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Spending too much, too fast in Afghanistan

In the wake of its initial military action in Afghanistan, and in spite of then-President George W. Bush’s prior opposition to “nation-building,” the U.S. embarked upon a large-scale effort to help reconstruct the war-torn nation. While there have been some successes, the Afghanistan reconstruction effort has been plagued by boondoggles and other forms of government waste, detailed in the most recent reports from a series of inspector general audits.

Why we fight

Acentury has passed since the start of World War I, which many people at the time declared was “the war to end all wars.” Unfortunately, wars just kept happening. And with the headlines from Ukraine getting scarier by the day, this seems like a good time to ask why.

U.S. needs to arm the Kurds in Iraq

When he reluctantly announced America’s military return to Iraq, President Obama led with what was clearly his strongest case. Tens of thousands of minority Yazidi refugees were trapped on Sinjar Mountain without food or water — and the surrounding forces of the Islamic State intended to wipe them out.

Europe in the doldrums

Remember how Europe defied all the doomsayers and staved off the collapse of its single currency and a wider political crack-up? Well, it is becoming increasingly clear that stop-gap measures enacted by the European Central Bank in 2012, with the support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, succeeded in buying time and not much else. It’s true the continent’s most heavily indebted governments — Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Ireland — can still fund themselves, thanks to implicit ECB backing. But none of them has managed to rekindle much growth, and even Germany’s economy went into reverse during the second quarter of 2014. Increasingly, the talk is of deflationary risks and long-term stagnation like that which has afflicted Japan for the last quarter-century.