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The Last Days of Democracy

The Last Days of Democracy

By Elliot D. Cohen

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Tag: Pakistan

Indian protest
AP photo / Rajanish Kakade

India Demands ‘Strong Action’ From Pakistan

After reports emerged that the perpetrators of last week’s terror siege in Mumbai were allegedly members of the Kashmiri guerrilla organization Lashkar-i-Taiba, Indian officials called upon their Pakistani neighbors to back up their pledges of support with concerted action to crack down on militants.

Posted on Dec 1, 2008 READ MORE


Square, Category Page

Pakistan protest
AP photo / K.M.Chaudary

Already Shaky India-Pakistan Relations Take a New Hit

The already fraught relationship between neighboring nations India and Pakistan has been further complicated by the terror siege in Mumbai, in which as many as 195 people were killed and 295 wounded, according to the BBC.

Posted on Nov 29, 2008 READ MORE

Mumbai vigil
AP photo / Altaf Qadri

More Than 170 Killed in Mumbai Terror Attacks

On Saturday, officials in Mumbai continued hunting for clues, and for bodies, in the wake of the terror siege that began Wednesday in the Indian megalopolis. More than 170 people are known dead.

Posted on Nov 29, 2008 READ MORE

Mumbai aftermath
AP photo / Gurinder Osan

Searching for Answers in Mumbai

Who was responsible for this week’s siege in Mumbai? Some clues had emerged in the Indian metropolis by Thursday night, as the crisis appeared to be winding down, although the fate of several hostages still hung in the balance.

Posted on Nov 27, 2008 READ MORE

USAF / Staff Sgt. Samuel Rogers

Bush’s Follies Will Destroy Obama If He Lets Them

Barack Obama has no choice but to accept responsibility for America’s foreign policy crises. But why should he accept them on the distorted and even hysterical terms by which the Bush administration has defined world affairs since 2001?

Posted on Nov 25, 2008 READ MORE

To Each His Own Nuke

The cynical view of national sovereignty holds that it belongs only to those who can defend it. This was said recently at the Pentagon concerning American manned and unmanned attacks inside Pakistan.

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE

U.S. Air Force / Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson

Pakistan PM: U.S. Airstrikes ‘Intolerable’

American airstrikes in Pakistan aren’t sitting so well with the locals. Pakistan PM Yousuf Raza Gilani summoned the U.S. ambassador for a refresher course in “sovereignty and territorial integrity” on Thursday. But according to The Washington Post, the two countries have a tacit agreement that the U.S. can keep bombing Pakistan if Pakistan can keep complaining about it.

Posted on Nov 20, 2008 READ MORE

Afghan boy and soldiers
AP photo / Rafiq Maqbool

No End to the Savagery in Afghanistan

Back in Afghanistan, the mind turns to the small matter of savagery. Not the routine cruelty of war, but the deliberate inhumanity with which we behave.

Posted on Nov 15, 2008 READ MORE

How Many Villages Must We Bomb Before We Find bin Laden?

Barack Obama has said that he is not against war, only against stupid wars. One might then reasonably ask if the present war in Afghanistan is not a stupid war?

Posted on Nov 13, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Hasan Sarbakhshian

With Iran, Obama Needs More Carrot, Less Stick

Now that the presidential election has liberated Barack Obama from the need to play to the fickle whim of domestic politics, he should put away the saber and take a more enlightened approach to Iran.

Posted on Nov 13, 2008 READ MORE

U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon

Secret Rumsfeld Order OK’d Raids in All Nations

Since 2004, U.S. operatives have been crossing the borders of friends and foes alike in a secret global hunt for al-Qaida. According to a bombshell report in The New York Times, a dozen or so raids have been conducted in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere since Donald Rumsfeld issued a secret order with the backing of the president.

Posted on Nov 10, 2008 READ MORE

Obama Is the Superior Decider

The real issues of the American presidential election are the future of the economy and the future of American foreign policy. The one seems already settled. The second seems to unite John McCain and Barack Obama in support of a program doomed to fail.

Posted on Oct 30, 2008 READ MORE

Collage: AP photo / Chip Somodevilla, pool / Wikimedia Commons

Virtual JFK: The 44th President’s Foreign Policy Challenge

The leading issue in the current face-off between Barack Obama and John McCain is the economy. Once elected and inaugurated, however, a U.S. president’s politics become global literally overnight.

