By Kenneth T. Walsh – President Donald Trump’s decision to give the Pentagon the authority to make policy in Afghanistan is one of his most important, far-reaching and dangerous choices as commander in chief so far.
In the near term, it will almost certainly mean an escalation of the conflict with the addition of thousands of U.S. troops to the war zone. The fighting in Afghanistan has already lasted for 16 years and is America’s longest sustained war, extending over the tenure of three presidents of both major parties – George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Only the U.S. commitment to Vietnam came close to this mark, and it was a very polarizing, detested venture and ended in a defeat that Americans want to avoid repeating.
Over the long term, it means more U.S. entanglements in a region that few Americans understand, that U.S. policy makers often misjudge, and that has been the graveyard for potential occupiers and conquerors such as Alexander the Great, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. more> https://goo.gl/pmjecw
By Stuart N. Brotman – The growing restrictions on internet freedom around the world are easy to document; less so any visible American strategy that would reverse the ominous trends at hand.
According to its most recent annual report in this area, Freedom on the Net 2016, two-thirds of the world’s internet users live under government censorship. Internet freedom around the world declined in 2016 for the sixth consecutive year.
The types of blocked content include political communication aimed at promoting democratic values, such as online petitions and calls for public protests. Even satire can be punished severely: a 22-year old in Egypt was imprisoned for three years after photo-shopping Mickey Mouse ears on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Unfortunately, this type of criminal penalty is hardly unique.
Overall, Freedom House deemed only 17 surveyed countries to have real internet freedom; 28 were partly free and 20 were characterized as not free. The leading bad state actors should not be surprising: China, Syria, Iran, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan and Cuba (North Korea was not included in the survey, alas).
The U.S. would be hurt if the marketplace of ideas and the online commercial marketplace that thrive here are diminished overseas.
However, there has been radio silence to date about this issue from the White House and the Department of State. more> https://goo.gl/msTcLz
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Tagged Digital privacy, First Amendment Rights, Government, Internet freedom, Repression, Surveillance state