Whitney Kassel

Fair Weather Friends

Seven years on, the United States is still failing the Iraqi and Afghan interpreters it once promised visas. And the rise of the Islamic State makes their plight more urgent than ever.

"They are letting me down, and I don't know why." Mohammed's* voice resonates clearly over the spotty line, littered with "anyways" and "whatevers" picked up from his nearly 10 years working as an interpreter for U.S. forces in Iraq. Calling me from the mountains of Kurdistan, he barely sounds afraid, or even angry in the face of horrifying circumstances: Mohammed is living in hiding with his wife and four children while being hunted by the Islamic State (IS) for his work with the United States.

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Send in the Guerrillas

In a world where our enemies don't wear uniforms, our allies don't have to, either.

The White House is enthusiastically touting its plans to put together a coalition to fight the Islamic State that will include Britain, Turkey, and, among others, Poland. But the United States' most recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated the limits of even the broadest-based coalition warfare -- over 40 countries in the case of Afghanistan -- in places where the host government has its own ideas about what an acceptable end state could and should look like.

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What Would Nietzsche Do?

After more than a decade of high-cost, low-return investments in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, American support for intervention abroad is waning, drastically. It's time for a little nihilism in America.

Regardless of one's position on the Iraq war, when militants from the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) last month paraded through the streets of Mosul -- a city over which U.S. forces fought a pitched battle in 2004 -- in U.S.-supplied Humvees, waving the Islamic State flag as barefoot children watched from the curb, it came as a very hard blow. Add in the crucifixion of eight Christians by the same group in Syria and countless other horrors unfolding now in the Middle East and beyond, and one is left with the overwhelming feeling that U.S. efforts abroad since 2001, including spending vast amounts of money, blood, and political capital, have done little to make the world less dangerous, less brutal, or less cruel.

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O Say Can You Free Me?

Dozens of Americans are spending this July 4 as hostages in far-off lands. Washington should do more to get them back.

North Waziristan is not where you want to spend July 4. When you hear what sounds like fireworks, it's more likely coming from an unmanned drone than your neighbor's kids. Sadly, this is how some Americans are spending Independence Day this year.

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One Insurgent at a Time

How Alcoholics Anonymous can fix Obama's counterterrorism strategy.

President Obama's commencement speech at West Point last Wednesday touched a lot of nerves. From America's already uneasy allies in East Asia to concerned Afghans to a litany of critics who feel he is abrogating the United States' role in the international order, the vision he sketched for U.S. engagement has been a popular target for opprobrium. But in the speech, he also set forth one oft-repeated goal that has generated little discussion: renewing the effort to build partner nations' capacities to combat al-Qaeda and related groups on their own soil.

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