This editor’s picks: my favorite ForeignPolicy.com articles of the year

ForeignPolicy.com published well over 1,000 articles, lists, photo essays, and various other pieces in 2009, so coming up with a concise list of favorite reads is a tough task. FP‘s readers have already weighed in with their own doom-and-gloom-packed, crowdsourced list; so here, in no particular order and with apologies in advance for any oversights, ...

ForeignPolicy.com published well over 1,000 articles, lists, photo essays, and various other pieces in 2009, so coming up with a concise list of favorite reads is a tough task. FP's readers have already weighed in with their own doom-and-gloom-packed, crowdsourced list; so here, in no particular order and with apologies in advance for any oversights, are some of my personal faves:

The Soccer Wars, by Ursula Lindsey

An after-action from the front lines of the Middle East's most bitter conflict.

ForeignPolicy.com published well over 1,000 articles, lists, photo essays, and various other pieces in 2009, so coming up with a concise list of favorite reads is a tough task. FP‘s readers have already weighed in with their own doom-and-gloom-packed, crowdsourced list; so here, in no particular order and with apologies in advance for any oversights, are some of my personal faves:

The Soccer Wars, by Ursula Lindsey

An after-action from the front lines of the Middle East’s most bitter conflict.

How They Killed Chechnya’s Conscience, by Anna Nemtsova

A heartbreaking cri de coeur on the murder of actvist Natalia Estemirova. See also William Browder’s unbelievable account of his lawyer’s unjust death in a Russian prison.

He’s Got the Law (Literally) in His Hands, by Jina Moore and Glenna Gordon

The incredible story of how one man is holding Liberia’s legal code hostage.

Israel Turns on Itself, by Noah Efron

A moving, introspective take on this summer’s ultra-Orthodox riots.

Germany Has a Gay Minister — Yäwn!, by Cameron Abadi

A fabulous profile of Guido Westerwelle, and a broader tour of Germany’s newfound tolerance. (Bonus picks: For a look at how Latin America has become a new gay Mecca, check out "Is Latin America’s Closet Half Empty?" by Javier Corrales. And for a depressing look at gay rights in Africa, read Michael Wilkerson’s dispatch, "Uganda’s Outrageous New Sex Law.") See also Abadi’s insightful profiles of European diplomats Fogh Rasmussen and Carl Bildt.

Never Again?, by Andrew Stroehlein

An insightful reflection on the Holocaust can’t teach us about modern-day genocide.

The World’s Worst Daughters and The World’s Worst Sons, by Joshua Keating

These twin FP lists about dictator progeny run amok are classics of the genre.

How We Invaded Afghanistan, by Oleg Kalugin

I was fascinated by ex-KGB General Kalugin’s book, and this excerpt is a revealing example of the poor Soviet decision-making of the Brezhnev era.

The Idiot’s Guide to Pakistan, by Nicholas Schmidle

This brilliant and witty distillation of Pakistan’s perils and politics is in FP‘s old template, so it might be a bit hard to access at the moment, but it’s still well worth reading (just hit refresh until it works).

The Militarization of Sex, by Hanin Ghaddar

The story of Hezbollah’s halal hookups. Need I say more?

Ed Burtynsky’s Oil

I love these photographs of the nasty, but necessary stuff that makes our vehicles go. For another stunning, large-format set of image, check out "Planet Slum," with photography by Jonas Bendiksen and captions by Christina Larson. And don’t miss "Portraits of Instability" from the world’s failing states.

The Terrorists Among Us, by Peter Bergen

This prescient piece, adapted from Bergen’s testimony before Congress, is the most balanced and comprehensive take on the al Qaeda threat to the U.S. homeland that I’ve seen anywhere. (For another intelligent, nuanced contribution from  a New America Foundation author, see also Steve Coll making the case for humility in Afghanistan.) To see Bergen letting it rip, check out his earlier essay, "Cheney’s Jihad."

Indian Winter, by Kapil Komireddi

A smart dispatch on what the censorship of a film about India’s founding father shows about New Delhi’s cautious relationship toward its own history.

Assassination: A Brief History, by George Jonas

The author who wrote the story behind the film Munich reviews the sordid past of "targeted killings."

The Other Vaclav, by Jiri Pehe

A devastating profile of the Czech republic’s ridiculous president.

China’s Ring of Power, by John Lee

How Beijing is trying to corner the market on a little-known, but much coveted strategic commodity.

Mr. Fix-It, by Julia Ioffe

Vladimir Putin’s star turn as the Russian Oprah.

Obama’s Eminence Grise, by Brian Winter

USA Today‘s foreign editor profiles George Mitchell, Washington’s top under-the-radar man.

Hawk and Dove, by Nicholas Thompson

A highly revealing excerpt from Thompson’s highly original book about Paul Nitze and George Kenner.

How China Cooks Its Books, by Jordan Calinoff

FP beat up on China’s dubious economic statistics on a number of different occassions this year, but Calinoff’s original reporting added a fresh and unique dimension to this arcane but  fascinating subject.

The Next Osama, by Jarret Brachman

A profile of Abu Yahya al-Libi, who at the time of writing was seen as al Qaeda’s heir apparent. See also Imtiaz Gul on the untimely demise of Baitullah Mehsud and Imtiaz’s Ali’s profile of Mehsud before his death by Hellfire missile.

Think Again: Africa’s Crisis, by Charles Kenny

Kenny, who also penned our November cover story on how television is changing the developing world, has a smart take on Africa’s often overblown woes.

Saigon 2009, by Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason

The Afghanistan-as-Vietnam anology that spawned a cottage industry.

LiveStrong for Make Benefit of Kazakhstan, by Joe Lindsey

Why did Lance Armstrong race for Team Astana in the Tour de France? Lindsey explains.

Welcome to Hamaswood, by Sharon Weinberger

A trip inside the Palestinian militant group’s movie studio.

A $9 Trillion Question, by Peter Schaeffer

Rethinking the legacy of microfinance pioneer Muhammad Yunus.

Call in the Cavalry!, by Patrick Devenney

What a 19th century British military handbooks tells us about how Afghanistan can be won — or lost.

Don’t say you weren’t warned department:

Planning for the Worst in Honduras, by Michael Shifter

Yemen’s Well Runs Dry, by Gregory Johnsen and Christopher Boucek

The Inept Captain of a Sinking Ship, by Tobias Harris

Guilty pleasures:

Pakistan’s Baghdad Bob, by David Kenner

The Top 10 Craziest Things Ever Said During a U.N. Speech, by Joshua Keating

Europe to Europe: WTF?, by Annie Lowrey

There’s a lot more where that came from, but FP‘s midyear redesign makes it a tad more difficult to pull out pieces from earlier in the year. Readers, what were your favorites? What would you like to see more — and less — of in 2010?

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