April 21, 2003
TOM'S WAR Every now and then, a politician will, through accident or poor judgment, say something that tells you everything you need to know about him. (It is usually a him.) Bill Clinton's contention that "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is" captured forever his evasiveness and moral relativism; Dan Quayle's mangling of the United Negro College Fund motto, "What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful," couldn't help but suggest that he perhaps spoke from experience. Recently, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay joined this proud fraternity.
April 21, 2003
Saturday: A friend from Kurdsat, the TV station of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which rules this part of northern Iraq, called yesterday to say his friends in Kalar, at the southeastern tip of northern Iraq, will launch a big offensive today against the Iraqi army's 5th Corps. So we speed from Sulaymaniya through the mountains and around the lake at Darbandi Khan, down to the rolling plains and palm trees around Kalar.
April 21, 2003
Last week, Michael Kelly, who edited The New Republic from 1996 to 1997, died while traveling as an embedded reporter with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. Michael's association with TNR began when he covered the first Gulf war, for which he won a National Magazine Award. It was through his courageous, eloquent reporting that this magazine came to understand the importance, for the United States and the world, of a free Iraq at peace with its neighbors.
October 28, 2002
A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust by David S. Wyman and Rafael Medoff (The New Press, 269 pp., $26.95) Twenty-five years ago, while researching Holocaust history for the Joint Distribution Committee in New York, and as I was preparing to immigrate to Israel, I came across a clipping from The New York Times from 1936.
October 07, 2002
So far America's war on terrorism has converged nicely with the regional interests of the world's leading sponsor of international terrorism: Iran. After September 11, 2001, the United States worked with Tehran's mullahs to help oust their Sunni rivals to the east in Afghanistan, the Taliban.
March 25, 2002
For all his “change-the-tone” rhetoric, there are some forms of bipartisanship President Bush will not tolerate. Just ask Mike Parker, the erstwhile head of the Army Corps of Engineers. Parker, a balding, rotund former Mississippi congressman with a bushy mustache and a heavy drawl, was on Capitol Hill two weeks ago testifying before the Senate Budget Committee. Republican Kit Bond, Democrat Kent Conrad, and Parker himself all agreed on one thing: The budget for the Corps proposed by the White House was a joke.
March 25, 2002
Last week, in the middle of the Battle of Gardez, theater commander Army General Tommy Franks expressed his condolences to the families of American soldiers who lost their lives “in our ongoing operations in Vietnam.” It was a strange slip. In truth, recent ground operations in Afghanistan have had exactly the opposite resonance: Never in the past 30 years has the specter of Vietnam been further from the minds of American military planners. The involvement of sizable numbers of conventional Army forces in sustained combat is a remarkable development in itself, one not seen since the Gulf war.
February 24, 2002
The bearded Hezbollah man, arms folded and half-smiling, stood alone at the border fence on his daily vigil, just across from the Israeli army outpost called Tziporen. Beside him was a large metal sign imprinted with photographs of dead Israeli and South Lebanese Army soldiers--including a severed head--and the taunt in Hebrew, "Sharon, don't forget your soldiers are still in Lebanon," a reference to three Israeli soldiers kidnapped in the fall of 2000, whom the army believes didn't survive. I moved toward the fence to get a closer view but was stopped by an Israeli officer.
February 11, 2002
The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa translated by Edith Grossman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 404 pp., $25) "There are no limits to deterioration: it can always be worse." This observation by Alejandro Mayta, the disenchanted guerrilla fighter of Mario Vargas Llosa's novel The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, who returns to his birthplace after many years, freed of ghosts but devoid of hope, came to mind in March, 1990.
Force of Habit
December 17, 2001
Ever since the Berlin Wall fell, editorialists, politicians, and policy analysts have been pronouncing the United States military bloated, overpriced, mired in antiquated cold war assumptions, and unready for a "small wars" world. The exact critique varies according to its source--reformers on the left tend to focus on getting rid of large, expensive weapons systems as a way to reduce costs; those on the right see cutting overall troop numbers and deployments as part of a "transformational" commitment to high-tech weapons.