Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

May 3: Police Reform

There is renewed vigor behind the years-long effort to enact some fundamental reforms of the police and policing. That’ll be the subject for this coming week’s discussion.

Since I inundated you with links last week, I’ll keep it simple this week. There are lots of articles, so pick your own!

April 26: Afghanistan Withdrawal

President Biden’s announcement of an unconditional Sept. 11, 2021 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan seems to have met no substantial resistance. However, there has been much commentary on the unknown side-effects of the withdrawal and, on the partisan front, comparison of the media’s coverage of Biden’s announcement as compared to Trump’s announcement of a conditional May 1, 2021 withdrawal.

Among the topics about which I think we can have a fruitful discussion are:

  • To what degree should the US support the “official” Afghan government to the extent the Taliban keep fighting and don’t come to the table in the constructive way we might hope for?
  • What does it mean for our presence/visibility into that area of the world?
  • How many “troops” will remain to defend US embassy and diplomatic interests?

I commend Sunday’s Fareed Zakaria: GPS episode to you—the first half hour is an interview with Ashraf Ghani, the second half is interviews with ex-DNI’s McMaster and Donilon. Here’s a link to the CNN site with the videos (readily available at least before Sunday’s new GPS episode).

There have been a few news articles and lots of Op-Ed pieces on the subject(s) around Afghanistan. Here’s a selection— or is it a “dump?” (Fortunately, as op-eds, they’re relatively short and easy reads.)


NYT (April 13): Biden to announce full withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by Sept. 11

WaPo/AP (April 17): On foreign policy decisions, Biden faces drag of pragmatism

WaPo (April 18): With Afghanistan decision, Biden restores foreign policymaking process that Trump had largely abandoned


WaPo (Olsen, April 14): Biden made the tough, correct call on Afghanistan

WaPo (Zakaria, April 15): Biden is right. It’s time to end the forever war in Afghanistan.

NYT (Dowd, April 17): Biden Ditches the Generals, Finally

WaPo (Bowman, April 17): America’s mission in Afghanistan isn’t accomplished

NYT (Friedman, April 18): What Joe Biden and I Saw After the U.S. Invaded Afghanistan

WaPo (Boot, April 19): President Biden should have followed Vice President Biden’s advice on Afghanistan

WaPo (Gerson, April 19): Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is a terrible risk

WaPo (Caruso, April 19): We may be leaving Afghanistan, but we shouldn’t forget our allies

NYT (Stephens, April 19): Abandoning Afghanistan Is a Historic Mistake

NYT (Forotan, April 21): I Met a Taliban Leader and Lost Hope for My Country

For Monday: Assimilation

There’s been a lot of news about immigration over the last decade and, especially, over the last few years. On Monday, we’ll discuss what happens after immigrants arrive. We’ll also discuss some of the blending of our regional differences over time.

  • Should assimilation be encouraged, should distinct cultures, languages, beliefs be encouraged, or should we let the process unfold without any particular encouragement?
    • Who is “we” in this context? Government? Individuals? Social/ethnic/cultural groups?
  • In what ways is increased assimilation good for our nation and society? What adverse effects have been observed or are of future concern?
  • How important are common values to the effective operation of our government and society?

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