Hillary And Bosnia Revisited
November 02, 2007

Someone called my attention today to an interesting nugget in Sally Bedell Smith's new book about the Clintons, For Love of Politics. It sheds a new ray of light on the mysterious subject of how Hillary Clinton developed her foreign policy worldview. Bedell Smith writes that in the spring of 1995, when Richard Holbrooke--then an assistant Secretary of State and now one of Hillary's key foreign policy advisors--"began secretly meeting with Hillary.": Two years earlier, Hillary had been dovish on Bosnia.

Goodwill Hunting
September 20, 2007

It's not an easy thing to balance jocular irony and geopolitical earnestness in a film, and it's harder still when it's a film about war. David O. Russell somehow managed the feat in his 1999 Three Kings; Andrew Niccol fell somewhat short in his 2005 Nicholas Cage vehicle Lord of War; and now Richard Shepard has missed the mark altogether in The Hunting Party. At the opening of the film onscreen text informs us that "Only the most ridiculous parts of this story are true." This playful boast is utter hogwash, as viewers will soon conclude themselves.

June 18, 2007

In the current issue, I write about Afghanistan's shaky future as the country tries to overcome years of violence and a devastating dependence on opium trade. The books and testimony below help to illustrate a place whose history is fraught with tragedy--but where a cautious hope for a better life is beginning to take hold. Sarah Chayes, The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban (Penguin, 2006). As the Taliban fell in late 2001 Sarah Chayes was covering Afghanistan for NPR Subsequently she worked for an Afghan NGO doing reconstruction work.

Hillary's War
April 02, 2007

In October 2000, Hillary Clinton was entering the home stretch of one of the most unusual Senate campaigns in American history. Although her husband still occupied the Oval Office, she had decamped to a Dutch Colonial in Westchester County to run for the seat of retiring New York Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan. To compensate for the fact that she had never actually lived in the state she intended to represent, she immersed herself in Empire State minutiae. Off the top of her head, she would describe in detail the virtues of the Northeast dairy compact and the rate of upstate job growth.

October 16, 2006

I have liked John McCain ever since I met him almost a decade ago. At the time, I was writing a profile of then-Senator Fred Thompson, who was rumored to be considering a run for the presidency. I had been playing phone tag with the press secretaries of senators friendly with Thompson and was getting nowhere. I decided that, instead of calling McCain's office, I would drop by. I spoke to one of his aides, who asked me whether I had time to see the senator then.

Trying war criminals locally.
May 01, 2006

Four years, 466 hearing days, more than 300 witnesses, and over $200 million after it began in The Hague, Case Number IT-02-54, Prosecutor v. Slobodan Milosevic, was officially declared over on March 14, three days after Milosevic was found dead of an apparent heart attack in his prison cell. There will be no verdict.

Paradigm Slip
April 11, 2005

The first sign of ethnic tension confronts me just a few miles from the border as I drive north into Kosovo. In the town of Kacanik, I pass an old Serbian Orthodox chapel. It is surrounded by a high fence and barbed wire. There are three sandbag bunkers around the chapel, a double row of cement and steel tank traps at the entrance, and a guard post inside the fence. The grounds look more like an armed camp than a place of worship. Later, I learn the church has been all but abandoned.

Identity Crisis
December 20, 2004

Franklin Foer on Persia and the neocons.

A Fighting Faith
December 13, 2004

On January 4, 1947, 130 men and women met at Washington's Willard Hotel to save American liberalism. A few months earlier, in articles in The New Republic and elsewhere, the columnists Joseph and Stewart Alsop had warned that "the liberal movement is now engaged in sowing the seeds of its own destruction." Liberals, they argued, "consistently avoided the great political reality of the present: the Soviet challenge to the West." Unless that changed, "In the spasm of terror which will seize this country ...

The Bill Clinton Show
August 09, 2004

My Life By Bill Clinton (Alfred A. Knopf, 957 pp., $35) Click here to purchase the book. Bill Clinton used to tell us that he wanted to feel our pain, even though he often gave us one. In this characteristically garrulous volume of almost one thousand pages, he tells us all about his own pain.