n.34 February 2011

Arriving by sea, the Italian writers Edmondo De Amicis and Corrado Alvaro were each mesmerized by the Istanbul skyline. Once in the city, they were smitten by its intensity and its trade-oriented hubbub. Though De Amicis tended to see more brightness than Alvaro, both agreed the Turkish metropolis was the last European enclave of the eastward-sprawling Mediterranean condominium.

Two decades ago, American diplomat Joseph Wilson was the last man out of Iraq before the start of Operation Desert Storm. He was hailed as a hero by former President George H.W. Bush. But later efforts to advise a second Bush presidency on Saddam Hussein’s motives and intentions backfired badly. A report based on a trip to Niger was manipulated to make Iraqi intentions more sinister. So Wilson spoke up, leading to a firestorm that has taken years to settle.

In China, where Internet censorship plays a fundamental role in urban life, kids are getting a break. The southeast province of Chongqing has approved a law barring adults from trespassing into the technological lives of minors. Basically, parents can’t browse their children’s’ email, chat, browser history and messages.

Chastened by the Mumbai attacks of 2008, the Indian government has focused its attention on military rearmament. New Delhi wants to create a modern army capable of intimidating loathed neighbor Pakistan while making a strategic case aim for South Asian pre-eminence. But what the effort conceals is India’s inability to successfully groom a domestic agency dedicated to fighting the growing threat of terrorism.