August 07, 2009
The reported drone-strike death of the Pakistani Taliban leader (although Robert Gibbs cautions that it's still unconfirmed) is a tremendous short-term score for the U.S. The issue is whether this will be a substantive setback for the Taliban, or whether some new killer will simply take his place and continue business as usual. Peter Bergen examined this very issue in his great TNR piece a few months ago: Daniel Byman, who runs the Security Studies program at Georgetown, has studied the effects that targeted assassinations have on terrorist groups.
Obama's Big Week
August 07, 2009
In the face of declining poll numbers and stalled health care negotiations, The White House has had a remarkably good 48 hours: --The unemployment rate has dipped to 9.4%, despite a loss of over 200,000 jobs --Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, has been killed by an American missile strike --Sonia Sotomayor eased her way onto the nation's highest court --The Senate approved more money for the cash-for-clunkers program And these developments arrive on the heels of two American hostages returning home safely from North Korea.
Slideshow: Home Sweet Home
August 05, 2009
Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee returned to the U.S. today after former President Bill Clinton's visit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il yesterday. The two women were imprisoned for four months. After returning to the U.S., Ling spoke about her surprise at seeing Clinton: "We were shocked but we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end and now we stand here home and free." Click through to hear from other famous freed hostages. Courtesy of AFP/Getty Images --Elise Foley
The Mini-review: 'the Hurt Locker'
July 24, 2009
The Hurt Locker opens with an onscreen quote from journalist Chris Hedges declaring war to be a "drug." If so, then Kathryn Bigelow’s film is itself a drug delivery device, a harrowing, exhilarating exercise in tension and release.
So This Is What Passes For Opposition These Days
July 06, 2009
Julia Ioffe is a writer living in New York. Tomorrow, after his breakfast with Vladimir Putin, Obama meets with Russian opposition leaders at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow. What we call the "opposition," however, is so thoroughly fragmented and disorganized as to be effectively useless. Attending tomorrow's meeting, for example, is Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the nineties-era, pro-Western liberal Yabloko party. Once a decent political force, the party won no seats in the most recent parliamentary elections.
June 03, 2009
Earlier this spring, Nawaz Sharif threatened to topple Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's government. Since taking power in September, Zardari had been promising to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry, the chief justice of the supreme court, whom Pervez Musharraf had sacked on March 9, 2007. But Zardari, who feared that Chaudhry would try to either curb executive power or dredge up corruption cases, balked repeatedly. This annoyed Sharif--and many of his fellow countrymen--to no end.
The Mini-review: 'terminator: Salvation'
May 21, 2009
Toward the end of Terminator: Salvation, one character explains, "What is it that makes us human? It's not something you can program. ... It's the strength of the human heart, the difference between us and machines." As philosophical rumination it's not much, but as self-critique, it's spot on. Terminator: Salvation is a sharp-looking film with a few impressive action sequences, but one almost completely devoid of emotional resonance or human connection.
April 15, 2009
Is the majority leader a partisan or pushover?
The Shah of Venezuela
April 01, 2009
The ideas that keep Hugo Chavez in power.
The Black Widower
March 18, 2009
Last fall, during Asif Ali Zardari's first foreign trip as head of state, the Pakistani president met with Sarah Palin in New York City. The meeting occurred amid Palin's other campaign cameos with U.S.-friendly world leaders, most of whom could manage little more than an awkward grimace amid the onslaught of flashbulbs. (Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo reportedly flat-out refused to meet her.) But Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto and oft-described playboy, looked delighted as he greeted--and then charmed--the vice-presidential candidate.