One can just imagine what the Wikileaks records of Richard Holbrooke’s diplomacy would have looked like. His salty, roustabout’s slinging of abuse when needed; his explosive pugnacity while negotiating in person and his relentlessly unsentimental drive towards a result—none of it would have looked pretty on paper. Yet he pulled off the impossible by imposing stability on the Balkans with the Dayton Accords.
It seems eccentric, to say the least, that the FIFA selection committee chose Russia as the World Cup’s home in 2018, and all the more so as it meant overlooking perfectly serviceable countries such as Britain. (They also chose Qatar over the U.S. for 2022, but that's another counterintuitive story altogether.) Why not Russia, you might ask. After all, the country is home to numerous top-drawer soccer teams and has a solid pedigree for hosting international club games at their stadiums.
The contretemps between Russia and the United States over Viktor “Merchant of Death” Bout has a surreal, theater-of-the-absurd quality, one that highlights the core philosophical divide between the two countries in just about everything. Russian officials are outragedthat notorious arms-dealer Bout was successfully extradited from Thailand this week and charged with terrorism offenses in Manhattan Federal Court.
Framed in the language of defiant truth-telling, Geoffrey Wheatcroft's views on Turkey and the E.U. add up to a wholly conventional rehearsing of haute pub talk ideas—of the kind you would have heard loudly offered in any century from the fourteenth onward, in robustly ignorant Western circles. “No, no, my dear fellow, the Turks are not like us.” For years, I heard these notions aired confidently by Colonel Blimpish friends at school and college in England. None of them had ever gone near Turkey. They, like, Mr.