Waiting for Halabja

~by Creon Critic What exactly is the delay in formulating a comprehensive strategy to transition the Assad regime out of power in Syria? However reluctant President Obama is to get further involved in another Middle East conflict, the clear threats to US national interests are already upon us. Which is why the US and allies…

Shooting spree illustrates why it’s time to end the war in Afghanistan

The latest tragedy in Afghanistan is still unfolding. An American soldier went on a shooting spree, killing sixteen civilians and wounding numerous others: “Stalking from home to home, a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Aghanistan early Sunday, igniting fears of…

When the Fourth Estate Fails

Reading the article by Eric Schmitt that ran in last Sunday’s New York Times under the headline, “Lull in Strikes by U.S. Drones Aids Militants in Pakistan,” one gets a sense of just how much unipolar imperialism has become embedded in mainstream American culture. If nothing else, the just over 1,200 word piece demonstrates why…

Wars of plunder?

In an uncharacteristically silly post, Erik asserts that all wars are either defensive or driven by “plunder.” He also suggests that the United States’ invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were somehow motivated by a nefarious cabal bent on self-enrichment. I find this line of analysis wildly unpersuasive. A quick survey of human history reveals innumerable…

Pak-ghanistan

From Joe Klein’s good piece on Afghanistan: “Karzai is not incompetent,” a Western diplomat told me. “He is acting according to his own priorities — his family, his tribe, his nation, in that order.” And why shouldn’t he?  Why exactly should Karzai be some Afghan nationalist just because the US wants him to be?  Clan/family,…

Population-centric=Tribal-centric

Elrod at The Moderate Voice, writing in response to criticisms of Obama’s Afghanistan strategy for setting a withdrawal date, argues:  (h/t Matt Duss at WonkRoom): Quite simply, the Taliban does not have the luxury of “waiting us out” for 18 months. If they survive that long then it is because we failed in our ground-level…

War Is Politics By Other Means

Scott’s recent post on President Obama’s decision re: Afghanistan is worth the read.  He makes a number of very interesting points, but I’m not quite sure I get this part. Scott quotes the following from Kevin Drum: There are two possible reasons for the speech being so unconvincing: either Obama doesn’t know how to deliver…

Scrambled

I was going to write a longer post on this, but one interesting consequence of Obama’s decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan (a decision I support, however tentatively) is the ad hoc redrawing of foreign policy battle lines. So you now have a hawkish Republican congressman arguing for withdrawal/some variant of the Biden “counter-terrorism”…

Common Sense

Damon Linker on appeals to common sense in American politics is worth reading, even if he overlooks the fact that like all rhetorical tropes, celebrating the intuition of the American people is a thoroughly bipartisan tendency (FDR: “The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common…

The Only Thing That Matters in War is Looking Tough

Peter Feaver writing in the Shadow Gov’t blog does an e-squat and drops a steaming pile of foreign policy cow manure.  But it’s worth reading insofar as it gives us a sense of Republican talking points in preparation for President Obama’s upcoming (Tuesday) Afghanistan policy announcement. The entire piece is framed around whether or not…

Pertinent Facts

Jules Crittenden sneers at Ambassador Eikenberry’s recommendation not to deploy troops to Central Asia, noting “that Eikenberry commands no troops in Afghanistan.” Well, bashing the diplomatic corps is de rigueur among the more vulgar denizens of the rightwing blogosphere, but it’s worth remembering that Eikenberry served two tours in Afghanistan and just resigned his commission…

Because, as we all know, Military Spending Doesn’t Count

New York Times: The nation’s top military officer said Wednesday that he expected the Pentagon to ask Congress in the next few months for emergency financing to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though President Obama has pledged to end the Bush administration practice of paying for the conflicts with so-called supplemental funds…

Who Wants to Be The President of Afghanistan?

Well, apparently not Abdullah Abdullah.  Meanwhile. the second round of Afghan elections–which were called after much US pressure–have been canceled. Yet again the US puts all its eggs in the basket of democratic proceduralism as a mechanism to try to build a centralized state create governance/legitimacy.  Both prongs of that strategy (the democratic and the…

Reviewing Obama’s War Part III: Rory Stewart

Part I here, Part II here. The Obama administration has proposed a very, very narrow objective, which is counterterrorism, and a very maximalist, broad definition of how to achieve it, which extends to counterinsurgency and the defeat of the Taliban, and basically the fixing of the entire Afghan state. And the whole problem with this…