Tel Aviv Journal: Notes on a Roiling Region
April 29, 2011
I. “The standard left-wing person never seems more comfortable than when attacking Israel.” This is the novelist Martin Amis talking to Ha’aretz when he was in Israel this past fall.“Everyone else is protected,” Amis continued, “by having dark skin or colonial history or something. But you can attack Israel.” Freely! Of course, it’s not only the standard left-wing person who is so empowered, but also those who belong to mainstream Protestant churches associated with the National Council of Churches on Riverside Drive in Manhattan.
April 29, 2011
In Moscow on Thursday, health ministers from around the world gathered to discuss a serious global health crisis: the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like heart disease, stroke, depression, and cancer. Their goal is to replicate the successes of a similar meeting held nearly a decade ago, when the United Nations General Assembly convened a special session to combat HIV/AIDS.
What WikiLeaks Hath Wrought
April 28, 2011
WikiLeaks recently released a trove of secret risk assessments regarding nearly every prisoner who has ever been held at Guantánamo Bay. I have been continually involved in Guantánamo litigation longer than any lawyer in the world, having been counsel of record in Rasul v. Bush, the first case that went to the Supreme Court from Guantánamo. Over the years, I have defended a number of prisoners at the base. Yet, in the Kafkaesque way that these things work, I cannot comment on the WikiLeaks material because they remain classified.
April 27, 2011
My third question is not yet answered. Can Communism in the course of time, with sufficient dilution and added impurity, catch the multitude? I cannot answer what only time will show. But I feel confident of one conclusion—that if Communism achieves a certain success, it will achieve it, not as an improved economic technique, but as a religion. The tendency of our conventional criticisms is to make two opposed mistakes.
The Case for Drones
April 23, 2011
On Thursday, the Pentagon announced that President Obama, hoping to break the see-saw deadlock between rebel forces and Muammar Qaddafi’s military, had authorized the use of armed Predator drones in Libya. The Predator—technically known as the MQ-9 Reaper—is accurate and deadly; it can fly for over 40 hours and carry more than 1,000 pounds of missiles and bombs. The decision to send these drones was driven by the tactics Qaddafi’s forces have developed to circumvent NATO air strikes, namely intermingling with civilians and moving in unmarked vehicles.
Reporting, Risk, and Death
April 22, 2011
I met war photographer and filmmaker Tim Hetherington two years ago in New York. I was working at The New York Times and, one evening, went to the Umbrage Gallery in Brooklyn to the launch of a retrospective of Tim’s work from Liberia. Amid the pale walls and bottled beers, in the center of the room, a tall, dark-haired man held court in an understated manner. Later, I emailed Tim—explaining my own more modest photographic work—and asked to meet him for a drink. To my surprise, he accepted. After that evening in the Meatpacking District, we corresponded.
April 21, 2011
In the wee hours of September 6, 2007, Israel’s air force crossed into Syrian airspace and attacked a clandestine, nearly operational nuclear reactor located in the country’s remote northeastern desert. Were the strike the end of the story the international community might have tipped its hat silently, thanking Jerusalem for putting to bed a nuclear risk that could have increased regional tensions dramatically. But the assault proved to be a mere chapter in what now has become a saga.
April 21, 2011
Of all the countries in the world that one would expect to be a target of terrorist attacks, Belarus surely ranks near the bottom of the list. Unlike its neighbor, Russia, where a January bomb that killed 35 people at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport was just the latest in a string of attacks related to the ongoing conflict in Chechnya, Belarus is not fighting an Islamic insurgency—or, in fact, any type of insurgency. It’s an ethnically and religiously homogenous nation mostly composed of Orthodox Christian Slavs, kept in the tight grip of its authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko.
April 15, 2011
From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO’s future was in question. While it had been the most successful multinational alliance in history, partnerships of that sort seldom survive once their enemies are gone. As the Berlin Wall came down and Stalin’s empire shattered, NATO’s clock was ticking. Amazingly, though, the Alliance persisted, largely by transforming itself. It staved off a challenge from a proposed European Union Defense Force, which might have supplanted it; provided an institutional framework for continued U.S.
Bob Dylan in China
April 11, 2011
In memory of Farah Ebrahimi. Times are indeed a-changing: Bob Dylan, who became an American icon by “speaking truth to power,” just gave a concert in China, one of the most repressive countries in the world. While there, Dylan not only failed to express solidarity with the Chinese dissidents in jail; according to The Washington Post, he also agreed to perform only “approved content.” The scenario becomes even more ironic when you consider that, while Bob Dylan sang “Love Sick” in mainland China, outgoing U.S.