Foreign Affairs

Pirates and Traders

Pirates and Traders

A sack of oat flour was mysteriously displayed on the front desk.

The traffic in Lagos is famously bad. The local driving culture dictates tailgating, honking, flashing of brights, left turns into oncoming traffic, passing on the right, and shouting (but no cursing or lewd gestures—not in such a religious country). It isn’t rare to see a car casually reversing down an on-ramp, a motorcycle scattering pedestrians on a sidewalk, or a truck inching over a highway median to make an improbable u-turn.

Houses Are Built on Top of Mountains

Houses Are Built on Top of Mountains

Hurricane Ophelia diary

Coping and suffering is what Ireland has decided to throw its chips on. Years of corruption in our planning system, with politicians receiving payments to approve ill-thought through housing projects, have led to housing developments on flood plains, at the mercy of the weather each winter. Houses are built on the top of mountains, or in remote fields, draining resources, encouraging the use of the private car, and wrenching apart Ireland’s small towns and villages.

The Recovery

The Recovery

Disaster capitalism in Mexico City

The collectives transmitting on the radio out of Café Zapata have made it their goal to speak through the misinformation, malpractice and cover-ups that have proliferated in the chaos after the earthquake. They call themselves the Brigadas Autónomas. “Let’s say it clearly,” they wrote in a press release on September 26, “solutions will not come from the State and from capital; on the contrary, they are responsible for a natural phenomenon turning into a tragedy.” In a way, there can be something equitable, at least initially, about a natural disaster: rubble falls on rich and poor alike. This time, as in 1985, buildings in the wealthy Roma and Condesa neighborhoods suffered some of the greatest damage in the city. But reconstruction comes at a price, and after the earth stops shaking, the vulnerable find themselves even more so.

By What Measure?

By What Measure?

On Catalonia and the referendum

To suggest that the issue with the referendum specifically, and the Catalan government’s pursuit of independence from Spain more generally, is that it is not legal under Spanish law presumes that under Spanish law there exists some legal and democratic path to independence. But the Spanish constitution makes no such provisions for secession.

Indian Liberals Must Die

Indian Liberals Must Die

On Gauri Lankesh and the vernacular Indian left

Liberal snobbery is real, and it’s worth dismantling, but real elitism is claiming that the vernacular radical, the secular laboring man, the socialist with military service, or the atheist with bad English cannot exist; as if those subjectivities can only be produced by Moet and a master’s degree.

Don't You Hear Her?

Don't You Hear Her?

The enduring Korean War

When “fire and fury” were brought to Korea, they were accompanied by the threat of nuclear weapons. At a press conference on November 30, 1950, President Truman proposed the use of the atomic bomb in Korea to protect a “just and peaceful world order.” On December 9, undone by the unforeseen Chinese offensive, General MacArthur requested the use of twenty-six atomic bombs to counter the attack. On Christmas Eve, MacArthur upped the request to thirty-eight, and in later interviews, would talk about using anywhere from thirty to fifty nuclear warheads.

An Alternate Future for the Mall

An Alternate Future for the Mall

Why shopping centers are booming in Mexico

While malls in the US have been on a steady decline, as the industry deals with the decline in brick-and-mortar sales that bode the “death of retail,” malls in Latin America continue on the rise. This is partially because online shopping has yet to take hold as it has in the US. According to Euromonitor International, in 2016, online sales made up only 2.6 percent of retail sales in Mexico, compared with 10.5 percent in the US. The death of retail—at least for now—isn’t a reality in Latin America.

The Origin of Endless War

The Origin of Endless War

On Barbara Lee and the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force

The AUMF is the War on Terror’s key piece of legislation. The text of the law is brief, beginning with, “Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens,” and ending with an assurance that nothing in it would supersede “any requirement of the War Powers Resolution,” the 1973 law passed (over Nixon’s veto) to prevent any more Presidents from waging undeclared war, as they had for years in Korea and Vietnam.

The Annihilator

The Annihilator

It’s just the President mouthing off again!

The deaths of other people may truly be a matter of utter indifference to Donald Trump. But how does he think of his own death, if he does at all? Certainly his body will fail him, eventually, as it must. And, contra the protestations of his muppet of a doctor, Trump must already feel its growing limits, the indignities of age. But I am hard pressed to think of an occasion where he has spoken of what he hopes his posthumous legacy will be, of how he hopes to be remembered.

Fairouz in Exile

Fairouz in Exile

How hellish could it be after the horrors of Syria? Until Ahmad got to Germany, he could never fathom the warnings from these lucky Syrians in Europe.

