al-Qaeda

Stop Complaining About Harold Koh’s Interpretation of the War Powers Act
July 01, 2011

Harold Koh and John Yoo are two peas in a pod, except that Yoo is the right-wing pea and Koh is the left-wing pea.

Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda's P.R. Woes
June 27, 2011

Among the more lighthearted bits of news to emerge from the killing of Osama bin Laden was the revelation that the terrorist leader considered changing Al Qaeda’s name in order to improve its “brand.” In an odd amalgamation of religious fanaticism and modern corporate p.r. tactics, bin Laden was apparently displeased at the dropping of the religious part of his group’s full name (Al Qaeda Al Jihad, or “The Base of Holy War”) when “Al Qaeda” was adopted as shorthand. In response, he wanted to come up with a new name to emphasize the organization’s religious nature.

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.

‘Quit Pakistan Syndrome’: A Country Loses Faith in Itself
June 18, 2011

On a recent episode of “Khari Baat” (“Straight Talk”), a popular Pakistani talk show, journalist Hassan Nisar bluntly captured the mood of his nation: “No normal Pakistani in his right mind would stay in this country for an extra 24 hours if given the option to emigrate.” His view echoed the findings of a poll by Gallup Pakistan released in April, which showed that 27 percent of all Pakistanis want to leave their country and settle abroad.

Troop Drawdown: Why We’re Asking All the Wrong Questions About Afghanistan
June 15, 2011

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.

Jefferson in Benghazi
June 09, 2011

The border crossing from Egypt into rebel-controlled eastern Libya offers few clues that the country is at war. The Libyan immigration officers wear ragged uniforms and carry on the routine of stamping passports, though with a friendliness and ease that is undoubtedly new. The eight-hour drive to the rebels’ de facto capital of Benghazi is dramatic only for its scenery—a rugged coastline with wide open beaches, then, surprisingly, green hills, crossed by deep gorges and adorned with beautifully preserved Greek ruins, visited by no one.

Eleventh Hour

Mahdi Mohammed didn’t sound like himself. He didn’t sound like the smiling young father I’d met among a throng of anti-government protesters in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, in February. And he didn’t sound like the earnest activist who promised me, when I was deported from Yemen in March, that he’d welcome me back to a “free Yemen” in April. The Mahdi I spoke to early Tuesday morning sounded—along with the rest of the Yemeni protesters I spoke to this week—like he was at the end of his rope.

The Hawk
May 23, 2011

When America traded George W. Bush for Barack Obama, few thought the result would be an escalation in the American war on terror. Swathes of U.S. conservatives (but also some liberals) were ready to dismiss President Obama as too naïve and idealistic to be president in the face of a heightened terrorist threat. Moderates did not believe that a campaign based on hope and change would cause Al Qaeda terrorists to fear this president more than the previous one.

The Hawk
May 19, 2011

When America traded George W. Bush for Barack Obama, few thought the result would be an escalation in the American war on terror. Swathes of U.S. conservatives (but also some liberals) were ready to dismiss President Obama as too naïve and idealistic to be president in the face of a heightened terrorist threat. Moderates did not believe that a campaign based on hope and change would cause Al Qaeda terrorists to fear this president more than the previous one.

Asymmetric Actors
May 19, 2011

Pakistan’s long conflict with India shapes its national security worldview. Far smaller and weaker than its neighbor, Pakistan compensates with far higher military spending and a larger Army than it can afford, creating a national security state.

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