Tonight I have Afghanistan on my mind: the next quagmire in the "war on terror." I'm not yet sure if we'll be nearly extricated from Iraq within two years, but I am pretty sure we will be all caught up in Afghanistan, and that it will not be pleasant. Basically, we are stuck with following around after the colonial hashes Britain and France made in the Middle East and western Asia, where old dysfunctions render current politics deadly and incomprehensible.
Rudyard Kipling knew of the dangers that awaited soldiers far from home, fighting on the plains of Afghanistan.
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
When I contemplate the complexity that faces the world and this country's efforts to better it - or at least do its people no further harm, I find this photo, of Secretary of State Clinton's swearing in, on January 21, 2007 both comforting and inspiring.The photo also provides a good way to introduce people to "DipNote", the U.S. Department of State Blog, on which it was posted.
There too I found this quotation from Secretary Clinton, addressing USAID: "And I wanted to come here today with a very simple message: I believe in development, and I believe with all my heart that it truly is an equal partner, along with defense and diplomacy, in the furtherance of America’s national security." Finally, here you can read Secretary Clinton's introduction of Richard Holbrooke as Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and George Mitchell's introduction as Special Envoy for Middle East Peace.
Reading these remarks and beginning to acquaint myself with Hillary Rodham Clinton in her new role reminds me again of her ability to convey strength and confidence without arrogance, in the way she discusses this country's place in the world; the role of diplomacy and development in partnership with defense; and yes, the relationship between her department and the President and Vice-President. Secretary of Clinton has recruited two amazing diplomats to tackle two of the most troubled hotspots in the world; she has already begun bridging the fiefs that make up the entire U.S. foreign policy apparatus.
I believe I can go to sleep tonight with some greater confidence that we will be leaving fewer dead on Afghanistan's plains because Secretary of State Clinton will be working hard for that less brutal outcome.