Hamid Karzai

This year will mark the withdrawal of the vast majority—and perhaps all—of the American troops in Afghanistan. The current president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has enraged American officials and diplomats by refusing to sign an agreement that would keep an American presence in the country. Karzai and his government have also been increasingly vocal in blaming American forces for civilian casualties. 

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The superb story by Matthew Rosenberg in The New York Times on Tuesday, casually titled 'U.S. Disrupts Tack on Militants,' is actually one of the scarier things written about Afghanistan in quite a while. (And that is saying something). One of the numerous problems confronting Afghanistan is that it faces various threats from extremist groups that operate out of Pakistan.

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President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai essentially just had a Skype breakup. According to The New York Times, the "slowly unraveling" relationship between the two reached a "new low" when Karzai unloaded on Obama in a video conference for negotiating with the Taliban without him. This falling out comes at a fraught moment, just as Obama is finalizing his endgame plans in Afghanistan.

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A Brief History of 'Bags of Cash'

The CIA's Afghanistan bribes join a long and storied genre

The CIA's Afghanistan bribes join a long and storied genre.

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“The lion doesn’t like it if a foreigner intrudes into his house. The lion doesn’t like it if a stranger enters his house. The lion doesn’t want his children to be taken away by someone else in the night, the lion won’t let it happen.” Thus spoke Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday to the loya jirga, his country’s traditional council of elders and notables. He warmed up to the theme and the image. “They should not interfere in the lion’s house: just guard the four sides of the forest. They are training our police.

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Andkhoi, Afghanistan—The changing of the guard in Faryab province takes place in sinister mimicry of the desert’s perpetual diurnal rhythm. In the brief and hazy dusk, police officers patrolling the rutted roads and villages of thirsty apricot groves pile into green pickup trucks and go home. In their place, on motorcycles, in cars, and on foot, the Taliban take charge, until morning. (This is the second in a series of dispatches by Anna Badkhen from northern Afghanistan.

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David Rieff writes about America’s futile war in Afghanistan.

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The Crossroads

The death of Osama bin Laden will raise the inevitable question: What are we still doing in Afghanistan? The answer, of course, is that the mission in Afghanistan is about something bigger and more ambitious than eliminating Al Qaeda’s leaders—most of whom, in any event, are probably living in Pakistan, as bin Laden was when the United States finally tracked him down. No, the mission in Afghanistan isn’t about killing Al Qaeda members.

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Oqa, Afghanistan—After many day-long camel treks to petition the provincial government in Mazar-e-Sharif, the hardscrabble men of Oqa at last secured a promise: The government would send a teacher to their desert hamlet of penniless carpet weavers, barefoot firewood gatherers, and two score clay homes. Elated, the men pitched in to buy a blackboard and some chalk and dragged them into the only space that could pass as a classroom: the doorless anteroom of Oqa’s sole mosque, an oblique and teetering shape the villagers themselves had hand-molded of tumbleweed and mud. That was four years ago.

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The Will to Believe

Decision Points By George W. Bush (Crown, 497 pp., $35) The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment Edited by Julian E. Zelizer (Princeton University Press, 386 pp., $29.95) George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream: A Psychological Portrait By Dan P. McAdams (Oxford University Press, 274 pp., $29.95) It’s worth listening to the audiobook version of Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father, because not so long ago Obama had both the time and the inclination to spend many hours voicing the recording himself.

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