America Held Hostage

The United States recently conducted a raid in Yemen to free an American hostage. The raid failed. The Navy Seals killed 11 people, including a 10-year-old boy. The kidnappers executed the hostage, journalist Luke Somers. They also killed South African teacher Pierre Korkie. The South African was on the verge of being released as part of a hostage negotiation that the U.S. government didn’t...
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Kobane: Hunger Strikes and Air Strikes

Moustafa Mohamad has been consuming nothing but Gatorade for more than two weeks as he stands at the traffic overpass at Dupont Circle and tries to get the attention of passersby, the news media, and the Washington powerbrokers. He is fasting for Kobane, the Syrian Kurdish town near the Turkish border. Kurdish fighters and Free Syrian Army rebels are currently locked in a fight with the Islamic...
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The Sum of Our Fears

We who live in the industrialized world have put up a large retaining wall to safeguard us from the horrors that have plagued humanity throughout history. We no longer worry on a daily basis about some Genghis Khan figure sweeping through our towns and leaving great piles of skulls in his wake. We don’t obsess about famines, which once appeared with the regularity of the seasons. The Black...
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Barack Obama and the Will to Fight

The Obama administration has admitted that it misjudged the extremists who set up the Islamic State in chunks of territory torn from Iraq and Syria. The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, confessed that his analysts underestimated the “will to fight” of the jihadists. He also linked it to intelligence failures of the past, such as similar underestimations of the Vietnamese in...
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The Cold War Never Died

In ’89, it looked as though the war had finally ended. For five decades the conflict had ground on, and both sides had grown weary of it all. There had been previous pauses in the hostilities, even a détente or two, but this truce looked permanent. Sure, there were still tensions after ’89, and a few skirmishes broke out. But the peace held, miraculously, for more than 25 years. Then, as...
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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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