Foreign Policy

Hossein Ali Montazeri

Word comes that Ayatullah Hossein Ali Montazeri has died at the age of 87. He was Iran’s road not taken, a leading cleric–Ayatullah Khomeini’s designated successor for a time–who came to understand that the Islamic Republic’s religious dictatorship was taking a fundamentally irreligious path. He was a revolutionary who came to believe …

New Arrests In Pakistan: Another Homegrown Threat?

TIME’s Bobby Ghosh files this report:

AP is reporting that Pakistani authorities in the northeastern city of Sarghoda have detained five U.S. nationals. Three of the men are of Pakistani origin, one is of Egyptian descent and the fifth man is of Yemeni descent. All are aged between 18 and 20, according to local authorities.

It is …

The Hamid Karzai Timetable

Today, in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai gave his own assessment to the length of time U.S. forces will need to stay in his country. It did not overlap too exactly with President Obama’s plan to begin drawing down forces in July of 2011, less than two years from now. The Associated Press reports:

After meeting Tuesday with U.S. Defense

Five Things The President Will Say Tonight About Afghanistan

White House officials just briefed reporters on President Obama’s new strategy for Afghanistan. Here is the top-line takeaway:

1. He plans to increase troop strength in Afghanistan by 30,000 Americans, making the total U.S. troop count 98,000. These forces will be in place by the summer of 2010. A senior administration calls the …

The New Afghan Strategy Roll Out Begins

A little before 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, a reporter for Scripps Howard, who had drawn weekend pool duty, sent his colleagues in the White House press corps a note: “WH press has no details as to how POTUS spent the day, except to say that he spent it at the White House.” With that, a full lid was called for the night.

The mystery of …

Iran’s Silly Reaction

Iran’s “decision” to build ten new nuclear processing plants is both risible and pathetic. This is a country that has most of the world united against its nuclear defiance–a situation that the regime seems to think it can use to bolster domestic support, as it used to do when it had more credibility–and is flailing about, searching for …

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 …

Bill Clinton Talks Health Care Lessons with Senate Dems

Former President Bill Clinton was the guest at the Senate Democrats’ weekly policy lunch. The subject: health care. Taking responsibility for the collapse of his attempt to pass health care reform in 1994, Clinton urged the caucus not to waste this opportunity. “I do think it’s good politics to pass this and pass it as soon as you …

Bill Clinton Lobbies the Senate for Health Reform

Jay Newton-Small is preparing a fuller account, but you can hear the audio of his Q and A with reporters here:

(Our audio wizard Caitlin Thompson thinks we should award bonus points to the first Swampland commenter who can identify Hillary’s ringtone on his cell phone.)

UPDATE: Here’s a clip that zeroes in on that mystery ringtone:

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