Knowing Too Much?

Libyans may be celebrating the killing of Muammar al-Qaddafi, but you’d better believe that Western governments are breathing a sigh of relief themselves. DAVID RIEFF Whether the NATO countries — who had only a few years ago welcomed Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi back into the international fold in exchange for his renouncing his chemical and nuclear … Continue reading

Flight of the drones

Unmanned aerial warfare Why the future of air power belongs to unmanned systems ON SEPTEMBER 30th Anwar al-Awlaki and several of his al-Qaeda colleagues stopped their pickup truck on a remote, dusty road deep inside Yemen’s interior. He can have had only a split second to realise what was about to happen. But the missile … Continue reading

Pakistan Is the Enemy

We know that Pakistan’s intelligence service is aiding terrorists. What are we going to do about it? Christopher Hitchens Adm. Mike Mullen testifies before the Senate armed services committee on Pakistan In Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Lt. Milo Minderbinder transforms the mess accounts of the American airbase under his care into a "syndicate" under whose terms … Continue reading

The New Pacific Theater

The United States and its allies take the first steps toward countering a growing China. ROBERT HADDICK The U.S. and Australia try a new military deployment plan for the southwest Pacific This week Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to San Francisco to meet with their counterparts from Australia. The … Continue reading

Why did Japan surrender?

Sixty-six years ago, we dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. Now, some historians say that’s not what ended the war. (Keystone/Getty Images) General Douglas MacArthur, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, accepted the unconditional surrender document signed by the Japanese. By Gareth Cook What ended World War II? For nearly seven decades, the American … Continue reading

The South China Sea Is the Future of Conflict

The 21st century’s defining battleground is going to be on water. BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN Europe is a landscape; East Asia a seascape. Therein lies a crucial difference between the 20th and 21st centuries. The most contested areas of the globe in the last century lay on dry land in Europe, particularly in the flat … Continue reading


World peace could be closer than you think. BY JOSHUA S. GOLDSTEIN "The World Is a More Violent Place Than It Used to Be." No way. The early 21st century seems awash in wars: the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, street battles in Somalia, Islamist insurgencies in Pakistan, massacres in the Congo, genocidal campaigns in … Continue reading

Remembering Six Days in 1967

The anniversary of Israel’s Six-Day War is a reminder why it cannot return to armistice borders. BY MICHAEL OREN "We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants," declared Palestine Liberation Organization leader Ahmad al-Shuqayri. "As for the survivors — if there are any — the boats are ready to deport them." A half-million Arab soldiers and … Continue reading

Russian Roulette in South Asia

Bruce Riedel The conflict between India and Pakistan has produced four wars, endless terrorism and is a core cause of the political instability that wracks Pakistan and destabilizes its civil-military balance. The two countries every few years go to the brink of war because of Pakistani sponsored terror, like playing Russian roulette only with nuclear … Continue reading

America’s nuclear heads and the Big Mac

During the Cold War, the US spent trillions of dollars on weapon systems, submarines, nuclear heads and aircraft carriers. ABDULATEEF AL-MULHIM None of these weapons were ever used in combat against any Warsaw Pact country. At the same time, the US lost a lot of men and women in conflicts that could have been avoided. … Continue reading

The Strenuous Life

How Bernard-Henri Levy fought his way into chronic interventionism Christopher Caldwell Last year, Karl Zéro, the madcap newsman/comedian who has been a fixture on French television for a decade, asked the sixty-one-year-old celebrity philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy why people hated him so. Perhaps, Zéro speculated, it had to do with dual identity. There was Bernard-Henri Lévy, … Continue reading

Stealth Drone’s First Flight

By Noah Shachtman Stealthy spy drones may or may not have been in on the final manhunt for Osama bin Laden. But there’s no question that the next generation of unmanned aerial vehicles will figure heavily in the military’s future. And unlike today’s models, these new, heavily armed drones will be hard to spot — … Continue reading

Skynet goes operational over Libya…

By David Rothkopf Earlier this week, on April 19, 2011 at 8:11 p.m., Skynet became self-aware and independent. Two days later, it launched its nuclear attack on the human race. From that point forward, our future really has depended more on John Connor than it has on Barack Obama. At least, that’s the geek’s eye … Continue reading

