On February 24, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel walked into the Pentagon briefing room to deliver a speech unveiling the defense budget of the United States for the coming fiscal year. Two days later, gunmen without insignia on their uniforms began occupying key positions in Crimea. It was the start of a Russian takeover of the Ukrainian province, a move that has touched off the biggest crisis in Europe since the civil war in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
May 1, 2014
Afghanistan had an election a few weeks ago. Iraq had one Wednesday. But that is about all that these two countries, both invaded by the United States in the last decade, have in common right now. Afghanistan is moving forward just as rapidly as Iraq is moving backward. It is a telling contrast, and one that should inform the looming decision about a U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014.
April 28, 2014
The U.S. could use a win abroad—something it arguably hasn't had since Osama bin Laden's demise in 2011. Hopes for a peace accord between the Israelis and Palestinians have been dashed, the civil war continues to rage in Syria, chaos engulfs Libya, Russia has invaded Ukraine and China's aggressive behavior in the South China Sea has leaders in Japan and the Philippines drawing analogies to the 1930s.
Afghanistan long ago became known as the “graveyard of empires.” But while it is undoubtedly a tough place to fight and a tough place to control, its reputation is vastly overblown. In fact the last two empires to try to dominate Afghanistan—the British and Soviet—largely succeeded in achieving their objectives even after pulling their troops out as long as they were willing to keep extending aid to Kabul.
The former Defense Secretary: Indignant, effective, and often wrong.
February 25, 2014
Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War By Robert M. Gates (Alfred A. Knopf)
During his many decades of government service, beginning all the way back in 1969 when he joined the CIA as a junior analyst covering the Soviet Union, Robert M. Gates developed a reputation as the quintessential bureaucrat—a gray, quiet, competent civil servant whose idea of a wild time was smoking a cigar while reading a policy memorandum. His favorite adage came courtesy of Will Rogers: never miss a good chance to shut up. Even his initial memoir, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Account of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, which appeared in 1996, three years after he stepped down as CIA director, was a buttoned-down work of history that caused few ripples.
The president’s strategy towards the country has failed but options remain, writes Max Boot
February 10, 2014
A minor kerfuffle has broken out over whether, in a closed-door meeting with an American congressional delegation attending the Munich Security Conference during the first weekend of February, US secretary of state John Kerry acknowledged that the administration’s Syria policy was failing. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham claim that he did; Mr Kerry’s spokeswoman, who was also present, denies it. Whatever the case, the underlying reality is undeniable – President Barack Obama’s Syria policy has failed.