What is going on at Guantanamo Bay? While the Bush administration has made a few missteps in its war on terrorism, its decision to send some captured Taliban and Al Qaeda members to the U.S. naval base in Cuba--and its refusal to grant them prisoner-of-war (POW) status--has become a public relations fiasco. "The U.S. is placing these people in legal limbo," complains Amnesty International. "They deny they are prisoners of war, while at the same time failing to provide them with the most basic protections of any person deprived of their liberty." Even the British are upset.
The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and Genocide in Bosnia by Michael A. Sells (University of California Press, 244 pp., $19.95) The Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina: Their Historic Development from the Middle Ages to the Dissolution of Yugoslavia edited by Mark Pinson. (Harvard University Press, 207 pp., $14.95) Was it genocide that occurred in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995? Were the Serbs and the Croats who attacked the Muslims motivated mainly by religious nationalism?
When Jimmy Carter, after concluding several hours of discussions in Pyongyang with North Korea's Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, declared that "the crisis is over" on the Korean peninsula, a sigh of relief could be heard around the world. It appeared as if the drift toward a diplomatic and economic confrontation, and possibly even a military conflict, had been averted. If Carter was right, and no one could say with certainty that he was wrong, the stage had been set for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear challenge. Pyongyang subsequently agreed to permit inspectors from the Internati
President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon (Simon and Schuster, 948 pp., $24.95) An American Life by Ronald Reagan (Simon and Schuster, 748 pp., $24.95) I. Maybe the local time just seems slower because the current occupant of the White House is a hyperactive gland case. Anyhow, it's hard to believe that only a couple of years have passed since the Reagans went away. It was a touching moment, we now learn.
This week in Prague, Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new version of the START treaty, renewing their commitment to nuclear arms reduction. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also unveiled newly built nuclear centrifuges. And, in a well-timed TNR cover story, Peter Scoblic posed the incisive, probing question: What good is the time-tested doctrine of deterrence in an era where rogue states and terrorists have ready access to nuclear material?
The Quality of Mercy: Cambodia, Holocaust, and Modern Conscience by William Shawcross (Simon and Schuster, 464 pp, $19.95) Great human disasters, natural or manmade, put bureaucrats to a test not only as public officials but as human beings. Normally insulated from the consequences of their actions by layers of government, and accustomed to the abstractions of statecraft, they suddenly are forced to deal with a problem in which every action (or inaction) can have an immediate effect on whether people will live or die.
In 1867 Charles Dickens reported on "the first meeting of the Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything." A dozen years ago, on the centennial of that occasion, I became Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Santa Barbara, California. I was reminded of these moments in history by the news that the Center, after years of seedy gentility, has found a new benefactor. It has been taken in as a ward of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
In these cheerless times, we search with special diligence for any scrap of good news. So we study the President's latest plan for peace in Indochina, and the background briefing, hoping to find something that justifies the extravagant claims (new, sweeping, comprehensive) made for it. We're still searching. As a domestic political document, it is compelling.
After more than four months and 24 sessions, the Paris talks are still at an impasse; no progress has been made; there have been only "official conversations" and no negotiations. These meetings have provided both sides with full opportunity to expound official positions on the origins and development of the conflict and to castigate each other's very different interpretations. But all this has amounted to little more than repetition of statements made publicly elsewhere by spokesmen of both governments.