What to Read on June 26, 2009

  • Afghan Air Strike Report Belies ‘Blame Taliban’ Line — Gareth Porter – This kind of misdirection doesn’t fool anyone — except the American press and public. Citizens in the Middle East know exactly who is responsible for most casualties. Hopefully General McChrystal’s new focus on civilian casualties will end this practice.
  • An Answer to the Gridlock in Iraq?- – The Plank (The New Republic) – Prime Minister al-Maliki is trying a switch-and-bait here. The problem in Iraqi politics is divisive politics that resort to warfare instead of diplomacy. The Prime Minister is one one side of that divide. Giving him more power won’t end the “gridlock”; it’ll only infuriate the other side. The solution is to broker a peaceful governance solution, but the United States still fails to see that the quickest and least violent way out of this mess is to lead the international community in a Dayton-type accord for Iraq.
  • Full-Spectrum Idiocy: GOP and Chavez on Iran — Norman Solomon – Solomon’s recounting of history and understanding of attitudes “on the ground” are excellent — and misunderstood (or not understood at all) by most Americans.
  • FBI Ignored Evidence of bin Laden Role in Khobar Attack — Gareth Porter – This fourth article in the 5-part series is quite damning. Worth a read to see where we erred.
  • US Officials Leaked False Story Blaming Iran for Khobar Attack — Gareth Porter – Porter continues his fascinating in-depth report (see earlier posts for parts one and two in the series).
  • New Robot Walks and “Emotes” at the Same Time — National Geographic – Pay attention: This is the future.
  • Can the Right War Be Won? — Steven Simon – Foreign Affairs, it seems, is dedicating a significant portion of their latest issue to how we can “win” in Afghanistan. They pay precious little attention to the larger question, which Simon, to his credit, at least points out as a drawback of the books he is reviewing, “The conspicuously odd thing about these books is that neither explores in any depth why the United States is still so involved in Afghanistan at this juncture. […] Why the United States needs to be their benefactor is unexplained.” He calls it “the new Washington consensus,” and then goes on to suggest the solution that is staring everyone in the face but no one considers: “[Maybe] a narrower strategy that focuses on the immediate threats to the United States would be an appropriate fallback.” The new consensus falls into the pile of poor assumptions that always govern military strategy in Washington, like ignoring whether it is even legal or moral to be in these places in the first place.