Sasha Polakow-Suransky

Sasha Polakow-Suransky is a senior editor at Foreign Affairs. His book, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa, will be published by Pantheon next May.

Recent Articles

War Torn

LONDON -- The festive mood of the crowd that gathered in the streets surrounding London's Euston Station last Thursday afternoon to protest George W. Bush's visit to Britain seemed at odds with the other news of the day. Drums beat wildly, hippies danced, fathers hoisted toddlers onto their soldiers. Few seemed to know or care that earlier that morning, al-Qaeda had attacked a British consulate and London-based bank in Turkey, leaving more than 20 -- including the consul himself -- dead. The Guardian would later report that, in Istanbul, there were "scenes of chaos in the surrounding streets, where the bodies of the dead and injured were strewn among the wreckage of the building and cars." London felt very much a continent away. With more than 100,000 people in attendance, the demonstration, which began about five hours after the Istanbul bombing, was the largest weekday protest in British history. Signs ran the gamut, from the predictable ("Bush is a war criminal") to the creative ("...

Bad Medicine

For the third time in as many decades, doctors across the country are protesting rising medical-malpractice insurance premiums. The American Medical Association (AMA) is promoting its long-standing goal of medical-liability reform in the shape of a $250,000 cap on "pain and suffering" (noneconomic) damages in malpractice cases. Karl Rove must be thrilled. For an administration determined to deplete the coffers of Democratic trial-lawyer donors -- and damage presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) in the process -- malpractice reform is a godsend. It is also a powerful wedge issue with the potential to alienate doctors from Democrats after their recent collaboration on the Patients' Bill of Rights. Just one year ago, the AMA and trial lawyers were working together to pass legislation allowing patients to sue HMOs. But with reimbursements declining and malpractice premiums rising, trial lawyers are the physicians' new target. President Bush's AMA-backed proposal to cap pain and...

Giving the Poor Some Credit

Microcredit for the poor is one of those ideas that attracts both liberals and conservatives. In principle, even the world's poorest people can acquire habits of savings and investment -- if they have access to capital. The strategy is both redistributive (liberal) and entrepreneurial (conservative). Why is it necessary? Conventional banking institutions usually write off the poor as potential creditors. On average, they are too risky as borrowers, and even credit-worthy individuals seem hardly worth the trouble because the loans are so small. Though it was not the first microlending institution, the famed Grameen Bank of Bangladesh has become the most celebrated. It has been widely imitated, both in the Third World and as an entrepreneurial brand of anti-poverty policy in the United States. Started in 1976 as an experiment by a practical visionary named Muhammad Yunus, the Grameen ("village") system had some unusual traits for a lending institution: It required borrowers to fall...

Free Market Furies

World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability By Amy Chua, Doubleday, 340 pages, $26.00 Amy Chua's new book is not likely to receive a warm reception at the Department of State, the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. For more than a decade, the received wisdom in those precincts has held that free markets and rapid democratization represent the one and only legitimate path to economic development. Turning the Washington Consensus on its head, Chua contends that the simultaneous introduction of unfettered free markets and rudimentary democracy can lead to disaster in countries where small "market-dominant minorities" control a disproportionate share of the nation's wealth and arouse the vengeance of resentful majorities. Chua's critique is all the more damning because she is not a flower-child, anti-globalization firebrand out to denounce the establishment. A former Wall Street lawyer, she's currently a professor at Yale Law...

Epidemic Denial

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA -- In late December 2002, South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), gathered in the plush university town of Stellenbosch for its 51st National Conference. That members elected President Thabo Mbeki to lead the ANC for another five years came as no surprise; more noteworthy was the announcement of a policy shift on AIDS, which plagues more than 10 percent of the country's population. "Given the progression of the AIDS epidemic . . . our program of transformation should not only acknowledge this danger, but it must also put the campaign against it at the top of the agenda," read the conference's statement. After years of international incredulity and outrage regarding Mbeki's contention that HIV does not cause AIDS, it seemed that the ANC leadership was finally coming to its senses. But two months after the supposed shifting of gears at Stellenbosch, there is precious little evidence that Mbeki and his party are moving any faster to...

Pages