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

Fortress Denmark?

J ean-Marie Le Pen shocked the world on April 21 when he eliminated socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in the first round of France's presidential election. But Le Pen's triumph was merely the latest in a string of right-wing electoral victories that have embarrassed established social democratic regimes throughout Europe. From Italy and Austria to Belgium and Holland, a populist, anti-immigrant, far-right movement, animated by nationalism and xenophobia, is gaining ground. And nowhere is the contrast between the old political discourse and the new more dramatic than in Denmark. It came as a surprise to nearly everyone when this icon of northern European welfare-state progressivism, and the erstwhile poster child of liberal immigration policy, descended into an inflammatory election campaign last November. The issues of immigration and refugees took center stage, despite Denmark's record-low unemployment and the fact that less than 8 percent of its population is of foreign origin...

Le Pen's Sword:

O n the evening of Sunday, April 21, France was shaken from months of political stupor by the second-place finish of ultra-right-winger Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of France's election, an event that has been described by Le Monde as no less than a "political earthquake." The aftershock has spread throughout Europe, prompting leaders and newspapers alike to express concern and dismay at Le Pen's strong showing (about 17 percent of the vote in a field of 16 candidates). His triumph over Socialist Party Prime Minister Lionel Jospin is the latest in a series of defeats for European Social Democrats, beginning with the rise of the right in Italy and Austria and further evidenced by the recent downfall of center-left governments in Denmark and Portugal. Upcoming elections in Germany and Holland promise a strong showing for the right as well. Though his final-round face-off with incumbent center-right President Jacques Chirac is certain to end with a Chirac victory, Le Pen has in...

Echo Chamber:

A pril 20 was a day of contrasts in the streets of Washington. Gigantic Maryland Terrapins mascots urging people to "Mobilize" commingled with Palestinian flags, massive street theater puppets, and the occasional Korean drumming circle. Though the causes ran the gamut from ending union-busting to lifting sanctions on Iraq, the demand for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and the creation of a Palestinian state dominated the ethnically diverse crowd of more than 75,000 that converged on Pennsylvania Avenue to march toward the Capitol. Even some police motorcycles carried stickers reading "End the Israeli Occupation Now." Small children had stealthily placed them there while unsuspecting officers revved their engines. The message of the protesters was no more or less inflammatory than that of pro-Israel demonstrators last week. Indeed, the polarization of the conflict has led members of both camps to move to their respective extremes. "[Yasir] Arafat is a terrorist" signs...

War Now, Peace Later:

O n Monday, a cloudless 85 degree afternoon, a crowd estimated at 100,000 assembled on Capitol Hill to rally in support of Israel. Speakers came from across the political spectrum: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, among others. The most popular speech came from hawkish former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose denunciations of Yasir Arafat and calls for a forceful military response to suicide bombings drew deafening applause from the crowd. Chants of "Bibi, Bibi" could be heard, and for a moment one wondered if this was in fact his first stop on the campaign trail in an effort to push Israel even further to the right than current Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The equally hawkish U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz was not nearly as popular, however. Wolfowitz's pronouncement that "innocent Palestinians are suffering and dying as well. It is...

Electoral Engineering:

O ur votes must go together with our guns. After all, any vote we shall have, shall have been the product of the gun. The gun which produces the vote should remain its security officer -- its guarantor." Such was Robert Mugabe's view in 1976, and it appears not to have changed. What have changed are the circumstances. Then an anti-colonial liberation fighter, Mugabe's call for obtaining basic democratic freedoms by force of arms was hailed across Africa. Now the aging leader of a tattered and impoverished state, Mugabe has employed the same violent strategy but with a far more narrow purpose: to intimidate those who would cast ballots for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Indeed, long before the polls opened, officials in the Zimbabwean army made clear that the only election result they would accept was a Mugabe victory. Now, after months of sometimes deadly violence and intimidation -- to say nothing of a series of legislative manipulations of the voter rolls --...

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