1. They loaded me onto the [medevac helicopter] and everyone tried to say their goodbyes. The air crew shoved most of them away but [fellow Marine] Wysinski got in next to my ear and said ‘If you go at least you’ll be with your mom, bud’ and then the bird touched off.
     


  2. Americans have lost their taste for collective sacrifice… so when a frightening enemy like al Qaeda or ISIS threatens our sense of security, it suits nearly everyone for the president to blow up the bad guys without asking 99 percent of us to interrupt our pursuit of happiness.
    — 

    Pretending we’re not at war

    Presidents no longer ask Congress to declare war when ordering the military into action. That suits most Americans just fine.

     

  3.  

  4. Meet “Lady al Qaeda,” the world’s most wanted woman

    Why does every jihadi group want the U.S. to free Aafia Siddiqui?

     

  5.  

  6. A selection of photos by AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed today

    Niedringhaus was covering the Afghan election when an Afghan police officer reportedly walked up to her car, yelled “Allah Akbar” — God is Great — and opened fire. She spent 20 years covering conflict zones from Kuwait to the West Bank.

     

  7. The military is literally throwing away $7 billion in Afghanistan

    The U.S. is simply abandoning tons of equipment because shipping it home would cost too much

    The Week’s Harold Maass explains…

     

  8. President Obama and Mitt Romney meet tonight for their third and final presidential debate, and the stakes couldn’t be higher: The polls show the race in a dead heat, and the debate is likely the last event that could dramatically alter the contest’s trajectory. Under pressure to defend his record and solidify his foreign-policy edge, Obama will undoubtedly underscore the killing of Osama bin Laden. For his part, Romney must convince voters that he would make a credible commander-in-chief, while seducing independent voters with an alternate national security vision. Here, a guide to where the candidates stand on key issues:

    1. Libya — The biggest chink in Obama’s foreign-policy armor? The September terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The White House’s response to the attack has been confusing, and Republicans have accused the administration of misleading the public. Romney sought to exploit this advantage, but only hurt himself by appearing to politicize the death of four Americans. His dilemma tonight: To back off Benghazi or go on the offensive? “The national conversation has been about the terrorist attack in Benghazi,” says Peggy Noonan at The Wall Street Journal. “Did the president tell the truth at the time?” But Romney was caught “playing political gotcha with a national tragedy,” says Bill Keller at The New York Times, and another miss could badly hurt his campaign. Obama’s job is to make sure “the political spin stops,” says Juan Williams at The Hill. “The bottom line is there is no evidence so far to support the Romney camp’s claim of incompetence or a cover-up.”

    2. The Arab Spring — Romney has heavily criticized Obama for his handling of the Arab Spring, suggesting that stable, pro-American regimes would have emerged following the fall of dictators in Egypt and Libya if the president had taken a firmer hand. While it’s unclear what Romney would have done differently, Spencer Ackerman at Wired summarizes the debate thus: “[Does the U.S. need] to involve itself deeper in the Arab Spring; pick favorites within the uprisings; or stand back as the upheaval proceeds?” Obama is under pressure to defend his hands-off, country-by-country approach, while articulating a broader foreign policy argument that explains why “he’ll intervene in Libya but not Syria,” says Ackerman. Romney, for his part, “has yet to distinguish his geopolitical plans from Obama’s without seeming like he’s out to start a whole new war.”

    3. Iran and Israel — Romney has hammered Obama for failing to halt Iran’s suspected progress toward a nuclear weapon; this dovetails with Romney’s claim that Obama hasn’t been a good friend to Israel. However, both candidates essentially have the same policy: A stated determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and a vow to keep all options — from diplomacy to military force — on the table. Romney is having so much trouble distinguishing himself from Obama that he ends up sounding like a “foreign policy love child” of Obama and George W. Bush, says Sally Kohn at Salon. “Rhetorically, Romney sounds almost exactly like George W. Bush. In terms of what he’d do on the ground in places like Iran [however]… Romney sounds exactly like Barack Obama.” Unless Romney can convince voters that his policies to stop Iran and protect Israel are distinct from Obama’s, says Keith Koffler at Reuters,the president will continue to enjoy his healthy advantage with Jewish voters.

    4. Afghanistan — Afghanistan is another area in which Romney has struggled to differentiate himself from the president. Romney says “he would hew to President Obama’s timeline to withdraw U.S. troops by the end of 2014,” says Maeve Raeston at the Los Angeles Times, “but he would part ways with the president by giving greater deference to the judgment of military commanders.” However, it remains unclear what Romney would do if the military’s top brass called for keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan past 2014. Obama has used Romney’s “past statements to argue that Romney’s commitment to Afghanistan could be open-ended,” says Raeston, which could be a problem for the 60 percent of voters who favor a speedy withdrawal from the country.

