Criminal Network
August 03, 2004

I don't like to think of myself as the kind of person who would open a column with a reference to a Billy Joel song. But this week, while ruminating on the often-inverse relationship between quality and longevity, I fleetingly considered it. I don't mind saying it scared me a little. The subject that brought me to the edge of this precipice was the late, insufficiently lamented NBC series "Boomtown," the first season of which was recently released on video and DVD. If the Paul Thomas Anderson of Magnolia, the David O.

Do Something
July 05, 2004

America must act to stop the genocide in Darfur.

Key to Success
June 07, 2004

In March 2003, Americans thrilled to televised scenes of U.S. forces moving into Iraq. Well-spoken soldiers, modern equipment, and embedded reporters suggested a sense of purpose, competence, and courage that resonated across the country. But today, 14 months later, the mission is in shambles, scarred by rising Iraqi popular discontent, continued attacks against U.S. forces, infiltration of foreign fighters, mounting civil strife, and no credible sense of direction. Despite President George W. Bush's calls for staying the course, American public opinion has clearly turned against the mission.

Credible Threat
January 19, 2004

Well before he officially launched his candidacy in mid-September, Wesley Clark was hailed as the Democrats' savior. Party strategists, convinced that the front-running Howard Dean would flame out against George W. Bush, saw in Clark not only a sensible political alternative but, just as important, an electable one.

Be Unprepared
July 07, 2003

In the last couple of weeks, Americans have learned something about our troops in Iraq: They hate it there. They are hot, tired, and surrounded by a population they don’t understand who occasionally tries to kill them. The left isn’t demanding that the United States “come home,” because, while it abhors war, it likes nation-building.

Bible Brigade
April 21, 2003

The Reverend Franklin Graham has long been something of a thrill seeker. In his quarter-century as head of the Christian relief agency Samaritan's Purse, the eldest son of the legendary Billy Graham (and heir to his evangelical empire) has earned international respect for supplying food, water, shelter, and medical care to regions where other angels fear to tread.

Self Service
March 03, 2003

To hear Democratic leaders and Democratic political candidates declaim on war is to conclude that liberals are totally incoherent on the subject of power. Liberalism, on the other hand, is quite coherent. It is important to distinguish between the two. Politicians are pulled by public opinion, by calculations of political advantage, and by other nonideological considerations. Hence, the cacophony of liberal voices about war with Iraq.

Force Full
March 03, 2003

It was a lost decade. A journalist friend of mine traveled with Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Europe in 1993 for one of his fruitless Balkan negotiations. When the official delegation stopped at Shannon Airport for refueling on the way home, Christopher, not generally sociable, surprised my friend by pulling up beside him at the bar. "What can I get you?" the burly bartender asked the secretary. Christopher responded, "I'd like an Irish coffee, please ... but hold the whiskey and make it decaf." When I think of the '90s, I think of Christopher's Irish coffee.

Killing Fields
March 25, 2002

It’s back. Not that it is ever absent for long, but the present instance is particularly irritating. Here again is the oxymoron—the picture that combines strong execution and a poor screenplay. In this case the screenplay is not merely poor, it is dreadful, but it is more ostentatiously so because the other components are so fine. Harrison’s Flowers (Universal Focus) is a French-financed venture with a French director and with American and British actors in the principal roles.

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.