Anti-War Right Unlikely, War-Skeptic Right Possible

There is a growing pocket of Republican skeptics of the war in Afghanistan, Reihan Salam contends, and they could cause serious problems for President Obama.  Alas, his argument is short on examples and long on speculation. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican known for his independent streak, has made a conservative case for withdrawal. And […]

Obama Afghanistan Speech: Worst of Both Worlds (Updated)

My first take on President Obama’s Afghanistan speech,  “Obama Announces Afghan Surge and Exit Strategy” is up at New Atlanticist.  I plan at least two more essays later in the day dissecting international reaction and other aspects.  The lede: After months of careful consideration, President Obama announced his newest Afghanistan policy last night.  He will […]

Military Bureaucracy

Two separate reviews of The Fourth Star, a new book by David Cloud and Greg Jaffee, touch on a theme that has fascinated me since I wrote a dissertation on the subject. NYT foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins (via SWJ): “The Fourth Star” paints wonderfully dramatic portraits of the four senior officers highlighted here, but at […]

The Korea Solution

At New Atlanticist Bernard Finel proposes an alternative to the counter-insurgency strategy we have now apparently adopted in Afghanistan. His proposal consists of six components: Withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan. Provide substantial assistance to the Afghan government as and after we withdraw. Re-affirm our commitment to removing Taliban or related elements from Afghanistan. Work to […]

The Case for COIN in Afghanistan

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Bing West states the case for counter-insurgency in Afghanistan: War is not complicated. You have to separate the guerrilla forces from the population and kill them until they no longer want to continue. Al Qaeda, dominated by Arabs, is finished inside Afghanistan. The Taliban are Afghans, to […]

Counter-Insurgency in Afghanistan

I’d like to draw your attention to a new article by Donald Snow, Professor Emeritus at the University of Alabama and authority on foreign policy, international relations, and national security at New Atlanticist on the feasibility of counter-insurgency in Afghanistan. I won’t attempt to dissect Dr. Snow’s article but will only say that his observations […]

Iraq Suicide Terrorists Kill 75

It appears that suicide bombings are back in a big way in Iraq: At least 75 people were killed and 120 injured in two explosions in Iraq on Thursday that shook a quiet residential Baghdad neighborhood and a restive city north of the capital where Iranian tourists were targeted. In the first attack, a woman […]

GM vs. Afghanistan

Andrew Sullivan concedes the conservative argument against Obama running GM but then turns it on conservatives: But why, pray, does this not equally apply to running Iraq or Afghanistan? Why does our conservative elite believe that these vast, complex, foreign cultures and countries are somehow more manageable than GM? What expertise does Barack Obama have […]

The Buzz on the New Plan for Afghanistan

There’s a lot of buzz going around right now that President Obama will announce his new plan for our efforts in Afghanistan tomorrow. Marc Ambinder says that folks in the know are telling him that the plan will emphasize counter-terrorist activities: A few weeks ago, Obama announced that an additional 17,000 U.S. troops would be […]

So, What’s the Strategy in Afghanistan?

If President Obama is to convey a clear message to our NATO allies about Afghanistan, he must choose between two competing alternative strategies, counterterrorism or counterinsurgency: With just a week until President Barack Obama flies to Strasbourg, France, for his first NATO conference, his top advisers are still divided over what U.S. policy should be […]

6 Years of Iraq War Photos

Yesterday, as was noted here and there, was the 6th anniversary of the United States invasion of Iraq.   That we’re still there after so many years is remarkable — depending on who’s counting, it’s the second longest war in American history — but the number 6 isn’t one we pay much attention to.  We like […]

U.S. Defense Spending Too High?

Robert Farley thinks the United States spends far too much on defense. Absent supplementals, the United States currently runs a defense budget of just over half a trillion dollars, a number which does not include defense-related spending in other departments. By the kindest calculations, this means that the U.S. spends roughly four to six times […]

Pitching COIN in Afghanistan

In an op-ed in the Washington Post this morning, Sens. John McCain and Joseph Lieberman make the case for pursuing a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan: Loose rhetoric about a minimal commitment in Afghanistan is counterproductive for another reason: It exacerbates suspicions, already widespread in South Asia, that the United States will tire of this war […]

How to Turn a Cigarette into a Knife

John Nagl’s classic book on counterinsurgency is called Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife. Less insightful, perhaps, but easier to implement is Neil Strauss’ survivalist video, “How to Turn a Cigarette into a Knife.” Via Noah Shachtman, who has an interview with Strauss and several other videos. (Also, one of the most annoying pop-over […]