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AfPak Policy

Seven Days in January

How the Pentagon Counts Coups in Washington
by Tom Englehardt, Tom Dispatch
Seven Days in January,

Sometimes it pays to read a news story to the last paragraph where a reporter can slip in that little gem for the news jockeys, or maybe just for the hell of it. You know, the irresistible bit that doesn't fit comfortably into the larger news frame, but that can be packed away in the place most of your readers will never get near, where your editor is likely to give you a free pass.

So it was, undoubtedly, with New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, who accompanied Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as he stumbled through a challenge-filled, error-prone two-day trip to Pakistan.

Gates must have felt a little like a punching bag by the time he boarded his plane for home having, as Juan Cole pointed out, managed to signal "that the U.S. is now increasingly tilting to India and wants to put it in charge of Afghanistan security; that Pakistan is isolated... and that Pakistani conspiracy theories about Blackwater were perfectly correct and he had admitted it. In baseball terms, Gates struck out."

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