June 06, 2011

6 June 1944 and all that

Today is the 67th anniversary of "Goddammit, Rangers, Lead the Way." If you are able, and especially if you are a youngish man thinking of trying your hand at Rangering, watch the first 25 minutes or so of Saving Private Ryan today. All of the rest of you should at least raise a glass for the Boys of Pointe-du-Hoc and all the other men who fought that day in Normandy. (And boy, think whatever you wish of Ronald Reagan, but the "Boys of Pointe-du-Hoc" speech is incredible.)


As far as yesterday's fighting in the (occupied) Golan is considered, let me just say this, speaking as someone whose own research on the fighting in southern Lebanon is highly critical of the Israeli Defense Force and who has never been hesitant to criticize anyone's military forces (including my own) when they deserve it: You can have whatever opinions you wish to have about Israeli policy or the plight of the Palestinians, but if the IDF units did in fact employ escalation of force as is currently being described, starting with non-lethal means and then proceeding to lethal force, you can't ask any more of them tactically and operationally. That will infuriate some of you unable to divorce consideration of tactics and operations from the strategies and policies they serve, but there it is.

(Considering both Israel's leaders and Syria's leaders might want Bashar al-Asad to stick around for a while longer, a friend in Beirut only half-jokingly suggested yesterday's events were staged on both sides to take the attention off the crimes of the al-Asad regime against its own people.)


I'll be traveling internationally for the next few days and will likely not be blogging very much, if at all. On the flights, though, here's what I'll be reading:

1. The manuscript for Daveed Gartenstein-Ross's new book.

2. Kissinger's On China. People who actually know a lot about China and know better books about China might make fun of me for this, but I know next to nothing about China and figured it might be a good time to learn something.

3. Bob Kaplan's forthcoming essay for the National Interest on John Stuart Mill and the Arab Spring. (Bob was kind enough to slip me a copy last week at the CNAS conference.)


Speaking of the annual CNAS conference, if you did not attend, you can still watch a stellar conversation about Afghanistan and Pakistan moderated by Rajiv Chandrasekaran and featuring LTG (Ret.) Dave Barno, Amb. Anne Patterson, Steve Coll and Bing West on C-SPAN online. The five discuss, among other things, this report (.pdf) I co-authored.

You can also watch, here, the panel on internet freedom and the Arabic-speaking world for which I served as the jester. Shadi Hamid and Richard Fontaine were both excellent, and Colin Kahl, as the panel went on and as he veered off the script, just starting owning it. Highly entertaining.