The Misleading Optics of Progress in Afghanistan

The counterinsurgency in Afghanistan is something like the elephant that was described differently by blind men touching different parts of the animal. Descriptions of the entire enterprise vary considerably, depending on what part of the effort whoever is offering the description has come to know directly.

Who's Scared of Paul Ryan?

To hear the howls of indignation about House Republican Paul Ryan's plan to cut the deficit, you would think he was proposing big budget cuts for the elderly. Oh, right, he is proposing that. Ryan's plan, if it deserves that name, is really a machete aimed at favorite Democratic entitlement programs, coupled with some tax cuts. Neither Democrats nor Republican presidential candidates want to go near it. You don't win elections by antagonizing one of the few segments that turns up at the polls.

China Benefits as U.S. Continuously Shoots Itself in the Foot

Members of China’s political elite who are eager for the Middle Kingdom to displace the United States as the world’s leading power probably can’t believe their good fortune. America has so many natural advantages that such a displacement would normally take several generations, if it occurred at all. Yet clumsy, counterproductive U.S. policies may be shortening that time frame dramatically.