Watch your step.

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From Afghanistan and Angola to Cuba and Yemen, to say nothing of North Korea, hawkish Soviet foreign policy often resembled a very determined stomp on a rake. Thwack. Something similar, on a smaller scale, could be said of Irans foreign policy.

via Rouhanis Gorbachev Moment | Foreign Affairs.

 

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The nesting dolls of hatred.

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Within Afghanistan, the war is viewed primarily as a Pashtun rebellion against President Hamid Karzai’s regime, which has empowered three other ethnic groups—the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras of the north—to a degree that the Pashtuns resent. …There is also an age-old Pashtun-on-Pashtun element to the conflict. It pits Taliban from the Ishaqzai tribe, parts of the Nurzais, Achakzais, and most of the Ghilzais, especially the Hotak and Tokhi Ghilzais, against the more “establishment” Durrani Pashtun tribes: the Barakzais, Popalzais and Alikozais. Beyond this indigenous conflict looms the much more dangerous hostility between the two regional powers—both armed with nuclear weapons: India and Pakistan.

via A Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India | Brookings Institution.

 

Last Week’s News: Rage and the Marines

In the spirit of Internet immediacy, here is a review of what I was reading online last week.

  • Gail Collins of The Times brought up the “very specific cry of rage about the way intelligent, well-educated women were kept out of the mainstream of American professional life” via ‘The Feminine Mystique’ at 50 – NYTimes.com.
  • This rage will now occasionally be vented against foreign powers after the Pentagon lifted its not-really ban on women in combat. “The groundbreaking decision overturns a 1994 Pentagon rule that restricts women from artillery, armor, infantry and other such combat roles, even though in reality women have found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan…” via Pentagon Lifting Ban on Women in Combat – NYTimes.com.
  • College football programs are puzzling over why fan interest in the sport is seeming to wane. “What can’t you do in the rain? Text. So they stay inside.” via In era of technological, financial change, has college football peaked? – NCAA Football – CBSSports.com News, Scores, Stats, Schedule and BCS Rankings. It says here they should start with, College football kinda sucks.
  • Mark Emmert, the N.C.A.A.’s president, seemed to agree when he called the conduct of the groups investigators “shocking…” via N.C.A.A. Admits Misconduct in Miami Investigation – NYTimes.com.
  • Here is something to think about as you prepare your tax documents. “IER estimated the worth of the government’s oil and gas technically recoverable resources to the economy to be $128 trillion, about 8 times our national debt.” via Institute for Energy Research | Federal Assets Above and Below Ground. It says here, Burn that stuff up now while we can.
  • Speaking of women: “Her old suite was searched and inside an old shoebox they found $247,200 in cash, mostly in $1,000 and $5,000 bills. They thought that was all of it until the following day, when a nurse tunneled a hand up Ida’s dress while she slept and retrieved an oilcloth pocket holding $500,000 in $10,000 bills.” via Everything Was Fake but Her Wealth | Past Imperfect.
  • I honestly did not know haggis was illegal in the United States. Sorry, but I didn’t. And I don’t feel dumb about it either. Many Americans think haggis is an animal, and they’re half right. Of course, I mean to say that real, Scottish-style haggis is illegal; there apparently are all sorts of half-assed (sorry) versions being sloshed out of kitchens whenever your back is turned. But, as they say: “Without the sheep’s lung it’s not authentic.” via BBC News – The offal truth about American haggis.
  • Am I the only one who is starting to think the United States is a super unsafe place to live? Like, “failed state” unsafe. Like, we should just chuck the laws and stuff and start over. I mean, holy crap. What else am I supposed to think when the vice president is giving advice like this: “Guess what? A shotgun will keep you a lot safer…” via Biden Addresses Preppers In Gun Debate | TPMDC.

From your 120 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 5,905 items, clicked 299 items, starred 6 items, and emailed 8 items.

What Soldiers Are Worth

In November 2003, the two sides agreed on a cease-fire; since then neither has fired a shot. Yet thousands of men remain, still dying from the brutal conditions — in April, an avalanche buried 140 Pakistani troops and their civilian staff alive.

via Cold War – By Myra MacDonald | Foreign Policy.

…164 active-duty Army, National Guard, and Reserve troops took their own lives in 2011, compared with 159 in 2010 and 162 in 2009.

via Active-Duty Army Suicides Reach Record High – NYTimes.com.

Wars That Never End

More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began.

via A Veteran’s Death, the Nation’s Shame – NYTimes.com.

A Different Kind of Passport

Blood chits were first used in a systematic way by the British Army in 1842 in the mountains of Afghanistan.

via A Short History of Blood Chits: Greetings From the Lost, Seeking Help – NYTimes.com.

Things You Rarely Read About

The Pentagon, alarmed at the rising incidence of genital wounds, has rushed $19 million worth of protective garments to Afghanistan, including 165,000 pairs of blast-resistant briefs and 45,000 diaper-like garments to protect the genitals from upward blast.

via Beyond The Battlefield: Afghanistans Wounded Struggle With Genital Injuries.

‘Steady Accretion of Small, Unchallenged Wrongs’

Evil or atrocity often explodes from a furnace built by the steady accretion of small, unchallenged wrongs.

via The American Scholar: Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace – Neil Shea.

So when many of his old neighbors from Norwood, Ohio, and former battalion mates from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State heard the news that Sergeant Bales had been accused of coldbloodedly shooting to death 16 Afghan civilians on March 11, nine of them children, they were not simply shocked. They grieved.

via Robert Bales – From Small-Town Ohio to Afghanistan – NYTimes.com.

On Afghanistan

The problem is not the odd rogue soldier or Talib infiltrator. The problem is that the Afghan moral code is different from ours, though still apparently invisible to our military and political leaders.

via Guernica / Ann Jones: Green on Blue.

Officials described growing concern over a cascade of missteps and offenses that has cast doubt on the ability of NATO personnel to carry out their mission…

via U.S. Sergeant Kills 16 Afghan Civilians, 9 of Them Children – NYTimes.com.