“Right now we are using beards as beards, trying to prop up the Northern Alliance and hoping that somehow a Southern Alliance will materialize like a genie from Aladdin’s lamp. But the stories about the lame rebel force with its wooden saddles and line of old Russian tanks get sillier and sillier, like scenes out of the Marx Brothers or Woody Allen’s “Bananas.” TV footage shows troops practicing taking hills, and confused about whether they are supposed to advance or retreat after they win a battle with the Taliban.” – Maureen Dowd, New York Times, November 7.

VON HOFFMAN AWARD NOMINEE II: “The first body bags are now on their way home to the US, adding to the number of American families stricken by grief and loss. Once again – for what? Predictably, relentlessly, this conflict shows every sign of becoming the Vietnam of our generation – the graveyard of strategic interests and ideals, as well as lives.” – Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, October 22.

VON HOFFMAN AWARD NOMINEE III: “Key Afghan opposition commanders are on the verge of abandoning the fight against the Taliban because their confidence in US military strategy has collapsed. Insurgents are no longer willing to infiltrate eastern Taliban-controlled Afghanistan because they believe American blunders are destroying the opportunity to spread revolt against the Islamist regime.” – “Opposition leaders ready to quit battle against Taliban. US blunders leave key fighters disillusioned” – by Rory Carroll, the Guardian, November 9, the day Mazar-e-Sharif fell.