November 04, 2002
In the weeks leading up to the October 12 bombing in Bali, warnings of pending terror flooded U.S. intelligence channels. Analysts from the National Security Agency (NSA), the CIA, and the FBI combed through threats suggesting that car-bomb attacks, hijackings, and kidnappings were planned against Americans on three continents. The volume of electronic and telephonic communications--what intelligence professionals call "chatter"--between assumed Al Qaeda operatives spiked in late September.
September 09, 2002
Remember in the winter of 2001, just after George W. Bush took office, when the United States was said to face an energy crisis? Remember the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, when it dawned on us that Osama bin Laden is a Saudi and that most of the hijackers were Saudis, and yet the United States buys nearly one-quarter of its imported petroleum from the Persian Gulf--transferring at least $20 billion annually to the Saudi princes who encourage Islamic fanaticism?
May 20, 2002
It's five miles from Northern Virginia, where the Pentagon sets military targets, and a mile and a half from Foggy Bottom, where the State Department cobbles together coalitions. To look at it, you'd never guess that the ten-story glass-and-steel building at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and T Street, nestled amid the town houses and cafes of Dupont Circle, serves as one of the headquarters for the U.S. propaganda war against terrorism. If it doesn't look like a government office building, that's because it's not. Rather, it houses a public relations firm called The Rendon Group.
Rights of Passage
February 25, 2002
A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Mary Ann Glendon (Random House, 333 pp., $25.95) Are rights universal? Can diverse people, across religious and ethnic differences, agree about what rights people have? Might it be possible to produce agreements about the content of rights among people from different nations--not simply England, America, Germany, and France, but China, Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, India, Iran, Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Cuba, and Japan, too? What would such an agreement look like?
February 11, 2002
As we walked along Timbuktu's sandy streets, past mud mosques and houses, warm winds from the Sahara whipped dust over the city, obscuring the sun and stinging my eyes. The wind did not bother my guide Muhammad, however.
The Big One
November 05, 2001
RUNS ON GAS masks in major cities. Arguments about the relative efficacy of Cipro versus doxycycline. The House of Representatives temporarily relocating. As the war on terrorism enters its second month, fear of flying is giving way to fear of opening the mail. Psychologically, it may be that society can only concentrate on one threat at a time. But if that's the case—anthrax letters notwithstanding—the focus is in the wrong place. Biological weapons are bad, but so far none has ever caused an epidemic or worked in war. And it is possible that none ever will: Biological agents are notoriously
Out of Egypt
November 05, 2001
Last month the Nobel Committee did something completely useless: It awarded its Peace Prize to Kofi Annan and the United Nations. Was it the UN's anti-racism conference—with its agenda formulated largely in Tehran—that won over the committee?
October 22, 2001
The cold war is back in vogue. For a month now, politicians and commentators have been analogizing the newly declared war on terror to America's 40-year war against communism. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for one, says, "This campaign will be waged much like the cold war, in the sense that it will involve many fronts over a period of time." But the parallel extends beyond similarities of scope and duration.
October 08, 2001
Though we still lack many details of the September 11 attacks, it's a good guess that oil money was involved. Osama bin Laden's inherited wealth comes from a Saudi construction family that made its fortune in the Arabian oil boom. He is also believed to receive donations from Saudis who grew rich from petroleum leases. If Saddam Hussein assisted in the attack, then oil money may have flowed to the butchers through Iraq, too. And if the terrorists got money from Saudi Arabia and Iraq, then Saudi Arabia and Iraq got money from us--because Americans bought their oil.
Back To Front
October 08, 2001
When America goes to war, Americans ask a historical question: How did we get ourselves into this? Doves usually answer: imperialism. If we didn't do such nasty things around the world, we wouldn't be attacked. But as I tried to show last week, the connection between our misdeeds and their attacks can be rather tenuous. And so more sophisticated doves offer a more sophisticated answer: "blowback." Our foreign policy doesn't just create enemies in a general sense, it creates them in a very specific sense: We fund and train the people who later attack us.