North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Rescue the North
July 26, 2010
Naubad, Afghanistan—In a wheat field in northern Afghanistan this spring, beneath the Cretaceous convulsions of the Hindu Kush mountains, a village elder named Ajab Khan shared with me the unsentimental math of his region’s farmers. An acre of wheat, Khan said, yields $400. An acre of opium poppies yields $20,000. The people of his village, Naubad, had grown exclusively poppies until 2004, when the government of Hamid Karzai asked them to stop.
Leakistan: The New Insurgency
July 25, 2010
Based on initial press reports, the leaking of “90,000 classified documents” related to the Afghanistan war doesn’t really tell us much that we don’t already know. Our Afghan partners are less than reliable. Nation-building is a painstakingly slow enterprise. At least some Pakistanis are playing a double game. NATO forces continue to kill non-combatants, despite universal acknowledgment that doing so alienates the people whose affections we are desperate to win. The insurgents are on the march. Who, if anyone, is likely to find any of this news?
Journalists Help Military Smear Rival Journalist
July 16, 2010
In the wake of Rolling Stone's now-famous article about Stanley McChrystal, the military cast doubt on some facts in the piece, with the help of the Washington Post: In an interview Friday, the managing editor, Will Dana, said the reporter's notes and factual matters were exhaustively reviewed. <a target="_new" href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/click%3Bh%3Dv8/39d9/3/0/%2a/e%3B226086389%3B1-0%3B0%3B50039633%3B4307-300/250%3B37315406/37333284/1%3Bu%3Do_2a_5bCS_5dv1_7c256E458205160B37_2d40000182603A9A1E_5bCE_5d%3B%7Eaopt%3D0/ff/a3/ff%3B%7Efdr%3D226161626%3B0-0%3B0%3B20580506%3B4307-300/250%3B3
July 16, 2010
Commentators of many political stripes agree that the U. S.-NATO expedition, in Afghanistan since 2001, long ago foundered and continues to founder, especially in the embattled south. “America and its allies are losing in Afghanistan," writes The Economist. “A survey in 120 districts racked by insurgency, a third of Afghanistan’s total, found little popular support for Mr Karzai.
Has Liberal Interventionism Run Its Course?
July 06, 2010
This is part of a debate about humanitarian intervention. Click here to read other contributions by Richard Just, Leon Wieseltier, and Michael Kazin. There is a great deal of debate, not least in both the real and the virtual pages of this magazine, about what the United States should do to further global justice—to use a word that, unlike democracy and human rights, both of which have lost much of their original force by dint of their ideological instrumentalization over the past twenty years, has retained its dignity and its coherence.
Confessions of an Epistemological Skeptic
July 01, 2010
I’m struck by how quickly some of my fellow Entanglers have brought up the mother of all epistemological quandaries: How can we, the not very well informed, know what is the case in a far-off land of which we know, well, not very much? The difficulty in knowing what is true on the ground in Afghanistan, for example, is massive. And the reason is not that “the liberal media” blight the national climate with pessimism because they’re of a wimpish or Qaeda-loving disposition.
June 22, 2010
“When you go to protect people, the people have to want you to protect them,” General Stanley McChrystal recently told reporters. “It’s a deliberate process. It takes time to convince people.” The remark, notable for its defensive tone, provides a small but telling indication that things are not going well in Afghanistan. If there were any doubts on that score, Rolling Stone’s profile of the “Runaway General” and his eminently quotable staff have quashed them. The wheels are starting to come off the Afghan Victory Express.
The New Map
June 18, 2010
There are figures in history who wish to leave behind what Malraux called “a scar on the map,” but it was Barack Obama’s desire to leave behind a new map, and one without scars. His promise of global transformation was outrageously genuine, underwritten by an invincible belief in his own unprecedentedness and in his own magic; and it now looks like a personal delusion enlarged by political excitement into a popular delusion.
A Question of Life and Death
June 15, 2010
Are the basic premises of our current policy in Afghanistan fatally flawed? The fact that I feel compelled to pose this question so soon after the completion of President Obama’s painstaking review reflects the mounting evidence that the results of that policy have fallen far short of expectations. Let’s begin at the beginning, with Marja. The holy trinity of modern counterinsurgency is clear, hold, and build. Coalition forces are stalled at step one.
Vacuity and Farce
May 21, 2010
The Supreme Court is divided into two blocs, as hostile and immutable as NATO and the Warsaw Pact. In the middle of the two blocs sits Anthony Kennedy, a Yugoslavia-like figure who tilts toward one bloc but has demonstrated significant independence. When and how the delicate balance of power will be broken rests upon two questions: First, will one of the four liberals get sick and die during a Republican presidency before one of the four conservatives gets sick and dies during a Democratic presidency?