Other Magazines

Making the World Safe for Intervention

New Republic, March 12
The cover story argues for construction of a sea-based missile-defense system. The left-wingers who say missile defense is too expensive and won’t work are just recycling old anti-Star Wars arguments from the Reagan era. The right-wingers who support the system because it will protect America don’t understand foreign policy. The real reason to back missile defense: It can be an offensive weapon that allows U.S. forces to intervene all over the world without fear of missile attacks. A piece says that by opposing campaign-finance reform, labor unions are setting themselves up as a scapegoat for pro-business money Democrats, who’d like to see McCain-Feingold killed. Unions don’t like several of the bill’s minor restrictions, but they would benefit greatly from its ban on soft money, because they raise relatively little of it. Meanwhile, dollar Democrats who quietly want to keep collecting soft money can use the unions as cover for their unpopular positions.— J.D.

Washington Monthly, March 2001 A piece argues against lifting the ban on gays in the military. Homosexuals in uniform by and large don’t want to come out, because they fear being ostracized by their fellow soldiers. Until the gay community in larger society commits itself to full equality the way blacks did in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the article says, “it seems a little unfair (and hypocritical) to force the military to take steps we won’t make civilian employers take.” An article describes the CIA’s role in helping to topple the Milosevic regime in Serbia. Instead of the traditional Bondian high-tech high jinks, the agency helped finance a Western style political campaign. The CIA helped the student opposition group, Otpor, with tracking polls, Get Out the Vote efforts, and snappy slogans for T-shirts and bumper stickers. All this proved that in a globalized society, covert action simply doesn’t work (if it ever did).— J.D.

Economist, March 3 A piece rejoices that the mad cow panic in Europe might finally shake up the common agricultural policy (CAP), which saddles the European Union with expensive farm subsidies. Falling beef prices in the short term and the threat of protracted struggles with mad cow disease in the long term could force the EU, which now pays 46 percent of its budget to farmers, to radically alter its agricultural policy. A piece profiles Rolltronics, a California tech company that aims to manufacture computers on thin (a few millimeters) plastic films, which users could roll up like newspaper. An article describes an Oxford professor’s quest to discover how minks being farmed for their fur view their captivity. Employing microeconomic analysis, she found that minks most value water for swimming and drinking (more than, say, tunnels for digging and soft cages for sleeping), so scrupulous mink farmers can salve their consciences by providing mink mini-pools.— J.D.

Harper’s, March 2001 The second of a two-part series argues that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger should be tried for, in addition to war crimes in Indochina as Part 1 asserts, atrocities committed in Chile, Cyprus, Bangladesh, and East Timor. Among the highlights: 1) Kissinger covertly played a part in the 1973 Chilean coup that put Gen. Augusto Pinochet in power; he also sanctioned cross-border terrorism in an “intelligence-sharing arrangement” among Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. 2) Kissinger, by ignoring warnings of the 1974 Cyprus coup, was a silent accomplice to a Greek junta’s plan to assassinate Cyprus President Makarios and the thousands of civilian deaths that accompanied the coup. 3) Kissinger admitted breaking the law in supplying weapons for Indonesian dictator Gen. Suharto’s 1975 invasion of East Timor; 200,000 people were killed. 4) Recent changes in national and international law make Kissinger more vulnerable to prosecution for war crimes. — M.C.

New York Times Magazine, March 4
The cover package profiles two great, aging pitchers, Roger Clemens and David Cone. The Clemens piece endearingly portrays him as an overgrown kid. He delights in his own achievements, quoting statistics, speculating about his election to the Hall of Fame, and even giving his four sons names that start with “K” (the symbol for strikeout). Clemens works out compulsively to maintain his 100 mph fastball, a power pitch that makes him the most intimidating pitcher in the game even today, as he approaches 40. The Cone article wonders if he can come back from an abysmal 4-14 season during which he felt the Yankees, a team he had helped win the World Series, publicly lost faith in him. Now he has signed with the rival Red Sox, and every remembered slight serves as motivation for him to return to form and beat the Yankees in the post-season. A piece describes the rebirth of Paula Fox, a once forgotten novelist. Her out-of-print work was republished after novelist Jonathan Franzen wrote an essay about her, and now a young generation of writers idolizes Fox and considers her book Desperate Characters the best domestic novel of the 1960s.— J.D.     

