World

Cambridge Diarist: Regrets
April 22, 2002

The 1929 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg. And why not? The year before, he had persuaded the great powers to outlaw war. Among those that ratified the historic Kellogg-Briand pact were the democratic countries, plus Germany, Japan, and Italy. High-minded people, deluded that signed agreements shaped history, were delirious with joy. Barely a decade later, of course, most of the world was plunged into war. Did the committee that chose the prize's recipients have any second thoughts?

Asia Minor
March 25, 2002

In June 1997 the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was on the congressional chopping block, its funding zeroed out by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Created to promote democracy around the globe, the endowment seemed about to fall victim to an argument that was potent from the early 1990s through September 10, 2001: that, with the cold war over, democracy faced no serious threat. But exiled Chinese dissident Wu Xuecan begged to differ.

Troop Movement
March 25, 2002

Last week, in the middle of the Battle of Gardez, theater commander Army General Tommy Franks expressed his condolences to the families of American soldiers who lost their lives “in our ongoing operations in Vietnam.” It was a strange slip. In truth, recent ground operations in Afghanistan have had exactly the opposite resonance: Never in the past 30 years has the specter of Vietnam been further from the minds of American military planners. The involvement of sizable numbers of conventional Army forces in sustained combat is a remarkable development in itself, one not seen since the Gulf war.

The Bomb's Diameters
December 17, 2001

Yehuda Amichai, the great Hebrew poet dead a year now, a friend of The New Republic and its editors, wrote a poem two decades ago that began:  The diameter of the bomb was thirty      centimeters And the diameter of its effective range      about seven meters, With four dead and eleven wounded... There has been little progress in the dynamics of peace since those stark lines were written. But over time, the Arabs of Palestine have refined the mechanics of random killing.

Fevered Pitch
November 12, 2001

ON THE AFTERNOON of September 26, George W. Bush gathered 15 prominent Muslim- and Arab-Americans at the White House. With cameras rolling, the president proclaimed that “the teachings of Islam are teachings of peace and good.” It was a critically important moment, a statement to the world that America’s Muslim leaders unambiguously reject the terror committed in Islam’s name. Unfortunately, many of the leaders present hadn’t unambiguously rejected it. To the president’s left sat Dr.

Playing Games
November 05, 2001

YESTERDAY, IN A field encircled by willow trees and surrounded by close to a thousand men of all ages, a dozen whip-wielding horsemen cantered around and into each other, grabbing after the carcass of a headless goat. A burly man in knee-high sheepskin boots, baggy woolen trousers, and a thick, black wool cardigan that barely stretched over his shoulders, hunched over the headless sack of goat he'd hitched between his horse's belly and his stirrup and managed to gallop to the edge of the playground, around a flag post, and back into center field to bulldoze his wild, dusty white horse through

The Big One
November 05, 2001

RUNS ON GAS masks in major cities. Arguments about the relative efficacy of Cipro versus doxycycline. The House of Representatives temporarily relocating. As the war on terrorism enters its second month, fear of flying is giving way to fear of opening the mail. Psychologically, it may be that society can only concentrate on one threat at a time. But if that's the case—anthrax letters notwithstanding—the focus is in the wrong place. Biological weapons are bad, but so far none has ever caused an epidemic or worked in war. And it is possible that none ever will: Biological agents are notoriously

Out of Egypt
November 05, 2001

Last month the Nobel Committee did something completely useless: It awarded its Peace Prize to Kofi Annan and the United Nations. Was it the UN's anti-racism conference—with its agenda formulated largely in Tehran—that won over the committee?

On the Road
October 29, 2001

We were stuck in the border zone between Tajikistan and Afghanistan—some 15 journalists from all over the world in a caravan of Russian Lada Nivas and Volgas, Land Cruisers, Mitsubishi jeeps, and minivans. For five hours, since setting out from the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, the caravan had been scattering dust squalls over fields of bursting cotton and parched earth. Down here in the border zone, though, the dust took on a different, unsettling aspect. We had a lot of time to notice because it was 5:10 p.m. and the Russian and Tajik border guards had closed their office at 5:00.

Under Control
October 29, 2001

Sometime during the summer of 1918, an influenza virus that had recently swept through the United States and Europe evolved into a far more virulent organism. World War I was still underway when the first case of the new flu was reported in America, at Camp Devens near Boston. Within days new victims had appeared in military bases up and down the Eastern seaboard. By the time the virus hit America's cities, public health officials knew they were dealing with no ordinary strain of influenza.

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