The Imperial Vice Presidency
November 19, 2008
Angler: The Cheney Vice PresidencyBy Barton Gellman (Penguin Press, 384 pp., $27.95) As Americans prepare to choose a new president, it may seem a curious exercise to rehearse the manifest failures of the current one. But either Barack Obama or John McCain is going to be stuck with the burdensome legacy of the Bush years, and the rest of us will be too--possibly for a long time. The war in Iraq is still with us. So are Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. The Wall Street cataclysm will ramify, locally and globally, for many months, perhaps years.
Speed Reading 'the War Within': Counterinsurgency Moment Of Zen
September 09, 2008
Whether or not they agree on the wisdom of the surge, most people believe that the adoption of counterinsurgency tactics--known by their shorthand as "clear, hold, and build"--has been the key to reducing violence in Iraq. It turns out that Donald Rumsfeld and General Casey were opposed to this strategy, considering it a "bumper sticker." They were more concerned with a disastrous attempt to pump out Iraqi army recruits as fast as possible, so U.S. troops could leave. (The insurgency spiraled out of control during this 2004-2006 period of the war, while U.S.
Musharraf for Brains
March 26, 2008
By November of last year, Pakistan, a nation hardly known for its stability, seemed primed to explode. After months of street protests against General Pervez Musharraf’s increasingly authoritarian rule, the Pakistani dictator had declared de facto martial law, allowing him to arrest thousands of political activists and sparking even greater unrest. Many young Pakistanis turned to extremist organizations, and suicide bombings spread from the Afghan border into once-serene cities like Islamabad and Lahore.
November 01, 2007
This Washington Post article about a bunch of recently released internal memos Donald Rumsfeld wrote while he was Secretary of Defense has a lot of good bits. (And how could it not? According to the article, Rumsfeld wrote 20 to 60 of these memos, called "snowflakes," a day. That's a lot of material to choose from.) But, for my money, this is the best one: A November 2006 editorial in the New York Times that said the Army was ruined "is disgraceful," Rumsfeld wrote to Smith.
The Usual Suspect
October 08, 2007
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 484 pp., $26) In October 2002, Osama bin Laden issued a statement in which he analyzed America's inexhaustible number of sins and prescribed ways of repenting for many of them. The statement was, by the standards of bin Laden's cave encyclicals, unusually coherent.
September 25, 2007
As everybody knows Columbia University hosted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on campus Monday. Now, the Hoover Institution, a historically conservative center at Stanford University where several Mensheviks lived out their lives, wants to appoint Donald Rumsfeld as a senior fellow. The first item I saw about this was on the editorial page of the WSJ.
Near the end of Stephen Hayes's book, he talks to President Bush about the decision to fire Donald Rumsfeld: The conversation between Bush and Cheney had been intense. "He listened very carefully and--he listened very carefully," says Bush. "He thinks Donald Rumsfeld was a great secretary of defense, as do I. And I think in this case, he really felt like his friend ought to stay the years if that's what Donald Rumsfeld felt like doing himself. As with the subject of gay marriage, Bush's nervousness is clearly evident.
Black Hole; The other Guantanamo.
May 07, 2007
Early last spring, outside a guesthouse in Kabul where I was staying, an injured Afghan man limped up to the locked gate. He wore a blazer with suede elbow patches and leaned on crutches. Because a suicide bomber had attacked the building not long before, a guard blocked the entrance of the unannounced supplicant. The fact that the man refused to give his name didn't help his case.
March 19, 2007
Although he remains the most eminent conservative in the United States, his face and voice recognized by millions, William F. Buckley, Jr. has all but retired from public life. At the apex of his influence, when Richard Nixon and, later, Ronald Reagan occupied the White House, Buckley received flattering notes on presidential letterhead and importuning phone calls from Cabinet members worried about their standing in the conservative movement.
November 13, 2006
These days, the diplomatic energy spent on Iraq isn't coming from Foggy Bottom or the Pentagon, but from an office building near Dupont Circle, where the 76-year-old Baker and nine other Washington establishmentarians have spent the last eight months working on Iraq policy options to be presented sometime before February. Technically, Baker is merely the co-chairman of the commission, which is officially known as the Iraq Study Group.