al-Qaeda

Syria Burns on Obama's Back Burner
September 14, 2012

Does the United States have a foreign policy? Of course it does. So what exactly is it?

Why the New Pre-9/11 Disclosures Matter
September 11, 2012

If nothing else, the NYT report today of additional pre-9/11 warnings about Al Qaeda serves to puncture our disconcerting national amnesia.

Keeping Our Heads
August 24, 2012

The Mauthausen Trial: American Military Justice in Germany By Tomaz Jardim (Harvard University Press, 276 pp., $29.95) Conscience on Trial: The Fate of Fourteen Pacifists in Stalin’s Ukraine, 1952–1953 By Hiroaki Kuromiya (University of Toronto Press, 212 pp., $60) All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals By David Scheffer (Princeton University Press, 533 pp., $35) Justice and the Enemy: Nuremberg, 9/11, and the Trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed By William Shawcross (PublicAffairs, 257 pp., $26.99)    IN 1952, FOURTEEN peasants, owning little more than a few religio

‘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.

Veep Vetting, Al Qaeda’s Comeback, and a Look at the Online Arms Trade: Today’s TNR Reader
July 31, 2012

Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! In a post-Palin world, vetting the Veep has become the most invasive process in politics. GQ | 19 min (4,863 words) Looking for an AK-47 or a Bushmaster M4 assault rifle? Welcome to the web’s darkest black market.

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.

The Civil War in the Syrian Opposition: How Long Can the Free Syrian Army Hold Off Its Islamist Rivals?
June 25, 2012

If you want to know where the fourteen month-old Syrian revolution against President Bashar al-Assad is headed, the case of Walid al-Boustani provides a useful rubric. Al-Boustani led an ill-fated “Islamic Emirate of Homs” that lasted only a few weeks. Apparently the locals did not appreciate having an “Emir” who kidnapped and murdered their people while claiming to wage jihad against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Temple of Silence
June 23, 2012

WHEN SUPREME COURT Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rose to speak to the American Constitution Society on June 15, many in the audience hoped she would hint at the fate of the Affordable Care Act. The justices had voted on Obamacare on March 30, and by mid-June the Court’s opinion, as well as any concurrences or dissents, had been drafted and circulated internally. But despite palpable panting by journalists, no one outside the Court knew what it had decided. And Ginsburg gave no clue. “Those who know don’t talk,” she said.

Department of Cognitive Dissonance: Defining Arab Spring Down
May 30, 2012

The New York Times, May 27: In a new effort to halt more than a year of bloodshed in Syria, President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a proposal modeled on the transition in another strife-torn Arab country, Yemen. The Washington Post, May 29: Across the vast, rugged terrain of southern Yemen, an escalating campaign of U.S. drone strikes is stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants and driving tribesmen to join a network linked to terrorist plots against the United States. Associated Press, May 29: [U.N.

Why the Obama Administration’s Drone War May Soon Reach a Tipping Point
May 02, 2012

In a speech Monday at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, John Brennan, President Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor, made a forthright defense of the drone war currently being conducted against Islamic militants in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. “As a result of our efforts,” he declared, “the United States is more secure and the American people are safer.” Brennan’s argument deserves credit for its boldness.

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