Notes From All Over 8/09/2009

Bob Herbert. New York Times. 24 August 2009.
Bob Herbert writes a disquieting Jeremiad against the American people for allowing their best men to have their limbs and faces torn off without giving a damn. By far the best opinion editorial I have read this year from the New York Times.

(H/T to Where is Sam Damon.)

Eight Years On
Ryan Crocker. Newsweek. 5 September 2009.

Ryan Crocker, one of the best Ambassadors this nation has seen, redeems Newsweek with a five page essay he wrote  for the magazine. Providing us with an overview of his career, Crocker manages to hand out critical insights on diplomacy, U.S. foreign policy, and the Middle East on every single page. To put it simply: This guy knows what he is talking about.

(H/T to Robert Haddick at Small Wars Journal.)

Washington’s Afghan Brawl.
Thomas Rid. Kings of War. 2 September 2009.

Rid forces us to face some of the constraints NATO forces face in Afghanistan. Money quote:

The question is what follows from these assumptions? A complex cost-benefit calculus, I would say. A nasty one. There are costs and benefits attached to trying harder — and there are costs and benefits attached to stop trying harder. And at some point somebody will have to make the decision to start a withdrawal. That much is safe to say. The question is: when do the net costs of trying to solve the problem outweigh the net benefits of trying to solve the problem? The answer cannot be a yes or no. Only a: then. Of course that doesn’t mean that a timetable should be communicated publicly — but the calculation should be clear, or at least clearer. Words like “winning” and “victory” have no place in this debate, even if the street is shouting for it.

Read the whole thing.

That Three Legged Stool of American Foreign Policy. 
“Diplopundit.” Diplopundit. 6 September 2009.

Diplopundit deftly pokes holes in the idea of the “3 D’s” of American statecraft, noting that the largest tool in American foreign policy are the excess of contractors used in place of government personnel. 
NASA Satellites Unlock Secret to Northern India’s Vanishing Water

NASA Newsroom.12 August 2009.

The water supply of Punjab and Haryana is being used up at a simply unsustainable rate. Unless there is vast improvements in water usage and agricultural practices, New Delhi could very well run dry within a few decades.

The World Health Orginization: A Primer
“Revere”. Effect Measure. 2009.

Impressive group of posts from the folks over at Effect Measure. The structure and workings of the WHO are detailed, as well as a few astute musings on what happens when you mix the Westphalian system with microbes who care little for political borders.

Accidental Wars
Shannon Love. Chicago Boyz. 3 September 2009.

Shannon Love wrote an interesting post on the ‘irrational’ mindset of autocratic leaders and the impossibility of predicting or negotiating with such. The post sparked off a storm some 40 comments long. The discussion as a whole was quite interesting, prompting me to post several comments throughout its duration.

That is all!

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