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Reconciling Iraq’s Shias and Sunnis


With city after city in Shia-governed Iraq being overrun by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)––a Sunni Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organization whose stated objective is to unite Iraq and Syria, and perhaps eventually more of the Levant (Lebanon, for instance), into a single large fundamentalist caliphate––the threat of a sectarian civil war in the region is heightened.  In response, the U.S. is now considering a military intervention similar in scope to its 2011 military intervention in Libya. Read the rest of this entry

What’s Missing in the U.S.-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement?


Even as Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s outgoing president, continues to refuse to sign a crucial Bilateral Security Agreement with the U.S., claiming that the Afghan military protects 93 percent of the country and therefore is more than prepared to take over from the U.S. military come January 2015, the ten candidates to take his place at Afghanistan’s helm have all pledged to sign the agreement. But in spite of the fact that I readily appreciate Washington’s insistence to secure a long-term military partnership with Kabul––to abandon Afghanistan now would reverse any gains made by the U.S. in its twelve-and-a-half-year struggle against the Taliban, and render futile the sacrifices of all American servicemen and women ever deployed to the region––I am likewise convinced that Karzai’s recalcitrance, however frustrating and seemingly undue, has some merit. Afghanistan does, after all, get the short end of the stick in this bargain. Read the rest of this entry

The Syrian Peace Summit an Inevitable Failure?


On Jan. 12, the New York Times released an editorial ahead of a much-anticipated Syrian peace summit on the 22nd, in which the Times voiced its approval of a tentative proposal by the State Department to resume “nonlethal military aid” to the Syrian opposition.  Suspended last month when a repository of munitions intended for the moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) was instead seized by the radical Islamic Front, this aid, the Times explains, would simultaneously reinforce the FSA in its ongoing war with Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Armed Forces, and reassure Saudi Arabia (which backs the opposition) of the U.S.’s continued support amidst the Obama administration’s aggressive courting of Iran, a bitter rival of the Saudis. Read the rest of this entry

Fighting the Bad Fight: The War on Terror Revisited


Twelve years have passed since President George W. Bush declared before a nation traumatized and enraged by the events of 9/11 the start of a “crusade . . . on terrorism,”[1] a so-called war on terror, after which he authorized the invasion of Afghanistan, where al Qaeda was known to have established itself.  The War in Afghanistan, which still rages unabated, presaged a greater U.S. military presence in the Middle East, and was eventually followed by the Iraq War in 2003.  Today, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, combined, have cost the U.S. a staggering $6 trillion, nearly a third of the nation’s $17 trillion national debt, and the lives of 6,772 of its soldiers.  To what end? Read the rest of this entry

A Rhetorical Analysis of Krauthammer’s “The Truth about Torture”


In “The Truth about Torture,” first published circa December 2005 in The Weekly Standard, syndicated columnist and conservative political commentator Charles Krauthammer argues for a concession to the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA). Introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the DTA effectively prohibited any and all forms of “cruel, inhuman, or degrading” treatment of those in the custody of the United States (Krauthammer 1). However, Krauthammer asserts that, in “two very circumscribed circumstances”––(1) the ticking time bomb and (2) the slower-fuse high-value terrorist––exceptions to the McCain amendment’s no-torture dictum should be allowed (7). Throughout his essay, Krauthammer rarely makes use of pathos, since his target audience of government policymakers and The Weekly Standard’s readership––which consists of the elderly, affluent, and politically active––tend not to be receptive to arguments that cater to the tender-of-heart, preferring instead the educated, empirically permissible conclusions of men of logic and science. Read the rest of this entry

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