'Top Secret America'—A Bust
July 29, 2010
In late July the Washington Post published an ambitious report on U.S. national security intelligence that we are told had taken the Post’s staff two years to complete. The project was led by two competent and experienced reporters, Dana Priest and William Arkin, and the report has received an enthusiastic press. Having written about national security intelligence in books like Countering Terrorism: Blurred Focus, Halting Steps (2007), I was looking forward to reading the Post’s report. The report is, in fact, a disappointment.
The Ghoulish Regime In Pyongyang
July 25, 2010
You can’t have missed the fiendish photograph of a North Korean soldier hovering through a window over Hillary Clinton as she stands in a hut at the “truce village” at Panmunjom in no-man’s land just below what her husband had called after a trip “the scariest place on earth.” The conflict between North Korea and South Korea was the hottest encounter in the Cold War. Nobody really won that war.
Rest Assured, Ladies. Protecting Rights in Afghanistan, Mrs. Clinton Assures, "Is A Personal Commitment of Mine."
July 22, 2010
The Kabul conference has come and gone, a half day fest which put the finishing touches on the plans for Afghani security and how it can be helped by fully 70 governments, all in attendance, and, of course, with the United Nations represented by its secretary general Ban Ki-Moon. On Monday, Mrs. Clinton was in Pakistan; on Tuesday, Kabul; on Wednesday, South Korea, right onto the edge of its demilitarized zone with North Korea. Today, she is in Hanoi and, of course, she has reproached the government of Vietnam for its well-documented contempt for human rights. So we know she travels well.
Why Don't We Take the Russian Spies Seriously?
July 13, 2010
In a season of crises, from Iran to North Korea to the Gulf of Mexico, the revelation of a Russian spy ring in the United States has been greeted as a source of welcome comic relief. It’s not just Jon Stewart, or the headline writers of the New York Post, who can’t keep a straight face talking about the eleven Russian “illegals,” long-term secret agents who built up elaborate cover identities as ordinary Americans.
Which team should the large majority of us who are neither Dutch nor Spanish support? At the final there are sometimes strong pulls of sentiment even for neutrals, though such sentimental longings can be disappointed, with Germany the likely culprit. I mean the 1954, “Aus! Aus! Aus!” final, when so many people wanted to see the World Cup got to Ferenc Puskas and his wonderful Hungarians, and 1974, when so many of us rooted for Johan Cruyff’s Dutchmen, only for both to be defeated by what we no longer call Teutonic efficiency.
Howard Wolfson's Best and Worst
July 09, 2010
Best Player(s): Prior to the semi-final matches I would have said Schweinsteiger--but he will be watching the final on tv after disappointing against Spain. I will go then with Xavi and Iniesta--yes Villa has scored the critical goals, but it’s the Spanish midfielders who made those goals possible with the metronome- (metronome analogy thanks to the Fiver) like precision of their endless passing. I hear, “Xavi to Iniesta...
Daniel Alarcón’s Best and Worst
July 08, 2010
Best Player: In the first half of the tournament, I was very impressed with Argentina’s Lionel Messi, which is why I’m so dismayed by the talk that his goalless World Cup was somehow on the same level with Cristiano Ronaldo’s or Wayne Rooney’s disappointing performances. Granted, I’m a fan, and I won’t claim to be unbiased, but focusing on the fact that Messi didn’t score betrays a rather narrow understanding of an elite player’s impact on a game.
Leon Krauze's Best and Worst
July 07, 2010
Best team: Germany. Consistently dynamic, the German team was dazzling from start to finish. Beckenbauer wasn’t exaggerating when he said that the performance against Argentina was perhaps the best game ever by a German team. The maturity shown by the German side was even more impressive when one considers the team’s youth: Manuel Neuer is 24 years old, Mesut Ozil is 21, Bastian Schweinsteiger – that veteran – is 25. That’s just amazing. Generous, hardworking and even humble, the Germans were the opposite of the odious French or the smug Argentines.
The Nike Jinx?
June 24, 2010
For decades, superstitious sports fans have lived in fear of their favorite athletes and teams making the Sports Illustrated cover.
The Trials and the Elation
June 23, 2010
When Landon Donovan finally slammed the Jabulani into the net, 91 minutes after the kickoff, there was one part of me that wondered “Will it count? Will it count?” And not, Alex, because I think there’s been a massive anti-American conspiracy, but simply because the refs in this group stage have been terrible. Contrary to popular prognostication, Koman Coulibaly, according to FIFA's official report, called back Edu’s goal for a foul not by Bocanegra, but by Edu (who didn’t commit a foul); there's a reason FIFA gave Coulibaly a "poor" rating and dropped him for the second round.