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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 — 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.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Pairs of moose-dung earrings sold each year at Grizzly’s Gifts in Anchorage, Alaska:
An Alaskan brown bear was reported to have scratched its face with barnacled rocks, making it the first bear seen using tools since 1972, when a Svalbardian polar bear is alleged to have clubbed a seal in the head with a block of ice.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”