We began to speak regularly over Skype, about Syria, about Germany. It was October 2015, and refugees were rarely away from the headlines: overloaded boats capsizing in the Mediterranean, vast columns of people walking down Greek highways. In the right-wing tabloids, there were tales of mass invasion and terrorist infiltration. In the liberal media, stories of individual quests: grueling journeys from horror toward safety. In most of them, the curtain fell on the moment of arrival, a safe haven and the tentative hope of a fresh start. I wanted to understand what life was like after the journey’s end.

The Way It Hemmed You In

The Way It Hemmed You In

Soldiers, trigger-fingers, and nerves in Palestine

The violence had been minor, in the grand scheme of things, though unprovoked. Yet the figure of the masked man, prowling round the car, seemed to stand in for a much greater violence. The texture of it is hard to capture, but it suffuses Palestinians’ experiences of the occupation. It is the violence of that moment in which your life is not your own, in which a car full of young people on the way home from a night out, flushed with all the pleasure of youth, is transformed into a threat, and they haven’t even realized.

A Combination of Historical Ignorance and Disastrous Blundering

A Combination of Historical Ignorance and Disastrous Blundering

The US has no prospects for improving the stability of Afghan politics through military force.

The US army, through a combination of historical ignorance and disastrous blundering, failed to populate Afghanistan’s post-invasion government with the people who could have given it a chance at real stability. The US pretended as though the Afghan civil war had never occurred, and allowed mujahedeen and warlords who had terrorized the country throughout the 1990s to assume positions of political power, which did not endear Afghans to their new rulers.

A Very High Degree of Certainty in Future Military Operations

A Very High Degree of Certainty in Future Military Operations

H.R. McMaster and the tragedy of American empire

H.R. McMaster is one of the United States’ most astute theorists of modern warfare. Unlike so many other military thinkers, he understands that history is complex, contingent, and irrational, and that no amount of technological superiority could tame the real world’s unpredictable dynamism. So how could he have gotten it so wrong? Why, in spite of his sophistication, did his solutions to the American disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan ultimately fail to produce even medium-term victory?

Refugee Stasis

Refugee Stasis

The camp is the end of the liberal order, the end of the post–World War II world, the end of human rights.

Refugees are being used to distract from the failures of globalized neoliberalism. The wider European public is subjected to irreconcilable political messaging daily: refugees are both helpless victims and violent sexual predators; they are flooding the borders but the borders are strong; they are children and they are adults posing as children; they are overwhelming our culture, but our culture is indomitable—but it must also be protected.

Ecuador After Correa

Ecuador After Correa

Contradictions and dilemmas of left populism in Latin America

Rafael Correa’s tenure has seen an expansion in the political participation of the poor, and the proliferation of new collective rights and democratic institutions. These gains stand alongside crackdowns on social movements, the weakening of left opposition parties, and the centralization of power in the executive. After a decade of left rule, Ecuador is at once more equal and more unequal, more democratic and more centralized, radically transformed and mired in historic patterns of domination that date to the colonial era. These antinomies have their origins in a left populism that made a pact with oil and mining—a story that has echoes across the continent.

Landscape of Treason

Landscape of Treason

On the French elections

As François Hollande’s ignominious presidency draws to a close, his party confronts its gravest crisis since it was refounded in 1971 out of the ruins of the French Section of the Workers’ International (SFIO). Party membership has dropped to as few as 42,000 cardholders, a mere quarter of the 2014 figure. Municipal Socialism has imploded: today, the PS controls less than a third of large- and mid-sized cities, five of seventeen regions, and only twenty-seven of France’s 101 departments.

No Longer a Girl

No Longer a Girl

The hallmarks that would come to characterize the official narrative surrounding the serial murders were already being established.

The discovery was recorded under the charge of “intentional homicide.” Preliminary inquiry 16142/95-1101 indicates the body was found face-down, the head oriented to the north, the right arm bent beneath the abdomen, the left bent alongside the body; the legs were separated. Death by strangulation was confirmed. The hair was held back by a “a brown hairband or hair tie.” The body wore a white T-shirt that read “California. The Golden State” on the front. The shirt was rolled up above the breasts, as was as the white bra. Underneath the body, green jeans were found with blood stains and corpse fauna. To the left, at the top of the thigh, was a shoe without laces and a pair of white underpants. Aside from the shoe, which carried the mark of Tres Hermanos, her clothing showed no labels or visible branding.

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone

An excess of people and an excess of desert.

Tumbleweeds blow in the wind—saladillos, chemís, voladoras—and the smell of rot arrives in gusts. Residents live in houses made of other people’s trash, discarded scraps of wood, sheets of metal or asbestos, old doors. Here, wire is an indispensable material, used to tie up, to hold together, to separate, to keep in that which would otherwise escape. From Lomas de Poleo, residents can look out upon the well-constructed homes, the green lawns, the technological splendor that surrounds nearby El Paso, Texas.