Rape, Murder and Genocide

By Jan Fleischhauer Photo Gallery: 7 Photos Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-287-0872-28A The myth that the Nazi-era German armed forces, the Wehrmacht, was not involved in war crimes persisted for decades after the war. Now two German researchers have destroyed it once and for all. Newly published conversations between German prisoners of war, secretly recorded by the … Continue reading

Cry havoc! And let slip the maths of war

Warfare seems to obey mathematical rules. Whether soldiers can make use of that fact remains to be seen IN 1948 Lewis Fry Richardson, a British scientist, published what was probably the first rigorous analysis of the statistics of war. Richardson had spent seven years gathering data on the wars waged in the century or so … Continue reading

Obama’s 21st-Century War

In America’s latest wars, leaving — not winning — seems to be the yardstick for success. But that goal is all the more difficult if the objectives and reasons for getting in aren’t clear from the outset. BY AARON DAVID MILLER With the exception of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, 20th-century wars haven’t been … Continue reading

Is America Addicted to War?

The top 5 reasons why we keep getting into foolish fights. BY STEPHEN M. WALT The United States started out as 13 small and vulnerable colonies clinging to the east coast of North America. Over the next century, those original 13 states expanded all the way across the continent, subjugating or exterminating the native population … Continue reading

Drones’ Suicidal Cousins Lead Libya Attack

By Noah Shachtman When the U.S. military wanted to take out Moammar Gadhafi’s air defense systems, it unleashed a barrage of 122 Tomahawk cruise missiles. But these munitions aren’t like most others in the American arsenal. Smart, maneuverable, able to see its surroundings and shift to new targets in mid-flight, the newest Tomahawks are closer … Continue reading

Courage Under Fire

It was a quiet day in Afghanistan … until the explosion. By Alex Berenson In February 2011, novelist and former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson embedded with the 1st Battalion, 502nd Regiment, of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. He spent much of his time with Alpha Company, nicknamed the "Hard Rocks," at Combat Outpost … Continue reading

The Death of Innocents

Paul R. Pillar Juxtaposed articles in Monday’s New York Times concerned two incidents, widely separated in space and time, in which civilians died in military operations. In one, an Israeli panel released the conclusions of its inquiry into an airstrike in Gaza in 2002 which Israel used to kill a senior member of Hamas. The … Continue reading

The New Virology

From Stuxnet to biobombs, the future of war by other means. BY DAVID E. HOFFMAN Largely unseen by the world, two dangerous germs homed in on their targets in the spring and early summer of 2009. One was made by man to infect computers. The other was made by nature, and could infect man. The … Continue reading

How Do You Hire Mercenaries?

It helps to have connections in post-conflict countries. BY JOSHUA E. KEATING As Libya cracks down on the ongoing protests against Muammar al-Qaddafi’s government, reports have surfaced of African mercenaries attacking protesters and massing to defend the capital city of Tripoli. "They are from Africa, and speak French and other languages," said Ali al-Essawi, the … Continue reading

A Conflict Without a Name

Is Mexico’s drug violence an insurgency or a totally new kind of war? BY ROBERT HADDICK What kind of problem does Mexico have? On Feb. 15, gunmen on a highway in central Mexico stopped a vehicle with U.S. diplomatic license plates and shot the two men inside. Killed in the attack was Jaime Zapata, a … Continue reading

Talking Again in South Asia

Paul R. Pillar  From a part of the world that is stingy in giving us much to cheer about came one bit of good news this week: India and Pakistan announced they will resume bilateral talks at the foreign secretary level on a wide range of issues that divide them. The two South Asian antagonists … Continue reading

A Chinese Civil War

Selig S. Harrison  When China recently unveiled a radar-evading stealth fighter jet and an anti-ship ballistic missile that could hit US aircraft carriers, a century of U.S. military dominance in the Pacific ended. The Barack Obama-Hu Jin Tao summit did not even attempt to define the terms of an accommodation reflecting the new power realities … Continue reading

Stan McChrystal’s Very Human Wired War

By Spencer Ackerman Here are 10 years’ worth of military trends, distilled into one poorly lit Beltway hotel ballroom. A defense group holds a conference on the latest technology to link up troops and rapidly spread wartime information. It invites a hero of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency to share his thoughts on the subject, and they … Continue reading

