WASHINGTON: “We have found that the PLA suffers from potentially serious weaknesses.” That is the simple and powerful declaration of a new study of China’s military by the RAND Corp., done at the behest of the congressionally-mandated U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. What are those Chinese weaknesses? The report, again, is admirably clear. “The first is… Keep reading →


For years, “realists” in foreign policy claimed that the kind of government inside another state didn’t matter – foreign policy was only about what countries did outside their borders. As Iraq and northern Syria join in a de-facto jihadist statelet, Ukraine’s east is dismantled, and Central American refugees pour into Texas, it might be time… Keep reading →

Anti-corruption programs established to combat graft and fiscal malfeasance in Afghanistan are struggling with a daunting mission. Sparsely resourced, US military and civilian groups battle malign networks that connect distracted American officials, for-profit corporations, predatory Afghan insiders and the Taliban in a toxic system so pervasive that American taxpayers are funding both sides of the war. Keep reading →

We aren’t leaving Afghanistan — except, of course, to the extent we are. That’s the high-wire balancing act that the top commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, had to perform in his remarks today ahead of the upcoming NATO conference in Chicago. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: With the Taliban reeling, it is the Afghan government’s own corruption that is the biggest threat to US goals and the biggest reason to keep US advisors in place through 2014 and beyond. That’s the verdict of Marine Maj. Gen. John Toolan, who just finished a year commanding the international force called Regional Command Southwest, responsible for both Nimruz province and the former Taliban stronghold of Helmand.

“If we want to lose everything we’ve gained, then if we allow corruption to take root, it’ll come crashing in,” said Toolan, speaking at the Atlantic Council of the United States. Today, the Taliban are “completely on their back” in southern Helmand, “on their knees” in the center of the province, and “on their heels” in the north, Toolan argued. “Three years ago, before the surge,” Toolan said, “the Taliban ran the local communities.” Today they have to sneak across the border from Pakistan. “They’re now the visiting team,” said Toolan. “We are the home team.” Keep reading →

The commandos came under the cover of darkness. It was mid-February in Laghman province, just east of Kabul in mountainous eastern Afghanistan. A team of U.S. Army Special Forces swept in together with an elite unit of the Afghan police, known as the Provincial Response Company. But this time the target was not a Taliban. This time the Green Berets were helping the Afghans take down one of their own, a government official named Nangyalai. Keep reading →