Jihad in Tunisia and Change in Cuba: The Week in Global-Affairs Writing

Exporting Jihad
George Packer | The New Yorker
“In Tunisia, leaving to wage jihad has become a social phenomenon. Recruitment spreads like a contagion through informal networks of friends and family members, and the country is small enough so that everyone knows of someone who has disappeared. In Djerba, a resort island on the southeastern coast, I met Fady Ben Youness, a teen-ager who watches ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,’ aspires to study at an American university, and professed to be ‘feeling the Bern.’ He told me, with dismay, that some of his high-school classmates had written pro-ISIS graffiti on the school’s walls and then dropped out. His father, a schoolteacher and journalist, had published an article about an entire family that had left. The family’s father, an accountant, sold his four-by-four vehicle and his colony of honeybees, then used the cover story of a vacation to fly with his mother, his wife, their three small children, and a cousin to Istanbul, before being driven into Syria.”

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Cuba on the Edge of Change
Azam Ahmed | The New York Times
“They wait, coiled with anticipation. For web pages to download. For tourists to hurry up and buy something. For a flag to be raised. Cubans know how to wait. Yet, after decades of Communist rule, they are less prepared to handle the feeling of opportunity now permeating the island, and their government’s resistance to letting them seize it.”

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Radically Rethinking NATO and the Future of European Security
Job C. Henning and Douglas A. Ollivant | War on the Rocks
“For too long, NATO has been permitted to continue to operate as if it were still in the ‘holiday from history’ of the 1990s. NATO is burdened with a set of unresolved ideas at the heart of post-Cold War NATO expansion. The eastern boundaries of the alliance were never defined and the strategic identity and interests of Russia were never seriously contemplated nor allowed for. Even the name of the alliance was unchanged — a name that will always be implacably associated by Russians with the Cold War — and their defeat in it. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq temporarily postponed the need to deal with these issues, as the Alliance was repurposed for providing forces for ‘out of area operations.’”

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Despite the Awkward Timing, Argentina Welcomes Obama
Michele Kelemen | NPR
“‘Argentines are eager for any scraps of information about family members who disappeared in the Dirty War years, says Elisa Massimino, the president and CEO of Human Rights First.

‘They are looking for answers,’ she says. ‘They are also, I think, looking for a deeper and more accurate understanding of the role of the United States.’”

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A Guide to Hot Dogs of the World
Chris Ying | Lucky Peach
“It makes sense that the country that is home to Carnival would also be home to cachorro quente, a gluttonously redeco­rated Brazilian take on a hot dog. The cachorro quente starts out innocently enough—a soft white bun plus a steamed or boiled sausage—then takes a turn for the insane when toppings enter the equation. Tomatoes, corn, bacon bits, ground beef, mashed potatoes, quail eggs, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, grated cheese, batata palha (fried slivers of potato). It goes without saying, but a cachorro quente is best consumed long after the sun goes down, when darkness conceals the sins layered atop the unsuspecting white bun.”

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Why Belgium?
Didier Leroy and Joost Hiltermann | The New York Review of Books
“I believe that an under-analyzed element in the radicalization process is the psychological one. Many, many people can feel anger when a Western superpower is bombing a developing country, or be curious about jihadi-Salafi propaganda, or feel injustice based on social and economic discrimination. But why do all these potential motivators affect individuals in such different ways? Why is it that some will keep on struggling to deal with these issues in their personal development, while others throw their whole lives away and pick up arms? Because these influences mobilize their emotions differently, I think. The emotional architecture of an individual is often shaped in the early years of childhood and has to do with the quality of the parental relationship. It affects the way he or she will be sensitive to other influences. It’s worth pointing out that more and more terrorist attacks have involved siblings in recent years: the Tsarnaev brothers from the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, the Kouachi brothers from the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015, and now the Abdeslam brothers from the Paris attacks and the el-Bakraoui brothers from the Brussels attacks.”

Is Argentina Healing?

On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama and Argentine President Mauricio Macri visited Parque de la Memoria—Remembrance Park—to pay tribute to the victims of the dictatorship that brutalized the country from 1976 to 1983. The two took three white roses each, threw them into a nearby estuary, and then bowed their heads. The moment helped mark the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought the dictatorship to power; as Obama acknowledged, the precise role the United States played in that event and the crackdown that followed remains a matter of controversy.

Obama’s visit is the second stop on the president’s tour of Latin America this week, and follows his historic trip to Cuba, which marked the first visit to the island by a sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years. But while the Cuba visit marked a particularly dramatic departure from decades of mutual antagonism between that country and the United States, Obama is looking to ease tense relationships elsewhere in Latin America as well. Argentina, which had been governed by leftist and anti-American leaders for many years, in November elected the center-right former mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, who has sought to mend relationships with the United States and others—a sharp contrast with his predecessor Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Seven Iranians Indicted for Hacking


When Obama arrived in Argentina on Wednesday, he was the first U.S. president to visit the country in more than a decade, and he praised its new leadership in a joint press conference. “President Macri is a man in a hurry because he has moved rapidly on so many of the reforms that he has promised,” Obama said on Wednesday.

Ahead of his Latin America trip, Obama moved to declassify U.S. government records that may give more details about U.S. policy toward Argentina during the 1976 coup and the crackdown that followed. In what came to be known as the “Dirty War,” the Argentine junta forcibly disappeared thousands of suspected opponents of the regime. Official estimates put the number of those killed or disappeared at roughly 13,000, but rights groups say the number is around 30,000.

In 2002, the State Department released 4,700 documents related to what a department press release called “human rights abuses and political violence in Argentina,” to help the country in its investigations of those abuses. A separately released batch of documents revealed a conversation between then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Argentine Foreign Minister Cesar Augusto Guzzetti in which, in The New York Times’s words, “Mr. Kissinger appears to condone the military’s crackdown.”

“If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly,” Kissinger reportedly told Guzzetti.

On Wednesday, Obama reiterated his pledge to release additional documents. “We’re absolutely determined to do our part,” he added. “I hope this gesture also helps to rebuilt trust that has been lost between our two countries.”

50 Years Ago: A Look Back at 1966

A half-century ago, the war in Vietnam continued its escalation, NASA’s Project Gemini was completed after ten manned launches, and the USSR successfully landed a vehicle on the Moon. The first Automated Teller Machine (ATM) was introduced, along with miniaturized televisions, while race riots and anti-war protests swept the United States. Charles Whitman shot and killed 14 people from his perch atop a tower at the University of Texas at Austin, and doctors at the Veterans Administration hospital in New Jersey conducted medical tests on 10 beagles, attaching them to machines designed to let them smoke cigarettes for years. Let me take you 50 years into the past, for a look at the year 1966.

The Winners of the Smithsonian Magazine’s 2015 Photo Contest

Smithsonian magazine has just announced the winning entries in their 13th annual photo contest, selected from more than 46,000 entries sent in from 168 countries. They’ve shared the Grand Prize winner here, as well as the winning shots from the competition’s six categories: The Natural World, Travel, People, The American Experience, Altered Images, and Mobile. Captions were written by the photographers. Be sure to visit the contest page at Smithsonian.com to see all the photographs from this year.

Turning Off the Lights: Earth Hour 2016

On March 19, iconic landmarks and skylines were plunged into darkness as people and businesses around the world participated in Earth Hour 2016, turning off their lights for an hour at 8:30 p.m. local time. Earth Hour was organized by the World Wildlife Fund in 2007 as a way to bring attention to energy consumption, sustainability, and climate-change issues. The images below (starting with photo number two) are interactive—click or tap on on each image to “turn off the lights.”