What We Do Best

What We Do Best

War has become a given in American political life. In the process it has become depoliticized.

It might seem ludicrous that only hours after many of us called Trump a Russian spy, a new Hitler, a feckless idiot, a psychopath, a sun-downing, pill-popping monster, we fell in line and rallied behind him and our troops because, after all, he is our President and Presidents lead and the troops must be supported.

Pirates and Traders

Pirates and Traders

A sack of oat flour was mysteriously displayed on the front desk.

The traffic in Lagos is famously bad. The local driving culture dictates tailgating, honking, flashing of brights, left turns into oncoming traffic, passing on the right, and shouting (but no cursing or lewd gestures—not in such a religious country). It isn’t rare to see a car casually reversing down an on-ramp, a motorcycle scattering pedestrians on a sidewalk, or a truck inching over a highway median to make an improbable u-turn.

Houses Are Built on Top of Mountains

Houses Are Built on Top of Mountains

Hurricane Ophelia diary

Coping and suffering is what Ireland has decided to throw its chips on. Years of corruption in our planning system, with politicians receiving payments to approve ill-thought through housing projects, have led to housing developments on flood plains, at the mercy of the weather each winter. Houses are built on the top of mountains, or in remote fields, draining resources, encouraging the use of the private car, and wrenching apart Ireland’s small towns and villages.

The Recovery

The Recovery

Disaster capitalism in Mexico City

The collectives transmitting on the radio out of Café Zapata have made it their goal to speak through the misinformation, malpractice and cover-ups that have proliferated in the chaos after the earthquake. They call themselves the Brigadas Autónomas. “Let’s say it clearly,” they wrote in a press release on September 26, “solutions will not come from the State and from capital; on the contrary, they are responsible for a natural phenomenon turning into a tragedy.” In a way, there can be something equitable, at least initially, about a natural disaster: rubble falls on rich and poor alike. This time, as in 1985, buildings in the wealthy Roma and Condesa neighborhoods suffered some of the greatest damage in the city. But reconstruction comes at a price, and after the earth stops shaking, the vulnerable find themselves even more so.

By What Measure?

By What Measure?

On Catalonia and the referendum

To suggest that the issue with the referendum specifically, and the Catalan government’s pursuit of independence from Spain more generally, is that it is not legal under Spanish law presumes that under Spanish law there exists some legal and democratic path to independence. But the Spanish constitution makes no such provisions for secession.

Indian Liberals Must Die

Indian Liberals Must Die

On Gauri Lankesh and the vernacular Indian left

Liberal snobbery is real, and it’s worth dismantling, but real elitism is claiming that the vernacular radical, the secular laboring man, the socialist with military service, or the atheist with bad English cannot exist; as if those subjectivities can only be produced by Moet and a master’s degree.

Don't You Hear Her?

Don't You Hear Her?

The enduring Korean War

When “fire and fury” were brought to Korea, they were accompanied by the threat of nuclear weapons. At a press conference on November 30, 1950, President Truman proposed the use of the atomic bomb in Korea to protect a “just and peaceful world order.” On December 9, undone by the unforeseen Chinese offensive, General MacArthur requested the use of twenty-six atomic bombs to counter the attack. On Christmas Eve, MacArthur upped the request to thirty-eight, and in later interviews, would talk about using anywhere from thirty to fifty nuclear warheads.

An Alternate Future for the Mall

An Alternate Future for the Mall

Why shopping centers are booming in Mexico

While malls in the US have been on a steady decline, as the industry deals with the decline in brick-and-mortar sales that bode the “death of retail,” malls in Latin America continue on the rise. This is partially because online shopping has yet to take hold as it has in the US. According to Euromonitor International, in 2016, online sales made up only 2.6 percent of retail sales in Mexico, compared with 10.5 percent in the US. The death of retail—at least for now—isn’t a reality in Latin America.

The Origin of Endless War

The Origin of Endless War

On Barbara Lee and the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force

The AUMF is the War on Terror’s key piece of legislation. The text of the law is brief, beginning with, “Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were committed against the United States and its citizens,” and ending with an assurance that nothing in it would supersede “any requirement of the War Powers Resolution,” the 1973 law passed (over Nixon’s veto) to prevent any more Presidents from waging undeclared war, as they had for years in Korea and Vietnam.

The Annihilator

The Annihilator

It’s just the President mouthing off again!

The deaths of other people may truly be a matter of utter indifference to Donald Trump. But how does he think of his own death, if he does at all? Certainly his body will fail him, eventually, as it must. And, contra the protestations of his muppet of a doctor, Trump must already feel its growing limits, the indignities of age. But I am hard pressed to think of an occasion where he has spoken of what he hopes his posthumous legacy will be, of how he hopes to be remembered.