Every Christmas, I re-read C .S. Lewis’s novel “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” The holiday seems like the ideal time for an excursion into my imaginative past, and so I return to the paperback boxed set of “The Chronicles of Narnia” that my parents gave me for Christmas when I was 10. For me, Narnia is intimately linked with the season.
I’m not alone. In Britain, stage productions of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” are a holiday staple, for good reason. The book rests on a foundation of Christian imagery; its most famous scene is of a little girl standing under a lamppost in a snowy wood; and Father Christmas himself makes an appearance, after the lion god Aslan frees Narnia from an evil witch who decreed that it be “always winter, and never Christmas.”… Seguir leyendo »
The conflict in eastern Congo over the past 12 years has been as much a surrogate war between Congo and neighboring Rwanda as an internal ethnic insurgency, as a United Nations report underscored last week. The only way to end a war that has caused five million deaths and forced millions to flee their homes in Congo’s two eastern provinces is to address the conflict’s international dimensions. The role of Rwanda — which borders the provinces and which denied the accusations in the United Nations report over the weekend — is of prime importance.
The international community has worked hard to resolve the conflicts among the various parties: the sovereign states of Rwanda and Congo as well as the assorted militias and private armies that are sponsored by these two governments and by opportunistic local warlords.… Seguir leyendo »
During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised that in the first 100 days of his administration he would “travel to a major Islamic forum and deliver an address to redefine our struggle.”
Egypt, Turkey and Qatar have been suggested as possible sites for such a speech. But the best candidate is the country in which Mr. Obama lived as a child: Indonesia.
Choosing Indonesia would throw light on the diversity and richness of Islam, which is not, contrary to lingering perceptions, practiced solely by Arabs or only in the Middle East. The country, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, does a reasonable job of managing its considerable religious heterogeneity.… Seguir leyendo »
Over the next few weeks, the Opinion section will publish a series of Op-Ed articles by experts on the challenges facing Barack Obama when he takes office. Homeland security and improving our intelligence agencies is the focus of today’s articles.
1) ‘Terror’ Is The Enemy. The threat has changed; our tactics should, too.
2) Safe At Home. How worried should we be about Al Qaeda?
3) Out Of Sight. Barack Obama will come to see the value of rendition.
4) Big Brother Hasn’t Won. We need to know the scope of eavesdropping.
5) Intelligence Boosters. The C.I.A. needs help from the real world.
Generals are not the only ones who prepare to fight the previous war. Our experience with 20th-century nation-based terrorists — the I.R.A. in Ireland, the P.K.K. in the Kurdish areas of Turkey, ETA in Spain’s Basque country, the F.L.N. in Algeria and others — still dominates much of our thinking about how to deal with 21st-century global terrorists. Indeed, the lack of new concepts may well be as deadly to our national security as any lack of vaccines.
New approaches to dealing with global terrorism must first be integrated into our foreign security policies generally. Allies in Europe must be reassured that the United States will not violate the human rights accords to which we are a party.… Seguir leyendo »
A few days before the presidential election, the director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, told a group of intelligence officials that the new administration could well be tested by a terrorist attack on the homeland in its first year in office. “The World Trade Center was attacked in the first year of President Clinton, and the second attack was in the first year of President Bush,” he said.
President-elect Barack Obama made a similar observation when he told “60 Minutes” that it was important to get a national security team in place “because transition periods are potentially times of vulnerability to a terrorist attack.”… Seguir leyendo »
Few post-9/11 issues have produced more anxiety and revulsion than the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of “aggressive interrogation” and the extrajudicial rendition of terrorist suspects to countries that practice torture. President-elect Barack Obama has promised to ban waterboarding and other pain-inflicting soliciting techniques, as well as rendition. He has also promised to close the Guantánamo Bay prison.
More broadly, liberal Democrats in Congress intend to deploy a more moral counterterrorism, where the ends — stopping the slaughter of civilians by Islamic holy warriors — no longer justifies reprehensible means. Winning the hearts and minds of foreigners by remaining true to our nobler virtues is now seen as the way to defeat our enemies while preserving our essential goodness.… Seguir leyendo »
If you thought the wiretapping controversy ended last summer, when Congress blessed the Bush administration’s warrantless-wiretapping program by passing a new surveillance law that greatly enhanced the powers of the National Security Agency, think again. The legacy of the illegal operation represents a serious problem for the Obama administration.
After a contentious hearing this month on the most controversial aspect of the new law — a blanket grant of immunity to the telecom giants like AT&T that secretly permitted the N.S.A. to siphon off their customers’ communications — a federal judge in San Francisco must decide whether Congress has the authority to bestow absolution on private companies that appear to have violated the law.… Seguir leyendo »
This is the article I never intended to write. For former C.I.A. officers, the tipping point between debate-generating critique and “if they had only listened to me” pontification is easy to cross, and I had hoped to avoid the latter by simply refraining from attempts at the former. So let’s be clear, I am not claiming to have been prescient. It took more than three years outside the agency for me to truly understand its problems and to see a possible solution.
To start with the bottom line, the C.I.A.’s human spy business is not answering the hardest questions. How can I know this, three years out of touch with the secret stuff?… Seguir leyendo »
This week, as Washington has tried to decide whether to rescue the automobile industry, Americans have wondered what it looks like when a giant automobile company goes under. The answer can be found in Detroit.