The New Yorker, March 5
A profile of Bob Kerrey, the Nebraska senator-turned-New School University president, wonders why it seems so easy for him to let go of political power. As a senator, he was famous for his willingness to take unpopular stands and his unwillingness to explain why. Now nobody knows why he took the job at the New School (perhaps to be near his girlfriend, perhaps to run for president), and he isn’t telling. A piece argues that Americans eat obscenely fatty food because we think it tastes better. Ten years ago scientists developed a hamburger with only 5 percent fat that beat McDonald’s in blind-taste tests. But as soon as it was marketed as the McLean, it flopped because people assumed it tasted horrible. The technology to make French fries that taste good but won’t kill us exists, but it may never get used.— J.D.

The Nation, March 12 The cover story accuses Fox News of being Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing mouthpiece. Its anchors, hosts, and even its reporters demonstrate a clear conservative bias, and staffers sense an anti-Democrat political correctness in the newsroom. Its talk shows pit A-list right-wingers against centrists and overmatched second-rate lefties. With President Bush in office, perhaps the left wing can launch its own news network, but it would take a billionaire like Murdoch to finance it. A piece argues that Ralph Nader and the Greens could re-energize an ideologically confused Democratic Party. Nader’s issues have a natural constituency (labor, blacks, environmentalists), and if the Greens pick off a few Democratic incumbents in 2002, the rest of the party will move to the left out of fear.— J.D.

Weekly Standard, March 5 A piece blasts Clinton for blaming the Marc Rich pardon on the Jews. The pardon had no effect whatsoever on the faltering peace process, and it seems that Ehud Barak cared more about getting one for spy Jonathan Pollard. Other countries that benefited from Rich’s largesse lobbied for the pardon, but Clinton never mentioned Spain or Romania in his explanations. Clinton also said American Jews supported the pardon, which simply isn’t true. The cover story claims modern memorial architecture “is ruining America’s public spaces.” A fear of building classically heroic monuments, such as the Grant and Lincoln memorials, has left us with wishy-washy minimalist pieces. The Vietnam and Oklahoma City memorials, for example, are “grounded in sentimental notions of therapy” and fail to “relate human suffering to a larger sense of life.”— J.D.

Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report, March 5
Both covers recount the downfall of accused FBI double-agent Robert Hanssen. Newsweek interviews associates of the counterintelligence expert whom the Russians code-named “B” and “Ramon.” U.S. News quotes former insiders who say the bulk of the FBI affidavit in support of Hanssen’s arrest came from a single source. Says one, “There’s definitely a body attached to all that paper.”

A Newsweek article speculates on Microsoft’s antitrust appeal in the D.C. circuit. If the case is sent back to the lower court, attorney John Roberts, hired by pro-breakup state attorneys general, could dog Microsoft to the Supreme Court, where he has won 20 of 31 cases. A portrait package wonders if Colin Powell is ready to lead U.S. diplomacy, concluding maybe not. Characterizing Powell as an emotionally scarred Vietnam vet whose judgment as chairman of the Joint Chiefs was “unduly swayed” by his allegiance to the Army, recent flip-flops on Saddam policy are cited as cause for second-guessing.

A U.S. News piece on the Feb. 16 airstrike against Iraq says it might take a few weeks to figure out why half of the nearly 24 new Joint Standoff Weapons missed their mark. Unlike laser-guided bombs, these new missiles can home in on their target from up to 40 miles away and don’t require a pilot to fly close to the target.—A.F.

Time, March 5
The cover story honors Dale Earnhardt. NBC News anchor and friend Brian Williams says Earnhardt’s mourning, mostly in election map “red states,” befuddled New York newsies, “while millions living north of [the Mason-Dixon Line] wondered what the big deal was.” An article on child slavery in Florida’s Haitian immigrant community says private agencies conduct most of the investigations. Florida’s newly elected Haitian-American state legislator vowed to put an end to child slavery, which is not uncommon (though illegal) in Haiti. An article details the plight of more than 1 million drought-plagued Afghans who may be at risk of starvation. Because the Islamic Taliban government shelters Osama Bin Laden and imposes fundamentalist beliefs on women, few donors have come through with emergency aid and U.N. sanctions continue.— A.F.