Bombing the prize

National Public Radio's Morning Edition presented an interesting report today on the U.S. Army's internal debate: "Army Focus on Counterinsurgency Debated Within." NPR's Guy Raz interviewed a series of leading military strategists to provide a useful description of this focus on counterinsurgency: The counterinsurgency doctrine emphasizes the use of minimal force, with the intent of winning the hearts and minds of a civilian population. ... "I would say that Gen. Petraeus' promotion is an … [Read more...]

All She Wants to Do Is Dance

Here's NPR's Dina Temple-Raston this morning, describing a beloved woman, a fixture of her community who's been driving children to school for 28 years: She is so popular her nickname is "Dollar;" she says that is because everyone is chasing her to drive their children. [She] is a big woman — both tall and round. She has long, wild red hair and is partial to tight-fitting, leopard-skin tops and oversized gold costume jewelry. She is the kind of woman who lights up a cigarette and offers to … [Read more...]

Repost: Torturing the cat

The following was originally posted on May 20, 2003 on my old Blogspot site. The permanent links to those archives have gotten bloggered, and since I'd like to be able to link to this post in the future, I'm reposting it here. - - - - - - - - - - - - "The most critical time in the history of the world" What happens to a man to whom all things seem possible and every course of action open? Nothing of course. Except war. If a man lives in the sphere of the possible and waits for something to … [Read more...]

Boat People

Syria has so far accepted (at least) 1.5 million Iraqi refugees. Beginning today, that country is placing limits on the number and type of future refugees it will accept. As CBS News reports: With the massive influx of refugees, Syria is starting to feel the strain. "There's a huge impact for a country of 20 million people to receive a million and half within a few months. There is a huge burden on our services: medical, school, infrastructure -- everything," says Minister of Expatriates … [Read more...]

Attacking Iran would be Bad

Attacking Iran would be Bad So Sarah Baxter of The Sunday Times ("Pentagon 'three-day blitz' plan for Iran"), George Packer in The New Yorker ("Test Marketing") and Lance Mannion ("Oh what the heck, let's start a third war!") all say that the Bush administration may be considering a major strike against Iran.* That is a Very Bad Idea. "Bad" can mean a lot of things. It can mean wicked, unjust or morally suspect, as when we refer to villains as the "bad guys." It can mean unwise or foolish (bad … [Read more...]

Glory, glory hallelujah

If you want an acerbic taste of what might be called Niebuhrian irony, see the gallows humor of American soldiers in Chris Collins' front-line* McClatchy report from Iraq, "South of Baghdad, U.S. troops find fatigue, frustration": Standing in a small room in the Iraqi home they'd raided an hour earlier, a dozen soldiers from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division were trading jokes when 1st Sgt. Troy Moore, Company A's senior enlisted man, shouted out. "We're … [Read more...]

Expecto Petraeus

Frank Rich writes about the magic spell that President Bush is invoking in the hope it will protect him from his dementor-ish approval ratings: It was The Washington Post that first quantified General Petraeus’s remarkable ascension. President Bush, who mentioned his new Iraq commander’s name only six times as the surge rolled out in January, has cited him more than 150 times in public utterances since, including 53 in May alone. As always with this White House’s propaganda offensives, the … [Read more...]


"They say this is a different kind of war," Tony Lagouranis says. "Different rules for terrorists. Total crap." Lagouranis was a military intelligence specialist in Iraq until he was honorably discharged due to "adjustment disorder." That seems to be a military psychologist's euphemism for still having his conscience and humanity mostly intact. I've written before about the toll our nation's embrace of torture takes on the men and women ordered to … [Read more...]