2007 will likely be a make or break year for Afghanistan, for the international efforts there, and, conversely, for the efforts of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies to turn the country back into a failed state. Our efforts in Afghanistan are important because what happens there can have a large impact on our national security interests as we found to our cost on 9/11, and failure to create a viable state in Afghanistan will help empower jihadist terrorists who are planning to attack the United States and its allies.

President Bush delivered a speech in Washington on Thursday that focused on the once-forgotten war in Afghanistan. The president enumerated a range of measures to fix the detiorating situation in Afghanistan for which he is to be applauded—including, increasing the size and professionalism of the Afghan police and army; adding more than 3,000 US troops; investing in the rural economy to give farmers growing poppy for opium incentives to substitute other crops; helping the Pakistani government set up additional border posts to prevent militants crossing the Afghan border, and creating “reconstruction opportunity zones” in the tribal regions on the Afghan-Pakistan border that can export duty-free goods to the United States. The administration is asking Congress for more than ten billion dollars over the next two years to pay for these measures– 80% of the money is to go to beefing up Afghan national security forces, and the rest will pay for civilian aid.

Issue date: 01.29.07

Osama bin Laden will turn 50 this year. But, when we picture him today, most Westerners imagine a man who, addled physically by disease and psychologically by the repeated blows the United States has dealt his cause, looks much older than his age: a gaunt figure limping from cave to cave along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, one step ahead of U.S. forces–surrounded, perhaps, by a small group of loyalists but cut off from the rest of the world, his once formidable ability to mastermind dramatic acts of violence now rendered nearly nonexistent.
Monday, Dec 25, 2006 Sweet Relief

An American aid worker named Marla Ruzicka and her Iraqi colleague, Faiz Ali Salim, were killed by a suicide bomber on April 16, 2005, as they drove along the road connecting Baghdad and its airport. It says much about the U.S. occupation of Iraq that this road is probably the most dangerous one in the world, but it says far more about Ruzicka and Salim that, despite the risks, they were driving along it to visit an injured Iraqi girl.

Thursday, Dec 14, 2006 Afghanistan 2006

On a dimly lit road in Wazir Akbar Khan, the Upper East Side of Kabul, a couple of street kids gesture toward an unmarked iron gate behind which they assure us we can find what we are looking for. An Afghan guard gives us a wary once-over and opens the gate onto a dark garden at the end of which a door is slightly ajar. I open it and step into a world far removed from the dust-blown avenues of Kabul, where most women wear burqas and the vast majority of the population live in grinding poverty.

winter 2007Peter Bergen & Michael LindA Matter of PrideWhy we can’t buy off the next Osama bin Laden.Peter Bergen, author of The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History ofal Qaeda’s Leader, is a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation.Michael Lind, author of The American Way of Strategy, is the WhiteheadSenior Fellow, […]

The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader, by Peter L. Bergen (Free Press). Bergen has written what will long be a “go-to” resource. — Richard A. Clarke

Friday, Nov 17, 2006 Spying on the Terrorists

“Inside the Jihad” is the astonishing, well-told story of Omar Nasiri (a pseudonym), who penetrated al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s as a spy for France’s intelligence services. Nasiri never met Osama bin Laden, nor did he hear anything about specific plots against the United States, but he was able to gather a wealth of knowledge about the terrorist training going on in Afghanistan. Nasiri’s feat was never replicated by a U.S. spy, despite the fact that before Sept. 11, 2001, American John Walker Lindh attended camps in Afghanistan and met with bin Laden, demonstrating that such a mission was possible.

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2006 Tribute to Ahmad Shah Massoud

The two Arab TV journalists who had been hanging around for weeks to secure an interview with the storied Afghan military commander Ahmad Shah Massoud finally got their chance to speak with him on Sept. 9, 2001. They set up their gear and asked a question about Osama bin Laden. Then one of them detonated a bomb hidden in a camera, killing himself and mortally wounding Massoud. The journalists were, in fact, al-Qaeda assassins, and it was bin Laden who had ordered the hit just before the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.

Thursday, Oct 26, 2006 What Osama Wants

THE French saying, often attributed to Talleyrand, that “this is worse than a crime, it’s a blunder,” could easily describe America’s invasion of Iraq. But for the United States to pull entirely out of that country right now, as is being demanded by a growing chorus of critics, would be to snatch an unqualified disaster from the jaws of an enormous blunder.