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 brand-new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.
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 brand-new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.
The Truth and the Fast and Furious Scandal, by Katherine Eban. Fortune.
How, and why, the world got it wrong.
Quite simply, there’s a fundamental misconception at the heart of the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.
Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Fortune reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven law-enforcement agents with direct knowledge of the case. Several, including Voth, are speaking out for the first time.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The Kingpins, by William Finnegan. New Yorker.
Crime, drugs, and politics in Guadalajara.
In Mexico, it is often impossible to know who is behind something-a massacre, a candidacy, an assassination, the capture of a crime boss, a “discovery” of high-level corruption. Either the truth is too fluid and complex to define or it remains opaque to anyone not directly involved in manipulating events. This may help to explain how a city widely understood to be under the control of a leading international crime group-the U.S. Treasury Department recently labelled Guzmán, who is fifty-five, “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker”-can regard itself as a jacaranda-shaded refuge of high culture and legitimate commercial vitality. Both descriptions are true, and both realities are under siege. When Mexicans discuss the news, they talk often about pantallas-screens, illusions, behind which are more screens, all created to obscure the facts. Peña Nieto is depicted, in cartoons, as a carnival mask behind which laughs Carlos Salinas de Gortari, a former President, who is still regarded as enormously powerful. I can’t count the number of times I have asked someone about a news story and been told, “Pantalla.”
The Passion of John Wojnowski, by Ariel Sabar. Washingtonian.
What would drive a man to stand outside the Vatican embassy nearly every day for 14 years?
Time weighs on John Wojnowski. It wears him down. It winds him up.
Time, for Wojnowski, is not just the half century since the priest in the mountains of Italy touched him. It is also the lost days since then, the wasted months and years when he is sure he let everyone down: his parents, his wife, his children, himself.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
Obama’s Deportation Two-Step, by James Verini. Washington Monthly.
How Obama’s immigration enforcement policies got away from him.
In April, a man named Juan went to a courthouse in Inglewood, California, to turn himself in after learning a warrant had been issued for his arrest. He’d been driving on a suspended license, having racked up several traffic violations. Juan figured that he’d have to pay a fine, at worst do some community service. But the police arrested him. They told him he’d likely spend a few days in jail. So Juan called his boss at the drugstore where he worked to say he would be gone a few days. As it turned out, Juan would be gone much longer than that.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Deadwood, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Foreign Policy.
Why did America send its C-team to Afghanistan?
Within a day, she saw she’d been dreaming. She divided most of the people she met in the highly fortified embassy and USAID compound into three camps: those who had come to Afghanistan because they wanted to make a lot of money — with hazard pay and bonuses, some staffers earned as much as $300,000 a year; those who were getting their tickets punched for a promotion or a posting to a comfortable embassy in Western Europe; and those who were seeking to escape a divorce, a foreclosed home, or some other personal calamity. “It’s rare that you ever hear someone say they’re here because they want to help the Afghans,” she told me after she had been there for a few months.
Everyone seemed bent on departure. One itching-to-go staffer designed an Excel spreadsheet he called the “Circle of Freedom.” You entered the date you arrived and the date you were scheduled to leave, and it told you, down to the second, how much time you had left in Kabul. A USAID employee took to listing his time to freedom in the signature line of his email messages.
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