Tom Clancy, 1947-2013.
October 14, 2013 • Vol. 19, No. 06
Tom Clancy’s premature death is rich in unfortunate symbolism, because the U.S. armed forces, whose renaissance he celebrated in the 1980s and beyond, may be heading back to the “hollow,” pre-Clancy days of the 1970s. Although he kept writing up until the end, and continued to sell scads of books and video games, Clancy is mostly associated with the Reagan years, and for good reason. He was part of a pop culture outpouring, which also included the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun and Clint Eastwood’s Heartbreak Ridge, that marked an inflection point in American attitudes towards the military.
September 30, 2013
Review of Small Wars, Faraway Places: Global Insurrection and the Making of the Modern World, 1945–1965, by Michael Burleigh (Viking, 608 pp., $36).
Civilization in Asia and Africa is ancient, but the current political map of those continents is strikingly modern: it was largely drawn in the decade or two after World War II. Those were the years when new nations were forged. Burma, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaya, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Ghana, Mali, Uganda, Nigeria, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and on and on—the list is a long one. Meanwhile, existing nations from Egypt to China saw changes of regime whose consequences continue to reverberate.
A suspension of U.S. military assistance isn't likely to alter the Egyptian generals' behavior, but it might prevent terrorist blowback.
August 22, 2013
Prominent commentators, including Leslie Gelb, John Bolton and Bret Stephens, are counseling the Obama administration to swallow its qualms about the military coup in Cairo and embrace the generals as the best alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood. This is what might be called the "son of a bitch" theory of international relations, after the apocryphal comment supposedly made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza: "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."
It's a rough, sometimes dangerous sport, but critics exaggerate football's risks
August 16, 2013
The tang of fall is in the air, and every American knows what it portends: the sights and sounds of cleats digging into grass turf, of grunting linemen colliding shoulder pad to shoulder pad, of an oblong leather ball spinning through the air, high above the mortals below. Football season is almost upon us, and with it comes another season of controversy, prompting fresh claims of a crisis in the game.
North and South, on the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, couldn't be more different.
July 28, 2013
SEOUL — Americans like to pretend that politics don't matter and to bemoan the slight differences between our political parties. These are luxuries we can afford as the world's richest and most stable country. But for much of the world, politics are a matter of life and death. That is particularly evident in South Korea, which this weekend celebrates the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.
What do jihadists want? Simple: power. The power to impose their own extreme version of Shari’a law. But that is not what most Muslims want. For the most part they want the same things as non-Muslims: jobs, education, families, a higher standard of living, peace, and security. Therein lies both the power and the weakness of jihadist extremists: they are strong because they are motivated by religious certitude, but at the same time they are weak because their program is too austere to be popular when actually implemented even in traditional Muslim societies. If properly exploited by a skilled adversary, this weakness can turn out to be fatal.