Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

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Nov 17th, 2010

Summary: NATO may keep fighting in Afghanistan past its 2014 target date for shifting authority to Afghan forces, according to Mark Sedwill, the alliance’s top civilian in the country. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on November 17, 2009, Aubrey Immelman provided his weekly report of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Nov 13th, 2010

Summary: An independent 25-member task force led by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and former national security adviser Samuel Berger is cautioning President Barack Obama about the high cost of the Afghanistan war and suggests the United States should downsize its ambitions and reduce its military presence in Afghanistan if Obama’s December 2010 Afghanistan policy review finds the current strategy is not working. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on November 13, 2009, Aubrey Immelman reported that morale had fallen among soldiers in Afghanistan, while those in Iraq showed much improved mental health amid lower violence. There were 133 reported active-duty Army suicides from January 2009 through October 2009, compared with 115 for the same period in 2008.

Oct 8th, 2009

Summary: There are indications Afghanistan could become the theater for a proxy war between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. … One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on the 29th 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, republished an Oct. 8, 2002 open letter by Michael Livingston outlining why the invasion of Iraq would be a mistake on both rational and moral grounds.

May 7th, 2009

Summary: A spate of bombings in Iraq raises concern that militants are regrouping after suffering sharp setbacks in fighting during the previous two years, 2007-2008.

Mar 22nd, 2009

Summary: According to NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, there have been five different wars in Iraq, with the sixth war under way — America’s exit strategy. The first five war phases were Shock and Awe (March-April 2003), Nation-Building (2003-2004), Insurgency (2004-2005), Civil War (2006-2007), and The Surge (2007-2008).

Mar 7th, 2009

Summary: With the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq in sight, the cost of leaving is now measured in financial, logistical, and — above all — political terms. The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. … March 2009 update of key facts, figures, and statistics on Iraq since the war began in March 2003. … The Pentagon reports that up to 18 deaths of soldiers in February 2008 may have been suicides.

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.