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First thing I thought after catching John Woo’s new mega-period epic, Red Cliff, this weekend was, I wonder why I haven’t read any clever blog reviews discussing the film’s obvious subtext on America’s recent military adventurism yet. A few google searches later and I learned that the film not only hasn’t yet been released Stateside, it’s got no U.S. distributor. That, folks, is crazy. Either someone in Hollywood is really stupid, or someone in China is really greedy. (With regard to this movie, I mean.) To put it very simply, this is a great martial arts war flick, with a […]

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The U.S.-Iraq SOFA agreement is being doubly tested. The NY Times reports that U.S. and Iraqi military commanders will be discussing whether or not to exempt Mosul from the agreement’s June 30 deadline to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraqi cities. At the same time, the Times of India reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has officially protested an allegedly unauthorized raid by U.S. troops, one that Le Monde claims left an Iraqi woman and police officer dead. Maliki is calling for the troops responsible to be delivered to the Iraqi courts. The developments cap a period of heightened […]

A fight is brewing in the U.S. military between manpower and technology. With the economy cratering and defense budgets flattening, we can no longer afford both large armies meant to pacify hostile populations, and legions of high-end air and naval platforms that fulfill our technological dreams. Because of the powerful political backing those high-end platforms enjoy, this budget conflict might spark a broad backlash to our recent fascination with wars of occupation. Our fetish for counterinsurgency campaigns has now made us a land power. We reacted to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq by expanding the ground services, even as […]

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I think Michael Cohen and I probably agree on more than he realizes, or at least more than what this post suggests. He identifies the militarization of foreign policy as the greatest danger of “embedding counterinsurgency doctrine in military planning.” I’m not sure about the causation there, since I don’t think the militarization of foreign policy depends exclusively on the trend towards COIN. But regular readers of the blog know that I consider the militarization of foreign policy not just a future danger but an alarming reality. And I agree with Cohen that the seductive “war-lite” aspects of COIN will […]

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This one’s datelined April 1, but DefenseNews doesn’t strike me as an April Fools kind of site. It’s a bit hard to unravel from the story, but apparently the Pentagon is paying a U.S. contractor to buy and modify to spec 22 Russian MI-17 helicopters through a UAE-based sub-contractor, for delivery the Iraqi government. I’ll be checking in with our resident expert on the Russian arms industry, Richard Weitz, on this one. I, for one, can’t make any sense of it. Update: Richard Weitz weighs in: It might be an interoperability issue. Given that the Iraqis have purchased Soviet- and […]