Sunday Pickings
December 06, 2009

Strangest comment of the day (from Bob Woodward, on Meet the Press): Woodward: I think the lives of the average Afghan come into play here. How are they living? What's going on with them? And we are sending our military to protect them. You know what, I mean, that--this isn't an abstraction, it is about our military forces going in, eating goat with them... Gregory: Mm-hmm. Woodward: ...smoking bad cigarettes, using the same toilet.

The Goldilocks Strategy
December 03, 2009

WASHINGTON--President Obama has bought himself some time on Afghanistan and lived up to his promise to seek policies that fit into no one's philosophical pigeonholes. He has also split his own party, diminished the enthusiasm of his natural allies, yet earned himself no lasting credit with his domestic adversaries. By these measures, Obama's surge-and-wind-down strategy is both gutsy and politically risky. This view flies in the face of the common description of his Tuesday night address as a carefully balanced political appeal.

TNR Reacts to Obama's Speech
December 02, 2009

Last night, President Obama announced his new Afghanistan strategy, including his to start withdrawing U.S. troops by 2011. Don't miss the wide range of reactions and analysis today at TNR: Richard Just likes the speech, but found contradictions in Obama's embrace of both isolationism and nation-building. "What, exactly, is Barack Obama's overarching worldview when it comes to foreign policy? For a long time, I've felt I didn't really know. After last night's speech, I suspect Obama doesn't really know either." John B.

Are We Getting Bored With AIDS?
December 02, 2009

Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. Almost six thousand people died of AIDS yesterday. An even greater number became HIV-infected, though most of these men and women won't know this for months or even years. As far as we know, yesterday wasn't any better or worse than any other day in this regard. That it happened to be World AIDS Day was almost incidental. AIDS was certainly incidental to much of the mainstream media.

Sorry, but I Hear Echoes of Vietnam
December 01, 2009

I don’t oppose what Barack Obama plans to do in Afghanistan. I don’t know enough, and from what I know, I don’t have an alternative to propose. I would have preferred he find a way to achieve American objectives without escalating the war, but I agree with his objective of denying al Qaeda a home in Afghanistan through a Taliban victory, and I hope that his strategy will achieve it.

A Third Way in Afghanistan
November 23, 2009

WASHINGTON--When there is no good solution to a problem, a president has three options. One is to avoid the problem. The second is to pick the least bad of the available options. The third is to mix and match among the proposed solutions and minimize the long-term damage any decision will cause. Afghanistan has presented President Obama with exactly this situation, and he is soon likely to settle on something closest to the third approach. This will make no one very happy.

End State
October 26, 2009

California is a mess, but I love it all the same--especially the Bay Area, where I lived for 15 years. I went to Berkeley in 1962--a refugee from Amherst College, which at that time was dominated by frat boys with high SAT scores. I didn't go to Berkeley to go to school, but to be a bus ride away from North Beach and the Jazz Workshop. In a broader sense, I went to California for the same reason that other émigrés had been going since the 1840s. I was knocking on the Golden Door. Immigrants from Europe had come to America seeking happiness and a break with their unhappy pasts.

Galston Vs. Cohen: Was McChrystal Right to Go Public?
October 11, 2009

I’m grateful to Michael Cohen for challenging my views on General McChrystal, because it invites me--indeed, compels me--to say more about how I reached my conclusion. (Click here to find out why Joe Biden flipped on Afghanistan.) Let’s begin with some propositions about which I suspect there’s little disagreement: Entering or expanding a war is the gravest decision a political community can make. Lives, scarce resources, and honor are at stake, and the consequences of mistaken judgments are both large and lasting.

Win The War
October 05, 2009

WASHINGTON--At a White House dinner with a group of historians at the beginning of the summer, Robert Dallek, a shrewd student of both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, offered a chilling comment to President Obama. "In my judgment," he recalls saying, "war kills off great reform movements." The American record is pretty clear: World War I brought the Progressive Era to a close. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was waging World War II, he was candid in saying that "Dr. New Deal" had given way to "Dr.

Inside the Security Council, Cont'd
September 24, 2009

At the opening of this morning's special Security Council session on nukes, Barack Obama opened his remarks with this dramatic vision: As I said yesterday, this very institution was founded at the dawn of the atomic age, in part because man's capacity to kill had to be contained.  And although we averted a nuclear nightmare during the Cold War, we now face proliferation of a scope and complexity that demands new strategies and new approaches.  Just one nuclear weapon exploded in a city -- be it New York or Moscow; Tokyo or Beijing; London or Paris -- could kill hundreds of thousands of people