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.
How Bush Snared Blair by Kurt Eichenwald, Vanity Fair
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.
How Bush Snared Blair by Kurt Eichenwald, Vanity Fair
In an excerpt from the forthcoming book 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars, Eichenwald details the series of meetings between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush in the months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
A sheaf of papers arrived at Number 10 Downing Street from the White House on September 11, 2002, one year after the deadly al Qaeda attacks. It was a draft of the Iraq speech that Bush was preparing to deliver the following morning at the U.N. General Assembly Hall. And Blair was alarmed as he read it.
There was no call for a new U.N. resolution. The draft read as though it had been written by Cheney and Rumsfeld — bursting with bluster and saber rattling, and not much else. This had to be a mistake. The President had made a commitment to Blair at Camp David that he was going to seek diplomatic action through the U.N. And Bush had never gone back on his word to Blair before.
LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images
Days of Reckoning by Joshua Hammer, National Geographic
In the wake of the Arab Spring, Yemen faces an uncertain future.
Besides al Qaeda and the separatist factions, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi — the former vice president who was elected president in February 2012 for a two-year transition period — faces dire domestic problems. With a per capita income of $1,140, Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. Over half a million desperate Somali immigrants are burdening the already overstrained economy. Yemen’s water is running out, and its oil supplies are expected to be exhausted by 2022. Its population is both young and growing; unemployed youths are a threat to stability. Hadi has moved boldly to solidify control over the military, sideline Saleh-family politicians, and begin a national dialogue on civil society, but his hold on power remains tenuous.
In the face of these grave challenges, what kind of society will take root in Yemen? Will it become a modern nation, grounded in the rule of law? Or an even more anarchic state, torn by tribal, ethnic, and religious conflict and a threat to Western security?
MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images
Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars and Profits by Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times
The thriving ivory trade has created a poaching epidemic, with militias, crime syndicates, and ordinary soldiers bringing in big profits, but a price is paid in the lives of elephants and increased instability on the continent.
“We don’t negotiate, we don’t give any warning, we shoot first,” said Mr. Onyango, the chief ranger, who worked as a game warden in Kenya for more than 20 years. He rose to a high rank but lost his job after a poaching suspect died in his custody after being whipped.
“Out here, it’s not michezo,” Mr. Onyango said, using the Swahili word for games.
In June, he heard a burst of gunfire. His rangers did a ‘leopard crawl’ on their bellies for hours through the scratchy elephant grass until they spied poachers hacking several elephants. The instant his squad shot at the poachers, the whole bush came alive with crackling gunfire.
“They opened up on us with PKMs, AKs, G-3s, and FNs,” he said. “Most poachers are conservative with their ammo, but these guys were shooting like they were in Iraq. All of a sudden, we were outgunned and outnumbered.”
Race to the End by Tom Hundley, Foreign Policy
Pakistan might be moving toward a tactical nuclear capability. Faced with Pakistani-government sponsored terrorism and a potential nuclear offensive, India is struggling to respond.
Pakistan has never formally stated its nuclear doctrine, preferring to keep the Indians guessing as to when and where it might use nukes. But now it appears to be contemplating the idea of actually using tactical nuclear weapons in a confrontation with India.
The problem with this delicate state of affairs is not simply the two countries’ history of war, but Pakistan’s tactic of hiding behind its nuclear shield while allowing terrorist groups to launch proxy attacks against India. The 2001 attack on India’s Parliament building and the 2008 Mumbai attack are the most egregious examples. Both were carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants based in Pakistan with well-established links to the ISI and were far more provocative than anything the Americans or Russians dished out to each other during the four decades of the Cold War.
RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images
Mizoram’s Wild Flower by Lhendup G Bhutia, Open Magazine
In 1974, a pair of four-year-old cousins wandered into the jungle near India’s border with Myanmar. The boy was found five days later, temporarily incapable of speech. The girl was gone. For decades, stories echoed through villages of a “wild-looking woman,” sometimes striding beside a tiger. Thirty-eight years later, she returned.
Locals say Chhaidy was taken away by a spirit in the forest. A day after the children went missing, there was heavy rainfall, which many thought a couple of four-year-olds would never survive. When Beirakhu was found, no one could understand what he spoke. Many suspected he was possessed by a spirit, and incapable of human speech. A day later, the boy recovered and spoke of a woman who found them, a woman who lived in the forest and gave them shelter and food at her house. But when the villagers took the boy to the spot, there was no sign of any woman or house.
DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images
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