Archive for November, 2010

Matthew 12:25

November 26, 2010

It took a while, but I finally got around to getting my hands on this, the last in Woodward’s series of books on the Bush Administration.  Woodward is generally on form for the most part, though his assertion of Cheney as always having a muted influence is inconsistent with how the latter was portrayed in Plan of Attack and Bush at War. The book makes not so much a scathing indictment of Bush’s tenure as damning it wiith faint praise. It’s unbelievable that Afghanistan narys a mention (except through Bill Clinton’s testimony to the Iraq Study Group), but then, this after all is a book about the Iraq years, which saw the energies of the Adminstration totally focused on Iraq as the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated. One can only hope The Surge, Part Deux will be as successful as its progenitor.

Morality Dies by a Thousand Cuts

November 26, 2010

Jim Frederick’s chronicle of the trials and tribulations endured by Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 502 Infantry Regiment of the storied 101st Airbone Division holds back no punches in depicting the very real, human consequences of the misguided tactical posture of the pre-Surge period in Iraq, coupled with poor or misguided leadership. An eye-opener for all those on The Job.

How to Write About a Mindfucking Operation But Set Up to Avoid Lawyerly Attention

November 23, 2010

Polished off this 400-plus piece in 2 straight days. Former military interrogator Chris Mackey (not his real name) with reporter Greg Miller do a great job detailing the former’s time in Afghanistan mindfucking with captured enemy combatants for that one crucial tidbit of info, that one vital piece of intelligence. I found myself chuckling at the bite-sized narrative chunks peppered with the dark humour that makes for spellbinding reading. That said, the writers’ painstaking attempts to stress that nothing prosecutable happened is understandable, but a little chafing.

Will there be an Afghan Awakening?

November 22, 2010

So the Charge of the 60 (1 decided to pull out at the last minute; a good thing really, for him) has been sent over the Hill for some time now, and I’m using the downtime to get back to my reading. First up, got my hands on some Afghan books – Kilcullen’s Accidental Guerilla and Seth Jones’ In the Graveyard of Empires.  I figured I could use some catching up on that theater, given I’ve done the Iraq tour to death. Some quick thoughts:

Kilcullen’s anthropological and systems approach was refreshing and offered a clear, focused and structured approach to understanding the resurgence of AQT in the Afghan theater. Highly recommended for anyone who wants a quick roadmap into what’s going on; I’m seriously putting this on the reading list for my charges if I ever do grad year again.

In contrast, I felt Seth Jones takes an overall more historical and broad overview of matters, and the lack of overlaps made it a good complement to Kilcullen’s book, which provides a more specific framework on how to deal with the Afghan insurgency than does Jones.  While both are in broad agreement that Pakistan needs to be more greatly squeezed, it struck me that a tribal revolt a la the sahwa in Iraq in 2006 may not be in the offing anytime soon, and the sooner the G-men realise a deal involving the Taliban may be more or less inevitable, the better things may be.