Colonel

The Civilian Surge Myth

How can we snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Afghanistan? There's one solution that has attracted analysts of all stripes: a "civilian surge," where development and political advisers working for (or contracted by) the State department and the U.S. Agency for International Development flood the country and turn the tide against the insurgents. The logic, at least, is sound: It takes more than military success to defeat insurgents. Insurgency grows where a corrupt and weak government does not provide security, justice, and opportunity.

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Course Correction

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.

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Kabul Notes

Return to Afghanistan with a group of journalists, escorted by the French defense minister, Hervé Morin. A limited view: We only see valleys in Surobi and Kapisa. But an invaluable glimpse, nevertheless, because it counters what is heard almost everywhere. First chapter, Tora, a small fort sitting on stones, some distance from Kabul. Welcome by Colonel Benoît Durieux, leader of the regiment and an intellectual, author of the excellent Rereading Clausewitz's On War.

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There is a moment in the first scene of Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds that is not what it appears to be. A Nazi colonel named Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) is interviewing a French farmer (Denis Menochet) he believes to be sheltering Jews. Landa is conducting the inquiry in more than passable French (yes, with subtitles and everything), when he pauses. He's come to the limits of his francais, he claims. Does the farmer speak English and, if so, might they continue in that tongue?

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Eli Lake has an important and troubling scoop this morning:  A report to be published this month by the U.S. government's prestigious National Defense University warns that the Iraqi army and police are becoming pawns of sectarian political parties -- a trend that it calls "a recipe for civil war."... The paper, made available to The Washington Times, carries particular weight considering its author. Mr. al-Jabouri was the police chief and later the mayor of Tal Afar, a city in Ninevah province, in 2005 and 2006 when he and then-Col.

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The Jerusalem theater lights came on, and no man between the ages of 25 and 35 moved. We had just watched Waltz With Bashir, Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman's animated documentary about Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the subsequent Sabra and Chatila massacre. The film deals with Folman's struggle with the surreal trauma that many veterans of that conflict retain.

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Progmation

I DEAD IN ATTIC By Chris Rose (Chris Rose Books, 158 pp., $13) BREACH OF FAITH: HURRICANE KATRINA AND THE NEAR DEATH OF A GREAT AMERICAN CITY By Jed Horne (Random House, 412 pp., $25.95) THE STORM By Ivor van Heerden and Mike Bryan (Viking, 308 pp., 25.95) THE GREAT DELUGE: HURRICANE KATRINA, NEW ORLEANS, AND THE MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST By Douglas Brinkley (William Morrow, 716 pp., $29.95) PATH OF DESTRUCTION: THE DEVASTATION OF NEW ORLEANS AND THE COMING AGE OF SUPERSTORMS By John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein (Little, Brown, 386 pp., $26) DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: A MEMOIR OF WAR, DISASTERS,

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About midway through Hotel Rwanda there's a powerful, if somewhat heavy-handed, scene in which a good-hearted U.N. colonel (Nick Nolte) makes clear to hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) why the West won't intervene to stop the ongoing Rwandan genocide. "We think you're dirt, Paul," he explains sadly. "You're black. You're not even a nigger. You're an African." One assumes that no one from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was ever quite so blunt with Hotel Rwanda director/producer/cowriter Terry George.

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