Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid By Peter Gill (Oxford University Press, 280 pp., $27.95) In the fall of 1994, James P. Grant, the executive director of UNICEF, sent a message in the name of his agency to the upcoming Cairo conference on population and development, in which he declared that the world had within its grasp the means to solve “the problems of poverty, population, and environmental degradation that feed off of one another in a downward spiral [bringing] instability and strife in its wake.” Grant was a great man, a giant of the development world.
For years, advocates of climate-change legislation have struggled to find a sales pitch that will sway even the most hardened of skeptics. Polar bears, green jobs, urgent pleas to think of the grandkids … none of them have quite done the trick. But recently, a new argument has come to the fore: the national security case for cutting carbon emissions. At a hearing in October, Senate Democrats invited military leaders and strategists to speak about both the dangers of America’s oil dependency and the potential for rising temperatures to create new security threats around the globe.
So this is how serious the controversy over Karl Rove has gotten for the White House: On Monday, Press Secretary Scott McClellan actually had to dodge a question from Fox News. It came from correspondent Carl Cameron: “Does the president continue to have confidence in Mr. Rove?” Relatively speaking, it was one of the softer inquiries McClellan fielded in an ugly briefing that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank described as “perhaps the worst” of McClellan’s two-year tenure.
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.
Foreign policy is always difficult in a democracy. Democracy requires openness. Yet foreign policy requires a level of secrecy that frees it from oversight and exposes it to abuse. As a result, Republicans and Democrats have long held that the intelligence agencies--the most clandestine of foreign policy institutions--should be insulated from political interference in much the same way as the higher reaches of the judiciary. As the Tower Commission, established to investigate the Iran-Contra scandal, warned in November 1987, "The democratic processes ...