Joe Klein started talking to me about this week's cover story almost a year ago, when he had just returned from an embed in Afghanistan. He had been powerfully impressed by the young service members he had met and believed that they represented the very best of what America had to offer. He sought out veterans who had returned to the U.S. and began following their work. The skills they had developed in war seemed perfectly suited to fixing problems here at home. I do not think it premature to say that they are redefining leadership here at a time when Americans are hungry for it. They are all about focusing on a worthy task and accomplishing their mission. They are not ideological, but pragmatic. They are all members of the get-it-done party--and our political leaders could learn useful lessons from how they work. As one soldier noted, the life-and-death decisions he made in warfare make the decisions in the workplace pretty easy by comparison.
Syria has been a very frustrating story for news organizations to cover. The brutal Assad regime has done its best to shut down any attempt to report on what's been happening inside the country; most of the news has been word of mouth from dissidents.
Rania Abouzeid, our Beirut-based reporter, set forth on a risky plan to enter Syria from Lebanon and report from the perspective of an ordinary traveler. She did just that, keeping in touch with us in New York through texting, Twitter and the occasional e-mail. "I kept low key," she says. "I dressed local, tried to speak local." She was pulled over only once, and because her driver was the cousin of a soldier, she was released. "We were lucky. Many others, as hundreds of amateur videos can attest, were not." Her vivid story offers a window at last into what is happening in that troubled land.
Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR