The German parliament recently renewed the “mandates” authorizing the German Bundeswehr to continue military operations in Afghanistan. On Oct. 12, the legislators voted to approve Germany’s continued military participation in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF). On Nov. 15, the Bundestag extended by one-year the authorization permitting Germany’s elite special forces unit, the Kommando Spezialkräfte, to participate in the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan, which also involves German naval patrols off the Horn of Africa. The OEF deployment, which focuses on counterterrorism, has proven more controversial among Germans than supporting the ISAF, which is often […]

On Oct. 19, NATO troops on patrol in Afghanistan’s Helmand province fired a warning shot to stop a civilian vehicle that had come too close to the soldiers’ convoy. The round ricocheted, killing a two-year-old girl outside her home, according to Agence France-Presse. It’s an old problem in Iraq and Afghanistan, where occupying troops find themselves targeted by suicide bombers in chaotic urban environments where it’s impossible to tell the good guys from the bad. Most soldiers have no peaceful way of communicating with civilian drivers other than with vague hand gestures — and few means short of a rifle […]

PUNE, India — In his tiny, dimly lit grocery shop, Babulal Borana stands behind a counter topped with grimy plastic bottles of sweets, and surrounded by loose sacks of rice, lentils, and spices. He lights a sweet-smelling incense stick in front of a deity of Laxmi, the Indian goddess of wealth, praying feverishly for the survival of his business. Housed in a decrepit building, Borana’s shop has been doing brisk business for over 20 years. But eight months ago, a dazzlingly lit, air conditioned supermarket — run by Reliance, an Indian business giant — was erected just a few yards […]

SARKO’S HEFTY PAYRAISE — French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is on an official visit to Washington this week, wants the French to work harder and earn more. Since his election six months ago, the energetic Sarko has put his ideas into practice by working hard himself — and earning 172 percent more. That’s how much the French parliament has voted to increase the president’s salary, which will now amount to the equivalent of $337,756 a year. This brings Sarkozy’s paycheck close to that of his American host, President Bush, who is paid a comparatively modest $400,000; but not as close […]

As the temperature rises ever more perilously under the cauldron of Pakistan’s political crisis, a nuclear-armed Muslim nation bordering Afghanistan and Iran, the West is urgently pondering what ingredients it might stir in to keep the dangerous pot from boiling over. After all, Pakistan’s combustible mix could leave third-degree burns far, far beyond its borders. Now that Pakistan’s dictator, its president and military chief, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has declared a state of emergency there, this new crisis could easily spread. It does not take a prophet of doom to envision truly disastrous consequences. The choices for Washington and its allies […]

NEW DELHI – In a dusty alley on the fringe of the capital, a group of 30 women stared at the ground in plaintive silence. They formed a circle around Omwati Kishore, whose grief choked the air as she waited for her husband to return with the cremated remains of her youngest son. Over the weekend, 10-year-old Tushar and his cousin were returning from school on the back of a motorcycle since the van that normally ferried them was broken down. Their driver lost control when a rogue bus hit the bike; the boy fell into its path. “My son […]

Patterns of a resurgence in cooperation between Islamic extremists and radical communists — faint in some places, more pronounced in others — are emerging. While much of the current focus is on parts of Europe, South Asia could emerge as the principal arena for a communist-jihadist alliance. Depending on whom you talk to, an alliance between Islamic extremists and radical communists is either more sinister war-on-terror hyperbole or a clear and present danger. At the most basic level, the two groups are divided by their outlook on the supreme being. For Islamist extremists, killing in the name of and dying […]