Mark Thompson

Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Thompson has covered national security in Washington since 1979, and for Time since 1994. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkThompson_DC

Articles from Contributor

Debating Military Matters

Wednesday night’s presidential debate focused on domestic matters, so no surprise that national-security mentions were scant.

As such, there was no talk of wars fought, being fought, and yet-to-be-fought, nor of the troops who have fought them. But because much of the debate dealt with federal spending, the Pentagon’s budget …

Obama’s Expanding Clandestine War

On the eve of the 1991 Gulf War – as hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops streamed toward Iraq-occupied Kuwait – a U.S. Army officer remarked how much easier all this would be if someone – a Saddam Hussein turncoat, perhaps, or an American spy – put a bullet in the back of the Iraqi dictator’s head.

It didn’t happen, of …

Afghanistan: A Bleak Report from the Front

Marine General John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was here in Washington two weeks ago saying the U.S. and the Afghan government are making progress in their decade-long battle with the Taliban. “We remain on track to ensure that Afghanistan will no longer be a safe haven for al-Qaida and will no longer be terrorized by …

Are We at a ‘Tipping Point’ in Afghanistan?

So just how close to the tipping point – that’s the phase heard most over the past several days – is the U.S.-led military mission in Afghanistan? Not close, according to the Obama Administration. Remember, this was the “good war” – justifiable in 9/11′s wake, unlike the invasion of Iraq two years later. So Administration …

The Proposed 2013 Defense Budget: ‘Shaving the Balloon’

The Obama Administration came to a fork in the road this year on military spending: given the financial pressures facing the nation, it could have fundamentally set U.S. defense policy on a new path. Or it could have kept pretty much everything and just sucked it in as it tightened its belt. It has elected to do the latter, and that’s …

Reduced U.S. Role in Afghanistan: Politics, By Other Means

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s statement Wednesday that the U.S. plans to hand off all combat missions in Afghanistan sometime in 2013 has triggered howls from hawks who maintain it’s a step down a slippery slope headed to defeat. They may have a point. Nonetheless, the Obama Administration has plainly decided that its goals are

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