October 08, 2009
Camp Julien is surrounded by reminders of Afghanistan’s past. The coalition military base--which sits in the hills south of Kabul, just high enough to rise above the thick cloud of smog that perpetually blankets the city--is flanked by two European-style palaces built in the 1920s by the modernizing King Amanullah. Home to Soviet troops and mujahedin during the past decades of war, the now-crumbling palaces are littered with bullet holes and decorated with graffiti in multiple languages.
Afghan Army Follies
September 28, 2009
Steve Coll is pessimistic: The history of the Afghan Army since 1970 is one in which the Army has never actually been defeated in the field, but has literally dissolved for lack of political glue on several occasions. Coll watched the Soviets learn this the hard way. He writes that a strong and legitimate government, perhaps in which Karzai and Abdullah work together, may be the only way to avoid another repeat.
August 12, 2009
A professor, a genocide, and NBC's quest for a prime-time hit.
Will Unemployment Clear 10 Percent? Probably.
August 11, 2009
Both Jon Chait and Zubin cite this excellent Nate Silver post bringing some data to bear on whether the unemployment rate will pass 10 percent. Silver's argument is partly a response to my point that, as the economy improves and people not previously considered part of the labor force start looking for jobs, the ranks of the unemployed will swell (and the unemployment rate will rise) even if the pace of job losses slows or we start creating jobs.
The Drone War
June 03, 2009
The Al Qaeda videotape shows a small white dog tied up inside a glass cage. A milky gas slowly filters in. An Arab man with an Egyptian accent says: "Start counting the time." Nervous, the dog starts barking and then moaning.
Surging and Awakening
May 20, 2009
The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 By Thomas E. Ricks (Penguin Press, 394 pp., $27.95) I. FROM CENTRALITY TO banality: perhaps no other event in modern American history has gone from being contentious to being forgotten as quickly as the war in Iraq. Remember the war? It consumed a trillion American dollars, devoured a hundred thousand Iraqi lives, squandered a country’s reputation, and destroyed an American presidency.
May 20, 2009
Valkyrie: The Story Of The Plot To Kill Hitler, By Its Last Member By Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager; With Florence and Jerome Fehrenbach Translated by Steven Rendall (Knopf, 211 pp., $24.95) Try to imagine the following scenario. It is the winter of 1944 and the great German offensive in the Ardennes is threatening to push the Allied forces into the sea.
At the Window
April 15, 2009
Of three or four in a room there is always one who stands at the window. He must see the injustice among the thorns and the fires on the hill. So wrote Yehuda Amichai in 1958, and I have been feeling rather like the morbid observer who has wandered away from the warm company. The glass through which I gaze is far from the place that I lovingly and disquietedly see; I have to squint past the coercions of the media, and correct also for the distortions of solidarity. But in Israel now I see fires on the hill.
The Shah of Venezuela
April 01, 2009
The ideas that keep Hugo Chavez in power.
Army Suicides Still Rising
January 30, 2009
There's a troubling piece in today's NYT about the rising suicide rate among American soldiers. Thus far, at least 128 soldiers are known to have killed themselves in 2008--the highest number in nearly three decades--with more deaths still under investigation. For the first times since Vietnam, the Army's suicide rate rose above that of the civilian population. Yes, war is hell. But as the Times notes, the military could be doing a better job in this area: Despite some progress, problems remain widespread, the advocates say.