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Laura Bush’s Legacy

The Bush family have recorded a Story Corps interview about George W. Bush’s presidential legacy, and what they’re most proud of. This is what Mrs. Bush had to say

Well, it’s certainly been very rewarding to look at Afghanistan and both know that the president and the United States military liberated women there; that women and girls can be in school now; that women can walk outside their doors without a male escort.

I worry about Afghanistan, but I will always have a special place in my heart for the women that I’ve met there, both on my visits to Afghanistan and then the many women from Afghanistan who’ve traveled to the United States on scholarships or with the Afghan American Women’s Council, or with a lot of other ways that American citizens have opened their homes to women in Afghanistan so they can be educated quickly, because they missed their education when they were children or young women, because they weren’t allowed to learn anything.

Well, then. I would have been more charitable, but since Mrs. Bush has chosen this as her legacy, allow me to introduce you to Mrs. Bush’s legacy

image4631715g.jpgAfghan police have arrested 10 Taliban militants involved in an acid attack against 15 girls and teachers walking to school in southern Afghanistan, a provincial governor said Tuesday. "Several" of the arrested militants have confessed to taking part in the attack earlier this month, said Kandahar Gov. Rahmatullah Raufi. He declined to say exactly how many confessed.

High-ranking Taliban fighters paid the militants a total of $2,000 to carry out the attack, Raufi said. The attackers came from Pakistan but were Afghan nationals, said Doud Doud, an Interior Ministry official.

The attackers squirted acid from water bottles onto three groups of students and teachers walking to school in Kandahar city on Nov. 12. Several girls suffered burns to the face and were hospitalized. One teenager couldn’t open her eyes days after the attack, which sparked condemnation from around the world…

Kandahar province’s schools serve 110,000 students at 232 schools, Raufi said. But only 10 of the 232 are for girls. Some 26,000 girls go to school, he said.

Arsonists have repeatedly attacked girls’ schools and gunmen killed two students walking outside a girls’ school in central Logar province last year. UNICEF says there were 236 school-related attacks in Afghanistan in 2007.

And those school-related attacks are mostly aimed at:

Girls schools have suffered a disproportionately high number of attacks in recent years, according to a recent report by the United Nations.

The aid group UNICEF counted 722 violent incidents affecting education between 2004 and mid-2008. Half of the incidents targeted girls schools, even though less than 15 per cent of Afghanistan’s schools allow female education.

And how, in an occupied country where the situation was so settled that we could leave it to go to war with a disarmed Iraq, did the Taliban gain the ability to attack little girls with impunity?

For seven years, the Bush administration has pursued al Qaida but done almost nothing to hunt down the Afghan Taliban leadership in its sanctuaries in Pakistan , and that’s left Mullah Mohammad Omar and his deputies free to direct an escalating war against the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

The administration’s decision, U.S. and NATO officials said, has allowed the Taliban to regroup, rearm and recruit at bases in southwestern Pakistan . Since the puritanical Islamic movement’s resurgence began in early 2005, it’s killed at least 626 U.S.-led NATO troops, 301 of them Americans, along with thousands of Afghans, and handed President-elect Barack Obama a growing guerrilla war with no end in sight.

Violence in Afghanistan is at its highest levels since 2001; the Taliban and other al Qaida -allied groups control large swaths of the south and east; NATO governments are reluctant to send more troops; and Afghan President Hamid Karzai faces an uncertain future amid fears that elections set for next year may have to be postponed.

Nevertheless, a U.S. defense official told McClatchy : "We have not seen any pressure on the Pakistanis" to crack down on Omar and his deputies and close their arms and recruiting networks. Like seven other U.S. and NATO officials who discussed the issue, he requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

"There has never been convergence on a campaign plan against Mullah Omar," said a U.S. military official. The Bush administration, he said, miscalculated by hoping that Omar and his deputies would embrace an Afghan government-run reconciliation effort or "wither away" as their insurgency was destroyed.

Many U.S. and NATO officials, in fact, are convinced that while Pakistan is officially a U.S. ally in the war against Islamic extremism, sympathetic Pakistani army and intelligence officers bent on returning a pro-Pakistan Islamic regime to Kabul are protecting and aiding the Taliban leadership, dubbed the Quetta shura, or council, after its sanctuary in the Baluchistan provincial capital of Quetta.

Wounded Taliban fighters are treated in Pakistani military hospitals in Baluchistan, and guerrillas who run out of ammunition have been monitored dashing across the frontier of sweeping desert and rolling hills to restock at caches on the Pakistani side, the U.S. and NATO officials said.

Not that President Bush’s buddy (you know, the guy we sold all those weapons to) Musharraf sees it that way:

The Pakistani president dismissed Karzai’s contention that Pakistani intelligence was complicit in providing safe haven to Taliban leaders like Mullah Omar. Karzai said last week he could give Musharraf the telephone digits, address, and GPS number of Omar’s hideout in Quetta.

“For intelligence to be effective, it should be immediate,” Musharraf said. “No target sits there for three months. If you give me those numbers and addresses, we knew they’d be all wrong. Most were absolutely nonsense. There were peaceful people living there.”…

Musharraf said the Palestinian conflict remained the principal motivating force behind suicide bombers. “If you’re dealing with Iraq or Lebanon [first], you are putting cart before the horse,” he said. “Palestine is the core issue driving people to terrorism.”

He addressed the rise of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, admitting it was a problem lingering from the period between 1989 and 2001 when relations between the United States and Pakistan were strained.

Musharraf’s talk before the Council, moderated by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, officially marked the release of his new autobiography, In the Line of Fire: A Memoir.

The book has become a source of controversy in recent days. Echoing passages in the memoir, Musharraf told the CBS Television program 60 Minutes on Sunday that Pakistan was threatened immediately after 9/11 by a senior U.S. official to take America’s side in the war on terror or be bombed back to the “Stone Age.” The episode, he wrote, made him so mad he “war-gamed the United States as an adversary."

Bush has, we’re told, decided to talk to the Taliban.

Heckuva job, Laura. Have a drink.

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Middle-aged (thank god); married (oddly enough); native New Yorker; one (thoroughly magnificent, thanks) child, She Who Must Be Obeyed, aka HM (Her Majesty). But a mere lowly end-user by profession, and a former [pretty much everything, at least in somewhat limited first-world terms].

Extravagant (mostly organic) cook, slapdash (completely organic) gardener, brain space originally assigned to names and faces piled up with the overflow from the desperately overcrowded Old Movie and Broadway Trivia section, garage space which was originally assigned to a car piled up with boxes of books.

Dreadful housekeeper, indifferent dresser, takeout menu ninja and the proud owner of a major percentage of the partially finished crafts projects on the east coast of the continental United States.

The handsome gentleman in the picture is Hoa Hakananai'a. He joined the collection of the British Museum in 1868. His name, which is thought to mean "stolen or hidden friend," was given to him by his previous owners when he was collected.