Foreign Policy

Scenes from a Withdrawal

Originally appeared at

What will happen to Iraqi reconstruction when all the marines are gone?

Last week I listened to Maj. Ashley Burch, a Marine civil affairs officer in Ramadi, explain a raft of ambitious reconstruction aimed to smother the town of Karmah — a persistent center of insurgent activity — in American largess. I was duly impressed. Then, as I walked out of the office, I glanced at a wall map of eastern Anbar province. A bright stripe of yellow Post-its ran across the 104 km highway that connects Ramadi to Baghdad, each with the words “No-Go Zone” written across the top and a date, with the more recent dates closer to Baghdad.

Atlantic Monthly

Leaving Iraq

Over at The Atlantic, I wrote a cycle about returning to Iraq in the run-up to the US withdrawal from Iraqi cities.


The Mayan Protocol (cartoon version)

Some time ago I wrote a brief in favor of allowing death-row inmates to donate their organs. It appeared in GOOD magazine, which has since made an animated version.

Chris Weller and Max Joseph produced this short, which by necessity cut out parts of the text. Some of those parts are important, so please check out the original article as a companion piece.

Atlantic Monthly

Holding Pattern Kuwait

Not my favorite place in the world, but my new blog at The Atlantic, Prepared for the Worst, starts here.


Lessons Learned

The Walrus, November 2009

The Afghan called Teacher is deep in Taliban country, crouching halfway up a mountainside at dawn, listening for the approach of a US Army Kiowa attack helicopter. Teacher has huddled with his AK-47, pressed against a rock and keeping lookout, many times before. But he has never done so while eating cheese tortellini and trail mix.