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Go west, young man  

Tom Friedman get back to the point with a tardy analysis of the Bush-Putin summit. He argues that Putin has “gone west”, but both his generals and his public are still reluctant to follow him. Tom’s conclusion: “more testing buys us nothing, but less Putin really hurts us”.

Balfour and Bush  

The distinguished Yale historian Paul Kennedy compares today’s situation in Afghanistan with the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917-18. Lord Balfour was wary of taking on distant territorial obligations, writes Kennedy, perhaps in ways similar to Bush administration sceptics about a long-term role in central Asia.

With appropriate caveats about the dangers of historical analogy, Kennedy concludes: “This leaves America with the third option: to stay in Afghanistan for a much longer period of time and, in conjunction with other countries and the United Nations, to undertake a nation-building task that could make the reconstruction of Angola, Cambodia and Bosnia seem easy. There would be a US military presence, in protected air bases and camps. There would be American advisers, civilian and military, to advise the restoration government.”

Kennedy reckons the Bush team understands this is part of the long haul of achieving a lasting, peaceful political settlement. I hope he’s right.

Mouse trapping 

The Financial Times reports that about 5% of online retailers engage in “mouse-trapping”, the heinous web design fault (or so I thought before) that renders your back button inoperable. According to the report, this is to “trap” naive users into the site.

What the article doesn’t say is that this is unquestionably a harmful practice for the e-tailer as much as the user. I’d have thought it was well established by now that users will not return to sites that treat them like sheep.

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