Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Apr 16th, 2011

Summary: Afghanistan’s fighting season will begin in full force by the end of April — and with it, a chance to measure the success of NATO’s efforts to turn back the Taliban. The extent to which the Taliban return to the fight will also help determine whether the surge of more than 30,000 additional U.S. troops that President Obama announced in December 2009 succeeded in arresting the insurgency. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on April 16, 2010, Aubrey Immelman reported a New York Times/CBS News poll that found the 18 percent of Americans who identified themselves as Tea Party supporters were wealthier and more well-educated than the general public and tended to be Republican, white, male, and married.

Jan 6th, 2011

Summary: The United States is sending 1,400 more Marines to Afghanistan in an effort to hold on to fragile security gains in the nearly decade-long war. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on January 6, 2010, Aubrey Immelman provided his weekly report of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Dec 17th, 2009

Summary: The latest Associated Press-GfK poll shows President Barack Obama’s marks for handling the 8-year-old Afghanistan war have jumped by double digits — 52 percent now approve — since he capped a three-month strategy review by announcing a big troop increase. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on December 17, 2008, Aubrey Immelman reported that the speaker of Iraq’s parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, announced his resignation after a parliamentary session descended into chaos as lawmakers argued about whether to free a journalist who had thrown his shoes at President George W. Bush; that Vice President Dick Cheney, in an interview with ABC News, attempted to justify the decision to invade Iraq; that a double-bombing targeting traffic police in Baghdad killed at least 18 people and wounded 52; and that Iraq’s Minister of Science and Technology escaped injury in a car bomb explosion that appeared to be an assassination attempt.

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.

Oct 7th, 2009

Summary: News and analysis on the 8th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to topple the Taliban government, destroy al-Qaida, and kill or capture Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on the 28th day after losing his 2008 primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, Aubrey Immelman, in line with his focus on national security, examined the differences between presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain with respect to handling the war in Iraq.

Jun 8th, 2009

Summary: Some 10,000 Marines have poured into Afghanistan, comprising the first wave of 21,000 additional troops President Barack Obama ordered to Afghanistan in 2009 to help defeat an increasingly violent Taliban insurgency.

Summary: Calling the situation in the region “increasingly perilous,” President Barack Obama ordered 4,000 more military troops into Afghanistan, vowing to “disrupt, dismantle, and defeat” the terrorist al-Qaida network in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

Mar 19th, 2009

Summary: Six years after the U.S. invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003 — March 19 in the United States — the end of America’s costly mission is in sight, but the future of Iraq is much less clear.

Dec 10th, 2008

Summary: Thomas Fingar, Bush administration deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, suggests the Iraq war was as much the failure of policymakers as the product of the flawed intelligence on which they relied. … Decision-making on Iraq was marred by a strong sense of time pressure, a tendency among decision makers to seek concurrence on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, and a directive leadership style in the White House — all of which are causes of groupthink. … According to the Gayle Report, the Department of Defense knew before the Iraq war started in 2003 of the threats of mines and roadside bombs in Iraq but did nothing to acquire Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles ahead of the invasion — a level of overconfidence symptomatic of groupthink.