George Packer in The New Yorker on understanding Robert Bales The many facts of accused Staff Sergeant Robert Bales's history, troubles, and deployments should not matter to those of us who wonder what led him to allegedly murder 16 Afghan civilians. "Pundits and commenters of all stripes find that the Panjwai episode proves what they were saying all along. How satisfying. No: shame is the only response the rest of us are allowed," Packer writes. The shame, he says, stems in part from the distance America's civilians have kept from the wars we've conducted for 10 years. The military seems to embrace this state of affairs, in part because it allows them to deal with war crimes internally. The war, and Bales's actions raise many serious questions, ones Packer hopes we answer in the coming years. "But to be honest, what I expect in the next few years is the willful amnesia that always comes with the end of unsuccessful wars. We will have a lot to forget, starting with Robert Bales."
Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg View on Israel's Iran strategy "A widely held assumption about a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is that it would spur Iranian citizens -- many of whom appear to despise their rulers -- to rally around the regime. But Netanyahu, I’m told, believes a successful raid could unclothe the emperor, emboldening Iran’s citizens to overthrow the regime," writes Goldberg. He reports from Israel that Netanyahu is likely not bluffing, and is in fact coming closer to ordering a raid on Iran's nuclear program. He describes war games that show why this might drag the U.S. into war but describes the alternative thinking that has Iran keeping an attack quiet to help ensure their regime's security. "The Israeli political leadership increasingly believes that an attack on Iran will not be the disaster many American officials, and some ex-Israeli security officials, fear it will be," he sums up.
Dana Milbank in The Washington Post on the Supreme Court's odd debate This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether a woman who used her deceased husband's sperm to conceive twins could then use her husband's social security survivor benefits. "The Constitution is silent on the question of posthumous conception, in large part because people back then did not sire children after death ... mostly the case shows the struggle of an 18th-century legal system to keep up with 21st-century technology." Milbank reports the profound but occasionally absurd legal questions each of the justices posed. They were wading into territory that the 1939 social security law couldn't have possibly foreseen. The case, Milbank says, and the confusion around it, have parallels in other reproductive debates where new technologies like morning after pills complicate our legal understandings.