In the Arena

Good News

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Well, maybe just some promising news: the team being assembled to tackle Afghanistan is quite impressive. A few days ago, it was announced that Vali Nasr, the brilliant Shi’ite scholar, would be a senior advisor to Richard Holbrooke’s negotiating team. Nasr’s book, The Shia Revival, is one of the indispensable works about the region and his presence on the team will mean a more sophisticated outreach toward Afghanistan’s neighbor to the west, Iran.

Today, it was announced that General Karl Eikenberry would be the next U.S. Ambassador to Kabul. Eikenberry has always been one of the new breed of Army officers: as much a diplomat, and a scholar, as he is a soldier. He was prescient about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan when he was U.S. commander there in 2006 and 2007. He has the ground-up knowledge of the country that will enable him to nudge (or push) the Karzai government toward responsibility; he also knows all about the disgraceful humanitarian relief situation, especially the spectacularly awful performance of the United Nations.

Afghanistan is still a near-impossible situation, but it’s good to know that the people dealing with it are among the best we can send there.