Longform’s Picks of the Week
The best stories from around the world.
Every weekend, Longform highlights its favorite international articles of the week. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.
The Modern King in the Middle East
Jeffrey Goldberg • The Atlantic
An interview with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who is working to bring about democratic reform to a country steeped in traditionalism.
The king made a short plea for economic reform and for expanding political participation, and then the floor was opened. Leader after leader-many of whom were extremely old, many of whom merely had the appearance of being old-made small-bore requests and complaints. One of the men proposed an idea for the king’s consideration: “In the old days, we had night watchmen in the towns. They would be given sticks. The government should bring this back. It would be for security, and it would create more jobs for the young men.”
I was seated directly across the room from the king, and I caught his attention for a moment; he gave me a brief, wide-eyed look. He was interested in high-tech innovation, and in girls’ education, and in trimming the overstuffed government payroll. A jobs plan focused on men with sticks was not his idea of effective economic reform.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
The Legend of Chris Kyle
Michael J. Mooney • D Magazine
A profile of the deadliest sniper in American history, who was murdered last month by a fellow soldier.
He said he didn’t enjoy killing, but he did like protecting Americans and allies and civilians. He was the angel of death, sprawled flat atop a roof, his University of Texas Longhorns ball cap turned backward as he picked off enemy targets one by one before they could hurt his boys. He was the guardian, assigned to watch over open-air street markets and elections, the places that might make good marks for insurgent terrorists.
“You don’t think of the people you kill as people,” he said. “They’re just targets. You can’t think of them as people with families and jobs. They rule by putting terror in the hearts of innocent people. The things they would do-beheadings, dragging Americans through the streets alive, the things they would do to little boys and women just to keep them terrified and quiet-” He paused for a moment and slowed down. “That part is easy. I definitely don’t have any regrets about that.
Richard Engel • Vanity Fair
The author tells the story of his kidnapping by militants in Syria.
The truck started up and eased out of the grove. We could feel it traveling over bumpy roads. I’ve reported on Shiite militias butchering Sunnis, and on Sunnis bombing Shiites in Iraq. I still felt like a reporter. I was still on a story. This was sectarian violence. This wasn’t happening to me but to them. I was angry with myself for thinking that.
Stay focused. You are here. You need to survive this. The first few hours are the most dangerous.
The truck came to a stop about 20 minutes later. Metal scraped against metal as the rear doors creaked open. Light and cold air rushed in.
“Where is the gunman?,” Abu Jaafar asked.
“That’s me, sir,” said the young man in the green fatigues. Abdelrazaq’s bodyguard could not have been more than 20.
Abu Jaafar’s men took the bodyguard out of the truck.
“Finish him,” Abu Jaafar said.
Photo by NBC/Meet the Press via Getty Images
The Kenyatta Affair
James Verini • Foreign Policy
What Kenya and its allies can learn from Austria’s Nazi legacy.
Kenyans have chosen. Now those consequences have to be defined. What they may entail, beyond making a point of not phoning Kenyatta to congratulate him, no one has said publically, but it’s commonly agreed that the situation is unprecedented. The West has had to deal with reprobates already in power, but never has it suffered the anxiety of watching a man accused of crimes against humanity run for and then win the highest office in a friendly nation (and with British counsel). The journalist Steve Coll wrote in the New Yorker that “Kenyatta might well become the first democratically elected alleged criminal on that scale in history.”
That’s not entirely true. A quarter-century ago, the United States and Europe faced a similar diplomatic tribulation. This one, closer to home, involved Nazis. Peculiarly Mitteleuropean though it was in tone, it provides an instructive precedent for what might be called “The Kenyatta Affair.”
TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images
The Miner’s Daughter
William Finnegan • The New Yorker
On Gina Rinehart, the richest person in Australia.
“You vs. Gina Rinehart” the banner headline reads on howrichareyou.com.au. The site invites you to enter your annual salary. If you enter sixty thousand dollars, it informs you that Rinehart makes that amount every 1.7 minutes. Below that, a rapidly increasing number calculates how many hundreds of thousands have “landed in Gina’s pocket” since you landed on this Web site. Finally, “Guess who made $107,703 sitting on the toilet today?” Not you. Among the things that her estimated 2011 income could buy: three fully armed Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carriers; “Jamaica.”
Paul Kane/Getty Images