March 30, 2015 |
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's trip to Washington last week was so triumphant one could almost imagine how his troubled country might morph into a future success story. At a joint session of Congress and a glittering White House dinner, the brilliant World Bank technocrat and Columbia University grad turned politician pledged a new era in Afghan-U.S. relations. The slight but elegant Ghani presented himself as the antidote to prickly former President Hamid Karzai, under whom corruption soared and U.S.-Afghan relations soured.
October 24, 2014 |
In 2009, I spent an afternoon talking with Malala Yousafzai's father, Ziauddin, in an outdoor garden in Mingora, the capital of the Swat district of Pakistan, which had just been freed from months of Taliban control. I thought of that conversation when Malala, now 17, received the prestigious Liberty Medal in Philadelphia this week, and when she was named cowinner of the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month. When I met her father, the name of his precocious 12-year-old was still unknown to the world - and he was still keeping it a secret - although she had been blogging under a pseudonym for the BBC for the previous year about life under the Taliban.
June 17, 2014
LETTER WRITER Jay Meyers believes the Obama administration's release of five terror leaders from Gitmo Bay is standard operating procedure, and Republican outrage is unwarranted. Jay, like all liberal leftists, is wrong, as usual. War prisoners are only released when a war is over . . . and this war is far from over thanks to President Obama's appeasement strategy in dealing with terror-supporting nations. A war can only end when the enemy surrenders unconditionally, on its knees, or is destroyed.
June 5, 2014
THE RELEASE of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a captive of Islamist extremists for almost five years, is good news not only for his family but for all Americans. But the price the Obama administration paid for the 28-year-old soldier's repatriation was freedom for five detainees at Guantanamo Bay who are hardened Taliban commanders. Critics of the administration say that that price was too high, and they make three other arguments: that the exchange violated a long-standing U.S. policy of refusing to negotiate with terrorists; that this country shouldn't negotiate with the Taliban because it might legitimize the group in Afghanistan; and that the swift release of the detainees violated U.S. law. Most of these arguments are invalid or overstated.
April 14, 2014 |
What do Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton agree on? They, like many other prominent Americans, talk effusively about helping Afghan women. The fate of Afghan women is also a subject that grabs the attention of Americans who have otherwise lost interest in that country. When Afghans voted last week, much of the U.S. media coverage focused on lines of burka-clad female voters at the polls. So let's assume (and it's far from certain) that this interest in Afghan women is genuine and will outlast the U.S. troop exit at the end of 2014.
April 11, 2014 |
When Afghans went to the polls last week to elect a new president, Afghan social media enthusiasts sent out some incredible photos of women voters. The long, snaking lines of women in burkas, holding up sheets of plastic for protection from freezing rain, were a stunning repudiation of Taliban misogyny and violence. My favorite photo, tweeted by an Afghan journalist named Shafi Sharifi, showed an elderly, black-draped lady in a wheelchair, holding up a forefinger stained with indelible ink, saying: "I voted because women can't expect things to improve if they don't vote.
January 28, 2014 |
WEST BERLIN, N.J. - Qari Nazar Gul was an elusive target. The top-level Taliban commander rarely left Pakistan for operations in Afghanistan. He dispatched couriers and ordered attacks from afar. Gul knew there was an eye in the sky and did not want to take a chance. In 2010, the eye belonged to Capt. Steve Iaquinto Jr., a targeting officer in charge of four aerial drones that searched for Taliban fighters in four provinces north of Kabul. The New Jersey Army National Guard officer collected intelligence on enemy activities, then planned combat ground operations that resulted in a half-dozen kills and more than 30 arrests, including that of Gul's nephew.
January 10, 2014 |
IN "FORREST GUMP," the title character stands to give a speech on the Washington Mall, and his mic is cut. His speech goes on, but no one hears it - Robert Zemeckis' metaphor for the stifled voices of the men fighting the war at the time. It's a thread picked up again by Peter Berg in "Lone Survivor," a brutal account of a doomed Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan, based on the memoir of Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), obviously the man in the title. After a brief intro and quick sketches of the men as individuals, Marcus' squad is air-dropped atop a remote mountain, where they spy upon a "high-value" Taliban leader, looking down his village redoubt with telephoto lenses, blending into the tree line.
November 27, 2013
Senate rule abused The filibuster was properly tolerated because it was used rarely up until the presidency of Barack Obama, when the Republican Party, having decided that it had nothing to offer but obstruction, resorted to heels-dug-in, scorched-earth, fanatical opposition to anything and everything that Obama wanted passed ("Senate just got worse," Nov. 25). Richmond L Gardner, Horsham, email@example.com Reid once was a fan In an act of breathtaking cynicism and hypocrisy, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has ignored what he once called "the vision of the founding fathers" in granting "the right to extend the debate" by moving to ensure that one party, the Democrats, have total control of the Senate ("Party's new breed drove 'nuclear option," Nov. 24)
October 25, 2013 |
When Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to Washington this week, I couldn't help thinking of the adage: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. " Sure enough, despite a long history of U.S. presidents being duped by Pakistani leaders, President Obama plans to restore more than $1.5 billion in blocked assistance for Islamabad. The aid was blocked because Pakistan never came clean about who helped Osama bin Laden hide for years in Abbottabad. And U.S.-Pakistani relations are stressed because Pakistan hosts Afghan Taliban who kill U.S. soldiers, as well as jihadis who kill Western and Indian civilians.