Boom boom boom
Quick hits on the American government:
Defense Sec. Gates addressed and reviewed the Air Force today [Stars & Stripes]:
“Contrary to what some have alleged,” he said, the Pentagon’s efforts at “institutionalizing” irregular warfare capabilities, such as Predator and Reaper drones — which have doubled in Afghanistan this year — is not a sign of a total restructuring.
Interesting in light of the several Predator missions that have been in the news lately.
In your hit of feel-good news today, US Military News reports on the opening of schools in Karmah, Anbar Province, Iraq.
The opening of the first of two dozen new and refurbished schools and a new meeting place were celebrated Sept. 9, in an area northwest of Baghdad thought by many to be lost to poverty and violence…For the more-than-three-dozen ongoing school and water projects begun in the Karmah area by the ISF and Marine partnership, the Marine civil affairs planners and their Army counterparts are working hard to enable a seamless transition, [Sgt. 1st Class David Lowry] said.
Seriously, give me a couple more stories like that. Of course, if similar stories are published, they will be used as propaganda to fuel a withdrawal from Afghanistan (because as we learned earlier, Iraq and Afghanistan are the same thing).
From the NYT, Sec. State Clinton talks about Iranian talks:
“Iran says it has a number of issues it wishes to discuss with us,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters. “But what we are concerned about is discussing with them the questions surrounding their nuclear program and ambitions.”
What I would give to be a fly on the wall in a room with both Clinton and Ahmadinejad. Jesus.
Michael Lynch analyzes the impact of elections in unstable countries. Three stars, well worth the read.
The similarity in American thinking about the role assigned to elections in the Iraqi and Afghan case bears particular attention. In each case, the elections are supposed to do very specific things for American strategy: legitimate the political order, bring excluded challengers into the political process, resolve enduring political conflicts, create a political foundation for the counter-insurgency campaign. … As the national elections approach, then, analysts and policymakers should be attentive to what might go wrong and should not assume that the elections will “solve” anything. Politics won’t end.
To which I say again: IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN ARE NOT THE SAME NATION.
Finally, The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder looks at Obama’s changed view on the Patriot Act.
The Obama administration wants Congress to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the 2001 USA Patriot Act scheduled to expire later this year, but said in a letter to two senators that it is open to adding (unspecified) civil liberties safeguards. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the sunsetting provisions next week and wants to consider broader reforms. Five months ago, it asked the administration for its views; just yesterday, the administration responded. Some of the changes to the law Barack Obama sought as a senator — including modifications to the administrative subpoena power known as National Security Letters — are not part of the corpus of his views today.
Interesting, and worth reporting, but not altogether that surprising.