Freedom House has released its annual Freedom in the World Report. Freedom in the World 2009 is a thoroughly depressing document, with only one region - Southeast Asia - making significant gains. An image of the corresponding "Map of Freedom" can be seen here.
The COIN debates are heating up again. Colonel H. R. McMaster has an interesting essay in World Affairs comparing the American experience in Vietnam with her current overseas adventures that I recommend reading. Here is an excerpt:
"Thus, one possible answer to questions that historians continue to ask about Vietnam, and now ask about Iraq: How and why did America go to war in these places, and what best explains the subsequent course of these wars? ...That body of evidence indicated that the answers to these two questions were connected; the unique way in which the United States went to war in Vietnam had a profound influence on the conduct of the war and on its outcome. In Iraq, too, the way the United States went to war influenced everything that followed. A fixation on American technological superiority and an associated neglect of the human, psychological, and political dimensions of war doomed one effort and very nearly the other."
Continuing on in that theme, an amazing introductory essay on American efforts in Afghanistan was published in Foreign Policy earlier this month. Written by John Nagl and Nathaniel Flick, it discusses what is and was is not working in Afghanistan. Followed by an interview with CENTCOM commander David H. Petraeus, this is a must read for those interested in American security.
Gian Gentle and Andrew Exum get into a big argument over the utility of COIN operations here. Yes, reading the whole 70+ comments will make you smarter.
Let me take a moment to call to attention the situation in the Congo-Things here truly make me sick. For those in the North Kivu, my prayers are with you.