November 05, 2001
It is an old truth that language is an early casualty of war, especially official language. Despite the grumbling of the press about the Pentagon's secrecy in the conduct of its campaign in Central Asia, we have no reason to believe that the country is being fed lies; and yet there are reasons to worry about an evolution of strategic will, a change of military tone. The development is disguised in the administration's unexpected passion for nation-building in Afghanistan. "Nation-building" is a term with an intense and interesting history in recent times. The story comes in three chapters.
Race to the Bottom
December 23, 1999
It would seem, on the face of it, that the only thing standing between George W. Bush and the presidency is a persistent reservation about his intellect. The doubts have crystallized around a reporter's now-famous pop quiz, in which the Texas governor could not identify various difficult-to-pronounce heads of state. Bush, according to many in the press, needs to wonk himself up, and fast. He needs to cocoon himself with all those Stanford Ph.D.s and reemerge with a deep, studied interest in the stability of Central Asia and the efficacy of scattered-site housing.