National Security

Conflict's Resolution

The end of the Iraq War marks a victory for progressives, but tough work lies ahead.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama stood with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the South Court Auditorium of the White House to announce that “a war is ending.” Two days later, the president visited Fort Bragg to offer an encomium to post-9/11 veterans. “Your service belongs to the ages,” he told the assembled troops.

By the end of the year, all U.S. combat troops in Iraq will have slipped across the border into Kuwait, and America’s war in Iraq will be over.

From London, With Angst

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy chronicles the last days of Britain as a superpower.

AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Spying is popularly conceived of as a glamorous line of work. The James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Mission Impossible films are all cocktails, trysts, gunplay in the tropical sun, and evil brought to heel. The audience gleefully absorbs the antics of the hero-spy, a romantic figure who easily escapes the institutional harnesses of his superiors.

Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy takes place in a different world. There is no super spy here, just a vision of the claustrophobic, embittered world of the intelligence community and its human cost.

Madisonianism or Opportunism?

Matt Dickinson’s blog Presidential Power over the weekend updated us on an important legislative development (hard though it is to believe there could be a legislative development at present): the Senate’s odd bipartisan effort to require that all terrorism suspects be detained by the military and tried, if at all, by military tribunals rather than the civilian courts. As Matt notes, this would be true even if the suspect was an American suspect, captured on American soil.

Revenge of the Neocons

As much as Hope and Change defined Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, his success was a clear rebuke of the policies in the George W. Bush presidency. Bush's approval rating hung at 25 percent on the day Obama was elected, and John McCain did everything he could to distance himself from the incumbent Republican president. Bush's legacy was tarnished for a number of reasons, but none more so than his foolhardy foreign-policy agenda. When the Democratic candidate who rose to fame for his early opposition to Iraq won the presidency, it appeared the neo-con age had come to a close.

Condi the Zombie Killer

The former secretary of state puts to rest the idea that Palestinians aren't interested in a peace deal.

(Flickr/Darth Downey)

She killed the lie, I thought, as I read Condoleezza Rice's semi-revelations about the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal that was really almost reached three years ago.

The lie says that Israel's then-prime minister, Ehud Olmert, offered everything the Palestinians could possibly expect, and Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas said no because he isn't interested in peace. Rice was secretary of state at the time and seems to have believed in peacemaking, despite serving under George W. Bush. In her new memoir, she confirms an account of why peace slipped away that fits evidence and logic much better than the lie does.

The Glorious Invasion

Three weeks after September 11, 2001, the day I arrived in Moscow to begin as National Public Radio’s bureau chief, my editors gave me four hours to pack before I was dispatched on an overnight flight to the never-never land of Uzbekistan. It was a temporary stopping--off point before I went on to neighboring Afghanistan. I had never been to Uzbekistan and knew only that the place was renowned as a hotbed of terrified, stonewalling bureaucrats.

Solidarity Squandered

The attacks brought us together until we let them turn us against each other--and damn near everyone else.

The day began in a dull civic deadness. It was an election day, the second Tuesday in September, in one of the world's most political cities. The weather was perfect: a cloudless Indian-summer day. The polls opened at six in the morning. But no one was showing up. Did it even matter who governed? Seven and a half months earlier, a Republican had become president and the sky had not fallen. The federal budget was in surplus. New York was about to enjoy a fiscal windfall from a new 99-year lease on the World Trade Center. The hot issue in the mayoral primary, supposedly, was how the city would spend all the money. But nobody cared. When September 11, 2001, dawned, collective rituals of civic engagement felt like anachronism.

The Global Patriot Act

From the end of World War II to the start of the "global war on terror," international law provided crucial support for the promotion of human rights around the world. But the response to the September 11 attacks has had a profound and little-appreciated impact on international law with devastating global consequences for human rights, democracy, and constitutionalism. The Bush administration did not just persuade Congress to pass the USA Patriot Act, eliminating critical civil-liberties protections against excessive governmental powers. U.S. officials also mobilized the United Nations Security Council to require all U.N.

Extreme Measures

Since September 11, the Fourth Amendment has been eroded in ways we do not even know. The scary part is that it's going to take years to undo the damage.

The abuse of the Constitution that followed September 11, 2001, was neither surprising nor inevitable. It was not a surprise, because it wasn't the first time in American history—but the sixth, by my count—that fundamental rights had been violated during spasms of fear over national security. It was not inevitable, because prominent voices might have called the country back to its principles. There is no telling whether such appeals would have stood against the tide, but one man's words did make a difference in the emergency command center at FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue several hours after the attacks.

Muslim and American

Living under the shadow of 9/11

One morning, my uncle arrived at his family medical practice in Toledo, Ohio, to find threats on his answering machine. A muffled voice greeted him with a string of expletives before warning that there would be consequences if he didn't "get the hell out of here." In the 30 years since Uncle Doctor, as I called him, had emigrated from Pakistan to the United States, he had never been singled out for his nationality or religion. It was September 12, 2001, and the dust still hung heavy in Lower Manhattan. A similar message was waiting for him at home.

The 9/11 President

If the attacks hadn't occurred, it's impossible to imagine Barack Obama would have been elected—but the legacy of those attacks continues to burden his presidency.

In a sense, their true enemy was less America than an arrogant future to which a vain country lay claim. This was a country that named the previous hundred years the American Century. So as much as the 19 men, who commandeered four airliners nine months, eleven days, and nine hours into the next century, despised America—despised its "pure products [that] go crazy," as William Carlos Williams described them, including a rowdy pluralism, a heedless innovation, an irreverent culture, and a reckless dream that the country named as surely as it named centuries—these men despised the way such American things were expressions of the modern age.