What a Process

The excitement is mounting. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to announce the resumption of direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. Months and months of toil and shuttling later, it looks like the process is finally getting started. Of course, so far, there haven’t been many sure bets when it comes to restarting the peace process, and officials are reminding the world that the talks aren’t finalized. As State Department spokesman PJ Crowley put it, “We think we're very, very close, but there's still work being done, and there are details being worked out.” State is expected to release as statement soon that will outline a timetable and serve as the foundation for the negotiations.

Has Senator John Kerry worked his magic again? After his meeting with President Karzai earlier in the week, Kerry said the Afghan president is set on taking care of corruption in his government, something Washington has been concerned about for a while now: “The president has guaranteed there will be action . . . that can give confidence to people that there is movement, accountability and transparency in that process.” That confidence is especially key in the face of wilting support for the war and in the lead-up to the November midterm elections here in the States. But on the Afghan side of things, a parliamentary election will take place in mid-September, so Karzai is trying his best to show that Kabul isn’t Washington’s puppet.

If you were worried about all those contractors being kicked out of Afghanistan by Karzai, you can rest easy. PJ Crowley announced yesterday that Washington may be pulling troops out of Iraq, but it’s doubling the number of private security contractors there.