‘Supporting Our Troops’ Has Become an Exercise in Denial
August 14, 2012
During nearly every major-league baseball game I have attended over the past few years, the P.A. announcer invites men and women in the military to stand up and then asks the rest of us to “honor their service” and their “heroism.” Most of the civilians in the crowd rise to their feet and applaud loudly. I manage to keep my cynicism to myself. My problem is not with the young people who get to spend a few hours away from their jobs protecting the United States from its enemies—real, potential, or imagined. It’s the unwitting hypocrisy of my fellow fans that ticks me off.
On Monday afternoon, Italian premier Mario Monti and Russian president Vladimir Putin convened a small press conference in the slanting, gold light coming off the Black Sea. They had just met to discuss the European economic crisis as well as energy (Italy is Russia’s second biggest gas client), but they also touched on the deepening conflict in Syria. “We do not want the situation to develop along the lines of a bloody civil war and for it to continue for who knows how many years, like in Afghanistan,” Putin said, standing with his perfect posture in a slate-gray summer suit.
What the Islamist Takeover of Northern Mali Really Means
July 20, 2012
Until a few weeks ago, Al Farouk, the patron djinn of Timbuktu, protected the ancient city in northern Mali. For centuries, from astride a winged horse in center of the city, the stone genie kept watch over the houses so that children didn’t sneak out at night. Legend had it that if Al Farouk caught you getting up to anything naughty, he’d warn you the first two times. If he nabbed you a third time, you’d disappear forever. Now Al Farouk has disappeared.
Why Scott Gration really resigned.
June 29, 2012
Updated at 3:03 p.m. When U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration resigned his position early this morning, he said in an emailed statement, “differences with Washington regarding my leadership style and certain priorities lead me to believe that it's now time to leave." That's putting it gently. A former State Department official with a long service record in the Africa bureau and a former ambassador told me that Gration’s tenure in Kenya was marked by constant friction with his superiors and a refusal to abide by State Department protocol and security measures.
The Need to Lead
June 07, 2012
Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global PowerBy Zbigniew Brzezinski (Basic Books, 208 pp., $26) When it comes to offering a vision to guide American foreign policy, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s latest book, unlike so much other literature of this type, refuses to lament or exaggerate the alleged decline in American power and influence. Instead Strategic Vision offers a kind of blueprint—a path that Washington must take, in Brzezinski’s view, to ensure a secure international order, in which free markets and democratic principles can thrive.
Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Monem Abouel Fotouh was a leading force in the militant Islamist student movements of the 1970s; one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s point men for aiding the mujahideen in Afghanistan during the 1980s; and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Office for twenty-two years.
The Knowns and the Unknowns
April 20, 2012
Sometime in the early 1970s I had an illuminating conversation with an expert on Soviet affairs.
Several people are calling the Supreme Court sessions on the Affordable Care Act the most important since Bush v. Gore. The case is certainly critically important to the fate of the law, and with it the future of health care, the federal budget, and perhaps the U.S. economy. But you know what’s not riding on the Court’s decision, despite plenty of hype? The 2012 election. The truth is that the decision in this case will likely have little or no effect on Obama v. Romney. There are two reasons for this. First, most events have much less staying power than we expect they do.
Afghanistan Reconsidered: What the U.S. Should Do Now
March 22, 2012
Back in July of 2010, TNR asked nine experts to explore what the United States should do next in Afghanistan. In the twenty months since that symposium, much has changed. Tragic developments—such as the downing of a military helicopter that claimed 38 Americans and the recent massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant—have stoked widespread discontent with the current course of action, and have many rethinking their commitments to the mission.
A Former Military Psychologist on the Afghanistan Massacre
March 20, 2012
The horrific and surreal rampage allegedly committed last week in Kandahar by Sergeant Robert Bales, which resulted in the deaths of 16 Afghan civilians, has turned many Americans into amateur psychologists. This is natural: We all desperately want answers for how such a terrible thing could have happened. But the real answers are unlikely to be very satisfying. As a former active duty Army psychologist who spent 27 months in Iraq taking care of soldiers, I can attest that the oldest tropes about warfare are true: Combat is destructive; deployment in a warzone is enormously stressful.