East Africa

David Thomson on Films: Remembering Margaret Sullavan, Who Would Have Been 100 (or 102) This Year
September 27, 2011

Every now and then, you run into people who have not seen The Shop Around the Corner. These men and women seem normal enough. They speak English, they wear clothes, they comb their hair. They may be walking the dog or looking for a pinot noir at a party, and they say, “What was that film you mentioned?” They’re good-natured about their ignorance, especially when you tell them the film is 71 years old and in black-and-white. There are people who reckon those conditions are beyond their range or pay level, like the famine in East Africa or the bubbling of the permafrost in Siberia.

The Wages of Anarchy
September 14, 2011

The Pirates Of Somalia: Inside Their Hidden World By Jay Bahadur (Pantheon, 300 pp., $26.95) The monsoon winds are dying down and the Indian Ocean is getting smooth again. This happens at the end of every summer, and September marks a new season: pirate season. Somalia’s wily, indefatigable buccaneers are just coming off their summer break.

Disease Eradication and the Role of International Organizations
June 29, 2011

Yesterday, the United Nations announced that, for only the second time in history, a disease has been successfully eradicated from the Earth. The offending affliction in question, which strikes animals—particularly cattle—is called rinderpest, and its lethal effects have disrupted and plagued human society for thousands of years.

Animal Research = Silly
August 03, 2010

One of the challenges for crafting a fiscal stimulus is that the economic imperative demanded getting money out the door quickly, but the political imperative demanded avoiding any project that appeared wasteful. John McCain and Tom Coburn have produced their report chronicling "waste" in the stimulus. McCain's favorite method in such things is to seize upon any program that involves research into animals, because animals sound silly: The Coburn-McCain report takes issue with stimulus spending on projects like one that entailed research on how cocaine affects monkeys.

The President Finally Uses the Word "Terror." So Abdulmutallab Is No Longer an "Isolated Extremist." He Is a Muslim Terrorist.
January 03, 2010

President Obama used the terms "terrorism" and "terrorist" six times in his weekly address to the nation. I don't know how long it has actually been since he’s uttered those words. But my memory is that it's been a very long time. By using them, however, he was able to make, as it were, structural corrections, talking about Al Qaeda as "a network of violence and hatred" strung out "from East Africa to Southeast Asia, from Europe to the Persian Gulf." I don't know why he didn't include America in this litany.

You Think the American Relationship With Pakistan Is Fraught Now...
December 03, 2009

...but just imagine if this scenario had played out: Shortly after 9/11, President Bush had issued a “lethal finding,” giving the C.I.A. the go-ahead to kill or capture al-Qaeda members. (Under an executive order issued by President Gerald Ford, it had been illegal since 1976 for U.S.

Quote of the Day: Obama on al Qaeda
October 06, 2009

Obama spoke at the National Counterterrorism Center today: We know that al Qaeda and its extremist allies threaten us from different corners of the globe -- from Pakistan, but also from East Africa and Southeast Asia; from Europe and the Gulf. And that's why we're applying focused and relentless pressure on al Qaeda -- by sharing more intelligence, strengthening the capacity of our partners, disrupting terrorist financing, cutting off supply chains, and inflicting major losses on al Qaeda's leadership. Notes John Dickerson:  What country is missing?

The World is Bumpy
July 15, 2009

On innumerable trips to Singapore over the past decade, I always made sure to stop by the Old Tanglin Officers' Mess, the city-state's version of the State Department. There, amid a street of gleaming colonial-style buildings and perfectly trimmed tropical foliage, the best diplomats in Asia--fluent English- speakers with a staggering command of regional politics and sharply tailored suits--would entertain me at the after-work bar.

The Drone War
June 03, 2009

The Al Qaeda videotape shows a small white dog tied up inside a glass cage. A milky gas slowly filters in. An Arab man with an Egyptian accent says: "Start counting the time." Nervous, the dog starts barking and then moaning.

The Operator
September 22, 2003

On May 28, George Tenet delivered for the Bush administration. Nearly two months had passed since the fall of Baghdad. U.S. forces had turned up no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, raising the specter of gross misjudgment on the part of the U.S. intelligence community and allegations of presidential dishonesty. But, that day, the CIA announced that two trailers found in northern Iraq the previous month were actually mobile biological-agent production facilities.