Archive for April, 2009

The Germans have weight issues. The Finns have beer issues. And now the Czechs apparently have fear issues. Still wondering why the war in Afghanistan is not going ISAF’s way?


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A Message from Management

In Baghdad. Hungry, dusty and in desperate need of sleep. Posting will resume in the next couple of days.

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I’m afraid those still in denial about what CIA interrogators were authorised to do to their prisoners will have to swallow their pride and read these. I particularly recommend the August 1, 2002 Bybee-to-Rizzo memo, which details, with medieval attention to detail, how Abu Zubaydah was to be tortured. For his side of the story, read the ICRC report here.

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“It’s really hard to place bad actions in context without seeming to play the apologist for them”, Matt Eckel laments at WPR:

In the Levant, for example, attempting to illuminate the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza is difficult without seeming to implicitly justify terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. Likewise, it’s hard to point out that the international community has done nothing for Somalia, often aiding and abetting those forces that keep the country in chaos and destitution, permitting fishing fleets to plunder its resources and the industrial world to use it as a trash dump, without making these pirates out to be some kind of seafaring Robin Hoods.

It’s not, actually. Most people literate enough to find things out on their own already know what’s behind this issue. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of American bloggers who have reduced Somalia’s tragedy to three sniper shots and a happy skipper.

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Mr. President — didn’t we discuss this already? And what did I tell you? Did I not tell you that this is a stupid %&!!&ng idea? Huh? And now you’ve gone and done it anyway?! Do you have any idea how hard it will be to un%&!!& these kind of %&!!&ups??? I mean, jeez…

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Iraq: What Next?

Just as I was getting desperate, the good folks at Reuters came up with an excellent Q&A on the recent spate of bombings in Iraq and what, if anything, it means. Also online:

  • Reidar Visser dissects the election results and wonders whether “the forces that seek to enshrine ethno-sectarian divisions” are making a comeback.
  • Marc Lynch looks at the current state of the Sahwat and the SoI and concludes: “The emerging crisis surrounding the Awakenings and the uptick in violence do both seem to be primarily driven by the continuing refusal of Maliki and the Iraqi government to make meaningful political accommodations and their decision to move against at least some of the Awakenings groups at a convenient moment.”
  • Musings on Iraq, a valuable if a little unanalytical resource, has a couple of reliably link-filled posts up on Anbar here and here.

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Those thinking about negotiating with the Taleban should read the new Carnegie Endowment paper by Ashley Tellis. Here’s the diabolical paradox:

If conciliation offered an honorable exit from the conflict, it would be one thing. But it does not. As the analysis in this report has corroborated, Mullah Omar and the Taliban leadership have decisively rejected any reconciliation with the government of Afghanistan. And the tribal chiefs, village elders, and street fighters, who either support the insurgency or are sitting on the sidelines currently but are susceptible to being reconciled in principle, certainly will not take any steps in that direction so long as the Karzai regime, and its Western supporters, are not seen to be winning in their long-running battle against the Taliban. The coalition, therefore, is confronted by an inescapable paradox: any meaningful accommodation with those reconcilable segments of the rebellion will only come at the tail end of political-military success in
Afghanistan and not as a precursor to it; yet, if such success is attained, reconciliation will become possible but, ironically, when it is least necessary.

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