Diplomatic Surge: Can Obama's Team Tame the Taliban?

A trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan reveals how the Obama team hopes to tame the Taliban

Jason Straziuso / AP

Adm. Mike Mullen, left, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama's top envoy for Afghanistan.

Admiral Mike Mullen is an odd one. He eschews the crisp, classic aura of command; he comes across as a no-drama, common-sense-dispensing country doctor from downstate Illinois (actually, he's the son of prominent show-biz publicists from Los Angeles). But as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mullen is still the highest-ranking U.S. military officer, and so it was a bit disconcerting to see him taking flak from a group of Afghan farmers and international agricultural experts in Kabul the first week in April. "The military is giving away free wheat seed to Afghan farmers, and that's undermining our efforts," said...

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