Kudos to our multimedia team for this fascinating look at the Marja region of Afghanistan. Check it out.
Five years ago a report in NEWSWEEK that guards at the Guantánamo Bay prison had mishandled a Quran, an item that the magazine quickly retracted as being inaccurate, touched off days of anti-U.S. rioting in Afghanistan that left 15 dead, dozens injured, and several American aid offices burned to the ground. But that emotional response may pale in comparison to what may happen if pastor Terry Jones follows through on his threats to throw Qurans into a bonfire at his Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., this Saturday, Sept. 11.
Really excellent piece from Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, on how Afghans view the proposed Quran burnings
What does it mean to tell the truth about a war? Is it a lie, technically speaking, for the Administration to say that it has faith in Hamid Karzai’s government and regards him as a legitimate leader—or is it just absurd? Is it a lie to say that we have a plan for Afghanistan that makes any sense at all? If you put it that way, each of the WikiLeaks documents—from an account of an armed showdown between the Afghan police and the Afghan Army, to a few lines about a local interdiction official taking seventy-five-dollar bribes, to a sad exchange about an aid scam involving orphans—is a pixel in a picture that does, indeed, contradict official accounts of the war, and rather drastically so.
The New Yorker: Wikileaks and the War
The war being waged by the United States in Afghanistan today is fundamentally different and more ambitious than anything carried out by the Bush administration. Afghanistan is very much Barack Obama’s war of choice, a point that the president underscored recently by picking Gen. David Petraeus to lead an intensified counterinsurgency effort there. After nearly nine years of war, however, continued or increased U.S. involvement in Afghanistan isn’t likely to yield lasting improvements that would be commensurate in any way with the investment of American blood and treasure. It is time to scale down our ambitions there and both reduce and redirect what we do.
Richard Haass, on Afghanistan
Annals of Leadership
In which Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai find that running the Taliban is much like running a large corporation: The troops really need reassurance from the top:
Omar could settle many issues among his followers, perhaps even urge them to accept a peace deal, with only a few words, either in person or in an audio recording. “But he has never done that so far,” the senior insurgent said. “The slightest sign of involvement by Mullah Omar might provide a clue to his trail. So he stays away.” That remoteness frustrates many Taliban members, even though they understand the need for secrecy. “I question the wisdom of keeping away his voice from the many fighting for the thousands who have sacrificed their lives in his name,” says a Taliban intelligence officer who declined to be named for security reasons.