The Best Defense

When will the White House move?

My book researcher, Kyle Flynn, a two-tour vet of Afghanistan (with extra points for duty in Oruzgan, the Pashtun answer to Arkansas) and now a graduate student at Georgetown University, offers this interesting analysis of three reasons for the likely timing of the White House decision on how to proceed in Afghanistan:

  1. President Obama wanted to see if Pakistan was going to take seriously its operation in South Waziristan, which it advertised publicly for the last six weeks.
  2. Nov. 7 upcoming run-off elections in Afghanistan (COIN, credible partner, host-nation, blah, blah, blah)
  3. Last but most importantly: Nov. 3, gubernatorial elections in both Virginia and New Jersey. The latter of which is my reasoning why the decision was delayed this long. Corzine is in the fight of his life and Obama is going to piss people off either way. Important special elections also in California and New York.

Kyle concludes: "Let's bet the decision comes early next week after the domestic political issues are settled."

Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Best Defense

Anbar: the high cost of living

I often find RAND Corp. reports mediocre, usually just telling the military establishment what it wants to hear. But a new one that surveys the population of Iraq's al Anbar province caught my eye. It notes, among other things, that 40 percent of 20 year olds have lost their fathers. "The coming of age of large numbers of fatherless young men in a society that puts a premium on revenge is a highly worrisome development for a region emerging from civil war," it warns. Even worse, nearly half of all households reporting losing at least one member to violence. 

The U.S. Army/flickr