Obama’s Afghanistan Drawdown: From Good War to Subprime War

In thinking about the trajectory of President Barack Obama’s approach to the Afghanistan War, from the initial March 2009 strategy review to the December 2009 troop surge to last night’s address, it occurred to me that, when it comes to the politics of the war, Afghanistan has gone from being the “Good War” to being what is now the “Subprime War.” The administration’s initial March 2009 review was the equivalent of a “nothing down” mortgage. As I noted at the time, it threaded a political needle, articulating a strategy — a counterinsurgency approach to counterterrorism — that allowed everyone to […]

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) celebrated its 10th anniversary last week, with the leaders of its six member states gathering in Astana, Kazakhstan, for the occasion. In addition to assessing the achievements of the organization’s first decade, SCO leaders also considered the applications of Pakistan, India, Mongolia and Iran for full membership. There are now increasing indications that India and Pakistan might be admitted, although not before next year. Nevertheless, admission of these two nations could alter the mission and global relevance of the SCO as a regional multilateral organization. The SCO was initially created as a security pact to […]

Kyrgyzstan’s Ethnic Wounds Still Close to the Surface

This week marks the first anniversary of the seemingly spontaneous ethnic violence that drew the world’s attention to Kyrgyzstan for several weeks last June and ultimately left more than 400 dead. But while Western attention has long since waned, the antipathy between the country’s Kyrgyz majority and its Uzbek minority has not. A year after the fighting between them first broke out in the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan is nowhere near achieving reconciliation between the two groups; rather, it is in the eye of the storm. Although last year’s violence reached its greatest intensity in the southern cities of Osh […]