The Year of the Elephant
May 20, 2009
“YES, SOMETIMES I GO into the room with my advisers and I start shouting. And then they say, ‘And then what?’” The question hangs in the perfectly cooled air in Sa’ad Hariri’s marble-floored sitting room, where Beirut appears as a sunlit abstraction visible at a distance through thick windows. Hariri’s father, the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, martyr of the Cedar Revolution, arches his black eyebrows from a giant poster near the sofa, looking out at his son with a sidelong, mischievous glance. “It hasn’t been a joyful trip,” Sa’ad Hariri is saying.
March 18, 2009
Michael Crowley on Dennis Ross's mission impossible.
March 04, 2009
The seventh floor of the U.S. State Department is a generally dreary place. Its employees roam hallways so long and confusing that they are color-coded for guidance. Fluorescent lights throw down a harsh hospital glare. But, to most State employees, the "real" seventh floor is a secure area, protected by armed guards and doors that require electronic keys, where the department's top staffers, including the secretary herself, spend their days.
February 04, 2009
Last year, a new Middle East lobby called J Street was formed to push American Jewish opinion in a more conciliatory direction. "What we're responding to," wrote J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami last year, "is that for too long there's been an alliance between the neo-cons, the radical right ofthe Christian Zionist movement and the far-right portions of the Jewish community that has really locked up what it means to be pro-Israel." Israel's supporters do have a distressing tendency to define their position in maximalist terms.
February 04, 2009
Earlier this month, Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher--last seen serving as the third wheel on John McCain and Sarah Palin's increasingly disastrous blind date--traded in his toilet jack for a handheld microphone and traveled to the Middle East to become a foreign correspondent covering the Israel-Hamas war for the conservative website Pajamas Media. Alas, he wasn't terribly impressed with his new colleagues. "I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting," Wurzelbacher said in the Israeli city of Sderot, where he was, from all appearances, reporting. "You know, war is hell.
Not So Fast
December 24, 2008
When it comes to Iraq, "withdrawal" seems to be the word of the day. In Washington, the incoming administration has revived the Obama campaign's 16- month timetable for removing combat troops from Iraq.
The Truth Will Not Set You Free
August 27, 2008
Why we didn't prevent the genocide in Darfur.
January 30, 2008
Shanghai, from which I have just returned after a first visit to China, has a specially built modern museum to house exhibits on the planning for the future Shanghai, and it includes an enormous model of Shanghai today. It is of a scale and detail that matches the huge model of New York City built for the 1964 World's Fair and now housed in the Queens Museum—which is itself located in a fragment of the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. But the contrasts are striking and reveal much that distinguishes China's largest city from our own largest city.
September 24, 2007
For days, thousands of average Burmese and respected Buddhist monks parade through the streets of Burmese cities, calling for democracy and picking up supporters as they march. The protests have a kind of festive atmosphere. Crowds of young men in baseball caps and elderly Burmese in traditional sarongs cheer the monks from the rooftops and wave hand-lettered banners in Burmese and English.
July 02, 2007
Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, doesn't come up in the news very often. And why would it? There's no war or ethnic strife. The city is poor, but not outlandishly so--in fact, thanks to a stable government and a lucrative mining industry, Botswana is one of Africa's rare economic success stories.