Foreign Policy Blogs

Transitional States

You can't make up for lost time

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has been very visible lately. First, she publicly expressed frustration that al-Qaeda militants have been allowed a sanctuary inside Pakistan, along the border with Afghanistan. This vocal admonition surprised many Pakistani officials, but they really shouldn’t be surprised. Pakistan continues to play a two-way game with the United States on […]

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Late Monday Tabs

1) A photo essay from Der Spiegel: The west-east German border, then and now. 2) John Mearsheimer argues for the United States to leave Afghanistan—but that Obama won’t because of domestic political considerations. 3) Americans are overhwelmingly in favor of a ban on texting while driving (this wouldn’t be a problem if our infrastructure was […]

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Demographics in Anbar

This RAND study finds that 20 percent of eight-year olds, and 40 percent of all twenty-year olds in Anbar province are fatherless. Moreover, half of all households have reported losing at least one family member. This is, obviously, a tragic story, but also presents a whole host of problems for Iraqi society and governance. The […]

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Medvedev throws decency a bone

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev came out today against the rehabiliation of Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s image, in no uncertain terms: “Millions of Soviet citizens died under Stalin’s rule and Mr Medvedev said it was not possible to justify those who exterminated their own people. He also warned against efforts to falsify history and defend repression.” […]

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Read these!

1) Iraq’s security forces must be depoliticized, and the Sons of Iraq must be better integrated into the national defense, writes former Mayor of Tel Afar Najim Abed Al-Jabouri. 2) Russia’s abstinence-based strategy on HIV is failing miserably. 3) Cutting down rows of olive trees won’t help the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. 4) If we’re so […]

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Afghanistan is a rural country

Why are we trying to secure the ‘large population centers’ in a country that is overwhelmingly rural? Unless we’re now defining population centers as “villages with a few thousand people”, a population centric strategy focused on urban centers, in a rural country is, well, not going to work. Victor Sebestyen, in today’s New York Times, […]

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If Abu Mazen quit, would anyone care?

Considering that under his leadership, Fatah, the single most important political group in Palestinian history, has been reduced to a total joke, the peace process non-existent (to be fair, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu deserves a lot of credit on that front, as well), and corruption and cronyism as rife as ever … well, no, […]

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So, about the surge …

It’s simple to say that the surge fixed Iraq. John McCain basically ran for President on that notion. But it’s also overly simplified, with the biggest caveat being, frankly, that Iraq isn’t “fixed.” It’s perhaps the quintessential transitional state, emerging from a decades-long brutal dictatorship, torn asunder by the chaos of the American invasion (and […]

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Monday's Tabs

1) John Mueller scoffs at nuclear weapons. For the most part, I agree, but we shouldn’t downplay the possibility of sub-national groups (which are inherently less beholden to the rules governing state behavior) getting their hands on nuclear material or a backpack bomb. 2) The evolution of Hamas—this is one of the biggest questions of […]

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The Failure of American Political Institutions … in Afghanistan

The announcement that Abdullah Abdullah and Hamid Karzai are not interested in a coalition government after the Afghan Presidential run-off is, in fact, not bad news. There’s no reason why a power-sharing agreement would make Afghanistan’s political system more stable, as both Karzai and Abdullah are aligned with the United States. The problems are more […]

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Friday Tab Dump

1) The Congress Party’s hold on India, and its determination to protect (censor?) the legacies of its leaders, is examined here. 2) Some wealthy Germans want a bigger tax burden. 3) A horrific weapon is being used in the now fifteen year struggle in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. (I’ve never quite understood […]

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The Chinese Way?

The Chinese economy is roaring out of the Great Recession, and looks to reach eight percent growth this fiscal year. A massive, $586 stimulus package has propped up the recovery—as has the stimulus package passed in the United States (without which economic conditions would be much worse). But contrary to America’s stimulus package, the Chinese […]

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The Strange Russian Political Culture

Barely a majority (56 percent) of Russians believe their country “needs democracy”, according to a new poll from the Levada Center. But that’s not the only grim statistic in the data. A full one-fourth said that democracy was not suitable for Russia, and virtually all respondents (95 percent!) agreed they “had little or no influence […]

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Read This Article

This is smart analysis. The obsession with the idea of an Afghan surge just doesn’t make sense to me. Why are we focusing on the major urban areas in Afghanistan, when 3/4 of the population lives in rural areas? Safe haven myths aside, wouldn’t an ‘urban’-centric COIN policy leave basically the vast majority of Aghanistan […]

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Macabre But Good News

As I hinted at in my last post, the spate of violence in Pakistan can actually be seen as a good thing (the wanton death and destruction aside). This piece in today’s New York Times demonstrates that Pakistan is facing the prospect that “the Taliban, Al Qaeda and militant groups once nurtured by the government […]

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