The Great Debate

The cracks in Islamic State’s business plan are starting to show

By Ora Szekely
February 20, 2015
File photo of displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walking towards the Syrian border

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk toward the Syrian border, Aug 11, 2014. REUTERS/Rodi Said/Files

Iraqis may fear Shi’ite militias more than Islamic State

By Mohamad Bazzi
February 19, 2015
A fighter from the Shi'ite Kata'ib Imam Ali (Imam Ali Brigades) militia runs as they search a house after taking control of a village from Islamist State militants, on the outskirts of Dhuluiya

A fighter from the Shi’ite Imam Ali Brigades militia runs after taking control of a village from Islamist State militants, on the outskirts of Dhuluiya, north of Baghdad, Dec. 29, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

‘American Sniper’: The war we wished for just might win the Oscar

By Allen Steinberg
February 19, 2015
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Bradley Cooper playing Chris Kyle in ‘American Sniper.’ REUTERS/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Time to end the authorization for endless war

By Steve Vladeck
February 11, 2015
U.S. President Obama thanks members of  the U.S. military for their service after meetings with military senior leadership for an update on the campaign to combat Islamic State at the Pentagon in Washington

President Barack Obama thanks members of the U.S. military for their service after meeting with military senior leadership to hear an update on the campaign to combat Islamic State at the Pentagon in Washington, October 8, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Life is harsh under Islamic State. But what’s the alternative?

By Aki Peritz
February 9, 2015
Man walks down a street filled with abandoned vehicles and debris from damaged buildings in the northern Syrian town of Kobani

A man walks down a street in the northern Syrian town of Kobani, January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

One group battling Islamic State has a secret weapon – female fighters

By Benedetta Argentieri
February 3, 2015
Female fighters of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) stand at attention at a military camp in Ras a-Ain January 30, 2015. Picture taken January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Female fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) stand at attention at a military camp in Ras a-Ain January 30, 2015. Picture taken January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Don’t believe the U.S. military when it says it doesn’t keep body counts

By David Axe
January 22, 2015
Residents inspect damaged buildings in what activists say was a U.S. strike, in Kfredrian

Residents inspect damaged buildings in what activists say was a U.S. strike, in Kfredrian, Idlib province September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Abdalghne Karoof

Where has this Obama been hiding? Six takes on the State of the Union

By Allison Silver
January 21, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Prediction: Obama will decide to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016

December 22, 2014

U.S. Marines prepare to board a plane at the end of operations for U.S. Marines and British combat troops in Helmand

In 2015, I predict that President Barack Obama will rethink his plan to have all operational U.S. combat forces out of Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

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.