    5. China — Here, Romney and Obama have real differences. Romney has vowed to dub China a “currency manipulator” on his first day in office, a designation that would almost certainly spark a self-defeating trade war. Romney “wouldn’t be the first candidate to pummel China on the campaign trail and make nice in the White House,” says Keller. “But the stridency of [his] protectionist rhetoric…makes many of [his] supporters cringe.” Indeed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business lobbying group,opposes such a move. However, polls show that “Americans have turned increasingly negative toward China and its trade policies,” says Howard LaFranchi at The Christian Science Monitor, which means Romney may be on the right track, politically speaking. Obama’s challenge is to sound suitably tough on China without alienating one of the U.S.’s largest trading partners.

    6. Defense spending — Romney has claimed that the “U.S. military is in danger of becoming a ‘hollow force’ under Obama because of potential cuts,” say Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Margaret Talev at Bloomberg. Romney has proposed reversing a planned $1 trillion in Defense Department cuts and adding another $1 trillion in spending over the next 10 years, measures he argues are necessary to ensure American military superiority. Obama is also opposed to the cuts, but has shot down proposals to boost military spending after that, saying it’s simply unaffordable. The fight over defense spending is one of the few areas of the debate that will touch directly on domestic policy, with the candidates outlining their priorities when it comes to reducing the budget deficit.

    Oh, and don’t miss: The final presidential debate: A viewer’s guide

     


  9. Why aren’t Obama and Romney talking about Afghanistan?

    Forty-three Afghans were killed in a string of shootings and bombings across their country on Tuesday, in the deadliest day for civilians this year. Yet despite an increasingly heated presidential race, neither President Obama nor his GOP rival, Mitt Romney, is talking about the war effort, or the speed of withdrawal, on the campaign trail. Why the silence?

    1. Neither has a clue what to do there: There are plenty of reasons why Obama and Romney have “said so little about Afghanistan,” says Dexter Filkins at The New Yorker. “Their positions are virtually identical, the economy is more important, etc.” Moreover, the U.S. is scheduled to stop fighting there in 28 months, and every day it becomes clearer that the Afghan state is taking over “a failing, decrepit enterprise,” despite the 11 years, $400 billion, and 2,000 American lives we have lost there. Now, neither Obama nor Romney “knows what to do about the place.”
       
    2. There’s no political gain in it: Speaking up on Afghanistan “could easily cost Obama or Romney votes,” says Andrew J. Polsky at Oxford University Press. Obama’s campaign strategy calls for appealing to centrists while mobilizing a Democratic base that is “conspicuously unenthusiastic about the Afghanistan conflict.” The “political math” is pretty similar for Romney, and his base, except for some diehard conservatives, has no more “taste for the war” than anybody else.
       
    3. Afghanistan just isn’t as important as it (briefly) was: Everyone would be talking about Afghanistan if it “were truly a vital strategic interest, says Stephen M. Walt at Foreign Policy. But it’s not. “It’s a land-locked and impoverished country thousands of miles from our shores,” and the only reason we went there at all was because some “misguided crackpots” hiding out there “got very lucky in staging a dramatic attack on U.S. soil.” Now that they’ve all been “scattered and/or killed,” Afghanistan has gone back to being “the strategic backwater it has always been.” If the election’s winner is smart, he won’t think about Afghanistan any more than Carter and Reagan did about Vietnam.
     

  10. More from the Bad Opinion Generator

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  11. Taliban insurgents launched coordinated assaults on several Afghan cities on Sunday, including the capital, Kabul, where high profile targets such as the NATO headquarters and the British and German embassies are located.

    We have done what we came for. Osama bin Laden is as dead as Lord Kitchener; the al Qaeda network, at least in Afghanistan, is in a shambles. We do not have the power to enforce a stable government on a country that so manifestly resists the notion, especially when it comes from foreigners. What in hell are we doing over there anymore?

    — Charles P. Pierce at Esquire

    4 lessons from the Taliban’s spring offensive

     

  12. Sneak peek at the cover of the new issue: The face of war

     

  13. Robert Bales served in Iraq three times for a total of 37 months between 2003 and 2010, and deployed for Afghanistan in December 2011, beginning his fourth tour of duty. His commanding officers and fellow soldiers in Iraq describe him as a steady, unflappable, exemplary soldier. "He’s one of the best guys I ever worked with," Army Capt. Chris Alexander tells the AP"He is not some psychopath. He’s an outstanding soldier." According to an Army statement, Bales had been cited several times for superior performance on tough missions, earning six Army Commendation Medals, three Good Conduct Medals, and two Meritorious Unit commendations. 

    What we know so far about Robert Bales, the alleged murderer of 16 unarmed Afghan villagers