WASHINGTON (CNN) — A classified review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan is likely to judge that the United States is losing ground there, according to a government official involved with preparing the review.

The review, under way since September 20 and led by Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the senior National Security Council official responsible for Afghanistan and Iraq, has yet to reach any definitive conclusions. But according to one of the participants in the review there was no disagreement among the 24 government agencies that participated that Afghanistan is in a “dire situation.”

Thursday, Nov 06, 2008 Obama Afghanistan/Iraq transition

The Bush administration is making plans for the transition of management of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to the next president.

A review of Afghan policy has been under way for many weeks, led by Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the senior National Security Council official responsible for Afghanistan and Iraq. The classified strategic review is expected to be completed this week, according to a staffer involved in preparing it.

Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 The Dog that Didn’t Bark
One person who was supposed to weigh in on the American presidential election is someone we have yet to hear from: Osama bin Laden.
Four years ago the al Qaeda leader appeared in a well-lit videotape addressing himself directly to the American people five days before they voted in the contest between Sen. John Kerry and George Bush. Bin Laden said then that whoever won the election was immaterial as far as al Qaeda was concerned and that instead Americans needed to change their country’s foreign policies in the Muslim world, or face the consequences.

When a federal judge ordered the release of 17 Guantanamo Bay detainees earlier this month, it was the first real chance in the seven-year history of the prison camp that any of the prisoners might be transferred to the United States. In making his ruling, the judge categorically rejected the Bush administration’s claim that any of the released prisoners, who are all Chinese Muslims, were “enemy combatants” or posed a risk to U.S. security. The decision was temporarily suspended by the appeals court, but the judge was on solid ground.

Monday, Oct 13, 2008 New America paper on Afghanistan

In late May, some 40 Pakistani journalists received a summons to an unusual press conference held by Baitullah Mehsud, the rarely photographed leader of the Pakistani Taliban, who is accused of orchestrating the 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, sending suicide bombers to Spain earlier this year, and dispatching an army of fighters into Afghanistan to attack U.S. and NATO forces in recent months. Surrounded by a posse of heavily armed Taliban guards, Mehsud boasted that he had hundreds of trained suicide bombers ready for martyrdom.

Sunday, Sep 28, 2008 The First McCain Obama Debate

(CNN) — Toward the end of Friday’s presidential debate, the conversation turned to Iran and there was a long back-and-forth between the two candidates about what kind of conditions should be set for any discussions with the Iranian government.

Wednesday, Sep 17, 2008 Al Qaeda and Yemen

After al Qaeda blew up the USS Cole in October 2000 killing seventeen American sailors, I visited Yemen to check out Osama bin ­Ladens’s ancestral village in the Hadramaut region, in the south of the country. His father, Mohammed, left there as a teenager in 1931 to seek his fortune in what is now Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, Sep 16, 2008 Comprehensive Al Qaeda Reading List

This  reading list is the one I gave  my students at Harvard’s Kennedy School in 20008.

Friday, Sep 12, 2008 Afghan Civilian Casualtoes

This week, as we remember the nearly 3,000 American citizens who died in the rubble of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or in a remote field in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, we also should think about the civilians who are still dying in Afghanistan. Consider, for instance, the recent American airstrikes on Azizabad, a village in western Afghanistan, on Aug. 22. The United Nations, Afghan government officials and independent witnesses all say that the United States killed about 90 civilians in these strikes, most of them women and children. Cellphone videos of the scene show motionless children lying under checkered shawls and veiled women shrieking alongside them.

Seven years after 9/11 the author of the largest mass murder in American history is free, almost certainly living in Pakistan, which is, at least nominally, a close ally in the US-led ‘war on terror’. As he no doubt savors the anniversary of his greatest “triumph” Osama bin Laden seems untroubled by serious kidney illness as was once rumored, nor does he appear to be troubled by American efforts to find him.


Monday, November, 20, 2017 Understanding Proxy Violence in the Arab World and Beyond: Fordham, NYC

Wednesday, December, 06, 2017 Making Sense in a World of Trouble, Leidos, Reston, VA

Wednesday, December, 13, 2017 CENTCOM conference, Baghdad, Iraq

Wednesday, January, 24, 2018 Jaipur Literary Festival, Diggi Palace Jaipur, India

Monday, February, 19, 2018 2018 Global SOF Symposium, Tampa, Florida

Monday, April, 09, 2018 Future of War conference, ASU and New America, Reagan Building, DC