The Definition of Insanity

Nine years of engaging and bribing Pakistan haven’t succeeded in getting Islamabad to reform its ways. So why does Biden think that this trip will produce different results? BY SUMIT GANGULY, DAVID P. FIDLER Vice President Joseph Biden was in Islamabad Wednesday in yet another attempt to make U.S. and Pakistani strategic interests align. He … Continue reading

The Vietnam War explained as never before, in hard numbers and good facts

By Thomas E. Ricks Thomas Thayer’s War Without Fronts: The American Experience in Vietnam? The enemy was simply not going to give the Americans the war they wanted. Out of 37,990 enemy attacks in 1968, just 126 were of battalion size or larger. And that was the peak year for large attacks, which declined to … Continue reading

Israel: the next war

The US’s failure under Barack Obama to impose peace between Israel and the Palestinians makes a new war likely by Alain Gresh In March 1973 the Israeli prime minister Golda Meir visited US president Richard Nixon in Washington. He told her that the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat was prepared to negotiate a full treaty, and … Continue reading

Medieval warfare was just as terrifying as you might imagine

Nasty, brutish and not that short The battle of Towton THE soldier now known as Towton 25 had survived battle before. A healed skull fracture points to previous engagements. He was old enough—somewhere between 36 and 45 when he died—to have gained plenty of experience of fighting. But on March 29th 1461, his luck ran … Continue reading

Helping our enemies work together

By Stephen M. Walt The news that various Afghan and Pakistani insurgent groups are coordinating their activities more extensively is neither surprising nor encouraging. This outcome is exactly what balance of power theory (or if you prefer, balance of threat theory) would predict: as the United States increases its military presence and escalates the level … Continue reading

Epitaph for Richard Holbrooke

By Francis Boyle I am very sorry to learn that Richard Holbrooke has died. Because I fully intended to bring him to Justice and get him criminally indicted for the genocidal massacre at Srebrenica on behalf of my clients, the Mothers of Srebrenica and Podrinja. It was Holbrooke who deliberately sacrificed Zepa and Srebrenica in … Continue reading

Sudan and the Clash of Civilizations

Benny Morris  Forget Osama bin Laden, forget the security fence between Gaza and Israel, forget—for a moment—the bomb-bound crazies in Iran. Sudan is the place to watch, probably the next combat zone in the ongoing clash of civilizations. For decades the Christian and animist inhabitants of the southern half of Africa’s largest state (two and … Continue reading

Chinese drones over Times Square

By David Bosco … Human Rights Watch sent a letter to the president yesterday, arguing in particular that the United States needs to explain how the program is consistent with international law. US history shows that once such a program is initiated, even if in response to a specific contingency like the threat posed by … Continue reading

Taliban Bombs Hit New High; 1500 In November Alone

By Spencer Ackerman The bad news first: insurgents in Afghanistan have constructed more homemade bombs in the past six months than at any time during the nine-year-long war. But those bombs are killing and injuring fewer U.S. and allied forces. Most attempts at blowing up U.S. troops just fail. According to new figures provided to … Continue reading

Book Reveals Ninja Way of War, From Throwing Stars to ‘Hearts and Minds’

David Axe Were Japan’s legendary ninjas the world’s first Special Forces? Seems so, based on the vignettes in the snappy new nonfiction book Ninja Attack!, written by husband-and-wife team Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt, with illustrations by Yutaka Kondo. Like today’s commandos, Japan’s ninjas were skilled warriors, clever tacticians and, most importantly, subtle when they … Continue reading

How Obama Betrayed Sudan

The former Sudan envoy on how U.S. government policy could push the country back into civil war. BY RICHARD WILLIAMSON It’s a looming tragedy inside a failure wrapped in betrayal. Time is short. The dangers are rising. The cost in human suffering will be unbearable. Sudan’s civil war, which raged for more years than not … Continue reading

