China builds a spiffy police state
July 21, 2014
Seven Years in Tibet was the title of a popular book and movie. I spent only five days in Tibet in early July—just long enough to get adjusted to its headache-inducing altitude (the capital is 11,800 feet above sea level)—so I hesitate to draw sweeping conclusions. But even a brief visit revealed realities beyond the headlines, which normally focus only on events such as monks burning themselves to death to protest Chinese occupation. Visiting two of the largest cities, Lhasa and Tsetang, and driving around the countryside, I saw the benefits as well as the bane of China’s rule.
The Promise, the Mission, and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant
"The Horror, the Horror"
July 1, 2014
Nearly 13 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq have produced many stories of heroism and selfless service among American troops. There have also been a few stories of stupidity and even criminality. No stranger story has emerged from the past decade, however, than that of Major James K. Gant, an Army Special Forces officer whose exploits in Afghanistan have been compared to those of T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) and Colonel Kurtz, the renegade Special Forces officer played by Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now (derived from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness).
June 18, 2014
There are no good options in Iraq right now. But some are worse than others. Three of the worst, unfortunately, are also the most popularly debated in Washington today: launch U.S. airstrikes without U.S. boots on the ground; work with Iran to fight ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; and/or break up Iraq into separate Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish states. All three options are alluring, but their appeal is fool's gold.
By Max Boot and Michael Doran
June 17, 2014
The growing disaster in Iraq has triggered anguished debate over two fundamental questions: What went wrong? And what do we do about it?
Mosul has fallen, and al Qaeda is on the march towards Baghdad
June 23, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 39
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, has long been hard for the central government to control because of its combustible mix of Arabs and Kurds. The first time I visited Mosul was in August 2003 when a tenuous calm was maintained by the 101st Airborne Division. Its commander, a then-obscure two-star general named David Petraeus, had on his own initiative opened the Syrian border to trade, struck deals with Syria and Turkey to provide badly needed electricity, restored telephone service, and held elections to elect local leaders. Along the way he also managed to kill Saddam Hussein’s poisonous offspring Uday and Qusay.
A biography of a legendary covert operator killed in the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut
June 7, 2014
Last year, the historian Hugh Wilford published "America's Great Game," a joint biography of three of the CIA's early Arabists. They were impressive, these spies of the 1950s, with their deep knowledge of Middle Eastern languages and societies. They had one big blind spot, however: They were rabidly anti-Israel, convinced that American interests were better served by an alliance with the big Arab states than with the tiny Jewish upstart.