Get out of Afghanistan

LOS ANGELES — For years, since I moved there to cover Watergate, I have wanted to write a column about how Washington really works — a checklist of sorts. But I never got around to it. The closest I ever got was quoting the late San Francisco humor writer Arthur Hoppe. Writing from 3,000 miles away, he said, if I remember correctly: Washington is 67 square miles, about as high as the Washington Monument, and surrounded on all sides by reality. Last week, Joe Scarborough, former Florida congressman, talking head on MSNBC, and now guest columnist for Politico.com, did a…

There Are No Easy Choices in Libya

LOS ANGELES — Adam Zyglis, the editorial cartoonist of The Buffalo News, did a portrait of President Obama sitting on an oil drum in the classic chin-on-hand pose of Auguste Rodin's "The Thinker." Behind him, war raged in the Middle East and "Freedom" was under a tank and rubble. Zyglis' caption was "The Overthinker." Well, although Obama may be a touch too thoughtful to be a president in the decisive mold of a Harry Truman, he does have a lot to think about. I count at least 11 options in Libya, all of them risky….

Dr. Strangelove Redux

And now a quote that could come from Dr. Strangelove: "A lot of people fear artificial intelligence. I will stand my artificial intelligence against your human any day of the week and tell you that my A.I. will pay more attention to the rules of engagement and create fewer ethical lapses than a human force." That is from John Arquilla, executive director of the Information Operations Center at the Naval Postgraduate School. "Dr. Arquilla," reports The New York Times, "argues that weapons systems controlled by software will not act out of anger and malice and, in certain cases, can already…

The Cowardice of America at War

Photo credit storqmplusI had to pull over to the side of La Cienega Boulevard last Tuesday evening as I drove home from work. I was crying. It was nothing, or it was the same old thing. I was listening to the news on National Public Radio when there was another story about another death in Afghanistan. Pfc. Andrew Meari, age 21. A village called Senjaray. An Afghan on a moped pulled up next to an American truck and blew himself up, killing Meari and another guy. The Americans, my countrymen, were there, near Kandahar, working to win the trust and…