January 04, 2010
On the night of December 1, shortly after Barack Obama announced plans to send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, retired Lt. Colonel John Nagl appeared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Maddow was dismayed by Obama’s new plan, which she called “massive escalation,” but, when she introduced Nagl, a counterinsurgency expert who has long called for a greater U.S. commitment to Afghanistan--even if it means raising taxes and expanding the military--she was surprisingly friendly.
Why We Need Pakistan's Help
December 23, 2009
This AP story reminds us that it's going to be tough to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan so long as they have a safe haven across the border in Pakistan: SHAKTOI, Pakistan (AP) -- A top Pakistani Taliban commander says he sent thousands of fighters to neighboring Afghanistan to rebuff incoming U.S.
The Battle for Tora Bora
December 22, 2009
Four days before the fall of Kabul in November 2001, Osama bin Laden was still in town. The Al Qaeda leader’s movements before and after September 11 are difficult to trace precisely, but, just prior to the attacks, we know that he appeared in Kandahar and urged his followers to evacuate to safer locations in anticipation of U.S. retaliation. Then, on November 8, he was in Kabul, despite the fact that U.S. forces and their Afghan allies were closing in on the city.
December 19, 2009
An extraordinary Iraq war film takes place at home-at homes--and moves through wartime experience known generally yet generally disregarded. The Messenger is about the Army’s Casualty Notification office. When a soldier is killed, two uniformed soldiers, usually decorated veterans, are sent to the soldier’s home to notify the next of kin personally.
Did Obama "Dither"? Troops in Kandahar Aren't Complaining
December 18, 2009
As I mentioned earlier, I spent a few days this week in Afghanistan with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Michael Mullen. A breakneck schedule didn't allow for as much time with ground troops as I would have liked. But I did get a chance to ask some how about the Obama administration's Afghanistan strategy review process. With the the review process dragging through meeting after meeting this fall, you'll remember, conservatives hammered Obama for "dithering" that was supposedly demoralizing the troops.
December 09, 2009
From the hills outside Mandalay, Burma’s second city, the vista resembles a postcard of Asian serenity. Monks climb stone steps to a hillside shrine, where local men and women leave offerings of flowers and fruit. But the placid scene conceals one of the most repressive states in the world--a state that the Obama administration has decided may be more worthy of American friendship than American threats. For more than four decades, Burma’s junta has persecuted its population.
The Great Satan Myth
December 08, 2009
The Iranian regime has never found itself more vulnerable. And, with this vulnerability, it has never leaned more heavily on its own narrative of history.
A Lonely Kind of Courage
December 02, 2009
When, at 6:15 pm--known in local parlance as 1815--coveted ticket in hand, I boarded a bus with various members of the West Point community for the short ride to Eisenhower Hall to listen to President Obama, I thought about how very early we would be. But “Ike,” the second largest U.S. theater east of the Mississippi (only Radio City is bigger), was already full: cadets, over four thousand strong, had been there for hours. Body heat and a distinctive hum rose from the undulating dress-gray sea.
Palin and McCarthy
November 30, 2009
A new Washington Post poll of Republicans records the remarkable extent to which today's rank-and-file GOPers can't identify much in the way of any clear-cut Republican leaders.
Whack-a-Mole in Pakistan
November 30, 2009
The Pakistani military finally got serious, more or less, and launched a big offensive into Talibanland in South Waziristan. But this important LA Times story says the results have been something less than dazzling: Pakistani military commanders say that after five weeks of fighting, they are in the final stages of their offensive aimed at crushing Islamic insurgents in South Waziristan, a rugged expanse of mountains and plateaus that for years has served as the primary base of operations for the Pakistani Taliban and as a sanctuary for Al Qaeda fighters. When the offensive began Oct.