Earlier today Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the top military commander of the Taliban, was captured in a joint CIA-Pakistani operation outside Islamabad. While this is a major breakthrough for the American presence in southwest Asia, this still poses a troubling question: how many top-ranking Taliban military commanders are there? You'd think we'd captured 30 or 40 of them by now. Who would want a job with that much turnover? It's like on "24" when Jack Bauer et al. spend eight episodes hunting down one villain, and initially there's little to no evidence that he's in cahoots with anyone else, yet this bad guy turns out to be the scapegoat for an even larger conspiracy.
Baradar's capture is a signifigant success for President Palmer --er, I mean Obama-- whose ramping up of American troops in the region was met with apathy and trepidation by the usually hawkish GOP. Former Vice President Cheney just keeps attacking and nitpicking Obama's foreign policy, when in fact he might be exposing a repressed inter-party squabble over George W. Bush's war tactics. As Peter Beinart suggests, the biggest war liberal since JFK has been even more aggressive about fighting terrorism overseas than his two predecessors ever were. Where Obama's domestic policy has lost steam, his war chest is slowly finding its footing. Even so, at times it feels like the War on Terror is one big Whack-a-Mole machine, but Baradar's capture is a sign of progress; I don't know if this will get us any closer to hunting down Osama bin Laden, though I'd like to hear whatever intel that Baradar offers.
+ Apparently, a Saudi prince now has a minority share in the Fox News Channel. This lady's article has been sprouting up all over the internet, whining about a growing "Arabic influence" in the mainstream news media. Can't anyone stop to savor the irony of all this?
+ I didn't realize this until late Saturday night, but apparently Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day, Mardi Gras, and Ash Wednesday all land on consecutive days this year. Has that ever happened before?
+ I end this week's missive on a positive note: I got published again! My article on one-armed St. Louis Browns outfielder Pete Gray will be in the Spring 2010 issue of Nostalgia Digest. This is my fourth article for the magazine, following essays on Fleer Trading Cards, the 1947 Chicago Cardinals, and the man that attempted to steal the Stanley Cup. To pre-order your copy, just follow this link.
Next Week: the year in music, 1995.