Take Only Pictures
January 18, 2011
When Chinese President Hu Jintao meets his American counterpart at the White House tomorrow, he will undoubtedly go through the motions of engaging him on substantive matters. But there will be little in the way of agreement: At the last summit, in November 2009, China and the United States released a 4,223-word joint statement that became a dead letter within three weeks, after acrimonious exchanges at the Copenhagen Climate Summit.
Today in Despotism: New Year’s Edition
January 18, 2011
“Today in Despotism” began to run in TNR Online in 2005. The idea was to provide an overview of goings-on in tyrannical countries around the world. The news items were drawn solely from the state-run or state-approved publications of the respective outposts. The column ceased to run in 2006, when the Bush administration managed to eradicate despotism worldwide. Or possibly it was that the author no longer had time. Now, in 2011, “Today in Despotism” is back, and TNR readers can finally stay properly informed.
Making Sense of Tunisia
January 17, 2011
According to many media accounts, the protests that swept Tunisia, causing dictatorial President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia, were instigated by the gruesomely symbolic suicide in December of Mohammed Bouazizi, who some are calling “the father of the Tunisian revolution.”* In Tunisia’s choking atmosphere of unemployment, particularly among the young, Bouazizi had resorted to selling produce in the town of Sidi Bouzid.
Tunisia and the Lessons of the Iranian Revolution
January 16, 2011
What happened in Tunisia over the past few days was reminiscent of scenes from Latin America, East Asia, and Eastern Europe in the 1980s and ’90s: people’s power in action. But it is another historical parallel—to Iran in 1979—that has something to teach the West as it figures out how to respond. The toppling of Tunisia’s longtime dictator, Ben Ali, recalled the last days of the Shah, when riots against poor living conditions and calls for human rights quickly turned into demands for getting rid of a dictator.
Sudan Dispatch: The Coming Struggle
January 14, 2011
Juba, Sudan—As voting continues in this week’s referendum, which is expected to pass, people here in the south are eagerly awaiting the formal announcement that their homeland, finally, will be a free nation.
Sudan Dispatch: Homeward Bound
January 12, 2011
Bentiu, Sudan—In the center of this southern town, in a dusty public square with just a few trees for precious shade, 19 busloads of people arrived from Khartoum on Sunday, the first day of voting in this week’s historic referendum for independence. They were just a fraction of the 36,800 “returnees” that officials estimate have flooded into Unity state, of which Bentiu is the capital city, over the past two months.
Sudan Dispatch: High Stakes
January 08, 2011
Bentiu, Sudan—The stakes of this get-out-the-vote campaign are the highest of any in recent memory. Starting on Sunday, citizens of southern Sudan will participate in a week of voting on a referendum that, if it passes, will make the south an independent nation. For the results to be valid, however, 60 percent of the 3.9 million people who have registered to vote must cast ballots. Here in Unity state, which would be on the northern border of the new South Sudan, officials report with pride that they have the most registered voters of any state (over 500,000).
How To Save Pakistan From the Abyss
January 08, 2011
The assassination of Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s largest province—and the wave of support for the assassin from Islamic extremists—underscores how close to the abyss the world’s second largest Muslim country has come. Taseer was an outspoken critic of religious extremism and a defender of civilian government. Like Benazir Bhutto, he was murdered by the dark forces in Pakistan that seek to create an Islamic emirate. In the wake of this disaster, many will be tempted to go to the generals and look for a strongman, perhaps army chief of staff General Kayani, to maintain order.
January 07, 2011
American diplomacy seems to have survived Wikileaks’s “attack on the international community,” as Hillary Clinton so dramatically characterized it, unscathed. Save for a few diplomatic reshuffles, Foggy Bottom doesn’t seem to be deeply affected by what happened. Certainly, the U.S. government at large has not been paralyzed by the leaks—contrary to what Julian Assange had envisioned in one of his cryptic-cum-visionary essays, penned in 2006.
Sudan Dispatch: Will Oil Keep the Peace?
January 07, 2011
Bentiu, Sudan—Two days ago, President Omar Al Bashir made what is likely to be his last visit to Juba, the southern capital, as the head of a unified Sudan. Promising to be “the first to recognize the south” if southerners vote for independence in this weekend’s referendum, Al Bashir’s conciliatory tone left people here scratching their heads about his real intentions. Mistrust of his ruling National Congress party is intense in the south, and, until last week, officials in Khartoum had been uniformly hostile about the possibility of secession.