World

Last week, Taliban leader Mullah Omar issued a taunting statement warning America about its prospects in Afghanistan. Here's a choice excerpt: The former Soviet Union claimed, the Red Army was invincible but faced defeat at the hands of the Afghans and completely disintegrated. Many other countries got independence thanks to that. Today USA, the Britain and their allies are bent on subjugating Afghanistan. They are in a total self-delusion and their brain seems not working normally. This is a season of historical analogies.

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Dying For Barge Matal

This is the sort of thing that's awfully hard to explain to the American people: In early July, Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked senior U.S. officials to dispatch a company of about 100 U.S. soldiers to Barge Matal, a village in the northern half of the province that is home to fewer than 500 people. Taliban insurgents had overrun the community and Karzai was insistent that that U.S. and Afghan forces wrest it back from the enemy. "I don't think anyone in the U.S.

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For Your Protection

Earlier this month, Barack Obama apparently completed an anti-free-market trifecta, adding "protectionist" to a rap sheet that already included "deficit spender" and "serial nationalizer." And not just any protectionist, mind you. In the words of former Bush spokesman Tony Fratto, Obama will hereafter be known as "the president who ‘lost' trade for America." The following day, the Wall Street Journal editorial page elaborated: "America now has its first protectionist President since Herbert Hoover." So what did Obama do to earn this unsavory distinction?

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Largely invisible in the current debate over troop levels in Afghanistan, which has exposed some stress fractures between the Obama White House and the Pentagon, is Centcom commander David Petraeus. Given his immense credibility as the man perceived to have "saved" Iraq, Petraeus could have a potentially decisive influence on a domestic political debate about troop levels by making his own assessment known. But, while Petraeus's commentary about Iraq was once ubiquitous, today he's laying awfully low.

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In which McNulty, exiled to an agricultural-training mission in rural Afghanistan, winds up bringing down the Afghan president. LAT: U.S. spy agencies have already stepped up their scrutiny of corruption in Kabul. The recent Senate report described a wiretapping system activated last year that is aimed at tracing ties between government officials and drug kingpins in the country. Yes, my setup was a joke--but this surveillance is not. It's not hard to imagine it leading us to some inconvenient places.

Blockade Iran?

As a senator, Chuck Robb was certainly a DLC-style Democrat, but never a wild-eyed hawk. Yet writing with two co-authors in the Washington Post today, he suggests that the U.S. might consider a sanctions-enforcing naval blockade on Iran by early next year. I would be surprised to see Barack Obama take such a step.

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Could McChrystal Quit?

That Post article today isn't the only sign of impatience within the military brass over Afghanistan troop levels.

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Obama vs the Generals?

This morning's Washington Post's account of Stanley McChrystal's Afghanistan review isn't very surprising. We already knew that McChrystal sees the Taliban as a formidable enemy and thinks the U.S. needs an ambitious coutinerinsurgency to succeed. What is striking  is the back-and-forth, by means of background quotes, between the White House and the Pentagon in the Post's accompanying analysis piece.

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More evidence for the idea that policymakers see "winning" in Afghanistan and an end in and of itself: The new head of the British Army, General Sir David Richards, also warned last night that Nato had yet to find the right formula for success in Afghanistan. General Richards also warned that defeat for the international coalition would have an “intoxicating impact” on extremists around the world.

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For the past several months Afghan president Hamid Karzai has been lashing out at NATO forces, complaining bitterly that civilian casualities were the result of Western indifference to Afghan lives and arguing (probably correctly, though unhelpfully) that such "collateral damage" was abetting the terrorists. But in his Kabul press conference yesterday, Karzai sang a different tune when asked about one of the biggest air strike foul-ups of the war: Striking a magnanimous tone, Karzai said he would welcome Abdullah or any of his other challengers into a new government.

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