International Affairs

Without Apology

Because there can be no fear check on a free and open press, and because of the self-evident newsworthiness of the cartoons, the editorial staff of New York Press collectively resigned when ownership decided to kill the images and several thousand words dedicated to them just hours before the paper was to go to print on Tuesday.

Here is the editorial that was to have run on the issue’s cover and their letter of resignation and here are four of the essays on the cartoons that were to have run inside the paper.

The Play About Islam I Want To See

If you lived in a society in which people routinely “disappeared” and where even the “anti-government” parties must first be approved by the government, you might also be susceptible to chatter about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or of elaborate, non-existent CIA plots.

Fight for Freedom

At a time like this, the concept of a free Civil Society needs strong defenders, not intimidated advocates.

Heads in the Sand

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Bush administration has gone at least a little soft on radical Islam—and that everyone is still scared stiff of it.

Cartoon Clash of Civilizations?

The cartoons themselves are self-congratulatory and smug, drawn and propagated with the intent to incite controversy—although perhaps not the sort of “controversy” engendered by petrol bombs tossed through embassy windows.

The Academy and the Cartoon Controversy

Those hoping for insight from Middle East Studies specialists, however, will be sorely disappointed. Last year’s events at Columbia, which featured credible allegations of anti-Israel bias in the classrooms of several Middle East Studies professors, provided only the highest-profile example of a field whose faculty too often seem to view demonizing Israel as an academic responsibility. Israel can’t be blamed for the current controversy. But that hasn’t stopped many of the academy’s experts on the Middle East from using the controversy to recycle their customary critiques.

More than Samba

01.12.2006 | Raphael McGregor | International Affairs, Music | 3 Comments

Whenever I tell people I’m in a band that plays Brazilian music, the inevitable response is, “Oh, you play Samba?”

Devolving Again

The ill-conceived and illogical statement made at the Houston biennial (and which was also sent by post to all members of Congress and President Bush) is falling by the wayside in favor of the antics of its critics and supporters.

Welcome to the Terrordome

07.14.2005 | Russ Smith | International Affairs, Media Affairs | 2 Comments
Bush’s audacious foreign policy, which has tipped over the traditional playing board in the Middle East, won’t be realized during his second term. And perhaps it will be in vain. But his defiant stand in taking the war to the jihadists, on their home turf, is far more courageous—morally and politically—than doing nothing aside from chasing bin Laden and hoping that everything will turn out OK.

Letter from Afghanistan -- "Don't Step on Anything Pointy"

Most victims survive landmine explosions thanks to the gruesome calculus of weapons designers. A dead solider might be left or buried on the spot. A wounded solider would need at least two others to help him to safety, further weakening the enemy. So many anti-personnel mines were designed to maim. The popular butterfly mine jumps to waist height before releasing its small charge into the groin and limbs. Their small size and green color make them particular deadly for children who mistake them for toys.

Letter From Madrid -- Absentee 193

Even as his own chief of police concedes that the attack was in the works before 9/11, Prime Minister Zapatero maintains that it was his predecessor’s decision to send a token Spanish contingent to Iraq that provoked the jihad boys to retaliate. Good reason to believe Spain will remain Al Qaeda’s European base for many years to come.

Letter from Budapest -- My Grandmother and Other Ghosts

My grandfather had warned me not to go to Hungary, that there was nothing for me to see. He had gone back a few years after my grandmother died and found nothing left to speak of in his Transylvanian town, not even a memorial plaque, and had gotten lost on the subway. If it was possible to further estrange him from Eastern Europe after the Holocaust, this seemed to do it.

Letter from Budapest -- "A Magyar takes his pleasures mournfully."

Hungary’s Jews survived until rather late in World War II. The lateness of their sufferings draws the attention starkly to its senselessness and horror — as though they had been shipped off and gassed merely for form’s sake.

Letter from Amsterdam -- Fear of Mosque and Superstate

You don't have to go there to know that Holland is gripped by growing fear of Islamic extremism. What I learned on a recent visit to this famously easy-going city was that the Dutch response to the Islamists is tied up in a larger critique of European welfare statism.

Carpet Smuggling in Azerbaijan

The official looked troubled but also reluctant to jump start his brain with such a dilemma so early in the morning. Why would a foreigner have gone to the trouble of getting an export certificate for one carpet and not the other? Why had he been so eager to show off the silk carpet yet so absent-minded about the wool one? How could he strictly observe the caviar export limit yet so brazenly ignore the rule on carpets? Foreigners were liable to the most curious and inexplicable behavior.

Free Trade With China Isn't

02.1.2005 | Jonathan Leaf | International Affairs | 4 Comments
Economists have come to call this “the co-dependent relationship”: we want to consume, they don’t want any slowing in their rate of job creation. The result is extremely dangerous for both our long-term economic health and the security of the world.

View From the Old World -- How Europe Sees the US

Paris in the summertime actually hosts as many conferences on the crisis of French national identity as it does striptease shows. One professor asked: "How is it that such a brilliant nation has become such a mediocre power, so out of breath, so indebted, so closed in its own prejudices?"

Iraq in the Cold Light of Day

The war wasn't a good idea -- it was just the best available option.

A Letter From London -- Throw the Dog a Bone

If anything, it would be better for Blair if Brits viewed him as a bloodthirsty hawk in league with Bush. That at least would carry macho kudos. But the favoured satirical representation is of a coiffeured poodle gambolling on the White House lawn.

Liquid Freedom

11.11.2004 | Lenny Glynn | International Affairs, NP | 34 Comments
The Bush Administration, which is advancing the virtues of an ownership society in America, has not advanced any creative ideas for using Iraq’s oil to benefit its people directly. Nor has the Allawi government laid out any path away from the regional tradition of state-centered oil paternalism and public clientelism. Yet it is difficult to conceive a policy action that could better clarify what it means to “liberate” Iraq, empower its people, and create real common ground for a national rebirth than reforming the distribution of oil revenue and giving the Iraqi people a real stake in the success of the state. This is as critical to winning the peace in Iraq as land reform was to fostering democracy in post-war Japan.

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