War

The Real "path To 9/11"
September 12, 2006

I am in New York to welcome my granddaughter into the world. It is an auspicious day: sunny, comfortably warm, but with a cool under-breeze and with many taxis on the streets, since people are taking in the air instead of riding in the city's normal daytime snail's pace traffic. Yesterday was September 11, and the weather, like today's, was as balmy as the 9/11 of history, when a half-million hapless people, most of them dazed and many in near-trauma, were walking, mostly northward, on the long journey home.

Banning Carry-on Luggage?
September 11, 2006

by Cass SunsteinIn the aftermath of the disclosure of the terrorist plot in London, many people have been calling for a complete ban on carry-on luggage. For those who want such a ban, it is one way to ensure that Americans are "safe." The editorial writers at The New York Times proclaim, "the surest way to keep dangerous materials out of the cabin is to keep virtually all materials out of the cabin." But there is a big problem here.

Patriot Games
September 10, 2006

Joseph C. Wilson and Valerie Plame were one of those Washington couples whose careers had ended on the lower-middle rungs. Of course, this judgment depends on what you call "lower-middle." OK, Wilson did end his State Department career as an ambassador, with the "your excellency" stuff and all that. But his last posting was as envoy to Sao Tome and Principe, two small volcanic islands situated in the equatorial Atlantic, consisting of 386 square miles and populated by 160,000 people. This republic has no yellowcake. It surely is one of those designated diplomatic hardship spots.

Bad Intelligence
September 09, 2006

by David A. BellI can't agree enough with David's excellent point about second-guessing the actions of both the Clinton and Bush administrations before 9/11. It is certainly bad history to project our own hyper-sensitivity to threats of terrorism back into the pre-9/11 era. I would add that the ABC docudrama, like so much commentary on the subject of terrorist threats, also seems to rest on a basic misunderstanding of how intelligence gathering works.

The New School
September 01, 2006

Today's NYT report that high-school students in China will no longer need to learn about the details of the Communist Revolution or the words and deeds of Mao Zedong raises a number of intriguing questions: Has any other powerful nation, especially one with an authoritarian government, ever made a similar move to de-emphasize nationalist renderings of history?

Bean Counter
July 11, 2006

If Democrats win back the House in the midterms today, they'll owe an enormous debt to organized labor, which has spent more than $40 million--and sent millions of voters to the polls--to help the party take control of Congress. The AFL-CIO alone has targeted more than 200 contests in 21 states this cycle, and unions, despite their declining power, are still acting as difference-makers in many races.

Thank You For Sharing
June 05, 2006

Now celebrating her twentieth year as the host of the world's most influential talk show, Oprah Winfrey is to television what Bach is to music, Giotto to painting, Joyce to literature. Time magazine hit the nail on the head when it recently voted her one of the world's handful of "leaders and revolutionaries." (Condoleezza Rice wrote Oprah's citation: "She has struggled with many of the challenges that we all face, and she has transformed her life. Her message is empowering: I did it, and so can you.") Like all seminal creative figures, her essential gift lies in her synthesizing power.

Military Offensive
April 12, 2006

10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military Edited by Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg (The New Press, 128 pp., $14.95) Click here to purchase the book. When it comes down to it, military recruiters are salespeople, and like good car salesmen, good military recruiters conceal the downsides of their product. Of course with military recruitment the ante is upped: Being swindled into buying a lemon will set you back a chunk of change; a bad experience in the military will lead someplace worse than an auto mechanic's waiting room.

Memory Loss
February 14, 2006

Two weeks ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to refer the matter of Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council. There is plenty to like about the IAEA resolution, starting with the large majority it commanded among the organization's member states--even the usually recalcitrant Russians and Chinese signed on.

Paint it Black
November 29, 2005

It's rarely an attractive sight when a lifelong good guy decides it's time to show everyone he can be bad.  For most men, such crises of character involve the midlife acquisition of a motorcycle or sports car, though in some cases an electric guitar suffices. (The leather jacket and sunglasses are givens.) The metamorphosis can be particularly disturbing in filmmakers, who after all have more vivid ways of dramatizing their states of mind than mere automobiles and accoutrements.

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