Archive: Election 2008

Tying Obama's Hands?

On Jan. 20, 2009, a small and little-known group will go through the motions of the most sensitive part of presidential transition, transferring the nuclear "go" codes from President Bush to his successor. It is a process so secret that...

By William M. Arkin | May 20, 2008; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (6)

To the National Security Professionals, It Doesn't Really Matter Who Wins

I attended a Washington conference last week on "Civil-Military Relations in a Post-9/11 World," sponsored by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and the U.S. Army War College's Center for Strategic Leadership. Like many conferences I've attended...

By William M. Arkin | May 19, 2008; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (9)

War with Iran? That Will Be for the Next President

There was a moment in April 1990, when Saddam Hussein was appearing on the covers of all of the news magazines, threatening to "burn" half of Israel and brandishing new chemical and biological weapons, when we should have known that...

By William M. Arkin | May 1, 2008; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (62)

John McCain's Nightmare in Iraq

Last week's hearing on Iraq may have showcased three presidential candidates but one showed himself completely out of touch with the American people: John McCain. The retired Navy captain and Arizona senator may claim superior knowledge of Iraq, but his...

By William M. Arkin | April 15, 2008; 04:20 AM ET | Comments (49)

For the U.S. Military, Iraq is So Over

Gen. Petraeus's victory last week has no traction.

By William M. Arkin | April 14, 2008; 02:38 AM ET | Comments (28)

The Military Commands Bush

The decision to reduce the length of Army combat tours in Iraq is an internal matter of policy for the Pentagon. It doesn't require presidential approval. So why does the administration make such a show of President Bush announcing it?...

By William M. Arkin | April 10, 2008; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (93)

The Winner? Petraeus and the American Military

What can you say about a military commander who says that the surge has been successful and that Iraq is no longer on the brink of civil war, while also saying that the situation is "fragile and reversible"? You can...

By William M. Arkin | April 9, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (37)

On Iraq, Forging 'Stability' Is Everyone's Game

A complicated debate over Iraq gets even more complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 31, 2008; 08:20 AM ET | Comments (92)

In Iraq, Unanswered Prayers

Five years after the U.S. invasion, the situation in Iraq remains complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 18, 2008; 09:40 AM ET | Comments (68)

McCain's Iraq Dilemma

It's getting hard for John McCain to defend his position on Iraq.

By William M. Arkin | March 17, 2008; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (57)

Obama's Missile Defenses

His position is more complicated than it seems.

By William M. Arkin | March 11, 2008; 12:55 PM ET | Comments (54)

Bureaucratic Rotations Undermine the War Effort

Comings and goings in Iraq are complicated and unhealthy.

By William M. Arkin | March 7, 2008; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (21)

The Military and the Next President

The civilian-military relationship is complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 6, 2008; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (18)

Hillary Surges and Wins on the Surge

As a campaign issue, Iraq is complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 5, 2008; 08:25 AM ET | Comments (78)

It is McCain Who Is Naive on Iraq

Strategies for the war in Iraq are complicated.

By William M. Arkin | February 29, 2008; 08:50 AM ET | Comments (152)

On Iraq, McCain and Obama Have Impossible Dreams

But it almost doesn't matter what the candidates say. The military establishment has its own priorities.

By William M. Arkin | February 11, 2008; 08:36 AM ET | Comments (35)

Hollow Army, Hollow Patriotism

The Army is missing its recruiting goals and lowering its standards. That undermines prospects on the battlefield. It also raises questions about the country's willingness to support its troops.

By William M. Arkin | January 23, 2008; 08:42 AM ET | Comments (40)

Mike Huckabee's 'Bunker Mentality'

The phrase itself is problematic, but it masks an even larger problem for the Arkansas governor.

By William M. Arkin | January 7, 2008; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (33)

McCain: Right on National Security, Wrong on Terrorism

The Iowa victories of Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee, both foreign policy neophytes, could focus more attention on John McCain, the favorite of the national security establishment.

By William M. Arkin | January 4, 2008; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (72)

In Presidential Sweepstakes, McCain Sees Stars

Little noticed in Sen. John McCain's campaign resurgence is his total dominance in the race for endorsements by retired military officers.

By William M. Arkin | December 19, 2007; 07:41 AM ET | Comments (36)

Keep It Down

We are not going to war with Iran -- that is, if the presidential candidates can stop talking about it.

By William M. Arkin | November 2, 2007; 08:40 AM ET | Comments (33)

Congress and Iraq: A New Plan

What's the best way to make the transition to Iraq War II?

