from Expert Zone:

U.S.-Pakistan reset: Still need to deal with terrorist sanctuaries

By Lisa Curtis
March 22, 2012

(The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not represent those of Reuters)

from The Great Debate:

Obama’s first foreign policy blunder

By David Unger
March 20, 2012

This is an excerpt from The Emergency State: America's Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs, published recently by Penguin Press.

from Stories I’d like to see:

Examining the insanity defense, MSNBC’s weekend sleaze, and suing OPEC

By Steven Brill
March 20, 2012

1. The Afghan massacre and the insanity defense:

Beginning late last week we began to see the outlines of a possible defense for Robert Bales, the army sergeant who allegedly massacred 16 Afghan civilians earlier this month: insanity or diminished capacity. “When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues -- he just snapped,” a “senior American official” told the New York Times. So, it’s time for a general review of the tough-to-pull-off insanity or diminished capacity defenses, along with a focus on the even higher hurdles involved in using either in a court-martial. (An insanity defense is a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity; diminished capacity means the defendant does not contest guilt but seeks to be convicted of a lesser offense or get a more lenient sentence.) That story should also tell us how much Bales’s defense lawyer might be able to turn the case into a trial over increasingly controversial Pentagon policies related to multiple redeployments, the treatment of traumatic head injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. Good sidebars would tell us whether Afghanistan, whose Parliament is still demanding that Bales be tried in Afghan courts, even allows an insanity defense, and how open the trial is likely to be, including to cameras.

from David Rohde:

The way out of the Afghan abyss

By David Rohde
March 16, 2012

To a growing number of Americans, Afghanistan is a festering pit where the United States has no vital interests. To a growing number of Afghans, the United States is a self-absorbed and feckless power that is playing games in their country.

from Expert Zone:

Afghanistan: Negotiating while withdrawing is poor strategy

By Lisa Curtis
March 14, 2012

(The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not represent those of Reuters)

from Stories I’d like to see:

Afghan justice, Putin’s palace, and the Edwards trial

By Steven Brill
March 13, 2012

1. International, Afghan and American law surrounding the accused soldier-murderer:

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Culture wars: The burning of the Koran

February 24, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama has apologised for the inadvertent burning of copies of the Koran at a military base in Afghanistan and the top general in the country has ordered all coalition troops to undergo training in the proper handling of religious materials by March 3.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Peace by piece

February 16, 2012

Not since Vietnam has the United States sat down with an enemy it was fighting on the battlefield and negotiated an exit from war. That long-standing policy might end this year if a carefully choreographed diplomatic dance takes U.S. and Afghan officials to a negotiating table with the Taliban.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Combat ready?

February 2, 2012

The Obama administration is known to be methodical when it comes to its messaging. But Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's declaration that the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan might end next year seems to have caught people here and overseas by surprise.

from Expert Zone:

Gains seen for Taliban as post-ISAF era looms in Afghanistan

By S K Chatterji
January 25, 2012

(The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not represent those of Reuters)