The Great Debate

Ghost army: You, too, can command an Iraqi division for only $2 million

By Peter Van Buren
December 10, 2014

Members of Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters eat on their vehicle on the outskirts of Baiji

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi recently revealed that there are 50,000 “ghost soldiers” who haunt the payrolls of the Iraqi Army. Many see the phenomenon as a factor in the army’s defeat at the hands of the Islamic State, and as an example of how Prime Minister Abadi is trying to initiate reform.

It’s a weird war when Iran and the U.S. are bombing the same country

By Michael Williams
December 10, 2014

A Syrian Air Force fighter plane fires rockets during an air strike in the village of Tel Rafat

The McDonnell Douglas’ F4 Phantom was a workhorse of the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. It was retired from the USAF and the British Royal Air Force some 20 years ago. But the vintage fighter-bomber put in a surprise performance a few days ago over the skies of northern Iraq.

#BlackLivesMatter: How the world sees Eric Garner, Michael Brown cases

By Amana Fontanella-Khan
December 9, 2014

A police officer holds a shield outside the Berkeley Police Department headquarters in Berkeley

Across the world, people are learning different lessons from #BlackLivesMatter.

In some countries, developments in Ferguson and Staten Island are leading opinion makers to question the United States and what it stands for. Their judgment, in other words, is focused outwards. Elsewhere, the opposite is true, as some use this moment to raise uncomfortable questions about their own imperfect democracies.

To deter U.S. from torturing again, those involved should be prosecuted

By Kenneth Roth
December 9, 2014

Barbed wire fence surrounding a military area is pictured in the forest near Stare Kiejkuty village, close to Szczytn

The publication of the long-awaited summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s torture provides a useful moment to consider the lessons learned from this sorry chapter in American history and the steps that might be taken to avoid its recurrence. With the truth now told about this blatantly illegal policy, President Barack Obama has a chance to reverse his misguided refusal to prosecute the officials who authorized the torture, ending the impunity that sets a horrible precedent for future United States presidents and governments worldwide.

With Pearl Harbor attack 73 years in the past, Japan to vote on its future

By Joshua W. Walker
December 8, 2014

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Pearl Harbor is a powerful reminder of the importance of Japan. The surprise attack launched 73 years ago, Sunday (or Monday by Tokyo time) by Japanese forces changed the course of history, plunging America into World War Two and, eventually, sealing Japan’s imperial fate. From the ashes of the war these bitter enemies forged an unlikely alliance that has weathered many storms. Today it is more important than ever before.

from Hugo Dixon:

Can we live the good life without economic growth?

By Hugo Dixon
December 8, 2014

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Is the good life possible without economic growth?

Merely raising the question challenges the conventional contemporary wisdom that a society’s prime goal should be to boost its income continually. But it is one that the West, especially Western Europe, may have to confront. Europe is not just suffering the after-effects of a nasty cyclical downturn, it has probably entered an era of low growth.

The pope’s door is always open to ISIS. Why America’s should be, too.

By Jonathan Powell
December 8, 2014

Hamas fighter speaks on the phone as he sits inside the personal meeting hall of President Abbas after they captured his headquarters in Gaza

Pope Francis strayed into controversy recently when he said that, while he supported military action against Islamic State, he also would not rule out speaking to the group if it would help bring peace to Syria and Iraq. “It is difficult, one could say almost impossible, but the door is always open,” he said.

Sorry Sony, Kim Jong-un and North Korea don’t really do parody

By Paul French
December 8, 2014

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stands on the conning tower of a submarine during his inspection of the KPA Naval Unit 167

It seems Kim Jong-un doesn’t like the new Seth Rogan movie, The Interview. Not surprising really, it’s a comedy about a fictitious plot to assassinate him. Now Sony Pictures has been the subject of a massive cyber-attack disrupting the company’s communications system and leaking upcoming movies – no more rogue DPRK nukes to keep us awake at night, but rather illicit downloads of a new version of Annie!

Continuum of force: How police and public can have such different views

By Maria Haberfeld
December 5, 2014

Police in protective gear form a line as they respond to protesters on the West Side Highway in Manhattan in New York City as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of New York demanding justice for the death of Garner

When the Eric Garner video went viral, the public responded with two, unambivalent conclusions. The first was that the police officer used excessive force, and the second that excessive force is used too frequently.

Racism is also a reproductive rights issue

By Chloe Angyal
December 5, 2014

A female protester, demanding justice for Eric Garner, sports a face mask in Brooklyn, New York

Generally speaking, Americans understand reproductive rights as being about abortion, and sometimes, about birth control. In the mainstream understanding, reproductive rights are about the right to prevent or end unwanted pregnancy. But reproductive rights are about more than pregnancy. Reproductive justice is not just a matter of making sure that women only become mothers if and when and in the manner they choose – it’s also a matter of making sure that, when they choose to bring children into the world, they don’t bring them into a world that is disproportionately dangerous for those children.