Why Guinea is on the Brink
October 06, 2009

More atrocious details from the Guinean junta's recent crackdown on protesters—of women knifed, whipped, and raped repeatedly by soldiers—surfaced in the Times yesterday. Until recently, the former French colony of approximately 10 million had a reputation for being among the most stable of its West African neighbors. Stable yes, but democratic no: until December 2008, two strongman military figures had dominated the country since independence in 1958.

Deep Denial
October 06, 2009

Toughened by their frontier ethos, steeled by serial wars, Israelis are not prone to flattery. Most, in fact, eschew using the closest equivalent to the Hebrew word for flattery--chanupa--in favor of the derisive Yiddish-derivative, firgun. An Israeli joke holds that the word, slashed by a red diagonal line, graces the exit from Ben-Gurion Airport, together with the warning, "You are now entering a Firgun Free Zone." Not surprisingly, then, several Israeli commentators reacted unflatteringly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

Kabul Notes
October 06, 2009

Return to Afghanistan with a group of journalists, escorted by the French defense minister, Hervé Morin. A limited view: We only see valleys in Surobi and Kapisa. But an invaluable glimpse, nevertheless, because it counters what is heard almost everywhere. First chapter, Tora, a small fort sitting on stones, some distance from Kabul. Welcome by Colonel Benoît Durieux, leader of the regiment and an intellectual, author of the excellent Rereading Clausewitz's On War.

Things Come Together
October 06, 2009

The Thing Around Your Neck By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf, 218 pp., $24.95)   In “Jumping Monkey Hill,” the most wicked story in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s new collection, a group of young writers selected from all over Africa have gathered for a workshop at a fancy resort outside Cape Town--”the kind of place,” thinks Ujunwa, the representative Nigerian, “where . . .

Intelligence--Who Needs It?
October 05, 2009

Last year, U.S. intelligence analysts prepared a report on how climate change could pose a threat to global security, especially as "floods and droughts [trigger] mass migrations and political upheaval in many parts of the developing world." So, in response, the CIA set up a small unit called the Center on Climate Change to study more carefully the potential national-security implications of a warming planet. Seems innocuous enough. Whatever you may think of cap-and-trade, this stuff is at least worth studying, right? Apparently not.

Al Qaeda on the Run
October 05, 2009

This WSJ article is the most convincing case yet for the idea that al Qaeda is severely degraded: Hunted by U.S. drones, beset by money problems and finding it tougher to lure young Arabs to the bleak mountains of Pakistan, al Qaeda is seeing its role shrink there and in Afghanistan, according to intelligence reports and Pakistani and U.S. officials. Conversations intercepted by the U.S. show al Qaeda fighters complaining of shortages of weapons, clothing and, in some cases, food. The number of foreign fighters in Afghanistan appears to be declining, U.S.

The Worst Argument You've Ever Read For Banning Openly Gay People From the Military
October 03, 2009

Is it a sign of naivete that one can still experience a bit of shock when reading things like this in one of our two most "serious" conservative magazines? It's 2009! The words of wisdom below are courtesy of someone named James Bowman, and can be found in a new Weekly Standard essay. Bowman starts off poorly by arguing as follows: There are all kinds of people--the very young and the very old, the sick or disabled, violent criminals or, in combat roles, women--whom we regard as unfit to be soldiers.

Opposite Directions
October 03, 2009

The Iranian regime has made headlines this week with its announcement that it will allow inspections into its recently discovered enrichment site in Qom, and its agreement, albeit ambiguously, to allow enrichment to be handled by Russia or France.

Ousting Zelaya
October 03, 2009

On September 12, the United States government revoked the visas of de facto Honduran President Roberto Micheletti and 14 of the country’s Supreme Court justices. Days earlier, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S.-government body, voted to cut off $11 million in aid to the cash-strapped Central American country.

The Goldstone Factor
October 02, 2009

The Israeli reactions to the Goldstone report on the Gaza war of January 2009 have focused, understandably, on its outrageous omissions and distortions and one-sided judgments, as well as on the moral corruption of the report's sponsor, the UN's Human Rights Commission.