Missed opportunities in Kandahar

Anand Gopal excerpted  from Anand Gopal’s "The Battle for Afghanistan: Militancy and Conflict in Kandahar." The Victor’s Hubris and the Failure of Reconciliation Just as Kandahar was falling, fissures appeared in the Taliban movement. As most of the government was crumbling-Kabul and other major cities had fallen, leaving just Kandahar, Helmand, and Zabul provinces still … Continue reading

Shadow War in Yemen Could Heat Up After ‘Printer Bomb’ Scare

By Spencer Ackerman The intercontinental mail-bomb plot this weekend didn’t result in any fatalities. But if its real purpose was to draw the U.S. deeper into Yemen, where the plot was hatched, then it might be a different kind of success. An intense and more lethal CIA role in Yemen, without cooperation from the weak … Continue reading

The Independence Brigade

Southern Sudan prepares for statehood…or war. PHOTOS BY PETE MULLER, CAPTIONS BY MAGGIE FICK For more than half of its independent history, Sudan was locked in brutal north-south civil war. And for anyone under the age of 30 — about half of the country’s people — war has been a near constant reality. Displacement, active … Continue reading

An Unnecessary War

Afghanistan used to be the central front in the war against terrorism. Now it’s a distraction from it. BY JAMES TRAUB First as candidate and later as president, Barack Obama famously described Afghanistan as "a war of necessity:" a war the United States could not afford to lose. Obama restated the case in the speech … Continue reading

Michael Yon (Under Cover of the Night2)

11:24 PM, or 2324L. In the far distance, the artillery can be heard firing illumination before it floats down under parachute. (1901Z/2331L 15mm f7.1 20s ISO 800) The Battle for Kandahar has many faces.  Some faces are difficult to understand.  Tonight’s incarnation was simple. Roving sentry. Smoke trail from previous illumination. We see illumination firing … Continue reading

Michael Yon (Under Cover of the Night1)

Under Cover of the Night with 1-17th Infantry Night photo looks like broad daylight. (Image data: 1649Z/2119Lima 50mm f4.5 30s ISO 800.) Actual data for the above image includes: 1650Z/2120L 50mm f4.5 30s ISO 800.  The “Z” or “Zulu” suffix denotes GMT or Greenwich Mean Time. The  “L” or “Lima” means local time.  Photo from … Continue reading

A few words in defense of land mines

By Thomas E. Ricks So why do I have even one good word to say about land mines? Because those that are built to self-destruct after a set period — say six months — can still be useful. For example, if Pakistan descended into total chaos, it might be a very good idea to air-drop … Continue reading

The Work of a Warzone Photographer

An original member of the fearless South African photography collective the "Bang Bang Club," Joao Silva has spent his career going places no one else would — most recently, Afghanistan, where he has been injured in a land mine explosion. Above, NY Times photojournalist Joao Silva shoots the scene of a car bombing in Baghdad … Continue reading

Land Mines Are War Crimes

Just ask Joao Silva. BY PAUL SALOPEK View a slide show of Joao Silva’s warzone photographs. The land mine that took Joao Silva’s feet worked perfectly. Silva, a brilliant and courageous photojournalist on contract to the New York Times — and, in the eyes of many colleagues, one of the finest combat photographers of his … Continue reading

Michael Yon’s night work

By Thomas E. Ricks Michael Yon, the innovative war blogger, continues to do great night photography of the war in Afghanistan. … More>> More>>

More airstrikes won’t help in Afghanistan

By Erica Gaston In a Washington Post op-ed on Friday, Charles J. Dunlap argued that reversing existing tactical limitations on international forces’ airstrikes in Afghanistan would allow international forces to kill more insurgents, and thus help save Afghan and foreign military lives in Afghanistan. Dunlap’s arguments are based on mistaken assumptions about Afghan attitudes toward … Continue reading

The Palestinians’ Ploy

Paul Pillar  Whatever is your opinion about the issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians, you have to give the Palestinians credit for having hit upon a clever idea to inject into the current impasse. That idea, currently a subject of discussion among Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, is to appeal to international bodies for … Continue reading

What’s missing?

Posted By David E. Hoffman The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Gen. Hugh Shelton, says in his just-published memoir, Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, that President Bill Clinton’s White House lost the "presidential authorization codes" for launching a nuclear strike, and they were missing "for months." Shelton writes, … Continue reading