Tim Fernholz is a former staff writer for the Prospect. His work has been published by Newsweek, The New Republic, The Nation, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast. He is also a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation.
Both this poll of American military officers and Nick Kristof's latest column suggest that we need to focus much more on development in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course, the U.S. has devoted a decent amount of money allready to rebuilding in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but not enough to prove decisive in changing facts on the ground. Kristof's column is a bit over-the-top, but his key insight is the importance of the local buy-in. However, he does not acknowledge that it can be harder for locals to welcome working with U.S.
Obama's Iraq op-ed is all the news today, and it clearly establishes that he's not changing his position. John Judisdoesn't buy it, but his argument isn't there. Contra Judis, Obama does acknowledge the drop in violence caused by the surge, but continues to make the correct argument that it has had little effect on Iraq's political situation.
The latest entry in the Obama-moves-to-the-center ledger comes from the Times, quoting a woman who switched her Green party registration to support the senator in the Oregon primary:
“I’m disgusted with him,” said Ms. Shade, an artist. “I can’t even listen to him anymore. He had such an opportunity, but all this ‘audacity of hope’ stuff, it’s blah, blah, blah. For all the independents he’s going to gain, he’s going to lose a lot of progressives.”
The International Criminal Court plans to indict Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide. It's damn good news, especially coming after a week in which his government was likely complicit in an attack that killed seven peacekeepers. Although the ICC's decision to call al-Bashir out could negatively affect diplomatic negotiations, the peacekeeping mission has never been strong enough to stop violence in Darfur and doesn't look likely to improve.
Steve Clemons has a post about his envy of China's super fast MagLev train. I've been seeing a lot of these "boy-foreign-infrastructure-is-so-nice" posts around and, while I sympathize, it's worth wondering if the glitz of the MagLev is really the right model. What we need isn't the fastest monorail in the world, it's simply an affordable rail system. Consider instead subsidizing AMTRAK's Acela Express, which is prohibitively expensive for most people, but gets you from D.C. to NYC in just a few hours. And it's built on infrastructure we already have, and that people are already using. Not as impressive, but more useful.