May 1, 2012
The one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, on May 2, 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan (it was still May 1 back in the United States), is certain to be the occasion for a victory lap by the Obama administration. Or two. In fact, the demise of al Qaeda’s leader has already become a centerpiece of the president’s re-election campaign. Vice President Joe Biden recently said that the entire presidency could be summed up as follows: “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”
April 18, 2012
The Tet Offensive it wasn't. On Sunday, insurgents belonging to the Haqqani network attacked seven high-profile sites in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan. The Afghan National Security Forces responded swiftly and professionally with minimal assistance from NATO. Far more insurgents wound up dying (36) than members of the security forces (11). Life in the capital has already returned to normal. When I was there a few weeks ago, I saw a thriving city where the biggest daily concerns are traffic jams and air pollution—not insurgent attacks.
March 26, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 27
It’s been a bad few weeks in Afghanistan. The burning of several Korans by U.S. military personnel at the Bagram airbase on February 20 sparked protests and riots. More troubling were several incidents of “green on blue” attacks in which Afghan security personnel turned on their American advisers; six American soldiers died in such attacks, including two officers slain in the Interior Ministry in Kabul. As a result, NATO advisers were temporarily pulled out of all the ministries in the capital. Then on March 11 an American staff sergeant walked out of his small base in a village north of Kandahar and, for reasons that remain unknown, murdered 16 civilians. A few days later Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived at a giant Anglo-American base in Helmand Province just as an Afghan employee was attempting to run down some VIPs on the runway in a stolen pickup truck. Last week ended with President Hamid Karzai demanding that U.S. troops stop operating in villages altogether and pull back to larger forward operating bases and with the Taliban announcing that they were pulling out of nascent peace talks.
March 15, 2012
It’s easy to tell when the Pentagon is opposed to a military intervention. That’s when we hear leaks saying how difficult such action would be. We heard them in the 1990s concerning Bosnia and Kosovo, we heard them last year over Libya, and we are hearing them now about Syria.
February 29, 2012
Violent Afghan protests over the burning of Qurans have strengthened the hand of those in Washington who argue for a faster reduction of U.S. troops. Especially galling was an incident of violence within Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, in which a disaffected driver shot and killed two American advisers.