Posted on Oct 29, 2008 READ MORE


Pakistan to Talk It Out

Growing anger at “America’s war” has led to massive popular protests and parliamentary action against U.S. military involvement in Pakistan. A resolution passed by Pakistan’s parliament Wednesday calls for dialogue with “extremist groups” and an end to military activity, a strategy that refocuses the country toward an “independent foreign policy.”

Posted on Oct 24, 2008 READ MORE

Obama and McCain debate
AP photo / Charles Dharapak

Obama Wins in Nashville

As was the case in the first presidential debate, Barack Obama emerged from Tuesday night’s confrontation with John McCain in Nashville, Tenn., in command of the situation. The Democratic nominee looked calm, confident and presidential as he won their second contest.

Posted on Oct 7, 2008 READ MORE

What McCain and Obama Just Don’t Get About Central Asia

There are only two real issues left in the foreign policy debate between John McCain and Barack Obama. Yet neither the Iraq nor the Afghanistan issue is within the power of any American president to resolve.

Posted on Oct 7, 2008 READ MORE

Weapons of Mass Distraction

John McCain and Sarah Palin are going to try their best to make us talk about anything but the big issues facing our country, because most Americans think Barack Obama’s solutions are better.

Posted on Oct 6, 2008 READ MORE

Will the Pentagon Be the Next U.S. Institution to Crash?

Less apparent to most people than the economic crisis, but just as real, are the signs of an impending crash of an American military system in which, since the end of the Cold War, Pentagon dysfunction has metastasized so uncontrollably as to scandalize the men who have overseen it.

Posted on Oct 2, 2008 READ MORE

Palin and Zardari
AP photo / Henny Ray Abrams

Fatwa Issued Against Pakistani President for ‘Flirting’ With Palin

Tina Fey, in character again as Sarah Palin for last weekend’s “Saturday Night Live,” made light of how the Republican vice presidential candidate was “literally” embraced by “a couple of them Pakistani guys” she met at the United Nations last week. Unfortunately for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, though, the prayer leader of Islamabad’s Red Mosque isn’t laughing about Zardari’s encounter with Palin last Thursday.

Posted on Sep 29, 2008 READ MORE

Petraeus Speaks

Petraeus: Pakistan Facing ‘Existential Threat’

According to Gen. David Petraeus, Pakistan could be heading for a crisis that would shake the already volatile nation to its foundations if its leaders, including newly installed President Asif Ali Zardari, do not find a way to deal with the growing issue of militant violence.

Posted on Sep 29, 2008 READ MORE

Obama and McCain debate in Mississippi

Obama and McCain Face Off in First Presidential Debate

Thankfully, Jim Lehrer wasn’t left at the moderator’s podium on Friday, as both Barack Obama and John McCain showed up for their scheduled presidential debate at the University of Mississippi to field questions about the economy and foreign policy.

Posted on Sep 28, 2008 WATCH & LISTEN

AP photo / Chip Somodevilla, pool

A Calm Obama Weathers a Storm of Sarcasm

Was he too calm? Did he pull his punches in an effort to look presidential? Not really. The viewers got a clear choice: a reasoned and reasonable Obama versus an old-fashioned Cold Warrior who would keep us in Iraq endlessly and extend the boundaries we must defend to Georgia and Ukraine.

Posted on Sep 26, 2008 READ MORE

U.S. and Pakistani Troops Exchange Fire

There are at least three differing accounts of exactly what happened on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border Thursday, but most agree that American and Pakistani forces shot at each other. Cross-border raids by U.S. forces into Pakistan’s territory have inflamed relations between the two countries.

Posted on Sep 25, 2008 READ MORE

Islamabad Marriott
AP photo / B.K. Bangash

Dozens Killed in Pakistan Hotel Bombing

At least 40 people were killed and scores more injured Saturday when a truck bomb detonated near the entrance of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan—a destination for Westerners and other visitors to the Pakistani capital city—as heads of state dined at the prime minister’s house nearby.

Posted on Sep 20, 2008 READ MORE


Report: Bush Making Pre-Election Push to Nab Bin Laden

Last week’s air attack in Pakistan by American Special Ops forces represented the first of a three-part strategy by the Bush administration to ramp up the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other key al-Qaida players during the last weeks before the November elections, according to government sources contacted for this report by NPR.

