A New Cold War?

Military alliances are always sold as things that produce security. In practice they tend to do the opposite. Thus, Germany formed the Triple Alliance with Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire to counter the enmity of France following the Franco-Prussian War. In response, France, England, and Russia formed the Triple Entente. The outcome was World War … Continue reading “A New Cold War?”

Basra: Echoes of Vietnam

One battle rarely wins or loses a war, at least in the moment. Gettysburg crippled Lee’s army in 1863, but the Confederates fought on until 1865. Stalingrad broke the back of the German 6th Army, but it would be two-and-a-half years before the Russians took Berlin. War – particularly the modern variety – is a … Continue reading “Basra: Echoes of Vietnam”

The Surge: Illusion and Reality

“Where the dead are ghosts on the fragile abacus used to calculate loss, to estimate tragedy.” – from "Body Count," by poet Persis Karim The narrative in the media these days is the success of the U.S. “surge,” which has poured an additional 30,000 U.S. troops into Iraq since early January 2007. In early December, … Continue reading “The Surge: Illusion and Reality”

The Algebra of Occupation

In 1805, the French army out maneuvered, outsmarted, and outfought the combined armies of Russia and Austria at Austerlitz. Three years later it would flounder against a rag-tag collection of Spanish guerrillas. In 1967, it took six days for the Israeli army to smash Egypt, Jordan, and Syria and seize the West Bank, the Golan … Continue reading “The Algebra of Occupation”

The Casualties of Iraq

The great 19th-century Tory Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli once remarked there were three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. It is a dictum the Bush administration has taken to heart when it comes to totaling up the carnage in Iraq: If you don’t like the numbers, just change them; and when in doubt, … Continue reading “The Casualties of Iraq”

Death at a Distance: The US Air War

According to the residents of Datta Khel, a town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, three missiles streaked out of Afghanistan’s Pakitka Province and slammed into a madrassa, or Islamic school, this past June. When the smoke cleared, the Asia Times reported, 30 people were dead. The killers were robots, General Atomics MQ-1 Predators. The AGM-114 Hellfire … Continue reading “Death at a Distance: The US Air War”

Enabling the Indonesian Military

This is a tale about politics, influence, money and murder. It began more than 40 years ago with a bloodletting so massive that no one quite knows how many people died. Half a million? A million? Through four decades, the story of the relationship between the United States and the Indonesian military has left a … Continue reading “Enabling the Indonesian Military”

Kurdish Powder Keg
Primed to Explode

There are few areas in the world more entangled in historical deceit and betrayal than northern Iraq, where the British, the Ottomans, and the Americans have played a deadly game of political chess at the expense of the local Kurds. And now, because of a volatile brew of internal Iraqi and Turkish politics, coupled with … Continue reading “Kurdish Powder Keg
Primed to Explode”

Nostalgic for the Cold War? Good News

The current brouhaha over a U.S. plan to deploy anti-ballistic missiles (ABM) in Poland has nothing to do with a fear that Iran will attack Europe or the U.S. with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). It has a great deal to do with the Bush administration’s efforts to neutralize Russia’s and China’s nuclear deterrents and … Continue reading “Nostalgic for the Cold War? Good News”