American embassy

Today, The New York Times reported on an emerging diplomatic tiff over the use of unarmed drones around America’s embassy and consulates in Iraq. Iraqi officials, who say they weren’t consulted about the use of the aircraft, argue that the use of drones violates their sovereign airspace. The Study tries to avoid wading into diplomatic disputes, but it notices that drones are popping up more and more in the news, and not just for launching missiles at suspected terrorists.

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Strategist and Scourge

George F. Kennan: An American Life By John Lewis Gaddis (Penguin, 784 pp., $39.95) I. George F. Keenan, who was born in 1904 and died in 2005, and served under presidents from Calvin Coolidge to John F. Kennedy, left as deep an imprint on American geopolitics as any intellectual of the twentieth century. But the exact nature of his achievement continues to elude full or even coherent description. One reason is that most of his very long life was spent in comparative obscurity.

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The dispatch is from Reuters. And the dateline is Wonderland. Flush with success in turning Iran away from nukes and Syria away from Tehran, the administration seems to be setting its sights on turning Hezbollah away from Hezbollah. If this is truly the goal of the administration, look for an another spectacular humiliation. No, worse: It will be a spectacular self-abasement. After all, there’s no evidence that the Lebanese terror fraternity is looking to become mild and modest.

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So the Muslim fanatic from Nigeria, whose father turned information about him in to the American embassy in Lagos, was on the long list, not the short one. Like Mohammed Atta. And Major Hasan. And presumably lots of others. What are the standards for making it to the short list?

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Almost three decades ago, a group of radical Islamist students, dressed in army fatigues or covered in scarves and black chadors, forced their way into the American embassy in Tehran. According to some accounts, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then a student at a second-tier technical college in Tehran, was invited to join the hostage takers. He declined, saying he would join only if they would also occupy the Soviet embassy in Tehran.

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Opposite Directions

The Iranian regime has made headlines this week with its announcement that it will allow inspections into its recently discovered enrichment site in Qom, and its agreement, albeit ambiguously, to allow enrichment to be handled by Russia or France.

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Webb To Burma

Maybe the most remarkable part of the story about Jim Webb's trip to Burma--the first member of Congress to visit there in over a decade--is that the American Embassy has no idea yet if he's actually met with the Burmese Prime Minister since, as the AP story puts it, "communications between Yangon and Naypyitaw were unreliable." More on the extreme strangeness of Naypitaw--which seems to be a cross between Brasilia and Pyongyang--can be read here. --Jason Zengerle

The Right Man

Nestled high among the mountains of Cauca, a coca-producing region in southern Colombia, La Sierra is one of those forgotten villages Colombians call ghost towns. For at least two years, it was governed by the leftist rebels known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (farc). But, on March 5, 2003, a band of 36 soldados campesinos, or peasant soldiers--ordinary Colombians who train for three months in urban warfare under a new government program and then return home--marched into town and took over. According to surprised residents, the farc abruptly left.

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Front Man

A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam By Neil Sheehan (Random House, 861 pp., $24.95) In Neil Sheehan's apt and accurate phrase, John Paul Vann was "the soldier of the war in Vietnam." He began his extraordinary career there as a military adviser to a South Vietnamese division, and he went on to become the single greatest influence on the young American journalists in Vietnam who were to come into such fierce conflict with their government. Then, in 1963, Vann suddenly quit the Army, in what appeared to be an act of conscience.

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Andrew Sullivan: A democracy expires.

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