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Candide’s Latest: Thursday, September 7, 2006
Where's the Cavalry in Afghanistan?

NATO goes Soviet in Afghanistan: “NATO's top commander, General James L. Jones, on Thursday called for allied nations to send reinforcements to southern Afghanistan, saying the coming weeks could be decisive in the fight against the Taliban,” the Toronto Globe and Mail reports. “Gen. Jones acknowledged that NATO had been surprised by the “level of intensity” of Taliban attacks since the alliance moved into the southern region in July and by the fact that the insurgents were prepared to stand and fight rather than deploy their usual hit-and-run tactics.” Didn’t we just hear those very same words spoken by Israel, about Hezbollah in south Lebanon? And how is the Taliban to be defeated when Pakistan, an alleged NATO ally in this fight, signs a peace deal with Taliban sympathizers? “The deal is widely viewed as a face-saving retreat for the Pakistani Army,” says the New York Times, “which has taken a heavy battering at the hands of the mountain tribesmen and militants, who are allied with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. But the government may have in effect ceded the militants a sanctuary in the area, called North Waziristan.”

Beheading journalism in the Sudan: “The beheading of a Sudanese editor who had angered some Islamists might mark the start of a gruesome new trend,” South Africa’s Mail & Guardian writes. “Mohamed Taha whose decapitated body was found dumped on a dirt road on Wednesday had drawn protests from Islamic groups last year by reprinting a series of articles questioning the roots of the Prophet Mohammed. […]Last year Taha was tried and his paper closed for three months for blasphemy, but sources said he was under close protection by the government during his time in prison. Some of Khartoum's Islamic groups protested angrily at his trial by shouting threatening slogans. Taha himself was an Islamist, but colleagues said he had "strange views", which often angered the mainly Sunni Muslim population.”

9/11 Five Years on and the Catastrophic mistakes of the Bush presidency: From the Economist's lead editorial: "Whatever else it may become, Iraq has so far been an own-goal in the battle for hearts and minds—and not just Muslim minds. The West rallied behind America five years ago. Now it is split: poll after poll shows deep distrust among America's traditional allies, distrust that makes co-operation on everything from nuclear proliferation to trade far harder. Some of this can be put down to the usual anti-Americanism, and the European politicians who have pandered to it. But Mr Bush has played, unerringly, straight into anti-Americans' hands. One vast mistake has been his neglect of Mr Blair's advice to push seriously for the creation of a Palestinian state, instead of just saying that this was his “vision”. But worse has been his administration's wanton disregard for civil liberties. Some curtailing of freedoms was inevitable. Yet Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, the torture memos and extraordinary rendition have not just been unAmerican and morally wrong but also hugely counter-productive. In a battle that is largely about ideas, America seems to many to have abandoned the moral high ground and so won more recruits for the jihadists." See the full editorial...

Pat Holt, a former chief of staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, restates what’s been said a few thousand times to no avail: the Bush presidency is a paradox of pursuing abroad what it’s destroying at home—democracy, civil liberties, freedom from government.

In Other Worlds

The ever-disingenuous David Brooks says income inequality is a myth.

Global warming strips down: “Outraged scientists stormed out of a government-sponsored climate change conference dinner in Canberra last night, after female entertainers stripped down to their underwear as part of a burlesque show,” The Age reports. “And one of the performers, who was covered in balloons, walked around the venue inviting scientists to burst parts of her costume.

Troy Patterson on Couric doing CBS: “The longer version of the [Thomas] Friedman interview posted at CBS's Web site is impressively substantive; C-SPAN wouldn't be ashamed of it. The consumer who merely tuned in at cocktail hour, however, watched something edited down to an expert pantomime of a Serious Discussion. When Couric asked if we Americans were safer now than we were five years ago, Friedman replied, "In some ways, yes. In some ways, no." He let the details of these ways remain mysterious but did volunteer that America needs to start "exporting hope and not fear." When Katie then bounced Tom a follow-up ("Well, how do we do that?"), he said something so handsomely vague that it just had to be meaningful. Thus was the viewer able to achieve the feeling of having gained a deeper understanding of current events without taxing a single synapse."

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