The Plague

In his novel The Plague, Albert Camus describes how death comes to an ugly French port in Algeria. Thanks to an infestation of rats and the fleas they carry, the bubonic plague descends upon the city in the spring and intensifies during the hot summer. After a short period of denial, the residents panic, then sink into despondency and alcoholism. The port is put under quarantine. Undeterred by...
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Bombing the Caliphate

The last Islamic caliphate ended in 1924. Claimed by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, the caliphate saw its fortunes rise and fall with those of its imperial protectors. When the Ottoman Empire expired at the end of World War I, the caliphate’s days were numbered. Never recognized in far-flung areas like Somalia or Malaysia or by the Shi’a and other minority communities, the Sunni...
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Obama: Into Africa

President Obama is definitely “into” Africa. As much as possible in a world riven by multiple crises, the president has made the continent a focus of his policymaking. Turning his own Kenyan heritage into a personal bridge to the region, he has visited Africa three times as president – in 2009, 2011, and 2013. He has touted his administration’s multi-billion initiatives such as Power...
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Is Obama Adrift in the World?

For all the hands shaken and hamburgers eaten, President Obama has never quite shaken his reputation for detachment. He is the “cool” president who doesn’t lose his temper even when he should. He is the former constitutional law professor who is too “academic” for the Oval Office. He uses his brain when he should be relying more on other body parts: guts, heart, cojones. He surrounds...
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MH17: Cold War Replay?

The most bizarre conspiracy theory surrounding the recent downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine comes from a leading pro-Russian separatist, Igor Girkin. Relying on second-hand information, Girkin asserted that many of the passengers from the crash had already been dead before the plane had even taken off. His underlings had reported to him that the bodies were badly decomposed and...
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Mowing the Lawn in Gaza

The Palestinians of Gaza are guilty of that new post-Cold War misdemeanor: voting while Muslim. The punishment for this crime has been eight years of economic hardship, international isolation, and periodic Israeli bombardments. Like the Algerians in 1990 and the Egyptians in 2012, Gazans went to the polls in 2006 and voted for the wrong party. Rather than supporting the secular choice, they...
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