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.
Conquered into Liberty: Two Centuries of Battles Along the Great Warpath that Made the American Way of War
By Eliot A. Cohen
Free Press, 432 pages
In the popular imagination, the “American Way of War” developed in major conflicts such as the Civil War and World War II: costly wars of attrition that mobilized the full might of the economy and were fought until the enemy was annihilated. The strategist Eliot A. Cohen begs to differ. In his new book, Conquered into Liberty, he argues that the American approach to warfare originated in battles fought hundreds of years ago along a 200-mile stretch of land and water from Albany to Montreal. The Indians called this the Great Warpath, according to Cohen, and from the early 18th century until the early 19th century, it was the scene of unrelenting conflict.
January 23, 2012
A general's life story and an inside look at his year in command in Afghanistan
All In: The Education of General David Petraeus
By Paula Broadwell, with Vernon Loeb
(The Penguin Press, 394 pages, $29.95)
Paula Broadwell, a 1995 West Point graduate and former Army officer, went to work in 2008 on a doctoral dissertation at King's College London on Gen. David Petraeus and his role in U.S. military innovation in the post-9/11 era. When the general, after striking success with the troop "surge" in Iraq, was appointed as the senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan in July 2010, Ms. Broadwell decided to try to spin off a book from her research. She found a high-powered agent, she says in "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus," who persuaded her to "go big" with a book of considerably wider scope and greater sales prospects than her dissertation. Vernon Loeb, an editor at the Washington Post, was recruited as her co-author.