The Best Defense

How to talk to a vet

It has come to this: Alex Horton, who gives a hoot, has written a piece on his VA blog about how to talk to a veteran without insulting him or pissing him off.

The whole piece is worth reading, but here are his basic five Dos and three Don'ts :

1. Do: Ask About Our Buddies

2. Do: Listen

3. Do: Try To Learn Something

4. Do: Have an Open Mind

5. Don't: Talk Politics

6. Don't: Be Cavalier with Questions. (Especially that old favorite about how many people you killed.)

7. Don't: Assume Everyone Is Crippled With PTSD

8. Do: Something

The U.S. Army/Flickr

The Best Defense

The Best Defense verdict is in: You know, Obama did pretty well handling Egypt

I know, we've heard and seen lots of bellyaching about President Obama being caught in the middle on Egypt. But in retrospect, what's not to like? President Obama supported the democratic movement but not so fast that he looked eager to throw overboard a longtime autocratic pal. And it all went down fairly nonviolently, so far. Aside from Frank Wisner going off the reservation in Munich and giving Mubarak a bit wet kiss, pretty well done. This is good change, brought about -- so far -- in a good way.  

If I were an al Qaeda bigwig, events in Egypt would worry me -- in two weeks, those crowds have brought more change to the Arab world than AQ ever did. And so I would say this is a quiet net plus for the United States. 

Meanwhile, a reader asks: For the last 30 years, Egyptian officers have studied at U.S. Army institutions. So, he asks, are they different from the "change resistant" Mubarak/Sadat generation, and if so, how? 

Nor did I know that Egypt has a draft. Shanker and Schmitt, the euphonious security duo at the New York Times, noted the other day that, "General Enan commands a conscription army -- drawn by law from all sectors of Egyptian society and therefore tightly knitted with the populace. Every adult male is required to serve."

Muhammad/ Flickr.