Friday is VA day…- The

Friday is VA day…
- The Taliban confirms that they are going to surrender the last stronghold Friday. Mullah Omar et al are supposedly going to be given safe passage home; Rumsfeld et al won’t go for that. But that pretty much mops up that part of the war: Victory in Afghanistan. But just like World War II, this World War III is being fought on many fronts and there are other victories ahead: First, bin Laden at Tora Bora.

- Our pal, Tony Blair: “Think back three months and you had a regime in Afghanistan that was one of the most brutal anywhere and was funding literally and training thousands of terrorists… It seems that the final collapse of the Taliban is now upon us.”

- They planned suicide attacks in Australia, the UK, and India.

- Abandoned terrorist haunt shows evidence of an Indian hijacking. Says the NY TImes: “Its presence here suggests why a Taliban-run Afghanistan was of such strategic importance to Pakistan over many years: the country provided a haven for Islamic militants who could later be deployed to fight Indian rule of mainly Muslim Kashmir. Successive Pakistani governments have attached great importance to this campaign.”

- More accusations between India and Pakistan on bin-Laden-affiliated terrorism, this time the Pakistanis capturing alledged terrorists and saying that India is helping them.

A post-Arafat Palestine
- Debka says that Israel and Arab countries and the U.S. are already looking at a post-Arafat world:

Eight years after US President Clinton engineered the Oslo Peace Framework Accord installing the exiled Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with self-determination for his people, George W. Bush has taken the lead in the effort to end his reign.

The Palestinian may try last-resort maneuvers, but he cannot escape the joint American-Israel sword poised over his head. Neither can he hope for any world leader to reach out and rescue him. Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres and his dwindling pro-Oslo adherents may try, but they will do so in isolation.

In the diplomatic flurry surrounding this terminal process, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon sent a secret envoy to Cairo Wednesday night with a personal message to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The response was immediate: Egyptian foreign minister Ali Maher was dispatched to Jerusalem Thursday for urgent talks with the Israeli prime minister. Maher, after meeting foreign minister Shimon Peres, is to call on Arafat in Ramallah and goes on to Amman for talks with King Abdullah.

DEBKAfileís political sources reveal that Sharonís messenger was Mossad head Ephraim Halevy. Our sources add: Both the Egyptian and Jordanian rulers, appreciating that Arafatís days as an effective leader are numbered, have moved forward to deliberations with Israel on the post-Arafat order.

- Israel gives Arafat 12 hours to start arresting 36 terrorist suspects.

A post-OPEC world
- Jane’s says that Opec is sputtering: “How odd that a global political crisis and a war in one of the worldís most unstable regions would drive oil prices down. But thatís precisely what has happened…. The full extent of the strategic shift in Russian-American relations, and the potential economic benefits to both sides, are now becoming clear.”

If this had been an actual emergency…
- So two friends and I freaked a fourth friend yesterday as we talked about our plans if bin Laden set off a radioactive bomb in New York. For me it’s the same as the smallpox plan: Canada, here we come. Even if it’s just a low-grade bomb that scatters radioactive dust around Manhattan (contaminating it, what, forever?), who knows which way the wind blows. So the family should get in one car from the ‘burbs and drive north and west quickly. I’ll be stuck in New York and probably won’t be able to get out, but I’ll catch up as soon as I can. Can you believe that four adults are sitting around talking about this? Such is life under high, higher, highest alert.

Brother, can you spare a link?
- Matt Welch extends a challenge to me. He asks everyone else to put tips in his guitar case. Just because I have a job with a business card and a suit, he goads me to come up with some venture capital for some sort of new blog-inspired media. Sadly, in this world, all the capital’s ventured (nothing gained). But Welch is right about there being the germ of something terribly new for media in the world of blogs and I have been coming up with a few harebrained schemes. More over beers….

You think your job is tough
- Try being the interim head of the Afghan government.

- Guardian Q&A on the Bonn Afghan government deal.

Pictures worth…
- National Geographic reporting, photography, and maps.

- A very good Dallas News photo essay [via Bushwacker].