The Hollywood Western, as a genre, is a realm of fantasy. Once Upon a Time in the West is, in its pseudo-realistic way a fantasy superimposed on that general fantasy. Sergio Leone is the best-known of the European makers of Westerns that we’ve been getting lately, mostly from Italy. I haven’t seen his previous films, but veteran Leonists tell me that this new one is like them, only very much more so.
The death of Kim Jong-Il is not only an opportunity to reflect on the manifest crimes he committed against the people of North Korea, but also to consider just how heavily his devious regime now weighs in calculations about international security. The uncertain future of the Hermit Kingdom is a matter of especially grave importance to the five countries—the United States, China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea—that have intermittently engaged with it since 2003 in the Six-Party Talks.
How the West Failed Ivory Coast
April 06, 2011
Freetown, Sierra Leone—Twelve days ago, I rode on the back of a motorbike through the forests of Grand Gedeh County in eastern Liberia to a remote crossing point on the border with Ivory Coast. On the Liberian side were jumpy Bangladeshi peacekeepers who stood close by local security forces wearing blue fatigues and coalscuttle helmets. On the Ivorian side were the rebels of the Republican Forces, who support Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of Ivory Coast’s disputed presidential election last year.
Tyranny, the West, and the Rest
March 05, 2011
When Casablanca’s corrupt police captain Louis Renault closes down Rick’s Bar Américain to please Major Strasser, he huffs: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” A second later, the croupier hands him a pile of money: “Your winnings, sir.” It took the West and the Rest 42 years to be shocked by what has been happening in Muammar’s Café Libyien. And it wasn’t gambling. Now, it’s no more U.N. Human Rights Council for Qaddafi. Now, the International Criminal Court is investigating. Now, the E.U. is cutting off arms supplies and freezing bank accounts.
Exports: Next for the West?
August 02, 2010
The release of our new “Export Nation” report this week makes a strong argument that if the nation is going to begin “rebalancing” its off-kilter economy then U.S.
Is the West Soft on North Korea?
November 02, 2009
I noticed over the weekend that the Economist is indignant that the West doesn't focus more on human rights atrocities in North Korea: At some point the West will need to address its shame of not facing up to the abuse sooner and more viscerally. In the meantime President Barack Obama hardly sent the right message by taking eight months to appoint his special representative for human rights in North Korea. Still, the question is what to do about the place. Regime change is out of the question.
How the West Botched Georgia
August 12, 2008
The guns around Tbilisi have now fallen silent. Efforts are underway to finalize a truce between Russia and Georgia to end Moscow’s bloody invasion. It is time for the West to look in the mirror and ask: What went wrong? How did this disaster happen? Make no mistake. While this is first and foremost a disaster for the people and government of Georgia, it is also a disaster for the West--and for the U.S. in particular. After all, Georgia was, in a fairly basic sense, our project. The Rose Revolution was inspired by American ideals--and prodding.
War Against the West
October 11, 1980
The reason for Moscow's receding influence is disarmingly simple: Marx and mosque are incompatible. —John Kifner, the New York Times, September 14, 1980 We are fated, as the old Chinese chestnut has it, to live in interesting times, and never more so than in the last 18 months, which have been witness to one of the most resounding collapses of foreign policy to have occurred in modern history.