December 02, 2010
As the North Korea crisis spirals into its second week, and seemingly out of control, many American policymakers and pundits agree on one thing: China needs to do something about Pyongyang. “China is not behaving as a responsible world power,” Senator John McCain told CNN. “They could bring the North Korean economy to their knees if they wanted to.” State Department spokesman P.J.
Cambodia’s Democratic Warrior
December 02, 2010
On a Saturday morning in July, Cambodian opposition politician Mu Sochua traveled to the dusty, sun-baked suburbs of Phnom Penh for a rally. Close to 100 Cambodians—most of them poor women sitting on plastic chairs squeezed into the ground-floor room of a supporter’s house—stood and applauded when she arrived. Wearing a traditional sarong, with her silver-streaked brown hair tied back, the American-educated parliamentarian took a microphone and began to speak. “People are in the mood for change.
The Irony of Wikileaks
December 01, 2010
There’s no question that many of the Wikileaks documents are a great read. These diplomatic conversations between American officials and leaders from the Arab world, China, and Europe provide important insights about the subtleties of U.S. policy and the complexities of dealing with different personalities and governments around the world. But the disclosures are not just interesting; they are also ironic. That’s because they undermine the very worldview that Julian Assange and his colleagues at Wikileaks almost certainly support.
A Defense of Wikileaks
December 01, 2010
The Obama administration has condemned Wikileaks for its second release within a year of classified foreign policy documents. And some liberal commentators have backed up the administration’s complaints. And I am not going to argue that the administration doesn’t have a case. Governments rely on candid assessments from their diplomats; and if Americans in overseas embassies have to assume that they are writing for the general public and not for their superiors back home, they are not likely to be very candid. But there is also something to be said in defense of Wikileaks.
The Cairo Agenda
November 27, 2010
This weekend, Egyptians will go to the polls—and few of their votes will be counted. The country's elections are, after all, a pseudo-democratic façade carefully choreographed to appease the regime’s Western benefactors. For that reason, Egyptian electoral outcomes are mostly expressions of the regime’s political interests at a particular moment in time.
Can William and Kate’s Wedding Really Save the British Economy?
November 27, 2010
In what seemed like a rare moment of complete political transparency, David Cameron stepped out of 10 Downing Street last week to tell us that his ministers had cheered and banged the cabinet table when he announced the news of Prince William's engagement. And cheer they might. Grim news has dominated headlines here lately: strikes, government cuts, rising unemployment, and falling house prices.
Scenes From Egypt's Vicious Media Crackdown
November 26, 2010
The room in the Journalist Union in the heart of downtown Cairo smells of old cigarette smoke. Soda bottles and plastic cups litter the floor. Men cluster in a circle of pleather loveseats; some tap laptop keyboards, others read. It is Day 20 of the independent Al Dustour newspaper staff’s sit-in and everyone in the room looks worn out. Mohammad Abu Al Dahb, a 26-year-old correspondent, hasn’t slept at home since the staff began protesting the sacking of their dissident editor-in-chief. “It’s physically exhausting, of course, but psychologically, every day we feel better about it.
Do We Have Any Idea How to Deal with North Korea?
November 24, 2010
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.
Why Does America Dislike the World's Worst Arms Dealer? The Russians Simply Don't Understand.
November 22, 2010
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.
Cuba Is Opening Up, As America Turns Away
November 19, 2010
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.