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 in the Funhouse

When Barack Obama enters the geopolitical funhouse these days, the distorting mirrors reflect back very different images of the U.S. president. The mirror held up by the Republican Party shows a presidential beanpole, a 98-pound weakling who is continually getting sand kicked into his face—by Syria’s Assad, North Korea’s Kim, Cuba’s Castro, and assorted other bullies. The...
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If I Didn’t Have a Hammer

For the long eight years of the George W. Bush administration, progressives decried the over-militarization of U.S. foreign policy. The Pentagon’s budget doubled, and U.S. military exports surged. Instead of deploying international law against Osama bin Laden, the United States deployed troops in Afghanistan. It went on to invade Iraq and threaten Iran. The Bush administration gave the CIA...
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Tales of the Fantastic

We met in 1990 at the oldest active Jewish synagogue in Europe, the Old-New Synagogue in Prague. Daniel Kumermann gave me a brief tour of the 13th-century structure, along with the adjacent cemetery. The synagogue is one of the few remaining structures of the old Jewish quarter, a place rich in tales of the fantastic, from the golem of Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel to the stories of Franz Kafka,...
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Has Obama Already Forgotten about Asia?

Last year was a tough time for President Obama. The health care roll-out was plagued by website malfunctions. His ambivalent approach to intervening in Syria satisfied neither hawks nor doves. Congress stalled on major legislation like immigration reform. And the leaks by Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency was spying on American citizens, a major embarrassment for the...
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