Posted on Sep 12, 2008 READ MORE

AfghanPak Border

Secret Bush Order OKs Strikes Inside Pakistan

A secret executive order signed by President Bush grants U.S. military forces “carte blanche” to launch counterterrorist operations inside Pakistan. An attack last week under the auspices of the unprecedented July order is raising concerns: Pakistani officials declared the operation illegal, and international analysts fear an escalating conflict could start a regionwide war.

Posted on Sep 12, 2008 READ MORE

Quagmire, Phase 2: The Invasion of Pakistan

The United States has just invaded Cambodia. The name of Cambodia this time is Pakistan, but otherwise it’s the same story as in Indochina in 1970.

Posted on Sep 11, 2008 READ MORE

Zardari President
AP photo / Anjum Naveed

Bhutto’s Widower Assumes Presidency in Pakistan

Asif Ali Zardari, widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, assumed the presidency of Pakistan on Tuesday, concluding a transfer of power that began with the resignation of former President Pervez Musharraf just two weeks ago. Zardari’s presidency is likely to be one of conflict, as an ongoing Taliban resurgence and a 26 percent approval rating already riddle his first days in office.

Posted on Sep 10, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Alex Brandon

Obama: Bush ‘Kicking the Can Down the Road’ to Next President

Barack Obama on Tuesday stepped up his criticism of the outgoing president and the Republican who hopes to succeed him, slamming President Bush for focusing too heavily on Iraq and missing the “central front in the war on terror”—Pakistan and Afghanistan. John McCain, Obama said, would follow Bush’s lead, to America’s detriment.

Posted on Sep 9, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Shakil Adil

Bhutto’s Husband Wins Pakistan Presidency

Pakistan will have a new president, Asif Ali Zardari. The widower of slain Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto has successfully continued along his wife’s path, drawing upon the support of her allies to emerge the victor by a wide margin in the election held to replace Pervez Musharraf, who stepped down as president in mid-August.

Posted on Sep 6, 2008 READ MORE

Cleaning Up After Bush

The Bush administration has lived by a strategy of tension, and will go out of office bequeathing the wars it has started and the ill will it has created to its successors, to compromise those who come after.

Posted on Aug 28, 2008 READ MORE

Was Musharraf Helped Out the Door?

A British official has been accused of meddling in the affairs of the subcontinent by engineering the exit of Gen. Pervez Musharraf from Pakistan’s political scene. Aitzaz Ahsan, a significant figure in Pakistan’s pro-democracy scene, says Sir Mark Lyall Grant of the Foreign Office helped secure immunity from charges in exchange for Musharraf’s resignation.

Posted on Aug 20, 2008 READ MORE

AP photo / Ivan Sekretarev

Pakistani President Musharraf Resigns

After months of mounting pressure and speculation, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced Monday that he is stepping down, but not before defending his legacy, challenging his detractors and admitting that he “may have committed follies.”

Posted on Aug 18, 2008 READ MORE

India’s Role in the Afghan Drama

When large and powerful countries intervene in the affairs of smaller countries, they take for granted that they are, or should be—and certainly could be—in control. The reverse is often true.

Posted on Aug 11, 2008 READ MORE

David McKiernan

‘Surge’ Rhetoric Not Universal

Despite criticisms of the efficacy of the “surge” in Iraq, a U.S. commander in Afghanistan has dared to say that a planned “surge” in Afghanistan would in fact not help U.S. interests in the country. The commander did make sure not to completely deweaponize the Bush administration’s rhetoric, suggesting instead that a different type of surge is needed.

Posted on Aug 8, 2008 READ MORE

AP Photo / Ivan Sekretarev

Impeachment Threat Looms for Musharraf

For several months, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s political fate has hung in the balance, as last year’s state-of-emergency ordeal made all too clear. Now, the situation in Pakistan is becoming critical, with Musharraf’s opponents calling for his impeachment.

Posted on Aug 8, 2008 READ MORE

Gilani and Bush
AP photo / Evan Vucci

Bush Hosts Pakistani PM Right After U.S. Attack

President Bush had words of praise for Pakistan during his first meet-and-greet with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani at the White House on Monday, a meeting in which the subject of the U.S. missile attack on the Pakistani-Afghan border mere hours before was not brought up by either party.

Posted on Jul 28, 2008 READ MORE

Obama’s Disaster in the Making

Barack Obama is right to want to get out of Iraq, but his eagerness to do battle in the tribal hinterlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan will only lead to a quagmire of his own.

