Korea and the power of politics

North and South, on the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, couldn't be more different.

Los Angeles Times

July 28, 2013

SEOUL — Americans like to pretend that politics don't matter and to bemoan the slight differences between our political parties. These are luxuries we can afford as the world's richest and most stable country. But for much of the world, politics are a matter of life and death. That is particularly evident in South Korea, which this weekend celebrates the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

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Lessons from Chechnya’s Long History of Jihadism


July 2013

What do jihadists want? Simple: power. The power to impose their own extreme version of Shari’a law. But that is not what most Muslims want. For the most part they want the same things as non-Muslims: jobs, education, families, a higher standard of living, peace, and security. Therein lies both the power and the weakness of jihadist extremists: they are strong because they are motivated by religious certitude, but at the same time they are weak because their program is too austere to be popular when actually implemented even in traditional Muslim societies. If properly exploited by a skilled adversary, this weakness can turn out to be fatal.

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Political Warfare

by Max Boot, Michael Doran

Council on Foreign Relations Policy Innovation Memorandum

June 2013

The United States is in a long-term struggle for influence in the Middle East with competitors such as Iran, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various Salafist organizations. All have their own differences, but they are united in promoting visions of society that are at odds with American interests and ideals. Yet the U.S. government lacks the tools to contest this struggle for “hearts and minds.” The armed forces and intelligence community are skilled at using drone strikes to eliminate the leaders of terrorist organizations. But the United States does not have a political strategy to capitalize on short-term gains achieved by air strikes. It is time to develop such a strategy and to call it by its rightful but long-neglected name: political warfare.

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Department of Dirty Tricks

Why the United States needs to sabotage, undermine, and expose its enemies in the Middle East.by Max Boot, Michael Doran


June 28, 2013

"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." So said Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part III. He was complaining about the impossibility of leaving the mafia behind, but the quote undoubtedly expresses the feelings of President Barack Obama as he contemplates the difficulty of extricating the United States from the Middle East. He is eager to pivot to Asia and sees bringing soldiers home from Iraq and Afghanistan as one of his most important legacies. Like the mafia, however, the Middle East has a way of pulling the United States back in. First in Afghanistan, then in Libya, and now in Syria, events on the ground and pressure from allies convinced a reluctant president to make new military commitments.

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What the Snowden Acolytes Won't Tell You

Wall Street Journal

July 3, 2013

'The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe."

That quip from Tom Wolfe is worth savoring as the U.S. prepares to celebrate the Fourth of July—and as overheated rhetoric emanates from fans of Edward Snowden, the proud thief of American secrets. Even supporters, like Sen. Rand Paul, who express discomfort with how he fled to China and Russia, nevertheless applaud Mr. Snowden for alerting Americans to a supposedly dangerous infringement of liberty from the government's monitoring of electronic communications. Mr. Snowden's more extreme acolytes credit him with stopping the rise of a new tyranny in Washington.

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Stay calm and let the NSA carry on

Los Angeles Times

June 9, 2013

After 9/11, there was a widespread expectation of many more terrorist attacks on the United States. So far that hasn't happened. We haven't escaped entirely unscathed (see Boston Marathon, bombing of), but on the whole we have been a lot safer than most security experts, including me, expected. In light of the current controversy over the National Security Agency's monitoring of telephone calls and emails, it is worthwhile to ask: Why is that?

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“Destined to be the classic account of what may be the oldest . . . hardest form of war.” —John Nagl, Wall Street Journal


"Enormous, brilliant and important…. Terrific… Astute… Boot’s Invisible Armies should be required reading in the White House and Pentagon." —Michael Korda, Daily Beast

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