The term “lawfare” is increasingly used to characterize the pervasive role of law in the conduct of war, but there is nothing new about the concept. Law has always played a role in war, requiring that a pragmatic balance be struck between the necessities of war and the need to protect the innocent. The significance of this balance between military necessity and humane treatment under the law has never been more central to the credibility of U.S. military operations than it is today. The real question raised today is whether “lawfare” will come to define a fundamental distortion of this […]

NATO Secretary General Defends Alliance’s Afghanistan Contributions

NATO’s new secretary general says thealliance remains committed to the fight in Afghanistan, despite greaterviolence in the country and a rising death toll among U.S. and NATOtroops. Monday in Washington, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the need formore resources to battle Taliban militants comes at a time when publicsupport for continued operations in Afghanistan is waning in manyallied nations. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.

BERLIN — Just days ahead of Sunday’s general election that will decide the next German chancellor, there is a noticeable lack of interest among the public, the media, and even the candidates themselves,. The widespread indifference comes at a time when Germany nevertheless faces a number of difficult issues, including an unpopular war in Afghanistan and the country’s tenuous economic recovery. Christian Democrat (CDU) Angela Merkel, the sitting chancellor, has essentially chosen not to campaign. She has made few public statements other than that she would prefer to form a coalition with the more conservative Free Democrats over the liberal […]

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday morning, President Barack Obama said, “It is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 — more than at any point in human history — the interests of nations and peoples are shared.” By this logic, American interests and American power around the world — which this column sets out every week to measure — depend on cooperation. The General Assembly presents an ideal opportunity to consider how much that cooperation is possible. As ever, consensus eludes us. The New York Times, for instance, sided with the argument […]

A Comprehensive Peace Agreement: A Palestinian View

Amjad Atallah of the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force speaks with Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, the highest decision-making body of the PLO, which has responsibility for negotiating with Israel and the United States over a comprehensive peace agreement.

NEW DELHI — With the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) decimated in the northern provinces of Sri Lanka, India is now seeking greater involvement in the welfare of the Tamils in the island country. New Delhi is looking to supply electricity, rehabilitate and resettle displaced Tamils, and rebuild infrastructure in general. And this month, Rahul Gandhi, the general secretary of the ruling Congress party and son of the all-powerful Sonia Gandhi, emphasized that India will do everything in its power to protect the rights of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka. “The central government is applying as much pressure […]

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Everywhere in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, posters featuring smiling soldiers holding rocket launchers and machine guns celebrate the recent end to the nation’s 26-year civil war. But in the government-run camps that still house more than 250,000 ethnic Tamils displaced by the war’s fighting, the mood is far from celebratory. In late August, heavy rains at the largest camp, Manik, flooded tents and led to unsanitary conditions. According to aid worker K Thampu, “The situation was heartbreaking. Tents were flooded and mothers, desperate to keep their children dry during the night, took chairs and […]

This WPR special report on the Afghanistan war compiles news, analysis and opinion from WPR’s pages to provide insight into the situation on the ground, as well as the strategic questions faced by U.S. and coalition policymakers. Contributors to the report include, Spencer Ackerman, David Axe, Andrew Bast, Andrew Exum, Joshua Foust, Judah Grunstein, Seth Rosen, Vikram Singh, Hampton Stephens, Balint Szlanko, and Richard Weitz. Below are links to each article, which subscribers can read in full. Subscribers can also download a pdf version of the report. Not a subscriber? Subscribe now, or try our subscription service for free. Abu […]

The armored truck came apart in a puff of smoke and debris. It was Aug. 20, election day in Wardak province, Afghanistan, southwest of Kabul. U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan had braced for increased levels of violence on this day. But the massive bomb — constructed of a plastic barrel with a nitrate fertilizer filler — that struck the American truck was more than anyone expected. Of the two U.S. Army soldiers riding in the front of the vehicle when the bomb struck, one was seriously injured. Specialist Justin Pellerin, 21, the driver, died instantly. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are taking […]

Rajiv Chandrasekaran on Obama’s Afghanistan Policy

The Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran says Obama is considering a”pretty significant shift in policy” on Afghanistan, from acomprehensive counterinsurgency and nation-buiilding campaign to a muchmore narrowed mission focused on counterterrorism. The fraudulentAfghanistan elections are at least one major factor in precipitatingthis change from March, when the White House promulgated a much moreexpansive Afghanistan strategy.

