Howard Dean, Afghanistan Hawk
September 08, 2009

I'm a bit late getting to this, but over the holiday weekend famous Iraq war opponent Howard Dean visited Fox News Sunday and weighed in on Afghanistan: CHRIS WALLACE: Governor Dean, the president will reportedly decide in the next few weeks whether or not to send more troops to Afghanistan. As a leader of the anti-war movement when it came to Iraq, will the liberal wing of the Democratic Party will you support the president if he deepens our commitment in that war? HOWARD DEAN: I'm not so sure I'm the liberal wing, but... I've supported the president on this one.

Confronting Iran
September 08, 2009

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "From our point of view, Iran's nuclear issue is over." Meaning: No negotiations. Meaning Obama must now decide whether he really wants to pursue those "crippling" sanctions. Watch to see whether the White House gives a green light to Congress to move on sanctions aimed at Iran's gasoline industry later this month. My sense is that people who follow the issue are increasingly resigned to the likelihood that Iran will wind up with at least a "breakout" nuclear capacity regardless of what Obama does at this point.

Quote of the Day
September 08, 2009

Former Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Turki al-Faisal: "Whether you like it or not, the destinies of the United States and Saudi Arabia are linked and will remain (linked) for decades." A good excuse to re-plug my recent print story on Obama and the Saudis.

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.