What's new in the Economist, etc.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Dec. 31 2004 1:05 PM

New Year's Revolution

Now that Yuschenko has won, he should embrace the opposition.

Economist

Economist, Jan. 1
"Was it a revolution?" asks one piece in a series of articles about Victor Yuschenko's victory in Ukraine's do-over presidential election. The answer is, generally, yes. But the magazine advises Yuschenko to exercise restraint and appoint officials who will embrace rather than alienate the minority Russian population who view the "revolution" as a "cold-war-style" coup designed to win a valuable partner for the NATO powers. The cover story emphasizes the internationalist opportunity provided by Sunday's catastrophic tsunami, calling for worldwide humanitarian participation and the creation of a much-needed regional disaster warning system. (Another article estimates a system modeled on the existing Pacific warning network could cost as little as $2 million.) Britain assumes the presidency of the G8 this week, and Tony Blair delivers his agenda for the upcoming year, pursuing long-term strategies to address global warming and promote progress in Africa (terrorism is notably neglected).— D.W.W.

New York Times Magazine

New York Times Magazine, Jan. 2 The cover story recounts Arab TV network Al Arabiya's attempts to displace Al Jazeera as the leading (and more objective) Arab media source. Al Arabiya prides itself on presenting more fact-based information than Al Jazeera's subjective, opinionated news coverage—more CNN than Fox News, according to the piece. But despite Al Arabiya's efforts to provide balanced coverage, many U.S. military officials nonetheless view the network as "allied with the enemy." According to one top-level network employee, "The central problem … is that although Arab journalists have access to state-of-the-art technology, the governmental and civic structures needed to support a free modern press don't exist in the Middle East." Another article analyzes why almost 50 percent of elementary-school children in Starr County, Texas, suffer from severe weight problems. Genetics most certainly play a role, but the vast consumption of high-fat fast foods at low cost in this poverty stricken area is also a factor.— J.H.P.

New York Review of Books

New York Review of Books, Jan. 13. Jonathan Raban writes about "fourth-generation warfare"—conflict between nation-states and non-state entities—and says that the war on terror is "altering the language in ways that we must learn to live with." Raban surveys a series of celebrated assessments of the organization and structure of al-Qaida, ranging from Norman Podhortez's description of a kamikaze group dedicated to the irrational agenda of destroying civilization to Richard Clarke's "worldwide political conspiracy masquerading as a religious sect"—but discards their shared apocalyptic alarm. Instead, he supports small-scale recommendations that homeland defense refocus on risk management rather than risk removal, and reviews favorably a documentary, The Power of Nightmares, that suggests Islamofascism and neoconservatism are ascendant doppelgängers, each nightmarishly overestimating the destructive power of the other. Mark Danner delivers an authoritative analysis of the presidential campaign, retracing his 2000 journey through Florida to supplement, with anecdotes, an otherwise conventional argument—Bush persuaded voters that personal strength was a political prerequisite for managing national security.— D.W.W.

Weekly Standard
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Weekly Standard, Jan. 3 Two cover stories examine "The Fight for Iraq," one from the perspective of a U.S. Army Reserve officer recently returned from Iraq, who concludes that "[T]his really is a fight for the future, a battle between our free, open political system and the unholy alliance of despots and millenarian Islamofascists whose very existence depends on denying liberty." He hopes for an Iraq that combats terrorism rather than promotes it and one in which Islamic clerics recognize that their role is one of "spiritual guidance and education, not temporal political control." The other cover story explains how the war will affect our relationships with Iran, Israel, Palestine, and other countries and pays particular attention to the Bush administration's options for dealing with Iran's development of nuclear weapons. Of the four options listed, which range from doing nothing to threatening a pre-emptive strike, it recommends an actual pre-emptive strike: "If we want to stop Iran's terrorist-supporting clerics from getting nukes, we have to be prepared to stare them down."— J.H.P.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker, Jan. 3 An article explores how psychiatrist Robert Spitzer successfully transformed the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders into the indispensable publication it is today. When Spitzer became involved with the DSM in the late 1960s, he realized that the manual's lack of data-based information made it unreliable. As a result, he developed definitions for each mental disorder, complete with checklists, to ensure that doctors have a uniform set of criteria for diagnosing a disorder. In addition, he reduced the use of "neurosis" in the DSM because of its association with "Freudian psychoanalytic philosophy." Given the DSM's widespread use (hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold), Spitzer believed it "could not be aligned with any single theory." Another article examines the devastating impact the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh has had on Dutch and Muslims in the Netherlands. Widespread political panic and even a looming specter of civil war have emerged amid a culture of fear.— J.H.P.

Legal Affairs

Legal Affairs, January and February 2005
An investigative piece uncovers molestation and incest within the Amish society. Given the Amish's reputation as a "gentle people" who are generally law-abiding citizens, they are largely left alone by government officials. "But can a community govern itself by Jesus's teaching of mercy alone?" The article provides specific examples of how the community handles allegations of rape and sexual abuse and ultimately concludes that "the state's duty to push past barriers thrown up by parents and the community can't hinge on the religion they practice." … Judge Alex Kozinski exposes quandaries in judicial ethics. Because of large caseloads, judges have a tendency to pay more attention to big cases. He also touches on judges' "temptation to decide cases so as to please those in the political process who have the power to appoint, retain, and promote judges."— J.H.P.

Mother Jones

Mother Jones, January and February 2005 Democrats need a party-wide revival if they want to win in 2008, says one cover story. While Republicans rallied around their party and the ideals associated with it, Democrats more often than not were "loyal to a particular cause from gay rights to global warming." Suggestions for how to get back on track include utilizing the aid of local Democrats to persuade undecided voters, rather than relying on transplanted urbanites with no ties to the community. "In a word, it could act a great deal more like the people's party of old, and less like a traveling circus that folds its tents after the first Tuesday in November." A companion cover story says that Democrats should fear not—volunteers and grass-roots campaigns did make progress. In 2008, "at least we will not be starting from scratch. There was a rising. It was defeated, but it was not a figment of a utopian's imagination."— J.H.P.

David Wallace-Wells is a writer living in New York.