The Furrows of Algeria
January 27, 2010
The German Mujahid By Boualem Sansal Translated by Frank Wynne (Europa Editions, 240 pp., $15) I. From the terrible Algerian slaughter, and its terrible silence, comes this small tale, told by an officer of the special forces who broke with “Le Pouvoir” of his own country and sought asylum in France. It is the autumn of 1994, deep into the season of killing. An old and simple Algerian woman, accompanied by two of her children, comes to the army barracks, to the very building where the torturers did their grim work, in search of her husband and her son.
January 27, 2010
On August 26, 2008, Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, touched down for a secret meeting on an aircraft carrier stationed in the Indian Ocean. The topic: Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The summit had been arranged the previous month. Mullen had grown anxious about the rising danger from Pakistan’s tribal areas, which Islamic militants were using as a base from which to strike American troops in Afghanistan and to plot terrorist attacks against the United States. He flew to Islamabad to see the country’s army chief of staff, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Pakistan: A True Ally, or Not?
January 22, 2010
Health care is still a disaster. But with Jon away, how about a little foreign policy to start the morning? This morning's topic is Pakistan's reliability as an ally against al Qaeda and the Taliban--a critical question when gauging our chances of success in Afghanistan. Yesterday Defense Scretary Robert Gates visited Pakistan, where he became the latest in a parade of U.S. officials to urge that country's army to step up its offensive against Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda elements now enjoying safe haven in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas.
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.
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.