New Republic, Nov. 5 The cover story steers us toward a weapon more dangerous than biowarfare: the atomic bomb. To fashion a crude atomic weapon, a country like Iraq needs engineering skill, which it already has, and plutonium or enriched uranium, which it tried to acquire and may already have. Even a small atomic device could cripple Washington or New York, killing tens of thousands and rendering the city uninhabitable. … The “TRB” column recommends Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian dissident jailed by his country’s government, for the Nobel Peace Prize. Ibrahim’s crime? He asked President Hosni Mubarak to hold free elections and make peace with Israel. The author writes, “[Ibrahim] is exactly the kind of person the world—and particularly the U.S.—needs to champion if we want to win the war on terrorism.”—B.C.
Economist, Oct. 27
The cover article assesses the post-Sept. 11 global landscape. Among the things that have changed: The economic downturn has accelerated; Bush has begun to prove himself as a leader; Russo-American relations have improved; peace prospects in Northern Ireland have gotten better; and Pakistan has become an ally of the West. In other ways, the world isn’t so different: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has only deepened, and Sino-American relations are practically as tense as ever. … An article calls the IRA’s recent decommissioning of arms genuinely historic and chalks up the disarmament, at least in part, to Sept. 11. With the United States and Britain enmeshed in a global war on terrorism, “Even the IRA’s traditional supporters find it hard to see why the IRA needs to hold on to its weapons.” … A piece says America should forget the space station and quit sending people into orbit. The exorbitant costs of manned missions would be better spent on what NASA does best: namely science, not showmanship.— J.F.
New York Times Magazine, Oct. 28 In the cover story, the author polls Muslims in Gaza, Cairo, and Hamburg about the Sept. 11 hijackings. It’s in Hamburg—a city where three of the hijackers had lived—where he finds a worldview closest to that of the perpetrators, where war on America makes “perfect sense.” In fact, he writes, Muslim extremists “operate on our ground”—that is, European and American soil—“far more confidently than they ever could on their own.” … An article finds Bill Walton, former NBA hoopster, adrift somewhere between ‘60s hedonism and modern cultural piety. He papers his home with Grateful Dead photos and calls one of Patty Hearst’s kidnappers a friend. Yet Walton says his life is a “shrine” to John Wooden, a famed disciplinarian, and cautions his sons about drinking, sex, and drugs. “This from a guy who’s smoked pot since he was 20,” quips his ex-wife.—B.C.
Newsweek and Time, Oct. 29
Both cover stories report on the new ground war. Time explains that the second phase of Operation Enduring Freedom aims to hunt down Taliban leaders one by one, with the goal of convincing them to betray Osama Bin Laden. The piece focuses on difficulties with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, which is upset that American strategy does not mirror its own. Newsweek reports that U.S. forces have isolated Bin Laden within a 20-square-mile area. Both stories stress that ground war means higher returns, greater risks, and more American blood shed.
A Time piece explores the controversy over smallpox vaccinations. North Korea, Iraq, and Russia could have undeclared stores of the virus. The vaccine is 100 percent effective, but only if administered before exposure; the mortality rate after exposure is 30 percent. The problem: Two in 1 million die from the vaccine itself. … A Time article claims that peace between Israelis and Palestinians has never been further away. After the assassination of an Israeli Cabinet minister, Israel “was threatening Arafat’s Palestinian Authority with the Taliban treatment”—that is, holding Arafat responsible for all Palestinian terrorist acts. … A Newsweek piece reports on the exceptional progress of women in the armed forces. Due in large part to their success in the Gulf War, women have been given access to more military jobs (99 percent of Air Force jobs are now open to them).—J.D.
