December 28, 2009

Catching Up

I have not been posting much recently, enjoying my retirement from daily blogging, but Richard Fontaine and I got name-checked in the lead editorial from today's Washington Post on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on account of this policy paper we wrote on Yemen for CNAS, so if you have not read it, do. I re-read it today to make sure I still agree with what we wrote and ... yup, I still do. My friend Gregory Johnsen is the real subject matter expert on Yemen, though, and since he's the guy I turn to for a sanity check whenever I say anything about the Arabian Peninsula, you could do worse than to follow his blog for more information on Yemen and AQAP.

In other news, I read and greatly enjoyed Stefan Aust's page-turning history of the Red Army Faction this Christmas holiday. If you watched and enjoyed the movie (like Tom did), you need to read the book. Watching just this trailer, you could be forgiven for thinking a tour in the Baader-Meinhof gang must have been a lot of fun. The reality, as Aust chronicles, was a lot less romantic.

A few readers have sent me Sean Naylor's unbelievably damning article in the Army Times on the Stryker Brigade in southern Afghanistan. Friends like Gian Gentile are worried good battalion and brigade commanders are being slandered for not bowing to the COIN orthodoxy, but while I have some sympathy for that lament, the relevant question about Col. Harry Tunnell is is not whether or not COIN is the correct or incorrect operational response to the problems facing U.S. forces in Afghanistan but whether or not the commander is following the pretty explicit guidance issued by the commanding general in Afghanistan. Sean has been a friend of mine since he embedded with my platoon during Operation Anaconda in 2002, and he's not the kind to go hunting the scalps of tactical commanders for the sake of it. What he saw in southern Afghanistan, though, raised a lot of questions for him, and it segues in nicely with Noah's worry about whether the U.S. Army can or will even do what's being asked of it.

Now I'm trying to catch up with some work while listening to the Nosaj Thing remix of Charlotte Gainsbourg's "Heaven Can Wait", which has the second most bizarrely awesome video for any song to which I have ever listened. First prize in that category goes to Bat For Lashes for "What's a Girl to Do?":