#Afghanistan

Kate Brannen: The Knives Are Out for Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster – Just Security

Inside the White House, opponents of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, President Donald Trump’s second national security adviser, want him out. This week, they’ve made their campaign against him public, leaking to reporters details about the rocky relationship he has with

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, Noted & Quoted, Operation American Greatness Tagged with: , , ,

The Brilliant Failure of the Afghan Surge (So Far)

So, yes, a larger number of people died, and many more were injured, and a lot of time and money was wasted protecting a fighting retreat, because the political-military risks of an attempted immediate retreat – both within Afghanistan and far beyond, and for many years – were unacceptable, just as the decision for it, given the real existing correlation of political interests and forces in 2009, was actually impossible. Instead, the Afghan Surge worked – politically. Politically, it was a tremendous success. Militarily, it never had very good prospects, but its narrowly military-political failure – its inability to transform Afghanistan into Japan at bargain prices – has the further benefit of removing further illusions about what is and isn’t possible even for the best data-driven school-building expeditionary killing machine the world has ever seen.

Posted in War Tagged with: , ,

Hearts and Minds 2010

I happened to catch HBO’s The Battle for Marjah last night.  Here’s the trailer, but be warned that it’s misleading. What’s misleading is that there’s not a lot of “action” in this documentary at all.  That very lack of action,

Posted in Movies, TV Tagged with:

Conservative Winter Soldiers and the Last Man

Unable to figure out why the President “is” sending troops to Afghanistan, Charles Krauthammer concludes a column about his quandary by reaching across the aisle… for a melodramatic cheap shot: Sen. Kerry, now chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, asked

Posted in Miscellany Tagged with: , , , ,

Americans planning… II – just a little crazy and dangerous

William Jacobson asks (at home blog here): Am I crazy and dangerous for pointing out [Frank] Rich’s intellectual laziness and predictability? Well, since you ask:  Probably just a little, maybe not as dangerous as you’d like to be.  Otherwise, you’re

Posted in International Relations, Religion Tagged with: , , , , ,

Flamesem & Japesem (All-Contentions Edition)

[T]he leaking of this memo and the notion that it represents the opinions of many in the Pentagon ought to scare Israelis and leave them less willing than ever to make the sorts of concessions Washington believes can strengthen the

Posted in Miscellany Tagged with: , , , , ,

CONTENTION OF THE DAY – since we’re stuck with Obama, it’d be better for McChrystal to go

Who has the sense that President Obama is politically and morally invested in the surge being ramped up in Kandahar? When does he speak of it in public? When does he lend the weight of statesmanlike rhetoric to the military

Posted in Miscellany Tagged with: , ,

First they’d need something to say…

“These two should talk,” sez Rex in re:  Tony Blankley and Jennifer Rubin. Why?  Each one could probably have written the other’s work, and neither is saying anything that we all haven’t heard (and that many of us have said)

Posted in Miscellany Tagged with: , , ,

It wasn’t a very good year: 1938 – Hitler’s Gamble by Giles Macdonogh

[amazon-product]0465009549[/amazon-product] Considering the centrality of “Munich” to American thinking on foreign policy – and the centrality of the war that followed to what America has become – there’s an argument for considering 1938 to be as important to our understanding

Posted in Books, History, International Relations Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On the Surge to the Exits (To the President's Right on Afghanistan #5)

Anyone who’s been interested in American military adventures and misadventures over the last couple of decades has probably seen Anthony Cordesman on TV at some point offering his highly professional, well-researched, crisply presented, carefully hedged, and almost invariably pessimistic assessments

Posted in Miscellany Tagged with: ,

From the Featured Archives

Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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