World

According to the tenets of current American military thought and practice—that is, “wars amongst the people” fought to win the hearts and minds of local populations—the capacity to have three cups of tea with a local sheik equals the ability to counter and coordinate artillery fires.

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The contretemps between Russia and the United States over Viktor “Merchant of Death” Bout has a surreal, theater-of-the-absurd quality, one that highlights the core philosophical divide between the two countries in just about everything. Russian officials are outragedthat notorious arms-dealer Bout was successfully extradited from Thailand this week and charged with terrorism offenses in Manhattan Federal Court.

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Havana, Cuba—You see them on stage, on passenger flights, and at trade fairs: Americans in Cuba legally, and hoping to travel here more often. The American Ballet Theater has just performed here for the first time in 50 years. It was a wildly popular performance, featuring two Cuban-American dancers—Jose Manuel Carreno and Xiomara Reyes, who was in Cuba for the first time since fleeing the country with her family 18 years ago. “The willingness to share something makes a difference. Why wouldn’t it make a difference?” Reyes told me.

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When Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, spoke to some 60 influential Jewish-Americans in the Plaza’s Edwardian Room on September 21, the first question came from World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, who pushed Abbas on whether he was prepared to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Mr. Lauder was echoing a demand repeatedly made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the last year and a half. Judging from Mr.

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Speaking on BBC radio at the end of 2003, as his novel Absolute Friends was published in the shadow of the Iraq war, John le Carré compared himself to Victor Klemperer, the German-Jewish scholar and diarist.

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This morning my wife and I listened to BBC Radio’s “Today” program—required fare for members of the media looking to tap the nation’s pulse via broadcasts from Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior politicians. Two historians, in what was clearly a pre-recorded program, were discussing Churchill's bleak mood after the fall of France and prior to his making one of his most historic speeches to the House of Commons in June 1940. The speech was rousing both for Britons and for Americans, to whom it was also addressed.

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The Global Imam

The leader of what is arguably the world’s most successful Islamic movement lives in a tiny Pennsylvania town called Saylorsburg, at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center, otherwise known as “the Camp.” The Camp consists of a series of houses, a community center, a pond, and some tranquil, woodsy space for strolling.

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Barack Obama may have mangled a few Indian words in his address to India’s parliament today, but he got the important things right. Stating the obvious is often berated as a platitudinous impulse, but in some cases it can be a virtue, particularly when your audience is of a thin-skinned kind that actually craves the obvious.

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Last Tuesday, in a Moscow courtroom, Mikhail Khodorkovsky—former oil magnate and the once the wealthiest man in Russia—delivered a remarkable speech. Khodorkovsky has been in prison since 2003 and he now faces additional charges that could force him to stay in jail for many more years. In his speech, Khodorkovsky offers a narrative of how any semblance of liberal government was snuffed out in Russia during recent years—and explains how his own fate has become part of this depressing story.

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In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake that leveled much of Port-au-Prince last January 12, there was a great deal of talk among the great and the good that this time it was going to be different. Not only would the Haitian capital be rebuilt and its 600,000 homeless housed once more, but at long last the major international donors would not leave once this (in reality, appalling) status quo ante had been restored.

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