Posted on Jul 16, 2008 READ MORE


Obama on Foreign Policy and the ‘Tyranny of Oil’

Sen. Barack Obama was careful to praise U.S. troops in Iraq during Tuesday’s speech outlining his foreign policy strategies, while declaring that Iraq has been a costly distraction for America. “This war distracts us from every threat that we face and so many opportunities we could seize,” he said, before laying out his five goals “essential to making America safer.”

Posted on Jul 16, 2008 WATCH & LISTEN

AP photo / Al Behrman

Obama: ‘The Central Front in the War on Terror Is Not Iraq’

Sen. Barack Obama made a key speech on Tuesday in Washington, in which he asserted his position on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, offered a 16-month troop withdrawal timetable and outlined his plans for combating terrorism if he is elected president in November.

Posted on Jul 15, 2008 READ MORE

Kunar Province attack

U.S. Generals in Afghanistan Ask for More Armored Vehicles

Following this weekend’s attack in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, in which nine American soldiers were killed by Afghan insurgents, U.S. commanders have asked the Pentagon for more heavily armored MRAP vehicles—as many as 600 to 1,000 more—according to this CNN report from Monday morning.

Posted on Jul 14, 2008 WATCH & LISTEN

U.S. Loses 9 to Taliban Strike

Nine American soldiers are dead after a Taliban raid on a small combat outpost in the Afghan province of Kunar, near Pakistan. Coalition forces rarely experience such losses. The attack took place close to where the U.S. allegedly killed 47 civilians, a charge the military denies.

Posted on Jul 13, 2008 READ MORE

Pakistani police helmet
AP photo / Emilio Morenatti

Pakistan Blast Seen as Payback for Red Mosque Raid

Sunday’s explosion near Islamabad’s Melody Market is believed to be retaliation for last summer’s official crackdown on the nearby Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) mosque and seminary, according to Pakistan’s Daily Times. Nineteen people, most of them policemen, were killed in the blast.

Posted on Jul 7, 2008 READ MORE

Kabul bombing
AP photos / Pajhwok News Agency

Pakistani Militants Suspected in Kabul Bombing

Details have emerged about Monday’s deadly blast at the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, raising suspicion that the bombing was done by Pakistani militants associated with the Taliban. The fact that the Indian Embassy was targeted is one substantial indication, considering the long-standing conflict between India and Pakistan. The blast killed 41 and injured over 130.

Posted on Jul 7, 2008 READ MORE

Bombings Jolt South Asia

A suicide bombing apparently tied to the one-year anniversary of the Red Mosque raid killed at least 15 in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad Sunday night. The next morning, a bomber drove an explosives-laden car into the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 41—including India’s ranking defense attaché—and injuring more than 140 others.

Posted on Jul 7, 2008 READ MORE

Terror Goes a Lot Further With Good Advertising

A basic argument in Washington’s war on terror, an argument that one might think settled by now, concerns whether al-Qaida is the powerful global organization the Bush administration says it is or whether it has been, since its retreat into the Pakistan tribal areas, mostly an Internet phenomenon.

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE

A.Q. Khan

A.Q. Khan Takes Back Nuclear Confession

Did he or didn’t he? Four years ago, A.Q. Khan, often referred to as the “Father of the Pakistani Bomb,” confessed that he had passed nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya. Now, as he awaits his possible release from house arrest, Khan says he made a false confession.

Posted on May 29, 2008 READ MORE

Presidential Race Ignores Arms Race

Obama’s stated willingness to unilaterally strike nuclear-armed U.S. ally Pakistan, Clinton’s promise to Iran to “totally obliterate” the nation of 70 million (should it attack Israel), and McCain’s hard-line position on Russia, including the deployment of a missile defense in Eastern Europe, all point to a reliance on military solutions.

Posted on May 21, 2008 READ MORE

Pakistani flag
Flickr / openDemocracy

Terrorism Thrives in Pakistan

According to a newly released State Department report, Pakistan experienced twice as many terrorist attacks against nonmilitary targets in 2007 than it did in 2006, killing 1,335 people. That kind of instability would be pretty frightening if Pakistan had dozens of nuclear weapons. Oh, wait a second, it does.

Posted on Apr 30, 2008 READ MORE

The Only Lesson We Ever Learn Is That We Never Learn

The Independent’s Robert Fisk looks back at five years of catastrophe in Iraq and is reminded of Winston Churchill’s depiction of Palestine as a “hell-disaster.”

Posted on Mar 19, 2008 READ MORE

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