Kabul

No Place to Hide

When the Obama administration announced the results of its review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policies on Friday, reporters quizzing the review's authors seemed confused. They wondered whether the recommendations announced by the president amounted to an abandonment or endorsement of the kind of population-centric counter-insurgency strategy employed in Iraq in 2007. Were we embracing a more limited counter-terror mission?

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Obama vs. Osama

Has the president picked the right war?

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If Obama really wants to smite Al Qaeda, this is what he should do.

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Trading Places

Thirty years ago, the mayor of Chicago was unseated by a snowstorm. A blizzard in January of 1979 dumped some 20 inches on the ground, causing, among other problems, a curtailment of transit service. The few available trains coming downtown from the northwest side filled up with middle-class white riders near the far end of the line, leaving no room for poorer people trying to board on inner-city platforms. African Americans and Hispanics blamed this on Mayor Michael Bilandic, and he lost the Democratic primary to Jane Byrne a few weeks later. Today, this could never happen.

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Within a few minutes of Noman Benotman's arrival at the Kandahar guest house, Osama bin Laden came to welcome him. The journey from Kabul had been hard, 17 hours in a Toyota pickup truck bumping along what passed as the main highway to southern Afghanistan. It was the summer of 2000, and Benotman, then a leader of a group trying to overthrow the Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, had been invited by bin Laden to a conference of jihadists from around the Arab world, the first of its kind since Al Qaeda had moved to Afghanistan in 1996.

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In April 2005, when President Bush decided to transfer Zalmay Khalilzad from Afghanistan to Iraq, Afghan President Hamid Karzai complained. The Afghan-born Khalilzad had been serving as U.S. ambassador to his native country, and his relationship with Karzai--which dated back to the late 1990s, when both men advised the U.S. oil company Unocal on the construction of a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline--was strong.

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Bang Galore

Be careful what you wish for. That is the lesson of the Bush administration's newly unveiled deal to provide India with nuclear fuel and technology. For years, opponents of the White House's foreign policy have called for more diplomacy--for further inspections in Iraq, for direct talks with North Korea, for any talks whatsoever on Iran's nuclear program. Now it appears that, in eschewing negotiation, the Bush administration was doing the United States a favor. Because, when the Bushies negotiate, they're extremely dangerous. Let's start with the very purpose of the agreement. Although U.S.

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Afghanistan

In the current issue, I write about Afghanistan's shaky future as the country tries to overcome years of violence and a devastating dependence on opium trade. The books and testimony below help to illustrate a place whose history is fraught with tragedy--but where a cautious hope for a better life is beginning to take hold. Sarah Chayes, The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban (Penguin, 2006). As the Taliban fell in late 2001 Sarah Chayes was covering Afghanistan for NPR Subsequently she worked for an Afghan NGO doing reconstruction work.

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Early last spring, outside a guesthouse in Kabul where I was staying, an injured Afghan man limped up to the locked gate. He wore a blazer with suede elbow patches and leaned on crutches. Because a suicide bomber had attacked the building not long before, a guard blocked the entrance of the unannounced supplicant. The fact that the man refused to give his name didn't help his case.

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It took Dave Marash about four years as a Washington anchor to become disgusted with the pandering, the triviality, and the sensationalism of TV news. Marash was a paragon of seriousness, as his bearded chin and intense eyes announced to even casual viewers of WRC-TV, Washington's local NBC affiliate, and, by 1989, he was fed up.

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