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: September 5-11, 2010

10. Liability and Excessive Risk Taking: Historical Evidence from Britain’s Banks — Richard S. Grossman & Masami Imai and Mortgage Rates and Home Prices — David Leonhardt
9. Free Speech Helped Avert Quran Burning — Jack M. Balkin, They Used to Burn Catholic Churches, Now They Burn Mosques — Juan Cole, and Catholics, Muslims, and the Mosque — John T. McGreevy & R. Scott Appleby
8. Is Chinese Mercantilism Good or Bad for Poor Countries? — Dani Rodrik
7. Did the Federal Government Create the Great Divergence? Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4and Part 5 — Timothy Noah and It’s Not the Party; It’s the Policies — Robert Pollin
6. The Specter Haunting the Senate — Michael TomaskyPeople Don’t Listen to the President — Ezra Kleinand Waves Are for Surfing — Daniel Hopkins
5. Health Care: The Disquieting Truth — Arnold Relman and Why the ER Is So Crowded — Ezra Klein
4. The Crime Wave That Shames the World — Robert Fisk
3. Insights from the Afghan Field — Anatol Lieven and Top Ways 9/11 Broke Islamic Law — Juan Cole
2. Hard Times for Workers on Labor Day 2010 and Holding Wal-Mart Accountable — Harold Meyerson, Confessions of a Serial Liberty-Reducer — Peter Dorman, and Why Obama Is Proposing Whopping Corporate Tax Cuts, and Why He’s Wrong — Robert Reich
1. Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds — Michael Lewis
BONUS: Keynes’s Conference and Morgenthau’s Dream — Eric Rauchway and How FDR’s Concessions Saved the Social Security Act — David M. Kennedy