Articles

Wednesday, Sep 09, 2009 Helmand: bombs, drugs, and the Taliban

If the southern Afghan province of Helmand were a country it would be the world’s leading producer of opium and its derivative, heroin. More than half the world’s heroin originates here — much of it destined for the veins of junkies living in Europe.

In June 2005, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officials and Afghan police raided the office of Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, the governor of Helmand, and found nine tons of opium in his office. He is no longer the governor.

Tuesday, Sep 08, 2009 South to Kandahar

Over the loudspeaker system, a female voice announces, “ISAF flight number 44 from Kabul to Kandahar is leaving at gate 1.” Just like for any other flight we grab our hand luggage and boarding passes but what makes this boarding a little bit different is that all the passengers are wearing flak jackets and clutching helmets. We troop in double file to the whale-like C-130 transport plane operated by a crew of reservists out of Missouri and strap in for the ride.

Friday, Sep 04, 2009 The Afghan Phoenix

The first surprise is Kabul airport. The new terminal — “a gift of the people of Japan” — appears to have been airlifted in from a small American city; light-filled, modern and staffed by young men in uniforms of khaki pants and blue shirts who politely answer travelers’ questions as they direct traffic through the quiet, marble halls of the terminal.

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009 Cheney’s Jihad

Since he left office former Vice President Dick Cheney has been waging a lonesome jihad to defend the practices of the Bush administration’s during the ‘war on terror’, saying in an emblematic interview in February: “If it hadn’t been for what we did — with respect to the terrorist surveillance program, or enhanced interrogation techniques for high-value detainees, the Patriot Act, and so forth — then we would have been attacked again. Those policies we put in place, in my opinion, were absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty attack on the U.S.”

Wednesday, Aug 19, 2009 How Realistic is Walt’s Realism?

Stephen M. Walt, fellow Foreign Policy blogger and professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and the co-author of the influential 2007 book The Israel Lobby has turned his sights on the Obama administration’s strategic justification for the ramped-up American efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Thursday, Aug 13, 2009 Hardly winning

“Taliban Now Winning” declared Monday’s headline in the Wall Street Journal based on its interview with Gen Stanley McChrystal. But the headline was a classic case of a editor hyping the substance of a story, which the reporters of the story themselves had already applied a little touch of their own gilding to when they characterized General McChrystal’s position in their interview to be that the Taliban now had the “upper hand.”

Tuesday, Aug 11, 2009 Jihadistan

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/07/03/jihadistan

By Peter Bergen A common refrain since the spring from some of the country’s leading policy makers and defense intellectuals is that Pakistan is going to hell in a hand basket. As a frequent visitor to Pakistan since 1983 I just don’t buy this pessimism but it’s a view held by an impressive array of […]

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud likely has been killed in a U.S. drone attack, a top Pakistani official said Friday. Villagers gather at the rubble of houses belonging to supporters of Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2009 More troops needed for Afghan war

Editor’s note: Peter Bergen, CNN’s national security analyst, is a fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank that promotes innovative thought from across the ideological spectrum,and at New York University’s Center on Law and Security. He’s the author of “The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader.” Katherine Tiedemann is a policy analyst at the New America Foundation.