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September 30th, 2009
02:57 PM ET

Obama's is vote that matters on Afghanistan

Gen. Stanley McChrystal says the U.S. will fail in Afghanistan without more troops.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal says the U.S. will fail in Afghanistan without more troops.

Gloria Borger
CNN Senior Political Analyst

Sometimes, even in Washington, there's no way around a central truth: that in governing, there are moments when real, tough decisions must be made. No waffling. None of the usual "on the one hand, on the other hand." No hiding behind the votes cast by others.

There is one vote, and it belongs to the president.

It was that way with George W. Bush in December 2006, when, after conferring for three months with his generals and his Cabinet - not to mention the advice offered by the pooh-bahs in the Iraq Study Group - he decided on a surge strategy in Iraq. It was not a plan highly touted by many of his advisers, but by January, Bush told the nation "America will change our strategy ... [and] this will require increasing American force levels."

As it turns out, the surge worked.

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September 2nd, 2009
05:45 PM ET

Parents' deployment puts kids at high risk for problems

The study concludes there's a greater chance of family problems upon a military parent's return.

The study concludes there's a greater chance of family problems upon a military parent's return.

Adam Levine
CNN Pentagon Supervising Producer

A third of military children surveyed who have a parent deployed in a war zone are at "high risk" for psychological problems, according to a new study by military doctors and researchers.

The study, published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, surveyed military spouses of deployed Army soldiers with school-age children, aged 5 to 12. The questionnaire appraised the strain on the family of dealing with a parent deployed to the war zone.

Results found that stress levels were high for children and spouses of deployed troops but also that support networks from military to religious helped mitigate the problems.

The number of children found to be high-risk is more than 2½ times the national level and higher than historical military samples.

Keep reading...


Filed under: War on Terror
April 28th, 2009
10:29 AM ET

Why We Must Prosecute

Torture Is a Breach Of International Law

Mark J. McKeon
The Washington Post

On Sept. 11, 2001, when the twin towers were hit, I was sitting in a meeting in The Hague discussing what should be included in an indictment against Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes in Bosnia. I was an American lawyer serving as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and there was no doubt that Milosevic should be indicted for his responsibility for the torture and cruel treatment of prisoners. As the head of state at the time those crimes were committed, Milosevic bore ultimate responsibility for what happened under his watch.

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April 8th, 2009
10:10 AM ET

Losing the 'war on terror'

Reza Aslan
For the Los Angeles Times

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton let slip last week that the Obama administration has finally abandoned the phrase "war on terror." Its absence had been noted by commentators. There was no directive, Clinton said, "it's just not being used."

It may seem a trivial thing, but the change in rhetoric marks a significant turning point in the ideological contest with radical Islam. That is because the war on terror has always been a conflict more rhetorical than real. There is, of course, a very real, very bloody military component in the struggle against extremist forces in the Muslim world, though one can argue whether the U.S. and allied engagements in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond are an integral part of that struggle, a distraction from it or, worse, evidence of its subversion and failure. But to the extent that the war on terror has been posited, from the start, as a war of ideology - a clash of civilizations - it is a rhetorical war, one fought more constructively with words and ideas than with guns and bombs.

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Filed under: Global 360° • Hillary Clinton • War on Terror
April 3rd, 2009
02:03 PM ET

Torture in Iran: Anderson interviews Ahmad Batebi for 60 Minutes

Much of the attention on Iran over the last few years has focused on its mysterious nuclear program. Another mystery that’s received far less attention is torture in Iran’s prisons. It’s a story the Iranian government doesn’t want you to hear; a story the man you’ll meet tonight, risked his life to tell. His name is Ahmad Batebi and quite by accident he became one of the most famous dissidents in Iran. He says he endured years of torture in an Iranian prison, after his picture appeared on the cover of The Economist magazine. He escaped from Iran last year. Tonight he’ll tell us how. We warn you that some of the pictures in this report are disturbing.

Watch a clip from Anderson's interview here.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Anderson Cooper • War on Terror
March 31st, 2009
09:42 AM ET

NATO can do better in Afghanistan

Abdullah Gül
The Wall Street Journal

International efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and improve the lives of the Afghan people have fallen short of their targets. There is daily violence in the country and expectations continue to outpace achieved results. It is time for a policy shift. It is time for increased involvement.

