Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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May 19th, 2011

Summary: Pakistan has witnessed a jump in violence since al-Qaida and its Pakistan Taliban allies threatened to avenge the May 2, 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, including a twin suicide bombing in Shabqadar that killed more than 80 people, most of them paramilitary recruits, and an attempted bombing of two U.S. consular vehicles in Peshawar. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on May 19, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported that Taliban insurgents launched a brazen pre-dawn attack on Bagram air base north of Kabul, one day after the deadliest day of the year for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, with seven Americans dead.

Sep 4th, 2010

Summary: The death toll from a Pakistani Taliban suicide attack on a Shiite Muslim procession rose to 65 as critically wounded people died in hospitals, while a suspected U.S. missile strike killed seven insurgents. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on September 4, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that the Associated Press’ publication of a photo of dying Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard had prompted controversy, with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and John Bernard, father of Lance Cpl. Bernard, weighing in.

Jun 17th, 2010

Summary: The complex nature of the June 13, 2010 attack on Iraq’s central bank suggests al-Qaida in Iraq’s new leadership could be taking cues from the Taliban’s success with similar operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on June 17, 2009 Aubrey Immelman featured biographical profiles of candidates and other major players in Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential vote.

May 8th, 2010

Summary: Pakistan is investigating whether Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American arrested over a botched plot to bomb New York’s Times Square, met top Pakistani Taliban leaders in South Waziristan. If confirmed, it would be the group’s first involvement in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on May 8, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that Iraq’s security forces, despite significant improvements, remained hobbled by shortages of men and equipment, bureaucracy, corruption, political interference, and security breaches that have resulted in the deaths of dozens of Iraqi and American troops.

May 7th, 2010

Summary: Alleged links between Faisal Shahzad’s Times Square bombing attempt and the Taliban are adding to perceptions of Pakistan as a global exporter of terror and increasing pressure on its military to crack down on extremists along the Afghanistan border. The Pakistani Taliban — Tehrik-e-Taliban — was hellbent on revenge inside America after a U.S. Predator drone attack killed its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, in August 2009 and the more recent strikes that nearly killed Baitullah’s successor, Hakimullah Mehsud, in January 2010. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on May 7, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that a spate of bombings in Iraq raised concern that militants were regrouping after suffering sharp setbacks in fighting during the previous two years, 2007-2008.

Mar 20th, 2010

Summary: President Barack Obama’s foreign policy appears to be working in one area vital to U.S. national security: Pakistan. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on March 20, 2009, Aubrey Immelman examined what might have happened if companies deemed “too big to fail” had been allowed to do just that.

Jan 17th, 2010

Summary: Despite Pakistani protest, the Obama administration is ramping up its missile campaign against insurgent targets in North Waziristan along Pakistan’s northwest frontier with Afghanistan, where al-Qaida’s top leadership, possibly including Osama bin Laden himself, have taken refuge. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on January 17, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that by actually putting into practice the Neo-Conservative theories of pre-emptive war and unilateralism, George W. Bush demonstrated their failure more persuasively than could the most articulate critic.

Dec 5th, 2009

Summary: Similarities between George W. Bush’s troop surge in Iraq and Barack Obama’s surge plan for Afghanistan belie the fact that there are few commonalities between the two war theaters. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on December 5, 2008, Aubrey Immelman reported that the number of terrorist attacks against police in northwestern Pakistan’s tribal regions bordering Afghanistan had increased from 113 in 2005 to 1,820 in 2007, and that police are outgunned, out-financed, and fighting a losing battle against Taliban insurgents.

Nov 8th, 2009

Summary: A suicide bomber blew himself up in a market in northwest Pakistan, killing 12 people, including a mayor who had turned against the Taliban; two U.S. pilots have been killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq; Iraq’s parliament has passed a long-delayed law, setting the stage for nationwide elections in January 2010. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on November 8, 2008, Aubrey Immelman reported that Iraqi officials, who saw President-elect Obama’s views on the timing of a U.S. withdrawal as consonant with their own, appeared to be leveraging his election to pressure the Bush administration to make last-minute concessions in negotiations to reach a status-of-forces agreement with the United States; that Iraqi and U.S. officials were concerned about a surge in “sticky bombs”; and that Afghan president Hamid Karzai urged U.S. president-elect Barack Obama to stop the killing of civilians in coalition operations, which he said undermines popular support for the Afghan government and the international mission.

Nov 2nd, 2009

Summary: Of the 364 Iraqis killed in October, 155 died in two nearly simultaneous bombs targeting government buildings on Oct. 25, 2009 in downtown Baghdad — the worst attack in more than two years. … More Taliban bombings in retaliation as Pakistan continues its offensive in South Waziristan, a tribal region adjoining Afghanistan, where al-Qaida terrorists are believed to have hideouts. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on the 15th day of his write-in campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, Aubrey Immelman, in his capacity as research director of the Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics, published two articles in the St. Cloud Times in which he provides an analysis of his primary concerns regarding the personality-based limitations of prospective Obama and McCain presidencies.