July has been the deadliest month so far for American forces in Afghanistan, with 55 killed already this month.  Despite the trend toward Americanization of the conflict, however, today's crash of a RAF Tornado fighter brought the month's toll to 19 British troops killed.  Given the extreme controversy over the war in the UK, that may be far more politically significant.

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The Obama administration has invested a great deal (one can argue too much) of its national security capital in the war on Afghanistan, and the chief instrument for realizing that investment has been the application of counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine to the situation. This application, in turn, is based on putting into action the Army and Marine Corps’ Counterinsurgency Field Manual (Army FM-3-24 and Marine Warfighting Publication No.3-33.5). That document was first distributed in 2006 and published with various introductory add-ons by the University of Chicago Press in 2007. The document is most closely associated with Central Comman (CENTCOM) commander General David Petraeus, who supervised its writing while at Ft. Leavenworth and who has overall responsibility for the Afghanistan operation. The application of COIN to Afghanistan, moreover, is widely advertised as an extension of the so-called “surge” in Iraq.

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We have recently celebrated the anniversaries of the American and French Revolutions, both violent civil uprisings that changed the course of their nation's history.  A similar storm seems to be brewing – this time in Iran.

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After Gazprom signed a deal with Azerbaijan for 500 million cubic meters of gas, the Nabucco bunch got together in Ankara and agreed on a legal basis for the 3300 kilometer long pipeline which will connect the European market to the Caspian gas.

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Fiercely independent Iceland is ready to make its bid to join the European Union in the wake of the global financial crisis that has devastated the island nation's economy more than most. Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir deemed it "probably the most historic vote in the history of our parliament."  The Althingi is the world's oldest legislative body.

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America's current educational system, which emphasizes uniformity, conformity, and memorization is stifling the creation of the next generation of strategic thinkers. 

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The United States has among the lowest top income tax rates in the developed world.  And also the highest rates of compliance in paying taxes.  One suspects these facts are related.

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While the United States had often followed an unofficial grand strategy (e.g., containment during the Cold War), Congress required the president to formalize one since 1986.  While President Obama has yet to do so, we have a pretty good idea what his foreign policy vision will be.

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For those hoping for a dramatic unveiling of the Obama administration's new foreign policy agenda, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first major address last week was a bit of a disappointment.

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Countering Al Qaeda's ability to launch attacks against Europe and the United States from ungoverned tribal areas is the primary aim of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and aid to Pakistan.  However, Al Qaeda's aim may be shifting.

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