FM newswire for June 29, interesting articles about geopolitics

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis. If you find this useful, please pass it to friends or colleagues.

  1. Manipulative use of the term ‘Terrorism’“, Remi Brulin (Adjunct Instructor, Dept of Media, NYU) interviewed by Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 14 March 2010
  2. Probably more important than the firing of McChrystal:  “Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles: a casualty of Afghan policy war“, Guardian, 21 June 2010 — “The British special envoy’s scepticism about the US-led surge meant he had to go. Being proved right will be cold comfort.”
  3. The Myth of a Kinder, Gentler War“, Michael A. Cohen, World Policy Journal, 22 June 2010 — H/T to Don Vandergriff
  4. Unless quickly reversed, it’s the end game for our war:  “ The Northern Front – The Afghan insurgency spreading beyond the Pashtuns“, Antonio Giustozzi and Christoph Reuter, Afghanistan Analysts Network, 23 June 2010 — 8 page PDF.
  5. American geopolitical experts get to say the funniest things without people laughing at them:  “Fix the Police“, Ronald E. Neumann, Foreign Policy, 25 June 2010 — “One of the most urgent tasks confronting Gen. David Petraeus is also one of the least glamorous: reforming Afghanistan’s corrupt and ineffective police.”  Why does anyone believe that the US military can do this? Are there any precedents?
  6. The newest government power:  label you a terrorist and your rights evaporate.  “Fun and games with the ‘terrorism’ label“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 28 June 2010
  7. The Supreme Court’s justices respect power, not our freedoms:  “The Roberts Court’s Free Speech Problem“, David Cole (Prof law, Georgetown U), blog of the New York Review of Books, 28 June 2010 — Corporations’ speech gets more protection than ours.
  8. Daniel W. Drezner discusses the paradoxes of US counter-terrorism, Foreign Policy, 28 June 2010
  9. War by other means, part 2: Arming the militias“, Global Post, 28 June 2010 — “US aid has put weapons in the hands of locals with personal scores to settle.”
  10. China builds alliances around the world, without our moralizing:  “China’s New Continent“, Time, 5 July 2010

Today’s great graphic, news, and quotes are below the fold

  • G-20 was the usual snoozefest.  The important action was on the streets, as usual
  • For many conservatives it is always 1940, and every opponent is Hitler
  • Today’s graphic paints a sad picture of America
  • A dismal report from the IG about our training programs in Afghanistan

(11)  G-20 was the usual snoozefest.  The important action was on the streets, as usual

(12)  For many conservatives it is always 1940, and every opponent is Hitler

This is James Taranto’s “Best of the Web” online daily column at Wall Street Journal, 28 June 2010.  He’s usually an incisive observer, but the rot on the right has affected him as well.  It’s sad to see him parrot such nonsense, confusing Hitler’s conquests with the Pastun’s attempts to reunite their territory split asunder by the Brits divide and rule strategy (see Wikipedia for details).

Great Orators of History

“Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ ”
Winston Churchill on Germany, June 18, 1940

“I don’t have a crystal ball. I think that right now the debate surrounding Afghanistan is presented as either we get up and leave immediately because there’s no chance at a positive outcome, or we stay basically indefinitely and do quote unquote whatever it takes for as long as it takes.”
Barack Obama on Afghanistan, June 27, 2010

(13)  A sad picture of America

Why doesn’t this bother us, sparking us to action?  From Matthew Yglesias blog at ThinkProgress.

(14)  A dismal report from the IG about our training programs in Afghanistan

Report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction:  “Actions Needed to Improve the Reliability of Afghan Security Force Assessments“, 29 June 2010:

As the United States and international community aim to transfer security responsibility to Afghan security forces, having a reliable system for monitoring progress toward that objective is critical. The CM rating system has not provided reliable or consistent assessments of ANSF capabilities. For example:

  • Measurements used in the assessment system have overstated operational capabilities.
  • Top-rated ANSF units have not indicated a capability to sustain independent operations.
  • The CM rating system has inadvertently created disincentives for ANSF development.

ANSF capability reports have included outdated assessment data. In addition to these weaknesses, serious challenges affect U.S. and Coalition assessment efforts, including security conditions, mentor shortages, and inadequate training. Further, systemic ANSF deficiencies have undermined efforts to develop unit capabilities. These include logistics problems, personnel attrition, inadequate personnel authorizations, infrastructure deficiencies, corruption, drug abuse, and illiteracy.

The Washington Post reviews the report:  “Report faults U.S. for being too optimistic about Afghan security capabilities“.

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