North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan—It’s all so familiar. The chafing of seven pounds of steel and wood of a Kalashnikov against Khoda Qul’s bony right hip. The blanched desert that unfurls through the gunsight. And the enemy: Taliban forces advancing across a country so parched its desiccated alluvium has sun-baked into pottery. Fourteen years ago, Khoda Qul picked up a gun and joined a band of sandaled irregulars that, eventually, in 2001, helped drive the Taliban out of Shahraq, his village of oblique mud-slapped homes in northern Afghanistan’s Balkh province.
The Bizarre, Strategically Bankrupt Evolution of the Parties’ Views on Defense Spending
July 12, 2011
The Obama administration has managed to upend the laws of ornithology. The simple fact of a Democratic commander-in-chief has transformed yesterday’s Republican hawks into today’s doves. No less miraculously, and certainly for no more high-minded reasons, Democratic doves have metamorphosed into something like hawks. In both cases, however, the transformation has been less than complete.
The Sudan Crisis: Obama’s Hypocrisy and Culpability
June 22, 2011
Among the many incoherencies of Obama’s foreign policy, none is more glaring and appalling than his stance toward one of the worst mass murderers of our time, Omar Al Bashir, the dictator of Sudan. Al Bashir and his totalitarian political Islamic regime have conducted two eliminationist campaigns—of mass murder, mass expulsion, and mass rapes—over 20 years, first in Southern Sudan and then in Darfur.
On a recent episode of “Khari Baat” (“Straight Talk”), a popular Pakistani talk show, journalist Hassan Nisar bluntly captured the mood of his nation: “No normal Pakistani in his right mind would stay in this country for an extra 24 hours if given the option to emigrate.” His view echoed the findings of a poll by Gallup Pakistan released in April, which showed that 27 percent of all Pakistanis want to leave their country and settle abroad.
As the date for a long-promised drawdown in Afghanistan nears, debate is swirling. Many Democrats are urging a significant withdrawal, while most Republicans and U.S. military leaders warn that doing so will endanger recent gains. Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has cautioned that the United States “shouldn’t let up on the gas too much.” “We’ve made a lot of headway,” he said during a recent visit to Afghanistan, “but we have a ways to go.” But this debate misses the point.
Ready to Stand?
May 16, 2011
In his December 2009 speech to cadets at West Point, President Obama committed to sending 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, while laying out the closest thing to a war strategy that we’ve had since 2001. “We must deny al-Qaida a safe haven,” he said, and “we must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government.
Tel Aviv Journal: Notes on a Roiling Region
April 29, 2011
I. “The standard left-wing person never seems more comfortable than when attacking Israel.” This is the novelist Martin Amis talking to Ha’aretz when he was in Israel this past fall.“Everyone else is protected,” Amis continued, “by having dark skin or colonial history or something. But you can attack Israel.” Freely! Of course, it’s not only the standard left-wing person who is so empowered, but also those who belong to mainstream Protestant churches associated with the National Council of Churches on Riverside Drive in Manhattan.
April 26, 2011
In 1992, the foreign minister of Luxembourg, Jacques Poos, declared that “the hour of Europe” had arrived. The minister pronounced this falsehood in relation to the catastrophe in Bosnia, where, he assured, the reach of Luxembourg and that of its European neighbors would soon put an end to the slaughter. The hour of Europe stretched across three sickening years, culminating in the spectacle of Dutch troops cuffed to lampposts and ending only when an American column of 70-ton tanks from the First Armored Division crossed the Danube. Fast forward to 2011.
The Case for Drones
April 23, 2011
On Thursday, the Pentagon announced that President Obama, hoping to break the see-saw deadlock between rebel forces and Muammar Qaddafi’s military, had authorized the use of armed Predator drones in Libya. The Predator—technically known as the MQ-9 Reaper—is accurate and deadly; it can fly for over 40 hours and carry more than 1,000 pounds of missiles and bombs. The decision to send these drones was driven by the tactics Qaddafi’s forces have developed to circumvent NATO air strikes, namely intermingling with civilians and moving in unmarked vehicles.
April 15, 2011
From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO’s future was in question. While it had been the most successful multinational alliance in history, partnerships of that sort seldom survive once their enemies are gone. As the Berlin Wall came down and Stalin’s empire shattered, NATO’s clock was ticking. Amazingly, though, the Alliance persisted, largely by transforming itself. It staved off a challenge from a proposed European Union Defense Force, which might have supplanted it; provided an institutional framework for continued U.S.