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.
Hit the Ground
November 19, 2001
The case for using ground troops against the Taliban.
The Hero Worshipper
November 05, 2001
Fire By Sebastian Junger (W.W. Norton, 224 pp., $24.95) There is a point in Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon where the old lady turns on the writer and asks: "How is it, young man, that you talk so much and write so long about these bullfights and yet are not a bullfighter yourself?" The writer admits that he did try it once or twice—on bulls with blunted horns.
October 08, 2001
Back in the peaceful days of late summer, Democrats were finally getting around to something they'd neglected since Bill Clinton left office: foreign policy. In August, Tom Daschle and Richard Gephardt each delivered addresses criticizing the Bush administration for its aversion to multilateralism and its obsession with missile defense. A few weeks later, Senator Joe Biden did the same at the National Press Club. Previewing Biden's speech that morning, the Los Angeles Times explained that congressional Democrats had begun a prolonged "assault on the Bush administration's defense and foreign po
It Happened Here
September 24, 2001
"Senseless," "unimaginable," "crazy," "unfathomable": as the World Trade Center fell and the Pentagon burned, those were the words that came to the lips of many Americans, on camera and off camera. We must beware those words. They have a way of carrying the war against us away from us, of fortifying our incredulity against the evidence of our eyes, of shutting down thought when thought is required, of lifting the obscenity that was visited upon America back out of the realm of possibility. But the legacy of September 11, 2001, must be nothing less than a new sense of what is possible.
December 13, 1999
Richard Holbrooke knows about foreign policy feuds. In the late '70s, he was assistant secretary of state for Asia in the Carter administration—a young bull in the China shop. One morning, he answered his phone at 6:30 and received a tooth-rattling attack from National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was bent on cutting Cyrus Vance's entire (as Brzezinski saw it, leak-prone) State Department out of his forthcoming trip to Beijing.
Memory Goes to War
July 12, 1999
I. Madeleine Albright: A Twentieth-Century Odyssey by Michael Dobbs (Henry Holt, 466 pp., $27.50) Down from the heavens he came a decade ago this month, descending by helicopter onto the Field of Blackbirds in Kosovo to deliver a speech that still reads as a paradigm of nationalist madness. About a million Serbs gathered that day to hear Slobodan Milosevic.
Saving Lives With Force
July 12, 1999
Was the NATO air campaign against Serbia just a onetime thing, or can the United States and other like-minded countries really stop genocidal wars around the world? Although this war is ending, we might face the question again soon. In recent years, the world has witnessed the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the 1992-1995 Bosnian civil war, and the 1992-1993 war-induced famine in Somalia. Even today, wars that have taken many more lives than the conflict over Kosovo remain unresolved in places such as Angola and Sudan. We certainly cannot settle every conflict in the world.
July 12, 1999
As NATO's troops took over Kosovo last week, I took out my copy of the international war crimes tribunal's indictment of Slobodan Milosevic and four of his aides. This grisly document, issued May 24, I reasoned, would serve to orient my reporting--a kind of Baedeker guide to a shattered landscape that, according to NATO estimates, may contain 10,000 corpses in more than 100 mass graves. My first stop was Velika Krusa, near the Albanian border on the main road north from Prizren to Djakovica.
July 05, 1999
Last Summer, when President Clinton picked Richard Holbrooke to be his new ambassador to the United Nations, Holbrooke's confirmation by the Senate seemed like a virtual formality. After all, even those who don't like Holbrooke's brash style concede that he's one of the Clinton administration's most effective foreign policy hands; and, as a political operator and self-promoter, Holbrooke's talents are legendary. But it won't be until June 17, exactly a year after Clinton announced Holbrooke's selection, that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee finally gets around to holding hearings on Holb