With a Mighty Hand
March 19, 2011
As the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the town of Ohkuma continues, and plant engineers and first responders endanger their lives to keep fuel rods and containment units cool, it is critical to consider how Japan’s commitment to nuclear power arose in the first place. It was no twist of fate or invisible market-hand that created 55 nuclear reactors in a seismically active country smaller than the state of California.
Age Against The Machine
March 18, 2011
The old order has crumbled in the Middle East, and it will never be the same again. But what made it crumble? The experts who had been arguing that the youth in the region constituted a listless generation that did not care about freedom and democracy, that, if it was politically active at all, tended to follow the lead of the Islamists, have been proved wrong.
Afghanistan Dispatch: Addicted
March 18, 2011
Dawlatabad, Afghanistan Abdul Bashir survived his first opium overdose on Tuesday. He was 15 days old. He thrashed against the soiled hospital cot and gurgled the horrible, rhythmic wheezes of the dying. Nurses pressed an oxygen mask to his tiny face, blue from asphyxiation, and tourniqueted his convulsing limbs to inject an antidote. From the corner of the drafty hospital room, Abdul Bashir’s young mother fixed her child with a drugged stare. It was she who had given him the opium that morning, to hush his crying.
Libya Dispatch: Hope and Fear
March 17, 2011
Ajdabia, Libya—In a quiet corner of Ajdabia’s Shahid Mohammed Al Sherif Hospital, Mahmoud Al Houti, 25, bent his head to the ground, his eyes closed in prayer. A sling fashioned out of a black and brown keffiyeh cradled his bandaged right arm, and a flickering fluorescent light illuminated the chipped concrete of the floors.
After the Disaster
March 17, 2011
Beijing, China—Despite nuclear, geological and logistical disasters unfolding simultaneously, deciding to leave Tokyo on Monday was not a quick decision. My departure was no reflection of the endurance of the Japanese people to overcome this disaster. No doubt, within the nuclear power plants, there are sleepless men, everyday working men, continuing at tremendous personal peril to ensure the safety of millions. Heroic seems an understatement to describe their efforts, and they are not alone. I left because, unlike so many people there, I could—a lucky privilege I did not take for granted.
What Will Happen to Libya?
March 16, 2011
The world hoped that Libya would repeat the experience of Tunisia and Egypt: a popular uprising that toppled the dictatorship fairly quickly and at modest cost, followed by an effort to begin consolidating popular governance. That now seems unlikely.
Obama’s Moment of Truth
March 15, 2011
Each president of the United States enters office thinking he will be able to define the agenda and set the course of America’s relations with the rest of the world. And, almost invariably, each confronts crises that are thrust upon him—wars, revolutions, genocides, and deadly confrontations. Neither Woodrow Wilson nor FDR imagined having to plunge America into world war. Truman had to act quickly, and with little preparation, to confront the menace of Soviet expansion at war’s end.
The Fourth Wave
March 14, 2011
Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote that all the great events of the past 700 years—from the Crusades and English wars that decimated the nobles, to the discovery of firearms and the art of printing, to the rise of Protestantism and the discovery of America—had the ineluctable effect of advancing the principle of equality. Political scientist Samuel Huntington went further and identified several historical waves of democratization. The First Wave began with our own revolution in 1776, which was quickly followed by the French Revolution.
Tokyo, Japan—Back in 1976, I worked as an English teacher in Sendai, the large city closest to the epicenter of Friday’s horrendous earthquake. Once a week I would go to the campus of Tohoku University—the city’s pre-eminent university—for an afternoon of “English discussion” with a group of professors and grad students. Their research involved the effects of earthquakes on buildings.
March 11, 2011
Barack Obama’s policy toward the Libyan struggle for freedom is no longer a muddle. It is now a disgrace. Here is what his administration and its allies have told the world, and the Libyan dictator, and the Libyan rebels, in recent days.