While not being an outright example of a clash of civilizations in the Huntingtonian sense, elements of cultural misunderstanding and fears about the system-challenging tendencies of Iran do aﬀect Western perceptions and inﬂuence Western behavior toward Iran. Furthermore, these kinds of reciprocal identity-based fears and projections of the other side’s presumed malevolent intentions tend to be mutually reinforcing. The risk is that they eventually become self-fulﬁlling prophecies.Iran and the West - Regional Interests and Global Controversies [PDF]. [more inside]
Pakistan in Peril. "The relative calm in Iraq in recent months, combined with the drama of the US elections, has managed to distract attention from the catastrophe that is rapidly overwhelming Western interests in the part of the world that always should have been the focus of America's response to September 11: the al-Qaeda and Taliban heartlands on either side of the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan." [Via]
From Great Game to Grand Bargain. "The crisis in Afghanistan and Pakistan is beyond the point where more troops will help. U.S. strategy must be to seek compromise with insurgents while addressing regional rivalries and insecurities." A new piece in Foreign Affairs by Barnett R. Rubin and Ahmed Rashid. [Via]
Right at the Edge. "The Taliban and Al Qaeda have established a haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Afghan border. This is where the war on terror wil be fought – and possibly lost."
The man who knew too much. "He was the CIA's expert on Pakistan's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court."
Chomsky on MSNBC talks about recent events! That would be news all by itself. I know that a lot of people on the right disagree with him, but who can argue with what he says here? Also from left field an incisive Q&A about Afghanistan history and the current situation by Tariq Ali.