The second op-ed I want to bring to your attention is by Steve Coll. Mr. Coll won a Pulitzer Prize for his book: Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Mr. Coll's piece appeared in the New Yorker and is entitled: "What is Plan B in Afghanistan?" A quote from the article to interest you:
"What is Plan B? If some or even a majority of the assumptions behind the current exit strategy are flawed, what are the alternatives? I don't have a confident-sounding five-point plan, I'm afraid; a place to begin would be to withdraw from overweening confidence about the current plan's analysis. Unfortunately, in the state of exhaustion around the Afghan problem, the choice is typically framed as ‘stay the course’ or ‘get out faster.’ That is not actually the choice. There are many others."
You can find the piece at: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/03/plan-b-in-afghanistan.html
Third, a piece by David Ignatius in the Washington Post caught my attention. We have a member of AFA -- Chuck DeCaro (who has lectured both at National Defense University and at our AFA events) – who has, for the time since I have known him, postulated that Al Qaeda's strategic objective is not just to kill Westerners, or drive the US out of Saudi Arabia, or end Israel's existence, or bring forth the 5th caliphate. Yes, they want to do all of that, but Chuck believes they want to unify the Umma – the world body of Muslims – in order to facilitate their grander schemes.
He graphically portrays how they are using military operations to support information operations – and not the other way around (as we do it); that their objective is the video that shows how powerful they are over their enemies; that they use the videos for recruitment and to stir fervor in support of their objectives in the Muslim world; and that if the video is the objective, then they must have TV/video experts serving and advising their leadership.
The piece from Mr. Ignatius supports Chuck's observations. You can find the op-ed at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/al-qaedas-attempts-to-control-the-media/2012/03/20/gIQAbu0EQS_story.html
Finally, Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal tries to shed light on the Iranian nuclear debate. Mr. Stephens interviewed former Secretary of the Air Force Tom Reed – himself a nuclear scientist and nuclear weapons designer, as well as an author – about the technical challenges Iran might have to face in building a weapon. A quote to interest you in the piece:
"To better understand the debate over the state of Iran's nuclear bomb building capabilities, it helps to talk to someone who has built a nuclear bomb. Tom Reed served as Secretary of the Air Force and head of the National Reconnaissance Office in the 1970s, but in an earlier life he designed thermonuclear devices at Lawrence Livermore and watched two of them detonate off Christmas Island in 1962.How hard is it, I asked Mr. Reed when he visited the Journal last week, to build a crude nuclear weapon on the model of the bomb that leveled Hiroshima? ‘Anyone can build it,’ he said flatly, provided they have about 141 lbs. of uranium enriched to an 80% grade. After that, he says, it's not especially hard to master the technologies of weaponization, provided you're not doing something fancy like implosion or miniaturization."
You can find the piece at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304636404577291331867079346.html?KEYWORDS=the+bogus+iran+intelligence+debate
If you are so inclined, let me hear from you about these pieces. To those of you who have not responded, I am truly on the other end of this note – there are no screeners – and I generally will respond to you if you hit the reply button.
For your consideration.
Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association
"The only thing more expensive than a first-rate Air Force is … a second-rate Air Force." -- Senate staff member