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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The Two Faces of Latin America

The Weekly Standard

June 10, 2013, Vol. 18, No.37

If you want to see both the potential and the peril in Latin America, you could not do better than to visit Honduras and Colombia, as I did in mid-May: The former is Exhibit A for all that is wrong with the region, from drug trafficking and violence to governmental corruption; the latter a showcase of what can be done to bring even the most embattled country back from the brink.

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Choosing sides in Afghanistan

Los Angeles Times

May 28, 2013

Hamid Karzai has been president of Afghanistan for a long time — since the end of 2001, when he was installed by a U.S.-led alliance. At the time, he seemed a charming, English-speaking leader with a colorful wardrobe who could craft a democratic, post-Taliban state.

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Prospects for Afghanistan’s 2014 Election

Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Near East and South and Central Asian Affairs

May 21, 2013

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, Members of the Subcommittee:

I recently returned from a week in Afghanistan where I have been traveling regularly since 2008 to assess the state of the military campaign at the request of our military commanders. During this visit I went to Kabul as well as to Regional Command South (in Kandahar) and Regional Command Southwest (in Helmand). Along with a delegation from the Council on Foreign Relations, I met with Afghan and American soldiers and officials including Gen. Joe Dunford, Ambassador James Cunningham and Defense Minister Bismillah Khan. I thank you for inviting me to testify about the Afghan election in 2014 which is one of the most important factors determining Afghanistan’s future. To place it into context I would like to comment not only on the election but on other factors of vital important to the outcome of our mission. What follows is closely based on an article I have written for the June 5 issue of National Review summing up my most recent observations.

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The Odds In Afghanistan

National Review

June 3, 2013


Will America’s decade-plus effort to bring stability and security to Afghanistan succeed? Crisscrossing the country at the invitation of U.S. commanders, as i have been doing regularly since 2008, i saw in early May cause for both pessimism and optimism as Afghanistan hurtles toward a turning point: NATO’s self-imposed December 2014 deadline for all “combat” troops (though not necessarily military advisers and special-operations forces) to leave the country.

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The Futility of Terrorism

Wall Street Journal

April 17, 2013


President Obama's initial reluctance to label the bombing of the Boston Marathon an act of terror was odd; his correction of the record on Tuesday was welcome. Although no information has been released so far about any suspects, it is doubtful that this terrible attack, which killed three and maimed many more, was the work of criminals or apolitical lunatics such as the Newtown, Conn., killer Adam Lanza. Both crooks and kooks prefer to kill with firearms. Explosives, by contrast, are the signature weapon of terrorists.

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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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