September 26, 2012
Interviewee: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor
President Obama has withdrawn the last of the so-called 30,000 "surge troops" he sent to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, but Max Boot, a veteran military analyst for CFR, says there are "huge uncertainties about the outcome" in the country. He says that "we certainly do not have the sense of victory in sight that we saw in Iraq when the surge troops were pulled out of there." Even though President Obama campaigned in 2008 on a platform of bolstering forces in Afghanistan, "he has done very little to rally public support for the war effort, again because I think he's fundamentally ambivalent about the war himself," Boot says. He also says there are significant questions about long-term U.S. commitment "because neither President Obama nor [Republican presidential nominee] Governor Mitt Romney is eager to talk about Afghanistan."
October 1, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 03
Things are getting ugly in Afghanistan. Taliban insurgents somehow managed to penetrate the coalition’s main base in Helmand Province, Camp Bastion, and blow up six Marine Corps Harrier jump jets and damage two others, making this the greatest single-day loss of American warplanes since the Vietnam war. (The Harrier squadron commander, Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, was killed in the attack.) Another Taliban suicide bomber struck in Kabul, killing a dozen people, including contract workers for the U.S. embassy. Oh, and there have been more “green on blue” killings, bringing to 51 (and counting) the number of coalition troops killed this year by Afghan security personnel.
Lincoln’s Code:The Laws of War in American History
By John Fabian Witt
Free Press, 512 pages
To hear President George W. Bush’s critics tell it, the steps the United States government took to fight terrorism after 9/11—from the holding of detainees at Guantánamo Bay to the Patriot Act—amounted to an unprecedented assault on civil liberties that was at odds with America’s long, noble tradition of upholding the rule of law even in wartime. Yale law professor John Fabian Witt is hardly a Bush partisan, but, based on his meticulous study of legal and military history, he reaches a very different conclusion—one that is more complicated and more interesting.
August 29, 2012
In 2006, the Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran published a 336-page indictment of the Iraq war, "Imperial Life in the Emerald City." According to Nielsen BookScan, it sold more than 120,000 copies in hardcover and paperback. Two months ago, he published a 368-page indictment of the Afghanistan war, "Little America." It has since sold roughly 5,000 copies in hardcover.
July 2, 2012
Is there any organization outside of Hollywood more prey to intellectual fads than the Department of Defense?
A decade ago the buzzword around the Pentagon was "transformation." Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld wanted to force radical change to take advantage of information technology. So the individual services took to justifying every program, even hulking tanks and massive aircraft carriers, as "transformational."
June 26, 2012
Afghanistan is approaching a major inflection point in its long and turbulent history. In 2014 most of the foreign military forces are due to pull out. With them will go the bulk of foreign financing that has accounted for almost all of the state's budget. Twenty fourteen is also the year that Afghanistan is due to hold presidential elections. Hamid Karzai, the only president the country has known since the fall of the Taliban, has said he will not seek another term in office. Thus Afghanistan is likely to have a new president to lead it into a new era. This era will be shaped by many factors, principally decisions made by Afghans themselves, but the United States has the ability to affect the outcome if it makes a sustained commitment to maintain security, improve the political process, and reduce Pakistani interference so as to build on the tenuous gains achieved by the U.S. troop surge since 2010.