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Max Boot (LA Times) — Imagine President Franklin Roosevelt announcing at the end of 1944, after the liberation of France but before the final defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, that World War II was over and that U.S. forces were ending combat operations. Instead we would support our allies, from Britain to China, in their fight against the Axis powers.
Hard to imagine, but that's roughly what happened Sunday when the International Security Assistance Command held a ceremony in Kabul to mark the “end” of the war in Afghanistan.
“The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” President Obama trumpeted in a statement from Hawaii, where he is vacationing.
Brian Michael Jenkins (The Hill) — Earlier this month, an American special operations team attempted to rescue Luke Somers, an American photojournalist held hostage by al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen since September 2013.
The attempt failed and both Somers and Pierre Korki, a South African hostage held with him, were killed before the rescuers could reach them.
A number of commentators described the rescue attempt as “botched,” a word that means it was badly or carelessly planned or executed. In part, this characterization may reflect the understandable dismay and anger of Korki's family and those negotiating on his behalf, who thought a ransom deal for his release had been reached. It also may reflect a persistent inclination in some circles to label Americans as both bellicose and blundering.
Melissa Hersh (Defense One) — Both civilian and military public health experts understand how to contain highly transmissible infectious diseases, such as SARS, avian influenza, the MERS Coronavirus, and other pandemic-prone diseases.
These diseases are threats to global security that could lead to outbreaks with significant costs including massive loss of life, a weakened work force, geopolitical instability, and economic disruption and losses.
But given the relative successes in responding to these diseases, it has been surprising and disappointing that collective international actions against Ebola have thus far proven largely unsuccessful.
Bobby Ghosh (Quartz) — A great deal is being made of the fact that the Gulf Arab states with the most to fear from ISIL are loath to contribute their militaries to president Barack Obama’s global coalition against the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. Although the Gulf countries are nominally members of the coalition, they have pledged only to provide military “assistance,” rather than aircraft to strike against ISIL targets, much less troops to fight the terrorists.
But, how useful would Gulf Arab contributions be? In purely military terms, not very.
For the most part, the Gulf states use their military to protect the ruling elite and menace civilians who dare challenge their authority. Their utility against a lethal force like ISIL is, at best, questionable.
Yadullah Hussain (Financial Post) — Saudi Arabia might end up doing more in the growing multilateral campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) than its muted response so far has suggested: Using its oil-market power to drive down the price of oil, which the insurgent group relies on to fund its Islamist rebellion.
“What could Arab countries offer the West to help contain this threat? Lower oil prices,” wrote Francisco Blanch, commodity and derivative strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in a note published this week.
ISIS, which has been overwhelming conventional forces, as well as rival rebel groups, in a spreading occupation over large swathes of Syria and Iraq, is estimated to earn US$3-million a day from oil sales. The group has already seized the largest oil field in Syria, now controlling 60% of the oil production in that country, and captured seven oil fields in Iraq. Most of the oil is sold at discounts to world prices to Turkey, who then resells it throughout Europe.