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

Revolt on the Ranch

I n early October, as the Iraq debate heated up in Washington, U.S. Rep. and Senate hopeful John Thune (R-S.D.) began airing a campaign ad on western South Dakota television stations. The 30-second spot featured images of Saddam Hussein while an announcer assailed opponent Tim Johnson, the incumbent Democratic senator, for voting against missile-defense implementation. Opposing missile defense, the ad implied, could land Hussein's weapons of mass destruction in your backyard. Just a few weeks ago, Republicans were relying on Iraq to carry them to victory, but this strategy no longer seems as certain. And attacking Johnson, who voted for the Iraq resolution and who is the only sitting senator whose son served in Afghanistan, has not proven particularly effective. As one cowboy-hat-wearing rancher from a county decorated with Thune signs says, the missile-defense spot was "chickenshit advertising." Thune himself acknowledges, "People are focusing on pocketbook issues as well as homeland...

Civil Offensive

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Stephanie Herseth was seven years old when Bill Janklow was first elected to the South Dakota governor's office in 1978. Today Herseth, a 31-year old lawyer and the granddaughter of one of the state's rare Democratic governors, finds herself locked in a dead heat with Janklow in a race for South Dakota's lone House seat. Unlike the Senate race, which pits incumbent Democrat Tim Johnson against Republican Congressman John Thune, South Dakota's House contest has been a relatively low-key affair. Apart from the ubiquitous blue billboards lining the highways that urge voters to send Bill Janklow to Washington, this race has not had the national visibility of the high-profile and heavy-hitting Senate contest. And while many South Dakotans have very strong opinions about the governor -- who is, among other things, the nemesis of the state's 8-percent Native American population -- Herseth has nevertheless steered clear of the negative campaigning and attack advertising...

Pot Luck

SAN FRANCISCO -- Early in the morning of Sept. 5, Drug Enforcement Administration officials raided a small farm near Santa Cruz, Calif., that had provided marijuana for sick and dying patients under California's 1996 medical-marijuana law, Proposition 215. According to the DEA, the 100 to 200 plants seized at the farm confirmed that large-scale production, distribution and sale of marijuana was taking place, a charge that owners Valerie and Michael Corral deny. The Corrals -- who lead the Wo/men's Association for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) and helped craft a 1992 local ordinance in Santa Cruz that foreshadowed Proposition 215 -- were arrested following the raid and later released without being charged. The incident has set off a bitter feud between law-enforcement officials in California and the Department of Justice in Washington. Moreover, it's placed some California liberals in the unusual position of defending states' rights against federal authority. Indeed, the most recent...

The West's Griles Virus:

"T his hopefully will be a breath of fresh air," exclaimed National Mining Association spokesman John Grasser, with no intended irony, after he learned that J. Steven Griles had been nominated as the Department of the Interior's deputy secretary. Griles, who epitomizes the revolving door between government and industry, has alternated between getting rich working for industry and serving at high-level government posts, where he has devised industry-friendly policies to open public lands to drilling and mining. During the Reagan years, Griles presided over the gutting of the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining. He was accused of suppressing U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports revealing the environmental hazards of offshore drilling in California in order to speed lease sales. And on his way out in 1988, he gave a "farewell gift" to big coal, reducing royalty rates just before taking a job in the industry. Between his government stints, Griles served as a vice president...

Stray Crats

O n Dec. 6, 2001, under rhetorical pressure from Speaker Dennis Hastert ("Support our president, who is fighting a courageous war on terrorism.") and real pressure from the administration and corporate America, members of the House of Representatives passed a bill granting the president fast-track trade-promotion authority by a single vote: 215-to-214. The bill would not have passed without the unheralded defection of several centrist Democrats -- most prominently, Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), who just the previous November had ousted the Republican incumbent in her San Diego district by virtue of a massive mobilization from labor. California unions, which had put hundreds of activists and hundreds of thousands of dollars into Davis' campaign, were understandably apoplectic. She had given them no sign that she was about to side against them on this crucial vote, says San Diego Central Labor Council Political Director Donald Cohen. To make matters worse, California's primary election...

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