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U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 29 The cover story revisits the anthrax scare that dominated last week’s newsweeklies. Tom Ridge’s first week as director of the office of homeland security was very rocky, as experts twice contradicted his public statements. And nobody can figure out if the anthrax came from the Bin Laden network or from anti-abortion activists. … A detailed piece describes European efforts to destroy several Bin Laden terrorist cells. Officials sniffed out planned attacks on the U.S. embassies in Paris and Rome, the Christmas market in Strasbourg, and the G8 summit in Genoa. Anti-terrorism efforts are easier in Europe because civil liberties are less established there. … An article applauds President Bush’s superhuman diplomatic abilities. Working hard to maintain an anti-terror coalition, he managed to keep his cool when Chinese President Jiang Zemin unexpectedly gave mixed reviews to American military efforts during a press conference.— J.D.
The New Yorker, Oct. 29
A fairly disturbing piece asks if the AOL Time Warner juggernaut is good or bad. Profiles of the head honchos reveal a freaky messianic aspect to their obsession with growth and profit, and they are unself-conscious about their media consolidation campaign. In a world where AOL opening screens, Moviefone, 160 plus magazines, cable providers, and cable networks all will be mobilized to promote the new Harry Potter movie, also owned by AOL Time Warner, “each division of the company becomes, in part, a promotional and sales vehicle—a shill—for the others.”… An article abandons the view that the Arab world is “inalterably at odds with the rest of the world” for one in which Osama Bin Laden is a “terrorist entrepreneur” recruiting soldiers for a rash of radical Islamist insurgencies throughout the Middle East. To fight a terrorist entrepreneur, the United States has to convince rank-and-file Arabs to join with them instead of with Bin Laden. America has an advantage in such a fight: Its wealth allows it to use carrot and stick, while the poor Taliban can use only the stick.— J.D.
The Nation, Nov. 5 An article says analysts have been ignoring the large-scale geopolitical dimensions of the current war with Osama Bin Laden. At least part of what’s really being fought over is control of Saudi oil. Bin Laden wants a new Saudi regime, which in turn would stop the flow of precious petroleum to the West. America wants to keep driving SUVs. … A piece laments the lack of oversight inherent in a covert war. Most of Congress is basically out of the loop, and the press has a sorry history when it comes to covering secret military actions. Which means there really isn’t anybody to evaluate how the war is being conducted. … A New York doctor condemns Bayer, the manufacturer of Ciprofloxacin, for its profiteering off the anthrax scares. The drug company has been stoking fears and heavily promoting its antibiotic by giving doctors hundreds of free samples. But the truth is, there are a number of other antibiotics out there that can treat anthrax.— J.F.
Weekly Standard, Oct. 29 A piece rebukes Washington for its incompetent handling of the anthrax scare. All the rhetoric about beating the terrorists by going about our regular business is silly and probably dangerous. And the politicians’ “smiley-face minimizing of germ warfare” is not only failing to calm, it’s actually preventing the real home-front mobilization necessary to win the war on terrorism. … An article says it would be folly to suspend the war in Afghanistan during Ramadan. Throughout history, Muslims have shown no aversion to fighting during the holy month, which starts Nov. 16. If we do stop the bombing, it will only further “Islamicize” the conflict by granting the terrorists special treatment just because of their religion. … A piece contests the conventional wisdom that Osama Bin Laden wants to overthrow the Saudi monarchy. When it comes to the royal family, he’s actually much less nihilistic revolutionary than he is simple critic.— J.F.
Washington Monthly, October 2001
The cover story explains how Republicans are planning to make tort reform and the right to sue major issues in the coming months. They think it’ll be an easy political win and a good way to nationally sink Sen. John Edwards, a former trial lawyer and a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2004. But if they make the Atticus Finch-like and ethically impeccable Edwards the focal point of their campaign, they’re bound to lose. … A piece by Sen. John McCain explains why he and other conservatives were wrong to oppose AmeriCorps, the Clinton-era national service program. McCain deems the program undeniably successful and calls for its expansion. … A related piece sees AmeriCorps as an overlooked vehicle Bush could be using to save his faith-based initiative. Because AmeriCorps gives aid to individuals and not organizations, there is no constitutional roadblock to using the program to fund public service work done with a religious tinge.—J.F.