Mike's already raised the prospect of a looming battle between Obama and the generals over Afghanistan. But here's a potentially interesting wrinkle, from Dante Chinni who runs the Christian Science Monitor's Patchwork Nation project: On Sept. 1, retired Army Col.


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For the past several months Afghan president Hamid Karzai has been lashing out at NATO forces, complaining bitterly that civilian casualities were the result of Western indifference to Afghan lives and arguing (probably correctly, though unhelpfully) that such "collateral damage" was abetting the terrorists. But in his Kabul press conference yesterday, Karzai sang a different tune when asked about one of the biggest air strike foul-ups of the war: Striking a magnanimous tone, Karzai said he would welcome Abdullah or any of his other challengers into a new government.


The Stockholm Syndrome

When Zvi Mazel was summoned to the Swedish Foreign Ministry back in January 2004, he knew he was in trouble. As Israel’s top diplomat in Stockholm, the 64-year-old had just done something markedly undiplomatic--not exactly rare for Israeli envoys. No, he hadn’t remarked upon the “yellow skin and slanted eyes” of Asians. No, he hadn’t taken part in a child-pornography ring.


  No, my intention is not to embarrass our brave men and women fighting in Afghanistan and in armed flight over Afghanistan. Or even to question them. They are battling against enemies of civilization and of civilized life. And they richly merit our moral support. Yes, the U.S. air force, responding to endangered German ground troops under standing and perfectly reasonable NATO procedures, brought death to literally dozens of Afghanis. Estimates range from 50 to 90. Now, the issue is whether these dead were Taliban or civilians.



With the Iraq war spinning out of control in mid-2005, retired Marine General James L. Jones spoke with his old friend Peter Pace, the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Jones, who is now Barack Obama's national security advisor, had been sounded out for the Joint Chiefs job but demurred. One reason: He felt that civilian leaders in Washington were warping the military planning process. "Military advice is being influenced on a political level," Jones warned Pace, according to Bob Woodward's book State of Denial. Jones's warning squared with other reports at the time that U.S.


Atrocious Normalcy

  In 1943, the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, who was living in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, wrote “Campo dei Fiori,” his great poem about the coexistence of normality and atrocity. The Campo dei Fiori is the plaza in Rome where, in the year 1600, the heretical philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned alive by the Catholic Church; “before the flames had died,” Milosz writes, “the taverns were full again.” The same willed blindness could be noted in Warsaw, the poem declares.


An e-mail to Margo from a girlfriend in Chicago, identity kept secret:  I am just looking at the schedule for my beloved dog’s rehab services. He goes twice a week for the next 8 weeks. He gets laser therapy, water resistance work, massage therapy, adequin injections and perhaps stem cell replacement. He goes to the equivalent of my rehab. It is for all the wealthy dogs in the neighborhood. Should he decide that he would like to stay for longer during the day we can rent a cabana! And I’m worried about health care costs.  

Via the WSJ: "I don't think there's a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan in the country or in the Congress," Ms. Pelosi told reporters. Meawhile Carl Levin is adopting a "stand them up so we can stand down" position. And things are sounding awfully reminiscent of the Iraq war circa 2004-2005. Meanwhile, I am told John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings on Afghanistan next week to consider a range of different options for U.S. military policy there.

He's tall, trim, with shaved head, a confident demeanor, wearing a dark turtleneck, kind 'a funny and Yale Law School. Cool. Co-o-o-l. Or maybe even wow! He's Van Jones, and he resigned on Saturday as what the White House called its "czar" for the environment. There are actually many czars at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in this administration, and I wonder why the historical resonance of the word doesn't just give the Obama crowd the creeps. Unless, of course, they want to govern like czars ... and czarinas. To be sure, Mr.