RUNS ON GAS masks in major cities. Arguments about the relative efficacy of Cipro versus doxycycline. The House of Representatives temporarily relocating. As the war on terrorism enters its second month, fear of flying is giving way to fear of opening the mail. Psychologically, it may be that society can only concentrate on one threat at a time. But if that's the case—anthrax letters notwithstanding—the focus is in the wrong place. Biological weapons are bad, but so far none has ever caused an epidemic or worked in war. And it is possible that none ever will: Biological agents are notoriously
Looming near the murky Tigris River on the fringes of downtown Baghdad, the Al Rasheed Hotel is the showpiece of Saddam Hussein's global outreach program. A concrete tower best known for the snarling caricature of George Bush Sr. painted on the lobby floor, the Al Rasheed has played host in recent months to a procession of international trade delegations in hot pursuit of lucrative government contracts. On any given day, hundreds of businessmen from China, Russia, Turkey, Malaysia, Italy, and elsewhere--along with dozens of Iraqi security agents--mingle in the hotel lobby and in the outdoor sw
I. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperFlamingo, 546 pp., $26) Barbara Kingsolver is the most successful practitioner of a style in contemporary fiction that might be called Nice Writing. Nice Writing is a violent affability, a deadly sweetness, a fatal gentle touch. But before I start in on Kingsolver's work, I feel I must explain why I feel that I must start in on it. I do so for a younger version of myself, for the image that I carry inside me of a boy who was the son of a sadistic, alcoholic father, and of a mother who was hurt but also hurtful, and abusive.
One sunny afternoon in the week of liberation, I went to the theater. The hall at Kuwait University's school of music and drama is a place of conspicuous civilization, a big cantilevered room with modestly elegant blue cloth seats trimmed in gold, rich wood-paneled walls, and a deep, broad stage set above a large orchestra pit. I expected to be alone there but instead found a British television crew videotaping the statement of 29-year-old Abdullah Jasman, Kuwaiti citizen, University of Pittsburgh graduate, and victim of a torture session in this unlikely place.
Ironies can sometimes be painful. I began my political career in 1966 as the campaign manager for one of the first anti-war congressional candidates in the country. Now, a quarter century later, I find myself supporting a policy in the Persian Gulf that might well lead to a war that many believe could become another Vietnam. Such a position is more and more anomalous, I know, in the Democratic Party. And yet I cannot accept, or be dissuaded by, the analogy with Vietnam. In Vietnam no vital American interests were at stake. The crisis in the Gulf poses a challenge not only to fundamental Americ
The reason for Moscow's receding influence is disarmingly simple: Marx and mosque are incompatible. —John Kifner, the New York Times, September 14, 1980 We are fated, as the old Chinese chestnut has it, to live in interesting times, and never more so than in the last 18 months, which have been witness to one of the most resounding collapses of foreign policy to have occurred in modern history.