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How to Lose a Counterinsurgency: Part I

PART I: Kill Civilians

The Senate Armed Services Committee is apparently very concerned about our rules of engagement in Afghanistan. Before they confirm General David Petraeus to the Afghanistan command, they want to make sure that he will loosen up those rules of engagement to allow more airstrikes and more artillery strikes. He has made soothing voices to the effect that he will be sure not to hold back the heavy firepower too strictly.

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In Praise of Professor V.

Flavia and The Fretful Porpentine have recently led some terrific discussion threads about how often students describe female professors as "intimidating" when those professors are behaving pretty much the way their male colleagues do.

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McChrystal's Failures

If you tune out the upcoming storm of spin, distraction and hype, what just happened is very simple: a general whose strategy has failed has tried to tie the Commander-in-Chief's hands by running to the press. McChrystal's goal was to create a political situation inside the Beltway in which the President would face problematic amounts of criticism if he changed either the unsuccessful strategy or the unsuccessful commander.

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Libertarian Wonderland Is Not So Great

It is a truth universally acknowledged that lower taxes and smaller government lead to economic growth, while higher taxes and bigger government hold the economy back. And like many truths that are universally acknowledged, it is frequently contradicted by easily observable facts and that makes no difference. Economics especially seems to be full of these ironclad universal rules that only hold true some of the time, in elegantly controlled micro-economic examples.

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Nikki Haley Is Being Railroaded

Let me start with this: I don't want Nikki Haley to be Governor of South Carolina. No way. No how. I don't especially want her to win her primary, and I would actively root for her defeat in the general election. But the way Haley is being treated is dead wrong.

I don't want Haley to become Governor because I think her ideas are mistaken and misguided. I don't think modern conservatism leads to good policies. So, I hope she loses. But the question of whether or not she's perfectly faithful to her husband has nothing to do with what kind of leader she would be.

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On Shakespeare Probation

The Boston Globe has a story about juvenile offenders in Western Massachusetts being sentenced to act Shakespeare as an alternative to jail or community service. Lenox's Shakespeare & Company troupe, a Berkshires institution, has a special program just for these wayward youth. It's written as a feel-good story, live theater and immortal poetry as a roundabout path to rehabilitation. But I'll admit I had two instant and inappropriate responses.

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How Long Would the Gulf Oil Spill Power the USA?

The amount of oil spilling into the Gulf Coast boggles the mind. And looking at one offshore well destroying such a huge swath of fragile ecologies, it's easy to think, "Man, there's more oil down there than I thought. I see what those 'drill, baby, drill types' were talking about."

But here's my question: how much oil is that compared to America's energy needs? If all of that oil had gone into refineries instead of into the Gulf and our wetlands, how long would it keep our cars and lights and internet servers going?

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Biography

Doctor Cleveland is a transparent pseudonym for Shakespeare scholar Jim Marino, who blogs about politics, education, literature, and the arts. His personal obsessions include live theater, Red Sox baseball, and powerful black coffee. He teaches college, somewhere along America's glorious North Coast. He has also been known to write about Shakespeare and early modern theater.

While he blogs about the general academic life, he does not discuss his current institution, its students, or its employees on the blog. Nor does he use any university resources to blog. Opinions expressed on the blog are not those of his employer, and do not reflect the content of his classes.

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