By William M. Arkin | November 1, 2007; 08:10 AM ET | Comments (58)

Enough About Iran's Nukes

The nuclearization of Iran is preeminent pseudo-issue of this presidential campaign -- and it's distracting from more pressing dangers.

By William M. Arkin | October 31, 2007; 08:41 AM ET | Comments (46)

The Hillary Doctrine

What Clinton has to say about the Iraq war, Iran, and terrorism -- surely the three most pressing questions for the next president -- is highly unsatisfying.

By William M. Arkin | October 16, 2007; 09:25 AM ET | Comments (47)

The War Over the Wonks

Who's advising whom -- so far at least -- on foreign policy and national security among the front-runner candidates for president.

By William M. Arkin | October 3, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (30)

My Wonk Is Better Than Your Wonk

The battle for and of policy advisors to the presidential campaigns has surprisingly little to do with ideas.

By William M. Arkin | September 20, 2007; 06:46 AM ET | Comments (29)

The Generals and the Candidates

A Who's Who List of which generals are supporting which presidential candidates (at least so far).

By William M. Arkin | August 31, 2007; 06:59 AM ET | Comments (62)

Keeping a Low Political Profile at the Pentagon

A Pentagon memo shows the contrast in political style from Donald Rumsfeld to Robert Gates.

By William M. Arkin | August 29, 2007; 08:23 AM ET | Comments (17)

The Man Who Won't Be (But Should Be) King

On foreign policy, Bill Richardson makes more sense than any of the other candidates. Too bad he doesn't have a prayer of becoming the next president.

By William M. Arkin | August 17, 2007; 08:14 AM ET | Comments (24)

Obama's Facts and Afghanistan's Casualties

Despite what the senator says, there's no evidence that air power is more deadly to civilians than ground forces.

By William M. Arkin | August 15, 2007; 06:53 AM ET | Comments (53)

Obama and Clinton Go Nuclear

Senators Clinton and Obama had another spat last week, this time over U.S. nuclear weapons policy. In her zeal to sound presidential, however, Clinton promoted the wrong option.

By William M. Arkin | August 13, 2007; 07:28 AM ET | Comments (36)

Pakistan's Nukes: Worry or Excuse?

How is it that the government of nuclear-armed, military-ruled, non-democratic Pakistan has acquired a bipartisan troupe of Washington apologists?

By William M. Arkin | August 8, 2007; 07:46 AM ET | Comments (52)

Romney, Obama and Fonda

Mitt Romney's criticism of Barack Obama's statement about terrorists in Pakistan begs the question of what exactly Romney would do in a similar situation.

By William M. Arkin | August 7, 2007; 07:50 AM ET | Comments (27)

Obama Attacks Pakistan; Pakistan Retaliates

This week saw the unusual spectacle of a foreign government criticizing a U.S. presidential candidate. The government is Pakistan and the candidate is Sen. Barack Obama -- and while such criticism is rare, Obama's remarks were pretty strange, too.

By William M. Arkin | August 3, 2007; 08:12 AM ET | Comments (105)

Pat Tillman and the Coming Witch Hunt on Iraq

Interrupting his retirement and in need of a haircut, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld showed up on Capitol Hill yesterday for the first time since leaving the Pentagon. He had been called to testify not about Iraq, Iran, Pakistan...

By William M. Arkin | August 2, 2007; 08:03 AM ET | Comments (47)

The Audacity (and Naivete) of Hope

To his credit, Sen. Barack Obama is not backing away from his pledge, made during Monday's debate, to meet with the bad guys. But while his supporters and advisers argue that he has been misunderstood, at least one of them...

By William M. Arkin | July 27, 2007; 08:20 AM ET | Comments (106)

Clinton 1, Obama 0

Hillary won. Beyond the political and entertainment value of the spat between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Clinton is right on the substance and Obama is wrong about the Iraq war....

By William M. Arkin | July 26, 2007; 08:35 AM ET | Comments (132)

Hillary Clinton and the Terrorists

Fred Hiatt's column in today's Post helps explain why Sen. Hillary Clinton will probably be the next president of the United States. If Hiatt is right -- and I think he is -- Sen. Clinton believes that "winning" in Iraq,...

By William M. Arkin | July 16, 2007; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (28)

New Pentagon Leadership, Same Iraq Strategy

Ask around the Pentagon, or the U.S. military in general, and the consensus seems to be that the United States is on its way out of Iraq. That's what's behind the recent changes in the military leadership, people say: The...

