Kabul

A Fighting Faith
December 13, 2004

On January 4, 1947, 130 men and women met at Washington's Willard Hotel to save American liberalism. A few months earlier, in articles in The New Republic and elsewhere, the columnists Joseph and Stewart Alsop had warned that "the liberal movement is now engaged in sowing the seeds of its own destruction." Liberals, they argued, "consistently avoided the great political reality of the present: the Soviet challenge to the West." Unless that changed, "In the spasm of terror which will seize this country ...

Best Intentions
June 28, 2004

THE DICTATORS IN the Arab-Muslim world, and those in Europe who tolerate them, can now rest easier. The Syrian dictator will not be chased into a "spider hole." And the Iranian theocracy will not be sacked by soldiers from West Virginia and Indiana and Vermont. The Iranians will have to secure their own liberty; we know better than to provide it to strangers sure to second- guess the morning after. Yes, America is embattled in Iraq. But its leaders took up the sword against Arab-Muslim troubles and dared to think that tyranny was not fated and inevitable for the Arabs.

Angels and Beards
January 26, 2004

Tony Kushner's new play, Caroline, or Change is a formal anomaly. It has been hailed as a breakthrough musical created by a confident professional collaborative—vigorous score by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie), lively choreography by Hope Clarke (Spunk), and dynamic staging by George C. Wolfe (Jelly's Last Jam).

Bosom Buddies
January 26, 2004

This month, the Afghan leaders gathered in Kabul for a loya jirga, or grand council, agreed on a new, progressive constitution for this war-torn country. Unfortunately, Afghan officials say, the new constitution will not guarantee security. In fact, in recent months violence has risen sharply across Afghanistan, much of it instigated by Islamist Taliban remnants who despise President Hamid Karzai's vision of a liberal state.

The Radical
December 01, 2003

In early 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to President George W. Bush from the heart. The war in Afghanistan had been an astonishing display of U.S. strength. Instead of the bloody quagmire many predicted, CIA paramilitary agents, Special Forces, and U.S. air power had teamed with Northern Alliance guerrillas to run the Taliban and Al Qaeda out of their strongholds.

They the People
March 03, 2003

A few days after the September 11 attacks, I received a note from a former student in Tehran. "[Y]ou won't believe it," she wrote, "but the whole country is in mourning. You should have been here for the demonstrations and candlelight vigils for America, it's all true: the tears, the long-stemmed roses, the candles, ... and then of course the hoodlums attacked and started beating us, especially the young kids, and arresting them. ... The funny thing about it is that those bastards felt betrayed by the love we showed `the imperialist Zionist enemy.' ...

Drop Zone
September 09, 2002

At 10:15 a.m. on April 17, President George W. Bush demonstrated just how much his foreign policy outlook has matured since September 11. Honoring the winners of the Virginia Military Institute's (VMI) George C. Marshall ROTC Award, Bush summoned the spirit of the architect of U.S. postwar nation- building to signal his newfound appreciation for such tasks. Where during the campaign Bush had dismissed nation-building as glorified social work, at VMI he outlined an expansive vision of America's continuing commitment to post-Taliban Afghanistan.

Hiding Place
July 08, 2002

"YOUR LIFE IS OVER. IT'S TIME TO SEE YOU BURIED IN YOUR GRAVE." This was the warm welcome painted a few days ago on the home of a man who had run in the provincial elections to choose delegates for this month's loya jirga. He had dared to run against Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf, a long-bearded, Saudi-backed fundamentalist and leader of the mujahedin who have been waging war to establish an Islamic state in Afghanistan for decades. The man lost. Sayyaf is an Islamic scholar, renowned for his eloquent oratory in Arabic and Persian.

Kabul Dispatch: Prep School
December 17, 2001

1. "The Mujahedin laid 260 anti-tank mines for Russian tanks. Out of that 180 mines exploded. Now find out how many mines are remaining."    2. "15 Mujahedin attacked 100 Communists from one side. 17 Mujahedin attacked from the other side. Out of 100 Communists, 14 were arrested and 72 were killed. Find out: a) how many Mujahedin were involved in the attack and b) how many infidels fled."    3. "Karim is a Mujahed. He had 5 magazines of AK bullets. Each magazine has 30 bullets. He fired 3 at the infidels and killed 50 infidels.

Playing Games
November 05, 2001

YESTERDAY, IN A field encircled by willow trees and surrounded by close to a thousand men of all ages, a dozen whip-wielding horsemen cantered around and into each other, grabbing after the carcass of a headless goat. A burly man in knee-high sheepskin boots, baggy woolen trousers, and a thick, black wool cardigan that barely stretched over his shoulders, hunched over the headless sack of goat he'd hitched between his horse's belly and his stirrup and managed to gallop to the edge of the playground, around a flag post, and back into center field to bulldoze his wild, dusty white horse through

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