Southern Thailand Insurgents Target State Schools

In southern Thailand, Muslim insurgents are targetinggovernment-run schools. For the insurgents, the schools symbolize theThai Buddhist state, and a threat to their Muslim Malay culture. Voiceof America’s Daniel Schearf reports from Thailand’s PattaniProvince.

How young Somali immigrants searched for belonging, and found jihad. Last of a three-part series. (Part I) (Part II) Somali-American terror recruits have common roots in an impoverished, neglected and sometime oppressed immigrant community. Their feelings of impotence and isolation — and their desperate searches for structure — are not new. But for the most part, any violent impulses simmered under the surface until late 2006, when the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia gave American Somalis — and their kinsmen all over the world — a cause on which to hang their dissatisfaction. In December of that year, thousands of Ethiopian […]

JERUSALEM — Last Friday, Sept. 11, Katyusha rockets fired from southern Lebanon landed near the town of Nahariya in northern Israel. Israel retaliated, firing shells into Lebanon and scrambling fighter jets. No one was hurt, but the incident highlighted just how easily and in how many ways fighting could restart across Israel’s dangerous northern border. The episode also brought to mind a mostly quiet rivalry that has lain dormant, but could stir without warning inside Lebanon: Hezbollah and al-Qaida despise one another, and in this part of the world, hatred usually leads to bloodshed. Israel declared that it held the […]

In August, fighters from the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group rampaged through Ezo, a county of autonomous South Sudan that borders the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The rebels burned and looted homes, churches and health facilities, killed an undetermined number of civilians and kidnapped as many as 10 young girls, according to press reports. The LRA, which Washington has officially labeled a terrorist group, often forces children to become soldiers or sex slaves. The violence in Ezo displaced as many as 80,000 people, in a part of the world that’s already over-burdened by an estimated […]

There is an important element missing in the extensive coverage of Afghanistan: multilateral diplomacy. The Obama administration has been correct to emphasize the stakes for Pakistan in Afghanistan and, by extension, the seriousness with which the U.S. takes Pakistan’s stability. But it has begun to sound like Afghanistan has only one border, and only one important neighbor. So far, the administration and the media’s portrait has oversimplified the nature of the Taliban insurgency, defining it as essentially an extension of the fragility of the Pakistani state and political system. In truth, Pakistan is probably more stable than it looks, however […]

Eight years ago, a small number of U.S. personnel, working in tandem with local Afghan leaders, entered Afghanistan with a defined aim: to punish al-Qaida and overthrow the Taliban regime that harbored them. Over the past year, that mission has morphed into the much broader objective of rebuilding the Afghan state and protecting Afghan villages. Most recently, America’s top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, said a new strategy must be forged to “earn the support of the [Afghan] people . . . regardless of how many militants are killed or captured.” Such an undertaking, amounting to a large-scale social-engineering […]

In January 2009, retired Gen. Mauro Tello Quiñones took command of a police unit charged with combating drug-related violence in the popular Mexican tourist destination of Cancún. The assignment lasted just one week. In early February, Tello and two aides were kidnapped and killed. Before murdering Tello, the assailants broke his arms and legs and tortured him for hours. The incident provoked shock across Mexico, with the governor of Quintana Roo state calling it “truly horrible.” Even by the standards of the violent drug war that has consumed Mexico of late, this crime stood out for its brazenness and brutality. […]

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