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 […]

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Kenneth Payne flags something I’ve noted before as well: No significant works of art have yet emerged from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If that seems like a trivial observation, consider the impact of “All Quiet on the Western Front” or WWII-era literature (Mailer, Heller, Vonnegut) on American society and culture, or Vietnam-era cinema (Deer Hunter, The Boys of Company C, Apocalypse Now, even Platoon) and TV (MASH). Part of this has to do with structural changes in the media. Publishing is now overwhelmingly dominated by memoirs and non-fiction, both of which we’ve seen with regard to these wars. […]

The U.S. is determined to implement a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, and one of the most important concepts of counterinsurgency is securing the people: Insurgents and counterinsurgents alike must appeal to the people they’re fighting amongst in order to deny the other popular support. But what does it mean to “secure the people” of Afghanistan? Some of the U.S. government’s best thinkers about defense policy and counterinsurgency, many of whom cut their teeth on the urban battlefields of Iraq, have finally begun to consider this question. But although Iraq is vastly different from Afghanistan, there seems to be no end […]