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The lynching of Libya

By Ian Buruma NEW YORK: Many would say that Col. Muammar El-Qaddafi got what he deserved. Live by the sword, die by the sword. The Libyan tyrant happily allowed his opponents, or anyone who annoyed him, to be tortured or killed. So it seems only right that he died with summary violence. After being hunted down …


Obama’s Israel problem

By Ian Buruma NEW YORK: On a rare foray outside his native Texas, Governor Rick Perry accused US President Barack Obama of “appeasement” towards the Palestinians. Former New York City Mayor Edward Koch supported a Catholic Republican congressional candidate against a Jewish Democrat in New York, because the Republican supports Israel through thick and thin — …


Ladies first, women last

By Ian Buruma NEW YORK: Many people still believe that the attacks of September 11, 2001, were not just acts of political terrorism, but part of a cultural war, a clash of civilizations. The two things that get people most excited in cultural conflicts are religion and sex, specifically the way that men treat women. They …


Europe without Turkey

By Ian Buruma AMSTERDAM: Most European citizens (for example, more than 60 percent in France and Germany) believe that Turkey should not become part of the European Union. There are various reasons for this opposition — some valid, some based on prejudice: Turkey is too big; Turkish migrant workers might swamp other members; Turkey has a …


All the Queen’s children

By Ian Buruma NEW YORK: Does monarchy — constitutional monarchy, that is, not the despotic kind — have any redeeming features left? The arguments against maintaining kings and queens are mostly quite rational. It is unreasonable in this democratic age to pay special deference to people solely on the basis of their birth. Are we really …


Japan’s political tremors

By Ian Buruma NEW YORK: Rarely — indeed, perhaps not since World War II — have the Japanese had such good press abroad. Even South Korean newspapers have been full of praise for the self-discipline of ordinary Japanese in dire circumstances. And coming from Koreans, not usually Japan’s biggest fans, that is no small thing. When …


Obama gets it right

By Ian Buruma NEW YORK: US President Barack Obama has been much criticized for the way he has handled revolutionary changes in North Africa and the Middle East. Actually, he has not handled them very much, at least not in public. That is precisely the problem for armchair warriors watching events unfold on their computer and …


Where are the Islamists?

By  Ian Buruma NEW YORK: Sometime in the 1980’s, when the communist regime in Poland was facing serious challenges from disaffected masses, the regime’s official spokesman, Jerzy Urban, remarked to a foreign journalist that there were only two choices in Poland: communism or domination by the Catholic Church. “It’s either us,” he said, “or the Black …


Israel’s wrong friends

By Ian Buruma JERUSALEM: Israel has been welcoming some rather peculiar visitors of late. The Dutch populist, Geert Wilders, is a frequent caller, telling sympathetic audiences that Israel is on the front line of the Western war against Islam. And, in December, a delegation of European far-right politicians toured Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank, …


The last line of decency

By Ian Buruma JERUSALEM: Every Friday afternoon for more than a year, hundreds of Israeli Jews have gathered on a dusty little square in the middle of Arab East Jerusalem. There are some Palestinians there, too, including a couple of boys selling fresh orange juice. The people gather there, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, to protest …


Why is China lashing out?

By Ian Buruma NEW YORK: It must be galling for the Chinese government to keep seeing Nobel Prizes go to the wrong Chinese. The first wrong Chinese was Gao Xingjian, a critical playwright, artist, and novelist, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 2000, while living in exile in Paris. The latest is Liu Xiaobo, …


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