Afghanistan

The Wrong Word

Over at the Commentary blog, Max Boot notes that even the gung-ho U.S. special forces seem “a bit worn down and pessimistic” in recent conversations he’s had with them about the situation in Afghanistan. I’ve had similar conversations with rank-and-file members of the U.S. military recently–in part, because they’re not sure that this …

Obey’s War Tax

Congressman David Obey, who called for a tax to pay for the war in Iraq two years ago, has done it again. He’s calling for a tax to pay for Afghanistan. It’s a very good idea for several reasons:

1. A war is, one would hope, a temporary aberration from budget norms, requiring a jolt of new revenues. It is also the most consequential …

Undiplomatic or Strategic?

I’m a big fan of former Ambassador Jim Dobbins, who has served in Afghanistan and knows an awful lot about how to conduct development programs in counterinsurgency situations, but I don’t think he’s being very fair in criticizing Ambassador Karl Eikenberry here.

For one thing, Eikenberry’s cables, which favored the witholding of …

Another Afghan Problem

I’ve been wondering if the U.S. military’s projections about the training of Afghan security forces haven’t been a bit rosy, and the New York Times today raises many of the same questions. I’ve heard conflicting reports on the Afghan National Army in recent months: On the plus side, they are said to fight well. On the minus side, 20-25% …

Karzai’s Brother

Islamabad

Just emerged from a press conference featuring Hillary Clinton and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Qureishi. The big news here today involves terrorist attacks in Peshawar, to our northwest, and Kabul. There are 86 dead, so far, in the bombing of a women’s market in Peshawar; seven dead UN workers in Kabul.

There’s been a lot …

Kerry Nails It

John Kerry gave a good, detailed speech about Afghanistan policy today. His sense that McChrystal’s 40,000 request is too much, too soon is especially noteworthy. I hate to make predictions, but just this once: I still think Obama will approve 20-25,000 troops–two brigades to secure Kandahar city and environs, plus three to train the …

Perfect Pitch

Vice President Joe Biden had an absolutely perfect response to Dick Cheney’s utterly predictable and entirely wrong foreign policy speech this week:

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had a blunt response on Friday to the latest broadsides from former Vice President Dick Cheney: “Who cares?”

Exactly so. The national security …

Debating Afghanistan

If you haven’t already noticed on CSPAN2, the Senate has begun debate on the FY2010 Defense Appropriations bill. Typically, defense is the last of the 13 spending bills to be passed because it’s a must pass – ie, you can’t not update military funding in a time of war – and it often becomes a Christmas tree for all the pork that …

President Obama Runs The Sunday Show Table (Sans Fox)

CNN’s John King summed up the situation pretty succinctly just before 11 a.m. “He’s not just done us. He’s done other people as well.” The “he” in question was the President of the United States, and the people he was doing were the hosts of five Sunday shows, on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Univision. The full market blitz by the White House …

The Afghanistan Paradox

This war has come to be inexorably linked to this President. He likes to say that he’s “taking the fight” to the terrorists because it’s “fundamental to the defense of our people.” His strong supporters include Karl Rove, John McCain and Sarah Palin. In Congress, Democratic leaders grate at the idea of granting him more …

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