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Gen. David Petraeus

As President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama make their way east, having cemented the “essential relationship” between Whitehall and the White House during their glamorous visit to London, a former diplomat is doing his best to expose the fissures between the two countries’ policies in Afghanistan. Read more»

Richard Holbrooke on a visit to Afghanistan in 2009.

It's been a week of bleak assessments of the war in Afghanistan. The late Richard Holbrooke, the Red Cross and the White House share a dim view of the war. Read more»

Holbrooke in Afghanistan, 2009

President Barack Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, who died Monday, held deep doubts about the war he was publicly defending — thoughts he is reported to have expressed on his death bed. Read more»


The United States has lost a great public servant, writes John Podesta: Amb. Richard Holbrooke was a brilliant man who could have chosen any path for his life. But he decided to devote his immense skills to public service—a service that was dedicated to the objective of extending to those less fortunate than ourselves the great gift of peace enjoyed by Americans. Read more»

A crew works on a road in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, in August.

Counterinsurgency theory bumps up against some hard realities in Afghanistan: "All the contractors for development projects pay the Taliban for protection and use of the roads, so American and coalition dollars help finance the Taliban." Read more»

President Obama holds a working dinner with, clockwise from left, President Hosni Mubarek of Egypt, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, George Mitchell, Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, and Tony Blair, the international Middle east envoy and former British Prime Minsiter, at the White House, Sept. 1.

Shortly after taking office, President Obama named a host of special envoys to regions, organizations and trouble spots around the world. As tenuous Middle East peace talks begin in Washington, and as the situation in Afghanistan plummets from bad to worse, now is a good time to ask: Are these special envoys doing much good? Read more»

Gen. Stanley McChrystal

A day after Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation, the profound challenges the U.S. and its allies face remain and some are brought more sharply into relief by the surprising turn of events, particularly the deep divisions within the administration of President Obama. Read more»

Afghan National Police receiving small arms training, March 2.

America has spent more than $6 billion since 2002 in an effort to create an effective Afghan police force, buying weapons, building police academies, and hiring defense contractors to train the recruits—but the program has been a disaster. Read more»