What to Read on Afghanistan

How the Afghan Counterinsurgency Threatens Pakistan — Anatol Lieven

It is this ethno-religious solidarity, more than continuing support by the Pakistani state, that is providing the Afghan Taliban with their bases inside Pakistan. This support from large elements of the Pakistani population will continue as long as Western soldiers are present in Afghanistan. Their presence, as well as US drone strikes on targets in Pakistan, also helps legitimize the campaign of the Pakistani Taliban against the Pakistani state. Since the survival of that state is a US interest that vastly outweighs anything that might happen in Afghanistan, it follows that the US goal should be to reduce that presence as soon as this can be managed, not to follow a strategy that risks prolonging it indefinitely.

The Way Out of Afghanistan — Ahmed Rashid

The main question, of course, will be how soon the White House and the Pentagon decide that it is time to talk to the Taliban. Victory on the battlefield is not possible but peace cannot be achieved without US participation in negotiations.

Imperial by Design — John J. Mearsheimer

What makes the enterprise so difficult is that victory usually requires more than just defeating the insurgents in firefights. It usually demands nation building as well because it is essential to fix the political and social problems that caused the insurgency in the first place; otherwise, it is likely to spring back to life. So even if it was a sure bet that the United States could succeed at counterinsurgency with the right people and doctrine, it would still take many years to achieve decisive results.

Top Ten Myths About Afghanistan, 2010 — Juan Cole

Fact: In Helmand and Qandahar Provinces, a poll found that 92% of male residents had never heard of 9/11.

Best of the Week: January 31 – February 6, 2010

11. Is “the Process” Driving Opinion about Health Care? — John Sides and Policy Compromise Is Easy. Political Compromise Is Impossible. — Ezra Klein
10. Hottest January in UAH Satellite Record — Joseph Romm and Groundhog Decade: We’re Stuck in a Bad Movie, Where It’s Always the Hottest Decade on Record — Joseph Romm
9. Iran, China, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization — Flynt Leverett & Hillary Mann LeverettAnalysis of Multiple Polls Find Little Evidence Iranian Public Sees Government as Illegitimate — World Public Opinion, and Regime Change in Iran Will Come from the Centre — Tony Karon
8. With Raw Recruits, Afghan Police Buildup Falters — Rod Nordland, U.S., Karzai Clash on Unconditional Talks with Taliban — Gareth Porter, Peace Talks May Follow Ex-Taliban Mediators’ Plan — Gareth Porter, Taliban Take on the U.S.’s Surge — Syed Saleem Shahzad, How to End the War in Afghanistan — Ahmed Rashid, Not for Sale — Ron Moreau, and A Look at America’s New Hope: The Afghan Tribes — Ruhullah Khapalwak & David Rohde
7. Five Myths about America’s Credit Card Debt — Robert D. Manning
6. A Very Productive Congress, Despite What the Approval Ratings Say — Norman Ornstein
5. Seeking a Safer Way to Securitization — Floyd Norris
4. All Bark, No Bite — Clay Risen
3. Finding a Better Way to Grieve — Meghan O’Rourke
2. Blair: Gaza’s Great Betrayer — Avi Shlaim
1. Eric Holder and the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Trial — Jane Mayer and Susan Collins Spreads Central Myth about the Constitution — Glenn Greenwald
BONUS:  From Fish to Infinity — Steven Strogatz

Best of the Month: January 2010

10. PANIC!!! — Jonathan Chait, What Will Make People Trust Government Again? — John Sides, and A Formula for Futility — Ronald Brownstein
9. Iran, the Competition Over Eurasian Natural Gas, and the Revival of Classical Diplomacy in the 21st Century — Flynt Leverett & Hillary Mann Leverett
8. If It’s That Warm, How Come It’s So Damned Cold? — James Hansen, Reto Ruedy, Makiko Sato, & Ken Lo
7. A Bank Levy Will Not Stop the Doomsday Cycle — Peter Boone & Simon Johnson, Engineering Financial Stability — Robert J. Shiller, Who Bears the Costs of Post-Crisis Recovery? — Barry Ritholtz, and A Bomb Squad for Wall Street — William D. Cohan
6. What Toronto Can Teach New York and London — Chrystia Freeland, The Little-Known Reason Why Investment Banks Got Too Big, Too Greedy, Too Risky, and Too Powerful — Daniel Gross, and For Wall Street, Tough Talk, but Weak Reforms — William D. Cohan
5. The Tree-Lined Bunkers That Could Change the Face of the Middle East — Robert Fisk
4. Obama’s Secret Prisons — Anand Gopal & Tom Engelhardt
3. Nothing to Fear — John R. Bowen
2. A Deal with the Taliban? — Ahmed Rashid
1. The Year Climate Science Caught Up with What Top Scientists Have Been Saying Privately for Years — Joseph Romm
BONUS: What Isn’t the Weatherman Telling You? — Anthony W. Orlando

Best of the Week: January 17-23, 2010

10. What if Conan Said, “Goodbye, NBC. Hello, Internet”? — Nick Bilton and Why Cable Companies Bundle Their Channels — James Surowiecki
9. Are Millennials Cursed? — Jeremy Rifkin
8. The Economics of Terrorism — Andrew Leigh
7. Legislated to Death — John Ireland
6. India’s Trail of Tears — Arundhati Roy
5. Sinomania — Perry Anderson
4. PANIC!!! — Jonathan Chait, What Will Make People Trust Government Again? — John Sidesand A Formula for Futility — Ronald Brownstein
3. A Bank Levy Will Not Stop the Doomsday Cycle — Peter Boone & Simon JohnsonEngineering Financial Stability — Robert J. ShillerWho Bears the Costs of Post-Crisis Recovery? — Barry Ritholtz, and A Bomb Squad for Wall Street — William D. Cohan
2. The Tree-Lined Bunkers That Could Change the Face of the Middle East — Robert Fisk
1. A Deal with the Taliban? — Ahmed Rashid
BONUS:  King Maker — Clayborne Carson