Department of State

Close, but ...
May 23, 2005

It's Thursday evening in Trinidad, Cuba, and Fidel Castro has a captive audience. In house after house on the cobblestoned main street of this river town 200 miles southeast of Havana, the image of El Comandante flickers from Soviet-era TV sets. Of course, it's hard not to score high ratings when your country has only two TV stations, both of them state-run, and the neighborhood Committee for the Defense of the Revolution keeps watch on who's tuning in and who isn't.

Regime Change, Inc.
April 25, 2005

When the Rose Revolution began in the fall of 2003, there was little reason to hope for a happy ending. Twelve years earlier, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia had stepped from communism into civil war. The old Communist eminence Eduard Shevardnadze may have brought greater stability when he took over the government in 1992, but his corrupt rule also generated huge new pools of ill will among the populace. Some of this disgust manifested itself in small, peaceful street protests.

After Containment
April 25, 2005

The first of the giants of American grand strategy during the Cold War lived to be the last of the giants. When George F. Kennan died a few weeks ago at the age of 101, none of his great contemporaries was left. Truman, Marshall, Acheson, Forrestal, Harriman, Bohlen, and Lovett had all preceded him in death years ago; and even Kennan's most formidable rival on matters of policy, his longtime friend Paul Nitze, died last fall at 97. It is an appropriate moment, therefore, to assess what Kennan and his generation accomplished.

Cedar Siding
March 21, 2005

IT'S HARD TO find anyone who hasn’t gotten excited about what has taken place in Beirut since the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister. For the hip young demonstrators who gather downtown every evening to protest the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, the collapse last week of their country’s pro-Syrian government was a big step closer to the modern political culture they desire. For weary foreign journalists stumbling in from Iraq, this is the best riot they’ve ever covered.

Save the Date
February 14, 2005

On September 23, shortly after interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi insisted to a joint session of Congress that "we are succeeding" in Iraq, I met with one of his subordinates in an Arlington hotel. Thamir Al Adhami, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had traveled to Washington not as part of Allawi's entourage, but to participate in a nation-building seminar for Iraqi officials sponsored by the U.S.

The Last Casualty
February 06, 2005

The moment one lands at Baghdad Airport, all the political arguments, all the philosophical certainties, all the things that Iraq has come to represent in the American imagination simply melt away. What's left is a place--a not very nice place. From the backseat of a beat-up sedan steered by a gun-toting Iraqi driver, the streets of Baghdad look no different than they did during my last trip here six months ago—except for the large number of Iraqi police, who seem to be everywhere. The smell of burning trash is ubiquitous, as is the sound of gunfire.

Identity Crisis
December 20, 2004

Franklin Foer on Persia and the neocons.

Closing of the Presidential Mind
July 05, 2004

On February 27, 2001, George W. Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. When the president had last ventured to the Capitol for his inauguration 37 days earlier, he had delivered a homily urging the nation to move past the sting of the Florida recount.

Silent Majority
June 07, 2004

Last August, I participated in a town-hall meeting hosted by the administrative council of Dibis, an ethnically mixed town 22 miles northwest of Kirkuk. Locals complained about everything from sporadic electricity to fertilizer shortages to potholes, and their Iraqi representatives listened attentively. It was an encouraging sight, all the more so because the month before, Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) head L. Paul Bremer had proudly announced, in a televised speech, that "all of Iraq's main cities, and dozens of other towns, now have administrative councils." But there was a problem.

Devils in America
February 16, 2004

Reds: McCarthyism in Twentieth-Century America By Ted Morgan (Random House, 685 pp., $35)  NEARLY FIFTY YEARS AGO the United States Senate voted to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy. Within three years of his disgrace, McCarthy was dead, his health destroyed by heavy drinking. His time in the limelight had been brief.

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