In March's installment of FP's most popular stories of the month, events in Libya and Japan had us glued to our screens, while March Madness was one place where democracy triumphed over dictatorship.
- By Suzanne MerkelsonSuzanne Merkelson is an editorial assistant at Foreign Policy.
Keeping Up with the Qaddafis, March 17
In this photo essay, FP took a closer look at Libya’s ruling family. Muammar al-Qaddafi and his eight children have always been a little crazy. From plagiarized LSE theses to Porsches speeding the wrong way down the Champs Élysées, the Qaddafis prove that the family that fights together stays together.
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Pax Romana, March 4
Italy’s failed African adventure might figure most prominently today in its unfortunate alliance with Qaddafi in Libya. This photo essay takes us to the early twentieth century version of the Roman Empire: Italy’s short-lived North African colonies. In Libya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, Italian influence, in culture, architecture, and political identity, is still unmistakable.
The Big One, March 11
Japan’s trifecta of disasters has stunned the world and forever changed the way of life for the Japanese northern coast, which was hit by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, and a subsequent nuclear disaster. These photos show us the devastation as it unfolded over the course of the month.
YOMIURI SHIMBUN/AFP/Getty Images
In the days leading up to the U.N. Security Council’s authorization of intervention in Libya’s unfolding crisis, the position of the Barack Obama’s administration was far from obvious. Josh Rogin reported in The Cable that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s meetings with G8 foreign ministers in Paris left her European colleagues with more questions than answers on the Obama administration’s stance. Of course, as we soon found out, the United States decided not only to back involvement in Libya’s war, but to lead it.
Land of Disaster, March 14
Deputy managing editor Britt Peterson looks into Japan’s culture of disaster, where art, literature, and Godzilla flicks all reveal a society long accustomed to calamity. This photo essay traces centuries of artistic interpretation of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, nuclear tragedies, and tsunamis in an attempt to understand why Japan’s cultural response to its history of disaster is so fantastical.
Revolt in the Desert, March 7
As the world’s newest war unfolded this month, the United States and its allies cautiously threw their support behind a group known simply as “the rebels.” Accused by Qaddafi of being members of al Qaeda, the rebels achieved global recognition in photographs depicting them riding in pick-up trucks and flashing the “V” for victory. This slide show shows their long road to Tripoli.
John Moore/Getty Images
China’s Big Dam Problem, March 8
As Peter Bosshard wrote this month for FP, “Chinese rulers have always seen controlling water as part of their heavenly mandate.” This photo essay shows us how the Chinese government has tried to generate power for the country’s growing energy needs by controlling their country’s massive rivers, including the Yangtze. But the dams depicted in this photo essay are also the source of some of China’s thorniest environmental problems. Will the Chinese government be overwhelmed by the backlash?
Another post on The Cable made FP‘s Top 10 this month, with Josh Rogin taking us inside one of the Obama administration’s key meetings on outlining a strategy in Libya. The classified briefing left senators convinced that Obama was ready to attack Libya, but “wondering if it isn’t too late to help the rebels there.”
WikiLosers, March 25
Earlier this month, Carlos Pascal, stepped down from his post as U.S. ambassador to Mexico after WikiLeaks published a series of cables in which he criticized Mexico’s drug war and President Felipe Calderón’s handling of it. He wasn’t the only WikiLoser. Julian Assange promised that his radical transparency project would change the world. As this list by FP Associate Editor Charles Homans illustrates, it certainly changed these people’s lives forever.
ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images
March Madness: Democrats vs. Dictators, March 17
FP‘s first ever tournament of champions riffed off the popular U.S. college basketball championships, inviting readers to bet on match-ups between and among the world’s democrats — including Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, and Ban Ki-Moon — and its dictators — featuring FP favorites like Qaddafi, Kim Jong Il, and Vladimir Putin. The last featured Obama and Putin duking it out for world domination in”the traditional tie-breaker: a knife-fight on the edge of an active volcano.”