Cairo Dispatch: Why Is the Revolution Stagnating?
July 12, 2011
Cairo—Friday, July 8 was an oppressively hot day in Tahrir Square, hot enough for protestors to wonder whether the country’s unpopular and widely distrusted transitional government was controlling the weather. Yet the government was notably missing from the scene: With activists guarding every entrance to the square, the country’s security services didn’t dare to enter the dusty, shade-free roundabout area where supporters of every major Egyptian political group had gathered in what was described as the largest protest in Cairo since President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation on February 11.
Elmer Pratt, the prominent Black Panther known by his nom de guerre, Geronimo ji-Jaga, died at 63 on June 2 in Tanzania. He had served 27 years in prison in Los Angeles for murder, the first eight in solitary confinement, and had been denied parole 16 times before his sentence was vacated and he was freed.
On a recent episode of “Khari Baat” (“Straight Talk”), a popular Pakistani talk show, journalist Hassan Nisar bluntly captured the mood of his nation: “No normal Pakistani in his right mind would stay in this country for an extra 24 hours if given the option to emigrate.” His view echoed the findings of a poll by Gallup Pakistan released in April, which showed that 27 percent of all Pakistanis want to leave their country and settle abroad.
Our Troops Abroad: What Does a Soldier Need to Read?
June 11, 2011
I fell in love with the BBC Radio 4 program “Desert Island Discs” years ago while living in Scotland, a place that felt a little like a desert island to me, on my own in an unfamiliar place really for the first time. The premise of the show, which first aired in 1942, is that a celebrity guest selects eight records, together with a book and a luxury item, that he or she would most wish to have if marooned on a desert island.
May 23, 2011
Last Saturday in Cairo, Coptic Christians protesting the latest in a series of church burnings were attacked. According to reports, a mob of thugs swarmed the downtown protest area, lobbing gasoline bombs and rushing the demonstrators. Riot police stood by, then left to call the military. An hour later, when soldiers finally arrived, over 80 people had already been injured.
May 19, 2011
Pakistan’s long conflict with India shapes its national security worldview. Far smaller and weaker than its neighbor, Pakistan compensates with far higher military spending and a larger Army than it can afford, creating a national security state.
The Horror, The Horror
May 19, 2011
Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa By Jason K. Stearns (PublicAffairs, 380 pp., $28.99) The history of Congo is the history of mass murder. What is going on today—with rebels, government soldiers, and armed groups from neighboring countries raping and slaughtering Congolese civilians—is a continuation of the ruthlessness that has been embedded in this country for more than a hundred years.
Ready to Stand?
May 16, 2011
In his December 2009 speech to cadets at West Point, President Obama committed to sending 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, while laying out the closest thing to a war strategy that we’ve had since 2001. “We must deny al-Qaida a safe haven,” he said, and “we must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government.
There’s just so much press attention the Arab world can receive before even obsessives like me begin to tire of its frenzy, pitilessness, and perfidy. Yes, endless repetition of violence and violation can also seem routine. Which, to tell you God’s honest truth, they are. There is a great deal of exactitude behind this morbid fact. Still, the present upheavals in their cumulative impact are deadening. Not only to the victims of the regimes but to their observers, commentators, rapporteurs. Actually, many of these observers, perhaps most, are infatuated with the Arabs.
May 10, 2011
Within minutes of last Sunday’s announcement that the United States had killed Osama bin Laden at his conspicuous compound in Pakistan, accusations regarding the role played by his adopted country-of-residence began to fly. Had Pakistan’s notorious intelligence service (the ISI) known about bin Laden’s whereabouts all along? Or was a glaring oversight simply a sign of the agency’s incompetence?