World

The Sordid Tale of Gadhafi and Labor Britain Continues: With 189 Americans Dead on Pam Am 103, The Administration Is Strangely Detached
September 06, 2009

Let's face it: Moammar Gadhafi has outsmarted the Western powers, and he has been outsmarting them for exactly forty years. Not outsmarting them, by the way, in behalf of an ideology either collectivist or Islamist—although it aspires to leadership in both orbits. Libya's rise this coming year to the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly is a symbolic victory for the mangy man and his very wealthy country with deprived people. This is a case of kingship with populist and Arabist rhetoric.

Neocons Back Obama on Afghanistan
September 04, 2009

Ben Smith has the goods on a letter to Obama from an esteemed roster of neocons--including Bill Kristol, John Podhoretz, Pete Wehner, Max Boot, Cliff May, Randy Scheunemann, and other familiar fellow travelers--urging him "to fully resource this effort [in Afghanistan and] do everything possible to minimize the risk of failure." But this may not be support the White House actually wants. The effect here will mainly be to brand this war as the latest neocon adventure, driving away yet more of the liberal support that matters most to Obama.

Bad News for the Peace Process?
September 04, 2009

Just out from the White House: Statement by the Press Secretary on Israeli Settlements   We regret the reports of Israel's plans to approve additional settlement construction.  Continued settlement activity is inconsistent with Israel's commitment under the Roadmap. As the President has said before, the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop.  We are working to create a climate in which negotiations can take place, and such actions make it harder to create such a climate.   We do appreciate Israel's stated intent to place limits

North Korea's Creepy New Uranium Disclosure
September 04, 2009

If you want to make sense of the latest confusing news out of North Korea--in this case, Pyongyang's claim to have mastered the difficult process of uranium enrichment, giving them a complement to their plutonium program as a means to developing nuclear weapons--then you should read the story I wrote recently about this prospect and how it could complicate the Obama team's dealings with the Hermit Kingdom. Whether or not the Norks have a uranium problem has been a long-running--and politically-charged--debate within the intelligence community.

A Disaster in Afghanistan--and What it Means for the War
September 04, 2009

My new print story this week looks in part at the tensions between the Obama administration and the military over whether to send more troops to Afghanistan this fall. Central to that debate, of course, is Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who in the past has fretted that the American military footprint could reach a counterproductive size if it alienates the local population with its sheer intrusiveness. Yesterday, Gates hedged that point, saying he might accept a larger force size so long as the U.S.

Eastern Promises
September 04, 2009

In June, when four Uighur detainees at Guantánamo were released to Bermuda, the media’s portrayal of their story served as both distraction and palliative: Articles in many papers were written as though the United States had rescued members of an oppressed minority in China and delivered them to a tropical paradise.

Slideshow: The Joy Of Ballot Stuffing
September 03, 2009

With the Afghan elections over, accusations of voter fraud are being made by President Hamid Karzai's top challenger, Abdullah Abdullah. The alleged abuses range from reporting higher turnout, to ballot stuffing, to sympathetic generals using their own houses as polling stations. Of course, such shenanigans are hardly new in the history of voting. Click through this slideshow for a tour of some notable election frauds.

The Soviets and Afghanistan, Part III
September 03, 2009

I know I've already made my point, but I remain fascinated by Soviet savagery in Afghanistan, and America's wholly different moral and strategic approach there. Today, there's an (understandable) outcry whenever a U.S. airstrike targeting Taliban fighters also kills a handful of civilians--as when an early August raid left four civilians dead near Kandahar, stirring local outrage and wide media coverage.

The Soviets and Afghanistan, Cont'd
September 03, 2009

Matt Yglesias and Michael Cohen, both of whom have been asking very tough and smart questions about the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, doubt that our copious care  in avoiding civilian casulaties--as opposed to the Soviets' savage tactics--could make the difference between victory and defeat there. Quoth Matt: Maybe. That said, I don’t really think it’s a fair comparison. The Soviets had to fight a Mujahedeen force that was receiving open and full-throated support from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, plus substantial financial and material assistance from the United States.

Gates and Mullen vs. George Will
September 03, 2009

Money quotes from a Pentagon presser this afternoon with the Defense Secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman: “The notion that you can conduct a purely kind of counterterrorist campaign and do it from a distance simply does not accord with reality,” Mr. Gates said, adding that successful methods required cooperation with local law enforcement, the use of internal security and intelligence. Admiral Mullen added: “There’s no way to defeat al Qaeda with just that approach.”

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