The Dream of the CeltBy Mario Vargas Llosa Translated by Edith Grossman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 358 pp., $27) PERHAPS, once a man’s bones have been hauled from his grave, he will forever be unquiet. In David Rudkin’s play Cries from Casement as His Bones are Brought to Dublin, a Catholic cardinal admonishes the long-dead Roger Casement as his bones are brought to Dublin: “Be a good patriot, shut your mouth. Lie down.” But the Irish nationalist martyr and international pioneer of human rights will not lie easy in his grave.
Of all the countries in the world that one would expect to be a target of terrorist attacks, Belarus surely ranks near the bottom of the list. Unlike its neighbor, Russia, where a January bomb that killed 35 people at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport was just the latest in a string of attacks related to the ongoing conflict in Chechnya, Belarus is not fighting an Islamic insurgency—or, in fact, any type of insurgency. It’s an ethnically and religiously homogenous nation mostly composed of Orthodox Christian Slavs, kept in the tight grip of its authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko.
I've made this point more than a few times. Jackson Diehl has made it now, more comprehensively and with greater depth of knowledge about the analog, that is the warring Catholics and Protestants on Northern Ireland. Now, since the "Good Friday agreement" made in 1998, there has been relative peace between the religiously inflamed factions. But it's unlikely that girls and boys of the two confessions are putting on their ghillies to dance with each other.
On the front page of the Sunday Boston Globe “Ideas” section, there’s a photograph of East Belfast—or, rather, of a concrete demarcation “that separates the Protestant community from the Catholic residents on the other side of the wall.” It is called the “Peace Line,” and maybe it’s what George Mitchell, who negotiated the settlement that ended “the Troubles,” thinks of as peace. Mitchell was Bill Clinton’s “special envoy” to those troubles, and that is why Barack Obama made him his personal emissary to Israel and the Palestinians.
“The cruel God of the Jews has you beaten too.”--Racine An interview by Joe Klein in Time magazine is hardly a historical event. But, when the interview is with Barack Obama, it lays claim to some newsworthiness. This is especially true when it is ballyhooed as a firstanniversary event. Since, moreover, (right after awarding himself good grades on Al Qaeda in Yemen and Somalia) it’s clear that Obama wanted to make a point: “The other area which I think is worth noting is that the Middle East peace process has not moved forward.
The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President By Taylor Branch (Simon & Schuster, 707 pp., $35) In her infamous first sentence of The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcolm swings for the fences and proclaims that "every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible." She means that journalists use their human subjects and then dispose of them; that we con them in person by "preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness"--it occurs to me to note that however bleak print's future seems
President Obama designated George Mitchell his special envoy to the Jews and the Arabs because he had experience with them. Of course, Mitchell's familiarity with the Middle East was the familiarity of utter failure. No matter. Obama couldn't have sent George Tenet again ... or, God forbid, Anthony Zinni.