Boston Review

Pakistan: Poetry Fights Back

The Taliban’s opponents in Pakistan-Afghanistan border region are fighting back using the arts that religious fundamentalists seek to destroy—poems adapted to traditional Pashto music.

Nir Rosen responds to critics

In his piece, "Something from Nothing: U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan," Rosen argues that counterinsurgency doesn't make sense. It asks soldiers, concerned primarily with survival, to be Wyatt Earp and Mother Theresa. This forum, unveiled over several days, showcases critical reviews of the piece and Rosen's response. Among the six participating critics are Helena Cobban, asserting that Rosen's analysis neglects to account for U.S. domestic politics, and Andrew Exum, arguing that the Central Asian conflict likely marks the end of an era of counterinsurgency as a form of warfare.

Something from Nothing: US Strategy in Afghanistan

On July 4, 2009 Team Prowler, American soldiers from the Illinois National Guard, set off to patrol Highway 601, a key road in Afghanistan's Helmand province. All trade entering the province passed through 601. It was the land supply route for British, American, and Afghan forces, and the "skuff" hall in the British-run base was getting low on food. The Taliban controlled villages along the road. "Nothing out there but the Taliban," one soldier said. Civilian vehicles avoided 601 because of the roadside bombs, called IEDs.

An Ugly Peace: What has changed in Iraq

In December 2008 I flew Royal Jordanian from Amman to Iraq's southern city of Basra. Because of the Muslim holiday of Eid, embassies were closed; a contact in the British military promised to obtain visas for me and a colleague upon arrival. The Iraqi customs officials were offended that we did not follow procedure, but a letter from the British commander got us in. It might not have been necessary: when the five Iraqi policemen who examined luggage at the exit saw my colleague's copy of Patrick Cockburn's excellent book on the Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr, they turned giddy.