In the News and On the Air: A Time for Patience

"Americans are impatient."

U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann was in Kabul, speaking about the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the long-running war against the Taliban.

He told Morning Edition's Renee Montagne, "We've achieved a lot because we're impatient, but impatience is also what leads a child to walk away from a complicated project and leave it half-done. We've got to choose maturing patience."

***

Five years after the start of the fighting, Americans may not be the only ones "impatient" over Afghanistan.

A former top British soldier, Field Marshal Sir Peter Inge, was quoted by the Observer newspaper saying, "I don't believe we have a clear strategy in either Afghanistan or Iraq."

***

An American diplomat sounded impatient over Iraq when he declared that the United States has acted with "arrogance and stupidity."

Alberto Fernandez now says he "seriously misspoke."

He was speaking in Arabic on the news channel al-Jazeera, which is part of his job: he's involved in public diplomacy, improving the U.S. image abroad.

When his comments were translated back into English, officials first suggested there had been a mistake.

But viewers in Baghdad included NPR's Jamie Tarabay, an Arabic speaker who tells us that Ambassador Fernandez' comment was not scrambled. He really said it.

***

The debate over Iraq has scrambled American politics, according to NPR's Cokie Roberts.

Democrats have a chance to win Congress this fall largely because of discontent over Iraq, but if they win, it will be "impossible" for them to govern effectively, because "they will not have won on something that is party-building."

Republicans, she says, also blew their opportunity to campaign on something positive.

***

In this midst of this campaign, Sen. Barack Obama sent a signal about the next campaign — for the Presidency in 2008.

"I have thought about it."

The Illinois Democrat was speaking to NBC about running for President.

In an interview with NPR's Michele Norris last week, Obama said he is "constantly asking" himself if he could "be useful" in higher office.

The political celebrity added that he has been at "serious risk of overexposure for the last two years."

If he thinks he was overexposed before, just wait.

Posted Monday, Oct. 23 at 8 a.m. ET

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