By William M. Arkin | June 15, 2007; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (39)

Nuking Iran: The Republican Agenda?

At the Republican debate last night, almost all the candidates said that they would not rule out a nuclear attack on Iran as a means to prevent it from getting its own nuclear weapons. Only one of these knuckleheads would...

By William M. Arkin | June 6, 2007; 06:48 AM ET | Comments (281)

A National Security Sea Change?

Let me clarify the sea change I identified yesterday in the op-ed by the two generals calling for an end to torture: Beyond the war in Iraq, there are an increasing number of voices, public and private, asking whether we...

By William M. Arkin | May 18, 2007; 08:03 AM ET | Comments (21)

Can American Values Improve American Security?

The extraordinary op-ed today in The Post by two retired Marine Corps four-star generals might signal a post-9/11 turning point for America. Might. As we pursue our foreign policy and our war against terrorism, Charles Krulak and Joseph Hoar write,...

By William M. Arkin | May 17, 2007; 08:22 AM ET | Comments (42)

Looking Beyond Iraq, and Bush

With presidential candidates now formulating the nitty-gritty of their national security policies and experts maneuvering to attach themselves to campaigns, it almost seems as if the Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls are actually pondering America after Iraq. But appearances can...

By William M. Arkin | May 11, 2007; 09:38 AM ET | Comments (57)

On Plan B, Look to Ronald Reagan

With everyone now committed to finding "common ground" in Iraq, it appears that the Democratic Party commitment to force an end to the war was just theater. Compromise now means benchmarks and Presidential certification after which the Congress can still...

By William M. Arkin | May 2, 2007; 08:43 AM ET | Comments (147)

Obama Bows to the American Military

Does America really need a larger military? If the United States got out of Iraq, and refocused its counter-terrorism efforts to stress non-military as well as military tools, bolstered its diplomacy, improved its alliances and pushed further burden-sharing, would it...

By William M. Arkin | April 26, 2007; 09:46 AM ET | Comments (46)

McCain on Iraq: So Much Integrity, So Wrong

The conventional political interpretation of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who will formally launch his Presidential bid today, is that he is so committed to winning the Iraq war, and thus so identified with President Bush, that he has no chance...

By William M. Arkin | April 25, 2007; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (52)

Is Giuliani Another World Trade Center Casualty?

Retired Gen. Tommy Franks, medal of whatever recipient and knucklehead U.S. commander four years ago in Iraq, continues to make a killing on the speaking circuit. The only threat to Franks' future is Rudy Giuliani, a 9/11 icon who has...

By William M. Arkin | April 10, 2007; 08:28 AM ET | Comments (1016)

President 9/11, Inc.

Republican front runner presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has a lot of supposed negatives to overcome. There are Giuliani's positions on social issues like abortion and gay rights and a complicated personal life, none of which appeals to the Republican faithful,...

By William M. Arkin | April 2, 2007; 08:45 AM ET | Comments (34)

Hagel vs. Obama: What a Dream

Since I've bored my friends and family with my prediction that ex-Army infantryman and anti-Iraq war Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) will be the next President of the United States, now I'll bore you. Nothing in the Senator's non-announcement yesterday...

By William M. Arkin | March 13, 2007; 08:03 AM ET | Comments (87)

What's Really Going on in Iraq

"I hope that since the president seems unwilling to listen to the results of the November election or to the new Democratic majority in Congress, that he would at least listen to someone who he has claimed has been his...

By William M. Arkin | February 22, 2007; 08:17 AM ET | Comments (60)

Pinning It All on Rumsfeld

If Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) thinks that the buck stops with Donald Rumsfeld, he is not qualified to be President. On the campaign trail, McCain labeled the former Secretary of Defense the worst in history Monday. Sure there is a...

By William M. Arkin | February 21, 2007; 08:28 AM ET | Comments (126)

The Foreign World of Barack Obama

To say that Barack Obama has no national security credentials is both an understatement and irrelevant. When it comes to national security, moreover, perhaps Obama's inexperience could even be turned into an asset. That is if the Senator from Illinois...

By William M. Arkin | January 18, 2007; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (51)

The Democrats' Martial Plan

A solid majority of voting Americans, according to both exit polls and the results, disapprove of the Iraq war and President Bush's job performance, mostly due to his handling of national security. The Democrats and the administration now need to...

By William M. Arkin | November 8, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (56)


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