US Forces in Afghanistan: Too Big to Succeed



(President Obama with Afghanistan President Karzai, Pakistan President Zardari and Vice President Biden during a statement in the Grand Foyer of the White House May 6, 2009. Official White House Photo By Lawrence Jackson) President Obama’s decision to withdraw 10,000 US troops by year’s end — and another 23,000 by the end of 2012 has drawn little applause. Some think he’s moving too slowly and others think that he’s forfeiting the field to the Taliban and leaving Afghanistan to become a…

IDEAS! And an Introduction to The Atlantic


Tom Donilon, President Obama’s National Security Adviser, once told me that the thing he most needed but rarely had was “time to think.”   Donilon has almost single-handedly recrafted the national security decision making process from one in the George W. Bush administration in which Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld controlled “the flow” to one where not only more voices from the traditional defense and intelligence communities are heard in a decision but which now includes many…

Fiery Words in the South China Sea



When foreign policy makers analyze a situation they must consider not only what has happened, but also what could happen. So imagine for a minute how Chinese leaders might have responded if Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg had made the following statement after the sinking of the South Korean Cheonan frigate: “Regarding the role of China in this, it is not directly related to the dispute, so it would be better for China to accept the results of the…

Oakley the Amazing Weimaraner Turns 9 (and thoughts on Afghanistan)



The greatest dog in the world, Oakley the Amazing Weimaraner, turned 9 two days ago — and one of his dads has been too busy working on Afghanistan troop issue discussions behind the scenes to post a celebratory note to him. I know that Oakley has a large following here — so wanted to let you know that this incredible, smart, and handsome pup is hitting the big time. I have a lot of pics you haven’t seen of Oakley…

Saudi Arabia’s Shiites: Caught in the Middle



This is a guest note by Salman Al-Rashid, a Master’s student at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and a former intern with the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force. Against the backdrop of this watershed moment in Arab history, a Cold War between Saudi Arabia and Iran has emerged. Mistrust and tension between the two states, one predominantly Sunni Muslim and the other predominant Shia, is nothing new. Iran’s support for Hezbollah curtailed Saudi Arabia’s influence as an arbiter…

Riding White Water Economics Without Paddles and Rudder



This morning I’m sitting in the Coffee Cat in Easton, Maryland. Frederick Douglass was born nine miles from here. The great former US Senator Birch Bayh — who led on Title IX education for women and got 18 year olds the right to vote — lives in town But my mind this morning is on American complacency about its own economic situation — and the wobbliness of the global economy. Easton is a pleasant place; people are buying coffee and…

Juan Cole Slander Project: Of Course They Did It



While I am deeply disturbed by former CIA analyst Glenn Carle‘s recent revelations that there was a White House-directed appeal to the CIA to dig up dirt on my friend and blogging comrade Juan Cole, I am not surprised at all by this news. The George W. Bush administration ignored the fact that no WMDs were found in Iraq and invaded nonetheless; went after Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame — lying about who did what and who knew what at…

Can the United States Remain United?



This is a guest post by Caroline Esser, a research associate with the New America Foundation’s Bernard L. Schwartz Fellows Program. At the same time that Steve was streaming a live video of Monday’s New America event with Eli Pariser, the author of The Filter Bubble, we were pondering similar questions to those raised in Pariser’s book at the Center for Social Cohesion’s event, “Can the United States Remain United?” In his recently published book, Pariser discusses the dangers of…