Afghanistan Should Inspire Skepticism of Syria

On Sun­day, all Amer­i­can and British com­bat oper­a­tions in Hel­mand province offi­cially ended. It was a long time com­ing, as Hel­mand has long been a thorn in the side of both country’s mil­i­taries: resis­tant to the magic COIN dust, extremely vio­lent, and polit­i­cally unsta­ble. It has been the scene of some of the worst excesses […]

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The False Promise of a Crystal Ball

If there’s one theme that could define Pres­i­dent Obama’s for­eign pol­icy the last six years, it is his tumul­tuous rela­tion­ship with the US intel­li­gence com­mu­nity. The IC is Obama’s favorite tar­get when Things Go Wrong: usu­ally because they did not use their crys­tal ball to cor­rectly pre­dict the future. It is that mis­per­cep­tion — that […]

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The ISIS Hysteria

The ISIS prob­lem in Iraq and Syria is get­ting worse. The most recent reports sug­gest there is a steady stream of recruits not just locally, but from Turkey, trav­el­ing into the coun­try to fight. The threat ISIS rep­re­sents (a grow­ing, finan­cially self-sustaining ter­ror state that is destroy­ing coun­tries, impris­on­ing thou­sands, and bru­tally mur­der­ing thou­sands more) […]

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The Action Bias of National Security Punditry

As unspeak­able hor­rors con­tinue to emerge from the areas con­trolled by ISIS, so too are the demands for the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment to “do some­thing.” Though under­stand­able, these demands actu­ally rep­re­sent a self-destructive impulse in pun­ditry, and often lead to poor decision-making that results in dis­as­trous con­se­quences after­ward. The action bias is a phe­nom­e­non were people […]

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Violence and Threat

The filmed exe­cu­tion of Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist James Foley con­tin­ues to rever­ber­ate in the United States. For many, it is their first relat­able exam­ple of the bru­tal­ity employed by the mil­i­tant ISIS group — their first sense that the men who ram­page through Syria and north­ern Iraq are, in a very basic way, fun­da­men­tally evil. But, […]

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The Decline of Journalism

There is a fas­ci­nat­ing Pew study about the grow­ing pay gap between PR flacks and reporters. As a cur­rent flack of some sort (though I work for a non-profit), and as a for­mer jour­nal­ist, I have some thoughts on the mat­ter. But first, the meat: The salary gap between pub­lic rela­tions spe­cial­ists and news reporters has […]

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Charikar,” in 34th Parallel Magazine

I’m pretty excited about this. My first short story, about a guy expe­ri­enc­ing the war in Afghanistan for the first time, has been pub­lished by 34th Par­al­lel mag­a­zine. I’m not really sure how to excerpt it but I would sug­gest pick­ing up a copy of the mag­a­zine because, I mean, duh right?

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Monumentalism is the Worst

There’s another io9 post, again, about the Cen­tral Asian dic­ta­tors’ pen­chant for mas­sive build­ings that also hap­pen to dis­tract atten­tion away from their dete­ri­o­rat­ing human rights sit­u­a­tion. This time, with Ash­ga­bat, Turk­menistan, there is at least some intro­duc­tory text, though describ­ing Gur­ban­guly Berdimuhame­dov as hav­ing “won” an elec­tion is a sick joke. Say­ing the “new” […]

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