General

Ever since he helped convince Hamid Karzai last week to agree to a run-off election, John Kerry has become a critical player on Afghanistan policy to a degree that's surprising even for a chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Today, Kerry gave a speech on Afghanistan at the Council on Foreign Relations, in which he indicated that, while he thinks General McChrystal's counterinsurgency plan is too ambitious, he would support Obama sending some additional troops.

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The Race Man

Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington By Robert J. Norrell (Harvard University Press, 508 pp., $35)   I. Once the most famous and influential African American in the United States (and probably the world), Booker T. Washington has earned at best mixed reviews in the decades since his death in 1915. Black intellectuals and political activists, from W. E. B.

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The defense ministers of our NATO allies met last week in Slovakia--a place where NATO power has much recent neighborly resonance--and among the gathering was also Robert Gates. His position on Afghanistan is not quite clear, poised as he is between his president and his men. Of course, Obama has more power.

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The NYT reports on the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, which featured a surprise appearance by General McChrystal: “What we did today was to discuss General McChrystal’s overall assessment, his overall approach, and I have noted a broad support from all ministers of this overall counterinsurgency approach,” said NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Although the broad acceptance by NATO defense ministers of General McChrystal’s strategic review included no decision on new troops, it was another in a series of judgments that success there cannot be achieved by a narrower

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President Obama faces an enormous political challenge in figuring out how to respond to General Stanley McChrystal's request for more soldiers in Afghanistan. One the one hand, resisting troop requests from the military during a time of war is difficult for any chief executive--particularly for Democratic presidents.

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General Stanley McChrystal's request to send more troops to Afghanistan has induced sticker shock for many Americans--including, apparently, President Obama. The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy that McChrystal wants to pursue has many components: protecting Afghan civilians, rapidly expanding the Afghan army and police, reforming government, providing economic development assistance, weaning Taliban fighters and leaders away from Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse.

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For months, the White House has been saying that President Obama would personally roll out the results of his administration's long-delayed Sudan Policy Review, which will officially set the direction of U.S. policy for Darfur and South Sudan, a region that will soon decide whether to become an independent country. (Update: Click here to read the text of the actual policy and my analysis.) Now, the review is finally here. It will be announced by Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and the U.S. envoy to Sudan, General Scott Gration.

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Back when my wife was teaching third grade, I used to joke about grading her students’ book reports the way you might treat an academic paper or a book review in TNR. (“This book report on George Washington, a scant three pages, does nothing to advance our understanding of the first president.”) Pointing out a logical contradiction in a Fred Barnes article is kind of like that. But the flesh is weak. In his latest piece, Barnes argues that Obama is weak. Check out these two paragraphs: Afghanistan is his test.

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Alex Massie gives eight reasons why Petraeus is unlikely to run for president in 2012--and why, if he does, he's even more unlikely to win. Four of those reasons can be summed up in two words: Wes Clark. 4. As a general rule, outsiders don't fare too well in the political arena. Eisenhower is an exception, not the rule. And in any case, we're a long way from 1952 and America is a very different, probaby more complicated, place. Plus, for all his achievements Petraeus himself might blush at comparisons with Ike. 5. Related to 4, politics is difficult.

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In light of the latest Petraeus '12 speculation (this time from Peter Beinart), Andrew Sullivan wants to know why everyone's so sure the General is a member of the GOP, wondering whether people are just assuming "that military = Republican." As best I can tell, the assumption that Petraeus is a Republican stems from the fact that he is.

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