Do We Have a "Moral Obligation" in Afghanistan?
September 01, 2009

Into the murky stew of rationales for fighting on in Afghanistan,  Joe Klein throws this ingredient: we have a moral obligation to the Afghan people, just as we had to the Iraqis when we stomped in there and destroyed the most basic institutions of civil society Really? America was attacked by people who were given safe harbor by Afghanistan's government. Our retaliation was well within the bounds of international conduct, as opposed to George W. Bush's extremely debatable war of choice in Iraq. It also did not involve the vast infrastructural damage that we inflicted on Iraq.

How Not to Wage a Counterinsurgency, USSR Edition
September 01, 2009

The Soviet defeat in Afghanistan is often cited as evidence that major powers simply can't tame that miserable country. But Gregory Feifer's The Great Gamble: The Soviet War in Afghanistan actually offers some cause for hope about America's prospects there. We are now conducting a military operation  completely different from the Red Army's stupidly brutal approach. Athough U.S.

A Letter From a Swedish Friend On the Blood Libel
September 01, 2009

“Well, it is blood libel isn't it? Of the most horrendous sort. It is also odd. Aftonbladet is a tabloid owned by the Social Democrats (I can't quite remember how, via a union perhaps, or trust). They have usually been quite pro-Israel. And traditionally in Sweden, while there was a huge degree of racialist nonsense in the interwar period, it was not directed towards the (800-odd) Jews. I know because I read the literature for an academic article I wrote.

If It's Good Enough for Iraq...
September 01, 2009

When Barack Obama pledged to leave Iraq during the 2008 campaign, he took care to address concerns that al Qaeda would set up shop there after the Americans left. For instance: In order to end this war responsibly, I will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. We can responsibly remove 1 to 2 combat brigades each month. If we start with the number of brigades we have in Iraq today, we can remove all of them 16 months.

New Hope for Japan: Why I Think It Could Finally Start Acting Like a Real Democracy
August 31, 2009

John B. Judis has brought in a very interesting piece on the Japanese elections by Karel van Wolferen. Here is John’s description of van Wolferen: He is the author of The Enigma of Japanese Power, considered a classic on the exercise of power in Japan, and its history. Van Wolferen was the first author to point out that Japan lacked a center of political accountability, and that many of its problems must be seen in that light. He was initially reviled when the book appeared in 1989, but his analysis is now widely accepted in Japan.

Annals of Outreach
August 31, 2009

Obama will host a state dinner celebrating Ramadan tomorrow night, according to the White House. Update: It turns out George W. Bush did this for years, although no one seems to have paid much attention.

Peace Process Breakthrough?
August 31, 2009

Kaballist pop queen Madonna touring Jerusalem holy sites, will meet with Netanyahu on Friday. For real. Wonder what she thinks about a settlement freeze.... Photo: AP

Cheney: I Was "Advocate" of Iran Airstrike
August 31, 2009

Maybe not a shocker but on Fox yesterday the vice president gave the clearest affirmation yet of the idea that he pressed George Bush for military action to halt Iran's nuclear program.

Back to Reality
August 31, 2009

President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are reportedly planning to meet next month on the sidelines of a UN conference in New York. An international Arab-Israeli peace summit might follow, which Israeli diplomats have already nicknamed “Obamapolis” after the most recent failed attempt to re-launch negotiations, the Annapolis Summit.

A State for Me, But Not for Thee
August 30, 2009

I believe in "the two-state solution" even though I don't really believe that the Palestinians constitute much of a nation. I also think that this is the reason why the Arabs of Palestine, historically and now, have never been able to muster the inner resources to grasp the spiritual strength (as well as the materially transformational qualities) of Zionism that made it all but impossible to beat. Whatever Obama is trying to coax out of the Israelis will not alter the Palestinian realities. Still, the Jordanians aren't much of a nation either.