Other Magazines

AIPAC Abetting?

The controversy over the lobby’s role in U.S. policy.

Washington Post Magazine, July 16
A cover piece examines the players in the recent Israel lobby controversy. The now-famous article by professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, who suggested that the United States invaded Iraq largely because of the U.S. alliance with Israel, prompts the author to explore the historical relationship between Congress and Washington’s pro-Israel organizations: “[T]he Israel lobby, and AIPAC in particular, gained a reputation as the National Rifle Association of foreign policy: a hard-edged, pugnacious bunch that took names and kept score.” But many historians and policy-makers call the Walt-Mearsheimer article inaccurate, anti-Semitic, and, in the eyes of one scholar, “an evil.” A piece tells the story of a Zhou Lianchun, a former member of Mao’s Red Guard who grew disaffected with the Communist party and rose to join China’s entrepreneurial class. “[Mao] didn’t even represent the working class,” Zhou says. “He represented thugs. It wasn’t a communist revolution. It was a thug’s revolution. That’s our real history.”—C.B.

Economist, July 15 On the eve of a G8 summit in St. Petersburg, the cover article contends that Russia’s economic upswing is overshadowed by the iron-fisted leadership of Vladimir Putin. With parliament in his back pocket and the media and NGOs effectively neutered, Putin has become a tsar of sorts, according to the piece. “Russia today has little or no claim to be a democracy, not even the shabby, inadvertent kind of democracy it was becoming under Mr Yeltsin.” The NatWest Three, British bankers accused of fraud in connection with the Enron debacle, were extradited to Houston for trial amid U.K. protestations that sending them to the United States endangers their right to a “fair trial.” According to a piece, the case highlights the unbalance written into a 2003 extradition treaty between the two countries under which America has greater control in the extradition process. A wrinkle: The U.S. has yet to ratify the treaty.— M.M.

New York Times Magazine, July 16 The cover piece looks at the re-emergence of nuclear power plants in America. Cheaper fuel, fewer carbon-emissions fines, and the need to diversify a region’s “energy portfolio” are leading to the nuclear route. Foes say nuclear advocates are using global-warming fears to promote dangerous, cost-ineffective projects. Reactor construction is being stalled by astronomical expenses and a years-long application process. But the government is offering “large incentives … to help finance the first few reactors” and the public’s old Not-In-My-Backyard fury is giving way to desires for economic growth in small towns, the writer contends. Novelist Colson Whitehead explains why summers as a teenage scoop jockey spoiled his appetite for ice cream. In fact, he has trouble with all desserts, as well as the people who try to strong-arm him into eating their prized confections.—M.M.

New York, July 17 The cover story examines the sunny field of positive psychology. University of Pennsylvania professor Martin Seligman criticizes psychology’s long-term obsession with pathology. “No longer should we think of ourselves as tin cans of sexual chaos, as echoing caverns of repressed wishes and violent desires,” the author writes, paraphrasing Seligman. “[R]ather, we should think of ourselves as the shining sum of our strengths and virtues, forceful, masters of our fates.” A piece traces the fall of former New York Stock Exchange chairman Dick Grasso. After revelations that Grasso prematurely tapped his retirement account to bring his 2003 salary to $140 million, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer charged him with violating a state law requiring “reasonable” compensation. But Grasso plans to contest the charges in court. “I was drop-kicked out the door,” he says, “and now I have to prove that my career wasn’t a fluke or an outlier, that I really do have some talent.”— C.B.

Time, July 17 The cover article finds the White House turning away from the Bush Doctrine, “a muscular, idealistic and unilateralist vision of American power.” Emerging threats from North Korea and Iran and existing entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan dictate a change in direction. The administration is eschewing the “moralizing approach of the neoconservatives who dominated Bush’s war Cabinet in the first term,” and embracing the “pragmatism” and “multilateralism” endorsed by Condoleezza Rice, the authors contend. “Put another way: cowboy diplomacy, RIP.” The private correspondence of Albert Einstein being released this week reveals a man enduring the turmoil of war, professional rivalry, and a broken marriage while on the cusp of discovering his general theory of relativity. He divided his time between convincing his children of his love via letters and racing to complete his great equation before a colleague stole the glory.— M.M.

Newsweek, July 17 History will judge the leadership of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert by how he responds to a recent flare-up with Hamas over the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, according to an article. Is Olmert using too much force to counter Hamas rockets? Are his generals confident in his leadership? “What would Sharon have done?” some ask. The answers to these questions may decide the new PM’s legacy. “If Olmert can bring calm out of this crisis, he will emerge as a leader in his own right.” A piece notes that Los Angeles prosecutors are charging some gang-related killings as hate crimes, confounding defense attorneys and gang-bangers alike. The prosecutors say that members of the Latino street gang the Avenues targeted African-Americans in a campaign of intimidation to drive blacks from the Highland Park neighborhood.— M.M.

Weekly Standard, July 17 An article on the primary challenge faced by Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman explains why he isn’t the crypto-Republican some have made him out to be. Lieberman’s primary opponent, Ned Lamont, is gaining ground over Lieberman’s alleged Bush-backing tendencies. But, given that their primary policy differences center on the Iraq war as well as Lieberman’s opposition to such Republican staples as the partial-birth abortion plan and gay marriage, the author concludes that reports of Lieberman’s conservatism are indeed greatly exaggerated. …William Kristol’s editorial scolds President Bush for letting the United Nations deal with North Korea’s flaunting of its nuclear weapons program. This weak-kneed approach coupled with other Bush foreign policy foibles (the administration’s refusal to rein in the uranium enriching, terrorist sponsoring proclivities of that other member of the “axis of evil”—Iran, and Iraq’s counterinsurgency problem) has caused “a decline in the president’s credibility around the world and sinking support for his foreign policy at home.”—Z.K.