Afghanistan

Why Are We Still Backing Hamid Karzai?
November 19, 2011

“The lion doesn’t like it if a foreigner intrudes into his house. The lion doesn’t like it if a stranger enters his house. The lion doesn’t want his children to be taken away by someone else in the night, the lion won’t let it happen.” Thus spoke Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday to the loya jirga, his country’s traditional council of elders and notables. He warmed up to the theme and the image. “They should not interfere in the lion’s house: just guard the four sides of the forest. They are training our police.

Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Shade and Dazzle
November 09, 2011

You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo John Huston: Courage and ArtBy Jeffrey Meyers (Crown Archetype, 475 pp., $30)  Guantánamo has become a dreadful word, signifying a morass of military, legal, political, diplomatic, and humanitarian complications.

Otherwise Occupied
October 27, 2011

Back in May, five veteran protesters hatched a plan: The tenth anniversary of the deployment of American troops in Afghanistan was approaching, and they wanted to demonstrate their discontent. They’d start with a concert and a rally, and then the more hard-core protesters would stick around in tents through the winter. The protest would take place in Freedom Plaza, a rectangular, concrete park in downtown Washington. They designed a logo, ordered signs and t-shirts, and raised more than $30,000.

Third Wheel
October 26, 2011

There is a movement afoot in the land, but I don’t mean the one amid the tarps at Zuccotti Park. Instead, it’s a 148-person operation headquartered in a tenth-floor office on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington decorated with sleek posters that proclaim, “Make My Vote Count” and “Open Up The Ballot.” Hanging in the reception area is a framed op-ed column praising the movement, written by the man who is its Marx or Engels: Tom Friedman. This is Americans Elect, the latest attempt to challenge the country’s two-party duopoly from the political center.

On Violence, in Chicago and in Afghanistan
October 12, 2011

The Interrupters Cinema Guild Hell and Back Again Docurama Film Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow Alive Mind Cinema Steve James, writer-director of Hoop Dreams, and Alex Kotlowitz, recognized author on racial problems, have co-produced a documentary about race and violence called The Interrupters. It runs two hours and five minutes. James says that every viewer will have to decide for himself whether the film is too long. This, I’d say, will depend on whether the viewer insists on new information or whether he is impressed by the commitment of the people involved.

Why Pakistan and the United States Are on a Collision Course
October 10, 2011

Pakistan and the United States have been engaged in a virtual war over the past several weeks. In a barrage of television and radio interviews in both the Pakistani and American media, top politicians of these “allies” in the fight against terrorism have hurled accusations at each other, issued warnings, sought out new alliances to replace the bilateral partnership, and even threatened military action. Television advertisements aired by a private channel in Pakistan show images of the Pakistan Army preparing for combat, and warn the United States not to challenge a God-fearing nation.

Why Negotiations With the Taliban Aren’t Hopeless
October 10, 2011

Are Afghan negotiations hopeless? In the wake of last month’s assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of the country’s High Peace Council, the mood in both Afghanistan and the United States is pessimistic, to say the least. But negotiations are still possible, and understanding why that’s the case, as well as the difficulties of succeeding, requires understanding the history of similar negotiations, quieting Afghan suspicions, and abandoning myths that cloud public discussion. Saying negotiations are possible is a long way from saying that they will necessarily succeed.

Sidelined
September 28, 2011

In the good old days, they were called “the cardinals,” because the chairmen of the appropriations committee were so powerful. An insular group, they met behind closed doors, and, without wasting their time with input from anyone, they decided how the government should spend precious tax dollars. The most legendary example of the appropriator’s might is Charlie Wilson, the Texas representative who launched a covert war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, simply through canny use of the power of the purse.  How times have changed.

The Indecency of Harvard’s 9/11 Commemoration
September 13, 2011

Harvard’s “Remembering 9/11” did no such thing. The events on the tenth anniversary of September 11 in Cambridge did little remembering of 9/11 and a whole lot of rehashing of the events in the post-9/11 world. Those people who did talk about 9/11 universalized it ad absurdum.

Why Is the Middle East Still in Thrall to 9/11 Conspiracy Theories?
September 03, 2011

The 9/11 attacks catalyzed a tremendous shift in American foreign policy in the Middle East. Rather than prioritizing petrol, Washington targeted terrorist organizations, dethroned a dictator, and lobbied throughout the region for liberalization. Yet despite the billions of dollars spent policing Baghdad and protecting Benghazi, the unpopularity of the United States in the Arab world continues to be fueled by the belief that Islamist terrorists had nothing to do with 9/11, with many claiming the attacks were an American, Israeli, or joint American-Israeli conspiracy.

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