Debating Syria

It’s easy to dismiss diplomacy as feckless. The art of negotiation always appears amateurish until it manages, against all expectation, to succeed. Even then, an agreement is only as good as its longevity. The February 29 pact between the United States and North Korea, the result of painstaking negotiations, lasted all of 12 minutes after Pyongyang decided to launch a satellitethat eventually...
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Death and Taxes

Military spending combines the two certainties in life: death and taxes. U.S. taxpayers are paying more than anyone else on Earth to support an industry devoted to death. Last Tuesday, Tax Day, Americans were treated to the news that our nation has increased its overall spending on the military. In 2011, the United States spent approximately $740 billion on the military, an increase of more than...
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Jeju Island: Paradise with a Dark Side

I’m standing with a social worker beneath the palm trees outside a municipal building in the main city of Jeju Island. We’re talking about a nearby naval base, which the South Korean government is trying to build and a number of islanders are trying to prevent. She’s repeating a familiar refrain about Jeju — that it’s a paradise on Earth, but one with a dark side. The naval base is...
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Scraping the Bottom

We are all trust fund babies living off the wealth of our ancestors. I’m not talking Mommy and Daddy. I’m talking Barney. That cuddly T-Rex and all his dinosaur friends, along with those giant ferns and tiny trilobites, died millions of years ago only to become, very gradually, the energy that fuels our modern life. Until very recently, in geologic time at least, the earth held virtually all...
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North Korea’s Failed Fireworks

In early February, Iran launched its third successful commercial satellite in three years. The Barack Obama administration, the United Nations, and the news media barely acknowledged the accomplishment. North Korea, on the other hand, has created a furor each of the three times its satellites failed to reach orbit. Its latest effort, on Apr. 13, broke up within two minutes of launch. Pyongyang...
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