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The Enemy of My Enemy

Newsweek on why Obama should embrace the Islamists.

Newsweek, March 9 Fareed Zakaria advocates temporary U.S. alliances with admittedly reprehensible Islamists in the name of fighting violent, expansionist jihadism, under the theory that “[t]he veil is not the same as the suicide belt.” We partnered with Islamist Sunni militias to defeat al-Qaida in Iraq. Our next unsavory allies, says Zakaria, should be the “reconcilable” Taliban members who are not aligned with al-Qaida or Mullah Omar’s posse. An article examines nascent tensions between President Obama, always looking to bring Republicans onboard, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who pursues more ideologically pure victories and whose partisan hardball repels the GOP. An article analyzes New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s counterintuitive response to midtown Manhattan’s gridlock: He’s closing Broadway to cars from Herald Square to Times Square. The idea, endorsed by traffic scientists, is that making it harder to drive will decrease the number of drivers.

Weekly Standard, March 9 A feature worries that domestic job losses may lead to protectionist policies, such as the stimulus’s “Buy American” provision, which will in turn provoke retaliation from trading partners. “Obama is not the out-and-out protectionist he promised to be when wooing the Democratic left,” but neither is he gung-ho in the other direction. The author insists upon free trade’s superiority while acknowledging the political obstacles: “Until we find some way of sharing the winners’ gains with the losers, support for free trade will continue to atrophy.” In a guest editorial —actually a short excerpt from Democracy in America that the editors repurposed as “Barack Obama’s America”—19th- century French journalist Alexis de Tocqueville displays more of the prescience that made him so renowned, warning of the creeping “despotism” in Obamaland. Our new system of governance “is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing, and mild.” Presumably not in a good way.

New Republic, March 18 The cover story looks at Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s hesitant financial bailout plan and wonders what happened to the Geithner who once bragged about using “overwhelming” force to yank Asia out of its late-’90s financial crisis. Though the administration knows a second round of spending is necessary, it hasn’t asked for it, because it also knows Obama would have to “stand up at town-hall meetings in Schenectady to defend its disbursements.” A profile of Pakistan Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari draws a rough, if incomplete, redemption narrative: The corrupt widower of Benazir Bhutto has now, after eight years in prison and his beloved wife’s assassination, “surprise[ed] everyone with his maturity, restraint, and leadership.” Then again, the man who awkwardly flirted with Sarah Palin last September would be a long shot to successfully govern a country far less troubled than Pakistan.

New York, March 9 A long profile of Citibank CEO Vikram Pandit charts how the financial crisis scuttled the former Indiana University finance professor’s best-laid plans. Pandit’s Waterloo was his failure to nab commercial bank Wachovia before Wells Fargo swooped in with a higher bid, which essentially guaranteed an imminent series of sell-offs. Pandit now clings to his job while the federal government effectively owns 40 percent of the megabank. An entertaining article sets the stage for John Wray’s new novel, Lowboy. The book, which is about “a teenage paranoid schizophrenic at large in the subway system,” may turn out to be the “long-deserved breakout from a phenomenally versatile writer who wanted to try something a little easier to swallow” than his previous two novels. Or, for that matter, than the one he’s working on now, which Wray calls “One Hundred Years of Solitude meets Lucky Jim.”

The New Yorker, March 9 A retrospective look at David Foster Wallace, who killed himself last September, also looks forward to The Pale King, his incomplete final novel, which will be published next year. (The magazine has an excerpt.) “Wallace, at least, never felt that he had hit his target,” which was, in his words, to convey “what it is to be a fucking human being.”The Pale King is about several IRS employees in Illinois and the redemptive power of boredom: “Their job is tedious, but dullness, The Pale King suggests, ultimately sets them free.” An article views Robert Allen Stanford, the Antigua-based financier now under investigation for massive civil-securities fraud, through the lens of his extensive sponsorship of cricket throughout the West Indies. He has focused on promoting Twenty20, a modified version of traditional Test cricket played as “if baseball had been compressed to three innings, with every player encouraged to just swing for the fences.”