In the summer of 1956, the once-mighty Packard Motor Car Company closed its doors. Its headquarters and chief production complex still stand here, though, and their slowly decaying remains serve as a symbol for the fall of American manufacturing in general and the degradation of the auto industry in particular. The Packard plant sits on East Grand Boulevard on Detroit’s east side. It is immense: 3.5… Seguir leyendo »
Ten years ago, in settling the largest civil lawsuit in American history, Big Tobacco agreed to pay the 50 states $246 billion, which they’ve used in part to finance efforts to prevent smoking. The percentage of American adults who smoke has fallen since then to just over 20 percent from nearly 30 percent, but smoking is still the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the United States, and smoking-related health care costs more than $167 billion a year.
To reduce this cost, the incoming Obama administration should abandon one antismoking strategy that isn’t working.
A key component of the Food and Drug Administration’s approach to smoking prevention is to warn about health dangers: Smoking causes fatal lung cancer; smoking causes emphysema; smoking while pregnant causes birth defects.… Seguir leyendo »
The recent death and destruction in Mumbai, India, brought to my mind the death and destruction in Karachi on Oct. 18, 2007, when terrorists attacked a festive homecoming rally for my wife, Benazir Bhutto. Nearly 150 Pakistanis were killed and more than 450 were injured. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai may be a news story for most of the world. For me it is a painful reality of shared experience. Having seen my wife escape death by a hairbreadth on that day in Karachi, I lost her in a second, unfortunately successful, attempt two months later.
The Mumbai attacks were directed not only at India but also at Pakistan’s new democratic government and the peace process with India that we have initiated.… Seguir leyendo »
The divisions we split the world into during the cold war have at long last crumbled thanks to the Mumbai terrorist attacks. No longer will we view South Asia as a region distinct from the Middle East. Now there is only one long continuum stretching from the Mediterranean to the jungles of Burma, with every crisis from the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in the west to the Hindu-Muslim dispute in the east interlocked with the one next door.
Yet this elongated Greater Near East does not signify something new but something old.
For significant parts of medieval and early modern history, Delhi was under the same sovereignty as Kabul, yet under a different one from Bangalore.… Seguir leyendo »
The attitude of white, liberal Hollywood toward African- American churches has long been one of almost participatory respect. Whether it’s Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard, or the Blind Boys of Alabama on the iPod, or a serious — reverential — mention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference over dinner, the understanding is clear: the black church is a foundational institution in the history of the civil rights struggle, and its music (although it makes reference to Jesus Christ as a personal savior) is smoking hot.
It was only recently that the A-list discovered that this love is unrequited.… Seguir leyendo »
To the horror of many and the fascination of most, the Sirius Star, an enormous tanker transporting two million barrels of crude oil to the United States, was captured by pirates far off the African coast on Nov. 15.
The tanker, owned by Aramco, the Saudi oil company, was carrying enough crude to supply New England with fuel oil for 10 days — in the winter. It is seven times the size of the Titanic and longer than the Chrysler Building is tall. How, then, could a dozen pirates in two puny boats armed with rifles and a grenade launcher board a ship this size?… Seguir leyendo »
The golden age of piracy has returned. Just as Henry Every and William Kidd once made their fortunes in the Red Sea, a new generation has emerged, armed with grenade launchers and assault rifles, to threaten trade and distract the world’s navies. With the recent capture of the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star, a crime that once seemed remote and archaic has again claimed center stage.
And yet the world’s legal apparatus is woefully confused as to how to respond to piracy. Are the Somali pirates ordinary criminals, or a quasi-military force?
The question is not insignificant. It has virtually paralyzed the navies called to police the Gulf of Aden.… Seguir leyendo »
Since the terrorist assaults began in Mumbai last week, the metaphor of the World Trade Center attacks has been repeatedly invoked. From New Delhi to New York, pundits and TV commentators have insisted that “this is India’s 9/11” and should be treated as such. Nearly every newspaper in India has put “9/11” into its post-massacre headlines. The secretary general of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the leading Hindu nationalist political faction, has not only likened the Mumbai attack to those on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but has insisted that “our response must be close to what the American response was.”… Seguir leyendo »
Midway through last week’s murderous rampage in Mumbai, one of the suspected gunmen at the besieged Jewish center called a popular Indian TV channel. Speaking in Urdu (the primary language of Pakistan and many Indian Muslims), he ranted against the recent visit of an Israeli general to the Indian-ruled section of the Kashmir Valley. Referring to the Pakistan-backed insurgency in the valley, and the Indian military response to it, he asked, “Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir?”
In a separate phone call, another gunman invoked the oppression of Muslims by Hindu nationalists and the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in 1992.… Seguir leyendo »
As I watched the Taj Mahal hotel breathe fire, I remembered my grandfather, Burjor. For more than 30 years, he was the florist at the hotel, ordering roses flown in daily from New Delhi.
Like the Taj, his black Fiat, a broken dinosaur of a car, was a landmark in itself. Filled to the brim with cane baskets for his flower shop, and home to several brown cockroaches, he parked it in the same spot every day — right in front of the hotel’s main entrance.
I essentially grew up in the hotel. And I would have been there on Wednesday night, browsing in its bookshop, and at the Leopold Cafe nearby, if it were not for the last-minute distraction of a soccer match in my neighborhood.… Seguir leyendo »
The imminent arrival of Thomas Campbell as the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is much more than a simple changing of the guard after the long tenure of his predecessor, Philippe de Montebello. Mr. Campbell, who will take over one month from today, is a 46-year-old curator from the Met’s department of European sculpture and decorative arts, and he has a unique opportunity to shift the tone of an enduring and increasingly hostile debate in the world of art and museums: Who should own the treasures of antiquity?
Up to now, the parties on either side of this dispute have stood in opposing corners with their fingers in their ears.… Seguir leyendo »