We must first accept that so far the international community has not achieved results that match the significant sum of funds it has spent. We must also realize that Afghanistan and its surrounding region cannot be a secondary source of concern. We need to understand that this region is the new "powder keg" of the world and that the stakes are as high as they can be.

Therefore, it is encouraging to know that President Barack Obama understands these facts and has reviewed the United States' Afghanistan policy.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • War on Terror
March 30th, 2009
09:33 PM ET

Global war on terror – no more

Elise Labott

CNN State Department Producer

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday the Obama administration has made a conscious choice to stop using the phrase "Global War on Terrorism."

The phrase, which has alienated the Muslim world, was coined by the Bush administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

"The Administration has stopped using the phrase, and I think that speaks for itself, obviously," Clinton told reporters aboard her plane en route to a conference on Afghanistan at The Hague in the Netherlands.

The phrase is not forbidden, mind you. But Clinton suggested it was so last administration.

"I haven’t gotten any directive about using it or not using it.  It’s just not being used," she said.


Filed under: Elise Labott • Hillary Clinton • War on Terror
March 19th, 2009
10:50 AM ET

Our must-win war

John McCain and Joseph Lieberman
The Washington Post

Later this month, the Obama administration will unveil a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. This comes as most important indicators in Afghanistan are pointing in the wrong direction. President Obama's decision last month to deploy an additional 17,000 U.S. troops was an important step in the right direction, but a comprehensive overhaul of our war plan is needed, and quickly.

As the administration finalizes its policy review, we are troubled by calls in some quarters for the president to adopt a "minimalist" approach toward Afghanistan. Supporters of this course caution that the American people are tired of war and that an ambitious, long-term commitment to Afghanistan may be politically unfeasible. They warn that Afghanistan has always been a "graveyard of empires" and has never been governable. Instead, they suggest, we can protect our vital national interests in Afghanistan even while lowering our objectives and accepting more "realistic" goals there - for instance, by scaling back our long-term commitment to helping the Afghan people build a better future in favor of a short-term focus on fighting terrorists.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • John McCain • War on Terror
March 10th, 2009
10:31 AM ET

In Afghanistan, less can be more

Arthur Keller
The New York Times

As President Obama moves to ramp up the United States’ presence in Afghanistan, he might benefit from the lessons learned by one of the C.I.A.’s legends of covert operations, Bill Lair. Mr. Lair ran the C.I.A.’s covert action in the 1960s in Laos, which at its height included 30,000 Hmong tribesmen battling Communist insurgents.

I met Bill Lair when he came to the C.I.A.’s training center in Virginia in 2000 to speak at the graduation ceremony for my class of trainees. His agency career had started in the 1950s in Thailand, where he trained an elite force called the Police Aerial Reinforcement Unit. By the early ’60s, Mr. Lair was in neighboring Laos, trying to build an anti-Communist resistance. Corruption was endemic, poppy cultivation was widespread and the poorly educated Hmong tribesmen of northern Laos were barely out of the Stone Age. Yet Mr. Lair and his unit quickly taught the Hmong to resist the Communist tide using guerrilla tactics suited to their terrain and temperament.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Taliban • War on Terror
February 10th, 2009
10:25 AM ET

Re-thinking Iraq

Andrew Sullivan
The Atlantic


Since my initial excessive enthusiasm for the Iraq war disintegrated on impact with reality, I've done my best to keep empirical facts at the center of assessing strategy – and to accept the limits of my own understanding more thoroughly. Of course, such an assessment includes reviewing domestic US politics – hence my support for Ron Paul and Barack Obama in the last campaign – and wider American aims and goals in the Middle East and beyond, a sense of the fiscal and diplomatic costs of any course of action, and a willingness to rethink and adjust in the face of new realities in what is a very dynamic and often opaque situation. This can lead to criticisms such as this:

Andrew Sullivan no longer is interested in winning in Iraq, in fact is probably quietly eager for a defeat there, doubtless out of a combination of a certain degree of conviction, a ravenous hunger for leftist Web traffic, and because having decided a few years ago he’d picked the wrong horse in supporting it, he finds it unbearable to imagine that the wrong horse may prove to be the right horse after all.

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Filed under: Iraq • President Barack Obama • War on Terror
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