July 13, 2011
The U.S. ship in the successor flotilla aiming to break the Israeli embargo of the Gaza Strip has been named The Audacity of Hope. It is a bad joke that Barack Obama deserves. His proven coldness toward Israel has emboldened these foolish and meretricious people (including the uproariously silly Alice Walker) to open yet another front against the Jewish state. Of course, their campaign is not really about the embargo. It is about the very existence of Israel. It is not genocide, but it is politicide, and this is also a crime against humanity.
The Bizarre, Strategically Bankrupt Evolution of the Parties’ Views on Defense Spending
July 12, 2011
The Obama administration has managed to upend the laws of ornithology. The simple fact of a Democratic commander-in-chief has transformed yesterday’s Republican hawks into today’s doves. No less miraculously, and certainly for no more high-minded reasons, Democratic doves have metamorphosed into something like hawks. In both cases, however, the transformation has been less than complete.
President Obama is on the horns of a dilemma: Afghanistan was, by his reckoning, the good war of necessity, whereas Iraq was the bad war of choice. But he never took to that good war, and his drawdown of the surge troops that he had committed to Afghanistan in December of 2009 is the deed of a reluctant war leader. The surge troops are to be back home by the end of the summer of 2012—just in the nick of time for his re-election campaign. If this be war, this is war by the electoral calendar. No soaring poetry attends this burden in Afghanistan.
Obama’s Speech on Afghanistan: Forget Troop Numbers—The Biggest Shift Is Towards Political Talks
June 23, 2011
Despite the media focus on President Obama’s announcement of troop withdrawals this year and next, Obama’s speech says far less about the administration’s Afghanistan strategy than three other notable (and largely overlooked) recent developments. First, over the weekend, Secretary Gates acknowledged that the U.S. is in preliminary talks with members of the Taliban in an attempt to effect political reconciliation. On the same day, Ambassador Eikenberry leveled perhaps the most forceful U.S.
Debt Ceiling Hostage Update
June 21, 2011
The Obama administration has been expressing supreme confidence that it will get an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. That confidence seems hard to square with what Republicans are saying. They're expressing strong resistance to cutting defense: Although Republicans are demanding deep cuts in domestic programs, they are resisting sharp reductions at the Pentagon in the Biden talks, a key demand for many Democrats. Senior GOP aides said it would be hard to sell defense cuts to their skeptical troops. “Guys like me, I’ll just say no,” said Rep.
As the date for a long-promised drawdown in Afghanistan nears, debate is swirling. Many Democrats are urging a significant withdrawal, while most Republicans and U.S. military leaders warn that doing so will endanger recent gains. Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has cautioned that the United States “shouldn’t let up on the gas too much.” “We’ve made a lot of headway,” he said during a recent visit to Afghanistan, “but we have a ways to go.” But this debate misses the point.
Our Troops Abroad: What Does a Soldier Need to Read?
June 11, 2011
I fell in love with the BBC Radio 4 program “Desert Island Discs” years ago while living in Scotland, a place that felt a little like a desert island to me, on my own in an unfamiliar place really for the first time. The premise of the show, which first aired in 1942, is that a celebrity guest selects eight records, together with a book and a luxury item, that he or she would most wish to have if marooned on a desert island.
Afghanistan Dispatch: When Compassion Is a Luxury
June 02, 2011
Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan—The petitioners arrive at dawn and climb the dirt path in silence. Men with arms missing. Veiled women with artificial limbs. Children with faces drawn and prematurely old solemnly leading blind relatives by the hand. Their grim procession staggers toward the provincial office of the Ministry of the Disabled and Martyrs to solicit an annual disability stipend of $120. Among them is Lojward, emaciated in a black-and-white shawl and on crutches.
Afghanistan Dispatch: The Toll
May 26, 2011
Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan—Behold the latest toll of war from Forty Meters Street. Ibrahim and Ismail, twelve and six years old, brothers, sons of Nabi, their slight bodies mangled and unrecognizable on the floor of their parent’s house. Their cousin Mawluddin, age five, son of Aziz Khan, his blood dried in black Rorschach blotches on his white morgue shroud. Their neighbor Samiwullah, age four, son of Akhtar Mohammad, dying at the Mazar Civil Hospital, most of his skin burned into an oozing crust.
Afghanistan Dispatch: On Patrol
May 20, 2011
Andkhoi, Afghanistan—The changing of the guard in Faryab province takes place in sinister mimicry of the desert’s perpetual diurnal rhythm. In the brief and hazy dusk, police officers patrolling the rutted roads and villages of thirsty apricot groves pile into green pickup trucks and go home. In their place, on motorcycles, in cars, and on foot, the Taliban take charge, until morning. (This is the second in a series of dispatches by Anna Badkhen from northern Afghanistan.