Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei wants an 'epic' election. He may get one, but not the kind he expected.
Here they go again: Every four years, theocratic Iran holds presidential elections. If that sounds like a contradiction, if not an oxymoron, that's because it is. On the one hand, virtually all power ostensibly rests with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who claims to represent God’s ultimate sovereignty on earth. On the other, the elected president (also ostensibly) represents the republican principle of popular sovereignty. This time around, about 700 people have registered to run, though no more than seven of them can be considered serious candidates. READ MORE >>
A sex symbol takes on a mullah in Pakistan's national elections
The Beautiful Atom Bomb was, in her time, a rare talent. She had a waist on a gyroscope that attached to an ample bottom, which she could shake with such alarming ferocity that the laws of physiology seemed reversed: She didn’t control it, it controlled her. Her vibrating posterior propelled her right across the movie screen like an outboard motor, and she would saddle up to a stunned onlooker, hindquarters aflutter, and induce an immediate relaxation of the jaw muscle. READ MORE >>
How a nation of junkies went cold turkey
Needle drugs seldom make a city look pretty, but some cities are more disfigured by them than others. In 2006, when I first visited Tbilisi, Georgia, it had all the wrecked majesty of an ex-beauty queen with six years of track-marks down her arms. It was a great European capital in decay: crumbling bridges, refugees from war, and—most of all—cast-off syringes everywhere. READ MORE >>
Will Monday's anti-Putin protest in Moscow revive the movement?
Monday’s rally in Moscow started with a moment of silence to commemorate the event, exactly one year ago, that sowed the seed of the protest movement’s demise. READ MORE >>
The realist case for punishing Syria is just as strong as the moral one
A top United Nations official has declared that Syria is now the worst humanitarian crisis the organization has ever faced. It is no surprise, therefore, that moral interventionists are calling for action. But President Barack Obama has consistently downplayed morality in his foreign policy calculus. He tends towards the realism associated with George H.W. Bush. READ MORE >>
The CIA's Afghanistan bribes join a long and storied genre
Yesterday The New York Times reported that the Central Intelligence Agency has been funneling tens of millions of dollars to the Afghan government for more than a decade, in the form of "bags of cash." For anyone surprised to discover that a foreign intelligence service would underwrite the daily operations of President Hamid Karzai’s National Security Council, it is perhaps worth noting that the paper exposed a simila READ MORE >>
Even before chemical weapons were used, there was a refugee crisis. Why won't the president act?
In all likelihood, the White House's confirmation on Thursday that chemical weapons have been used in Syria will soon confirm something else: Not all “red lines” are drawn the same. READ MORE >>
How a team of sneaky librarians duped Al Qaeda
One afternoon in March, I walked through Timbuktu’s Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Studies and Islamic Research, stepping around shards of broken glass. Until last year, the modern concrete building with its Moorish-inspired screens and light-filled courtyard was a haven for scholars drawn by the city’s unparalleled collection of medieval manuscripts. READ MORE >>
Why Asma Al Assad is the perfect dictator’s wife for the twenty-first century
When choosing a spouse, a dictator must take care. Eva Perón proved a great asset; Eva Braun, less so. Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, educated at Wellesley, got grown men to weep when she spoke before a joint session of Congress in 1943 (good), but behind the scenes she was notably high-maintenance, insisting, for example, on silk sheets that had to be changed daily, or twice daily, if she had an afternoon nap (bad). Imelda Marcos started strong (good singer) and went downhill. READ MORE >>
Should the U.S. ban Russians implicated in Sergei Magnitsky's death?
On Friday, the State Department, in conjunction with the Treasury Department, published a list of 18 people who are believed, “based on credible information,” to be in some way responsible for the gruesome death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in November 2009. READ MORE >>