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Even in its current state of radioactivity, the Bush Administration does manage to command the loyalty of some solid, even outstanding figures. The best of them is Zalmay Khalilzad, who has served on the National Security Council, in Afghanistan, Iraq and now as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. I am tempted to say that to the extent anything good happened in Iraq or Afghanistan, Khalilzad is probably the reason why. He got his education at Chicago and he has run for a long time with the Neocon pack. And that in my mind makes Khalilzad’s success as a political analyst and as a diplomat all the more remarkable. He seems to be the exception that proves the rule: the card-carrying Neoconservative who is effective, conscientious and dedicated. Moreover, while so many Neocons feign scholarship and expertise, Khalilzad is indubitably the genuine article.
Today, Khalilzad gets a suitably warm portrait in the pages of the New York Times, in an article by Warren Hoge. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but here’s a passage that the instinctively modest Khalilzad probably wishes hadn’t been printed, but nevertheless shows him well:
One by one, the ambassadors at an unusually jolly diplomatic dinner last month rose to pay tribute to the new American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad. He was a needed “breath of fresh air,” said one. Another described bonding with him on a Security Council trip the way a child might talk up a new friend at summer camp. A third said that while no one expected disagreements with American policy to end, he liked the “sensitive” way that policy was now presented.
His turn to respond, Mr. Khalilzad stood and said, “I have discovered from your comments that the best thing I have done was to choose my predecessor.”
But indeed, most Americans would have had the same thing to say about John Bolton.
And one other trait of Khalilzad’s that endears him to me: his love for the great poet and son of Afghanistan, Mawl?n? Jal?l-ad-D?n Muhammad R?m?. I’m with him on that, most decidedly. Here’s one of my recent Rumi-nations.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Chances that an American knows the position of his or her senators on health-care reform:
Climate experts proposed creating a fleet of cloud-seeding yachts that will pump water vapor into the atmosphere to thicken global cloud cover, thereby reflecting more sunlight, in order to counteract the effects of global warming.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighbor’s home.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."