All Wrong
May 03, 2012

Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Monem Abouel Fotouh was a leading force in the militant Islamist student movements of the 1970s; one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s point men for aiding the mujahideen in Afghanistan during the 1980s; and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Office for twenty-two years.

The Knowns and the Unknowns
April 20, 2012

Sometime in the early 1970s I had an illuminating conversation with an expert on Soviet affairs.

Why the Obamacare Verdict Won’t Have Any Effect on the 2012 Election
March 28, 2012

Several people are calling the Supreme Court sessions on the Affordable Care Act the most important since Bush v. Gore. The case is certainly critically important to the fate of the law, and with it the future of health care, the federal budget, and perhaps the U.S. economy. But you know what’s not riding on the Court’s decision, despite plenty of hype? The 2012 election. The truth is that the decision in this case will likely have little or no effect on Obama v. Romney. There are two reasons for this. First, most events have much less staying power than we expect they do.

Afghanistan Reconsidered: What the U.S. Should Do Now
March 22, 2012

Back in July of 2010, TNR asked nine experts to explore what the United States should do next in Afghanistan. In the twenty months since that symposium, much has changed. Tragic developments—such as the downing of a military helicopter that claimed 38 Americans and the recent massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant—have stoked widespread discontent with the current course of action, and have many rethinking their commitments to the mission.

A Former Military Psychologist on the Afghanistan Massacre
March 20, 2012

The horrific and surreal rampage allegedly committed last week in Kandahar by Sergeant Robert Bales, which resulted in the deaths of 16 Afghan civilians, has turned many Americans into amateur psychologists. This is natural: We all desperately want answers for how such a terrible thing could have happened. But the real answers are unlikely to be very satisfying. As a former active duty Army psychologist who spent 27 months in Iraq taking care of soldiers, I can attest that the oldest tropes about warfare are true: Combat is destructive; deployment in a warzone is enormously stressful.

Ilyas Kashmir: Who Was The Terrorist Tasked With Killing President Obama?
March 16, 2012

According to documents taken from his compound and obtained by the Washington Post, Osama bin Laden “commanded his network to organize special cells in Afghanistan and Pakistan to attack the aircraft of President Obama and Gen. David H. Petraeus.” The documents indicate that bin Laden had a specific person in mind for the job: Pakistani terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri. According to administration officials, the plan never got very far. But who was Ilyas Kashmiri? A March 2011 report on Sunni militancy in India gives some perspective.

The Thought Police
March 14, 2012

Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom WorldwideBy Paul Marshall and Nina Shea (Oxford University Press, 448 pp., $35) I.

Obama’s New Old Defense Strategy
March 14, 2012

When President Obama unveiled his military budget earlier this year, it was clear that he was essentially putting a new defense strategy on the table. The Pentagon’s plan called for the ranks of the active-duty Army to be reduced from 570,000 to 490,000 troops over five years. The Marine Corps, meanwhile, was supposed to shrink from 202,000 to 182,000. At the same time, drones were a high priority in the budget—not surprising, given that Obama has ordered about five times as many drone attacks as his predecessor.

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