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Das syrische Dilemma

Originally published in The New York Review of Books, “Syria: Is There a Solution?” was reprinted in the German magazine Lettre International.

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Syria: Is There a Solution?

To many Americans, Iraq now seems little more than a bad dream, best left unmentioned. Still, as the debate in the United States has turned to “the Syria dilemma” next door—and, more recently, to the US’s obligation to “stand up…for the interests of all” by enforcing President Obama’s declared “red line” against the use of chemical weapons there—the shadow of Iraq falls darkly over the landscape.

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In Conversation: Robert Silvers

As the New York Review of Books turns 50, its founding editor speaks with Review contributor Mark Danner about the poetry of Twitter, hiding the Pentagon Papers, and how his journal of ideas emerged from the flood of “little magazines” as possibly the unlikeliest success story in publishing.&nbsp .To & nbsp; New York Timespiece by Janny Scott about Robert Silvers’ legacy — and Danner’s relationship with Silvers — click 

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How, and What, Obama Won

Clamorous and overpowering, campaign images are vivid as dreams and vanish as quickly. Was it real, that huge white aircraft hangar in Columbus, Ohio, the night before the election? I’d raced there from downtown Columbus’s Nationwide Arena, where President Obama, introduced by Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z, his voice hoarse and his face worn, had addressed fifteen thousand or so enthusiastic, mostly young supporters.

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The Politics of Fear

Amid the clamorous controversies of this election campaign, what strikes one here on the West Bank of the Jordan is the silences. Though the issue of Palestine promises to have a much more vital part in the volatile, populist politics of the Middle East”s new democracies—whose vulnerable governments actually must take some account of what moves ordinary people—here in Ramallah we have heard virtually nothing substantive about it, apart, that is, from Mitt Romney”s repeated charge that President Obama, presumably in extracting from Israel a hard-fought ten-month freeze on settlement building early on in his administration, had “thrown Israel under the bus.”

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Six Powerful Voices: Deep Inside Israel’s Shin Bet

The first duty of Shin Bet, Israel’s feared internal intelligence service, is to be invisible. Its very motto, “Magen VeLo Yera’e,” brands this shadowy organization as the “Defender that shall not be seen.” So it is more than a bit startling to find a documentary film built around interviews with Shin Bet’s surviving directors—not one but all six: Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter, Yuval Diskin, Carmi Gillon, Yaakov Peri and Avraham Shalom. Persuading these feared professional spooks to sit for on-camera interviews was unprecedented; extracting the details they tell, not only about their shadow war with Palestinian terrorists but their bitter conflicts with Israeli politicians, was historical and, as the story unfolds, increasingly shocking. I sat down with Dror Moreh, director of The Gatekeepers to ask him how he did it.

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The Twilight of Responsibility: Torture and the Higher Deniability

A riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma” — Churchill’s comment about Soviet motivations floated into my mind as I read Philip Zelikow’s elegant and powerful analysis of American “Codes of Conduct” during our Twilight War. We as Americans stand today before a terrible and indisputable fact—that, as Mr. Zelikow puts it, “for the first time in American history, leaders of the U.S. government carefully devised ways and means to torment enemy captives.” And though we know an immense amount about how this came to happen—the plot lines of who did what to whom, who wrote the memos and who was “tormented” and how, who was smashed repeatedly against walls, who was crushed into tiny confinement boxes, who was waterboarded and how many times—we know relatively little about how the momentous decision came to be made.

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Now That We’ve Tortured: Image, Guilt, Consequence

Let me begin with what today has been a key word: amnesia. It is a striking word, and it makes a provocative point. When it comes to torture as practiced by the United States during the war on terror, there is certainly amnesia and an ongoing quest on the part of some to encourage and cultivate it.

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After September 11: Our State of Exception

We are living in the State of Exception. We don’t know when it will end, as we don’t know when the War on Terror will end. But we all know when it began.