Other Magazines

Death to the Dictator

Newsweek and the Weekly Standard predict the end of Iranian theocracy.

Newsweek, June 29 The cover story predicts the fall of Islamic theocracy—though not necessarily the current regime—in Iran. The regime, based on the “divine” appointment of a supreme leader, now faces more dissent than ever: Top clerics are divided, and there are millions of Iranians who no longer believe in the government’s ideology. It will now be able to maintain power only by military intimidation. When it comes, the end of a 30-year experiment in political Islam will make waves across the Muslim world. A profile of Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei describes how the idealistic Shia cleric who loved poetry about oppression has become “that cold, hard weight of authority” he once chafed under. His complicated relationships with other members of the government go back decades, and his “indulgent” support for President Ahmadinejad suggests power has given him “tunnel vision.”

The New Yorker, June 29
A resident of Tehran describes participating in the first post-election march on June 15: “Contrary to the caricature, the demonstrators around me represented an impressive cross-section of Iranian society.” In addition to the “chaff”—young, restless demonstrators the regime hoped to paint as irreverent and pro-West—there were plenty of “pious, middle-aged Iranians.” The author finds Iranians, with their culture of independence and verbal prowess, particularly skillful at composing political chants. A piece profiles James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. A shy climate scientist whose research prompted the first climate-change story in the New York Times, Hansen has recently been seen marching in the streets of Washington, D.C. He believes that “the threat of global warming is far greater than even he realized” and that all coal-burning power plants must be shut down in the next two decades if we’re to reverse the damage.

Weekly Standard, June 29 The cover story argues that whatever happens in Iran, the Islamic Republic as we know it is over. The government’s decision to announce the election result so quickly—without even making reasonable efforts to have it appear genuine—“shows how insular and insecure Khamenei, a politicized cleric of some intellectual sensitivity, has become.” Questions about the future of a “supreme leader” in Iran were being discussed before this month’s election, and Khamenei’s handling of the situation has all but ensured he’ll be the end of the line. A column argues that President Obama has succumbed to a “false choice” between supporting Iran’s opposition and keeping open communication with the regime about nuclear weapons. “Obama’s respectful overtures to Iran’s leaders evoked only angry recriminations against America and no sign of willingness to settle differences on nuclear arms or anything else.”

New York, June 29
An article explores the “gay generation gap,” a divide between older gays who lived through the AIDS epidemic and younger ones who smile at protests and don’t think anger has a place in the gay rights movement. The “cultural language” many over-40 gays grew up learning so they could be admitted to the club is dead to young gays, and “the notion of quasi-parental gay mentorship feels ancient.” A column praises President Obama for wanting to be “a serious foreign-policy president.” Obama has thrown himself into the most difficult issue (Israel and Palestine), with a simple strategy: get Israel to make a concession and then demand that Arab nations make one. With a smart team and Jewish members of Congress on his side, the president may get more results than Democratic presidents are known for. Twelve writers recount their most memorable summer flings.

Wired, July 2009 The cover story charts the rise of “living by numbers,” a phenomenon best illustrated by Apple and Nike’s “Nike+” system. The system consists of an embedded shoe chip that beams information about your running habits to your iPod, then uploads complete statistics to a Web site. People who use it more than five times become hooked on what it tells them about themselves and allow Nike to track broad exercise trends. An article spies on Facebook’s plans for world conquest, which have led to a “full-blown battle over the future of the internet” with the growing company’s biggest rival: Google. Facebook envisions a more “humanized” Web with the social network at the center—“in other words, where Google is right now.” Facebook thinks its vast databases of intimate user information—personal details Google can’t match—will help it land the huge, expensive brand-advertising accounts that have consistently eluded Google’s grasp.