Well before he officially launched his candidacy in mid-September, Wesley Clark was hailed as the Democrats' savior. Party strategists, convinced that the front-running Howard Dean would flame out against George W. Bush, saw in Clark not only a sensible political alternative but, just as important, an electable one.
Recall for a moment the political climate in the United States in January 2001. Ralph Nader and the Supreme Court had made George W. Bush president, but he had lost the popular vote, and his party had lost seats in the House and Senate. The campaign had been fought largely on Democratic terrain--with Bush promising a larger federal role in education and health care, and a multicultural Republican Party. With national security a second-tier political issue, and welfare and crime no longer political issues at all, all that remained of Ronald Reagan's winning formula was tax cuts.
It was a perfect day for a provocation. In late August, Norbert Vollertsen, a German human rights activist, traveled in a chartered bus from Seoul to Cholwon, just a few miles from the border with North Korea. His mission was simple: to launch a flock of hot air balloons, each bearing a small cargo of radios, that the day's brisk wind would carry into the North, where everyone but the elite is deprived of radios that would enable them to listen to foreign broadcasts. In addition to the balloons, the bus contained roughly a dozen journalists.
Some two million Israeli homes recently received in the mail the 47-page text of the Geneva Accord, which claims to be the comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Accord, a European-funded effort secretly negotiated by Palestinian officials and Israeli public figures for two years--and signed in a symbolic, lavish ceremony in Geneva this week--states that Israel will withdraw to the 1967 borders, a Palestinian state will emerge with its capital in Jerusalem, and the two peoples will recognize each other's right to statehood and resolve the refugee issue.
The Bush administration's internecine squabbles over Iraq policy have gotten a lot of press, but no issue has divided its foreign policy team more than North Korea. For two years, engagers (who generally favor using diplomacy to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program) and hawks (who are suspicious of negotiations and believe rewarding North Korean leader Kim Jong Il could encourage other proliferators) were unable to resolve their differences. "It's as stark as stark could be--we weren't even on the same page," says one American official.
'The time has come to think the unthinkable." It is almost an iron law of intellectual life that any idea that is advertised as unthinkable has been thought many times before. The promotion of an idea to unthinkability says nothing about the merit of the idea; many "unthinkable" ideas are not worthy of serious thought. It is not the veracity of the thought that the appeal to unthinkability seeks to establish, it is the courage of the thinker. Only truly free minds think the unthinkable. The rest are shackled by dogmas and sentiments and cliches and interests.