I'm So Sorry

Washington and NATO have been busy apologizing for last week's NATO helicopter attack in Pakistan, near the Afghan border, that killed at least two Pakistani soldiers. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson, General David Petraeus, commander of forces in Afghanistan, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen have all offered their deepest apologies for the incident. Mullen sent his regrets in the form of a letter to Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani: “I wanted to send my most sincere condolences for the regrettable loss of your soldiers killed and wounded.” Along with other top-level commanders, Mullen will be investigating the accident to try to figure out how to avoid similar situations in the future.

In spite of all the sorry going back and forth, Pakistan said today that it will not reopen the Torkham border crossing that NATO uses to get supplies into Afghanistan. The border was closed on September 30, when the attack happened, and many thought the apologies would speed up its reopening. Pakistan said it was still looking into the situation and would “in due course” decide whether to open the pass.

And does U.S. envoy George Mitchell have some competition? Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, has been criticized at home for not taking a more visible role in the peace process. That might be changing. Last week she met Mitchell in the Middle East “to support what [he] is doing on the groun,” though she says she will "carefully" choose where to insert herself. Too many cooks in the kitchen or will Ashton help the process along?