13 September 2018   Leave a comment

Anthony H. Cordesman is one of the more astute analysts of strategic policy.  His views tend to be more conservative than mine, but his research is meticulous and his analysis is always clear.  He has written a critique of the US war in Afghanistan which has been going on since October 2001.  The critique is sobering and raises questions which should have been answered years ago.  Specifically, Cordesman questions the recent reports by US military commanders who argue that the US is making good progress in the war:

While it is difficult to fully assess the overall progress under the strategy, this report explores key developments during this quarter. Commanders in Afghanistan stated this quarter that the strategy is working, Afghan forces showed improvement, and the Taliban was largely unsuccessful in seizing district centers. In June, the Afghan government and the Taliban implemented ceasefires. At the time, Afghans and members of the international community expressed hope that the ceasefires would be first steps toward reconciliation.

However, fighting resumed after the ceasefires ended. The Taliban maintained its hold on rural parts of the country and launched attacks on Afghan forces and population centers. During this quarter, civilian deaths reached historically high levels, and violence displaced tens of thousands of Afghans. In addition, despite operational successes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria-Khorasan, the terrorist organization continued to recruit and carry out high-profile attacks across Afghanistan that killed hundreds of civilians.

It is doubtful that many Americans pay any attention to what is going on in Afghanistan now which is singularly unfortunate.  Many are still dying and there is little evidence to suggest that stability will come to Afghanistan soon.

The Israel-Palestine dispute is unquestionably one of the most complicated and contested disputes in the world today.  Getting up to speed on the conflict is very hard, but The New York Times has published a very readable article which outlines the basic history of the dispute.  I have no doubts that partisans on both sides of the conflict will quarrel with some of the interpretations of events, but I found the article to be very faithful to my own understanding of what has happened since the Oslo Accords 25 years ago.  For those who wish a quick primer on the dispute, I recommend this article.  Much more needs to be said on the dispute, but this article is a good place to start.

Some time ago Anne Applebaum published a remarkable essay on political polarization in Europe.  I re-read the article today, and was struck again by her perceptiveness and her ability to articulate clearly a very complicated argument.  It is a very long and dense article which takes some time to read well, but the essay is well worth the effort.  It gives an extraordinary context to what we are witnessing in Hungary, France, Italy, Germany, and  Switzerland.

Posted September 13, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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