- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 12, 2002

Practically every magazine worth its salt I'm speaking of the more serious category of publication is punditing away like crazy on the likes of President Bush, Saddam Hussein, war with Iraq and whatever else the future holds for us.
With fitting timing for the zeitgeist, a new publication was launched at the end of September. The American Conservative is a biweekly edited by a fairly unusual trio: Pat Buchanan, Taki Theodoracopulos and Scott McConnell. Mr. Buchanan, the former presidential candidate, and Mr. Theodoracopulos, the Greek shipping heir and longtime columnist, appear at first and even second glance to be an incongruous pair. Nevertheless, the men not only share eloquence in their writing, but are intellectually and physically fearless traits not necessarily shared by many contemporary practitioners in the media. Executive Editor Scott McConnell is a former editorial page editor of the New York Post, a position that surely requires a goodly share of courage.
The initial issue carries "Iraq Folly" in big yellow letters, with the subhead, "How Victory Could Spell American Defeat." The piece is by Eric S. Margolis. The artwork on the cover shows an aggressive Uncle Sam wielding a giant fly swatter over a small, slyly grinning fly with Saddam's features. A long line of cowering men are clutching at Uncle Sam, looking panic-stricken. Shoulder patches designate Great Britain, Germany, and France (the last on his knees). It is eye-catching.
The editors jointly signing the lead editorial, "We Take Our Stand," give a stiff right to the neoconservatives, concluding: "We believe that true conservatism has a predisposition for the institutions and mores that exist. So much of what passes for contemporary conservatism is wedded to a kind of radicalism fantasies of global hegemony, the hubristic notion of America as a universal nation for all the world's peoples, a hyperglobal economy. In combination with an increasingly unveiled contempt for America's long-standing allies, it is more a recipe for disaster.
"Against it, we take our stand."
Other featured articles include "Why I Am No Longer a Conservative," by Kevin Phillips; "Now Entering Imperium," by Justin Raimondo; and "Filing for Dollars," by Howard Sutherland. Some lively pieces appear under the heading Arts & Letters. You may not necessarily agree with every idea in this new publication, but it is tonic in tone and quite bracing.

Meanwhile, you have the November Atlantic Monthly, also bearing a cartoon of Uncle Sam on its cover. Here our national symbol is shouldering Iraq, with clouds of smoke rising and a tiny grinning Saddam peeking out from behind a ruined building. The feature story, by James Fallows, asks, "The Fifty-First State?" It is subheaded, "The inevitable aftermath of victory in Iraq."
Mark Bowden, who wrote the book on which the excellent Ridley Scott film "Black Hawk Down" is based, contributes another tale of recent action in Afghanistan from the viewpoint of members of the 391st Fighter Squadron. Add to that an interestingly thought-out piece by Robert D. Kaplan examining how Iraq may be the most logical place to relocate Middle Eastern U.S. bases. You shouldn't be too surprised to learn that the article is titled "A Post-Saddam Scenario."
The October Harper's is a touch curious. The fold-over cover art on heavy paper shows an updated version of Grecian warriors headed toward a camel and a palm tree. In a large type face, the caption reads, "Lewis H. Lapham: Against the Invasion of Iraq," and at the foot of the page you see, "Dick Cheney's Plan for Global Dominance." Lift up the flap, however, and you get a good-size color reproduction of the four horses on the actual cover. Below the title piece "Horseman, Pass By" is a subhead telling about "Glory, Grief and the Race for the Triple Crown." Below lies the comparatively innocuous title: "The Road to Babylon: Searching for Targets in Iraq," by Lewis H. Lapham. It's nowhere near as provocative as the overlap cover title and art.
Curiously, the Atlantic and Harper's are both featuring short stories by John Updike, who does not seem to be in his usual top form. Under the fairly pretentious title "Varieties of Religious Experience," The Atlantic looks at the September 11 events from three points of view rather on the obvious and mawkish side. Harper's runs one of those marriage stories Mr. Updike is prone to, although in this case, the story covers the visit to Spain of two nearly senior folk deciding whether marriage is in the cards for them. It reads as if Mr. Updike pulled out his notes from a visit to Spain and mixed in a touch of plot.
The double issue of the New Yorker for Oct. 14 and 21 is devoted to "America in the World." It runs from a Nicholas Lemann profile on Condoleezza Rice (revealing an extraordinary young woman talk of a role model for the young) with the catchy subhead, "How the White House has changed Ms. Rice," to Part 1 of Jeffrey Goldberg on "In the Party of God," subtitled, "Hezbollah may be the world's most successful terrorist group. Is it planning another war?" We'll have to wait for Part 2, presumably, to learn the answer.
The New Yorker of Oct. 7 may well be worth seeking out for its lead story by Jon Lee Anderson, "Who Needs Saudi Arabia?" Mr. Anderson writes of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe, a tiny island nation off the coast of West Africa, one of the most indebted and impoverished countries in the world. But guess what?That little island is sitting on reserves of perhaps 4 billion barrels of crude oil. Yes, our government is taking a real and serious interest in that wee democracy. So it should.
Surprise, surprise: Marie Claire, one of the country's really big-circulation women's monthlies, suddenly has developed something of a social conscience, launching a yearlong campaign to raise money to provide relief and aid to the women and children who are victims of wars around the world.


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