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BSERVER

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November 9, 2005

Volume 5 No. 2

The Newspaper of the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

2005 FALL SAIS CAREER FAIR

TRICKS..... AND OTHER TREATS BY NATE YOUNG

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n our elementary school science fairs, we learned that volcanoes erupt because baking soda reacts with vinegar. In Renaissance fairs, people jousted or swallowed fire. And in the Simpsons, Ralph wins the diorama fair because the Chewbacca figurine was in its original packaging. But at this year’s SAIS Career Fair, held in midOctober, no one performed for us or taught us anything. At the very least we could have had a petting zoo off to the side or some complementary cotton candy laced with job-enhancing amphetamines. No, this was a job fair, not a fun fair. Still, there was something performative about it that seemed to anticipate Halloween trick-or-treating, except no vampire, goblin, or ghost could be scarier than SAIS students trying to look respectable, decked out in prom night suits and winning smiles. Our female colleagues pretended to look like men, and the men fired off snappy bits to recruiters, like “OK, great, I’ll shoot you an email.” Bang, bang, you get em’ tiger! Yet to me, I confess, career fairs mean only one thing: free pens! Given a treasure map upon entry, I set sail on The Kenney Sea in search of the best loot. The bounty I plundered was better than I had expected: pens and highlighters of all shapes, sizes and colors, minicoasters, bumper stickers, a neon business card holder, mouse pads, a purple carabineer with mini-flashlight (courtesy of the NSA), a doublesided magic marker (also from NSA), and, best of all, a novelty

brain stress-ball (a great toy for my cat, if I had one). In keeping with the trick-or-treat aspect of the whole charade, a recruiter from the catchily-named PADCO/AECOM company pointed to a bowl of candy and asked if I wanted any. I was a bit caught off guard. Nervously I grabbed a mini Twix, and crammed it into my mouth. I looked at him, wondering if he or I was supposed to begin talking. After a moment of intensely awkward silence, I slinked off to the next table, where I swiped some Booz Allen mints. The Booz lady looked angry, but I just stared at her, chewing my tasty chocolate treat.

Of course, none of this crap and bric-a-brac is ever really free. Since most of the employers there were government agencies or governmenthired consultant stooges, your tax dollars and mine paid for all of it. So don’t be insulted by my piratical excitement, I was merely collecting what I rightly deserved. And you actually went there looking for a job? How naïve. Unfortunately, my ship hit an existential iceberg when I discovered the sad, mustachioed gentleman standing alone behind table #36— land of the brain stress-balls. No one was at the table inquiring about jobs. I can’t even remember the name of the company. Some dull acronym, I think. I was all set to make my killing, when I started to ponder the logical insanity of this whole process. I thought about how after this uneventful event, the poor guy will have to sweep all these unwanted brain stress-balls into a box, and carry that box „

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Former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin, who joined SAIS this year as a senior fellow at the Merrill Center for Strategic Studies.

A GOOD MAGICIAN

(Almost) Never Tells BY ERIC JAFFE

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resident George W. Bush was an officer in his college fraternity. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was a wrestler for his high school team, and General Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was a ROTC cadet as an undergraduate. The extracurricular interests of these influential policymakers foreshadowed the roles they would assume years later in government. So what activity engrossed John McLaughlin, former Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, as a young man? Magic, of course. “As an eleven-year old, I began practicing magic like you’d practice a musical instrument. Today, I perform at a yearly outdoor fair in Loudoun country in a little town called Waterford,” said Mr. McLaughlin, who joined SAIS this year as a Senior Fellow at the Merrill Center for Strategic Studies. “I perform what you would call parlor magic, not stage magic like David Copperfield.

For example, I recreate illusions that were performed three thousands years ago in the palaces of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. That’s my theme - I weave it into history.” Mr. McLaughlin made history firsthand during a 32-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, including a stint as Acting Director from July to September 2004. And magic has not been an idle hobby. Some of the same skills that benefited him as a magician,

IN THE SPOTLIGHT JOHN MCLAUGHLIN McLaughlin said, have served him well in his career with the spy agency. “Houdini once said something applicable to my business. Someone asked him after he had escaped from being buried alive- they said what’s your secret? He replied, ‘never panic - if you panic, you’ll die, if you keep your head and take things step by step, you can do these things.’” When his career in government ended, McLaughlin was considering full-time job offers to work in busi-

ness when, at SAIS’ 60th Anniversary party, Professor Eliot Cohen mentioned to him that a new Senior Fellow position was vacant. “I didn’t want to do something that felt like my old job – suiting up and showing up every morning at 8 and being there until after the sun went down or sweating in a corporate culture somewhere,” said McLaughlin. “I wanted to free myself to do a lot of different things that I hadn’t had time to do in the past four or five years.” In the spring of 2005, McLaughlin joined the SAIS faculty, where he presents seminars on intelligence and policy, participates in Strategic Studies courses involving intelligence analysis, and consults with students who wish to learn more about the field of intelligence. He is considering teaching a course on intelligencerelated issues. Before his career at the agency, McLaughlin developed an interest in international affairs as a member of the debate team in high school. During his senior year at Wittenberg „

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November 9, 2005

THE SAIS OBSERVER

LETTER FROM THE EDITORS A State of Perfect Passivity

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here’s just no denying it: we’ve become blasé, moony, even callous. Frankly, the SAIS microcosm, to say nothing of the surrounding universal macrocosm, has become dull. We’ve simply stopped caring. Indifference overwhelms the semester. Life has become so uninteresting that your friendly editor Alex has quit drinking without even having to try. Fatima fails the LSAT, and with life and career in ruins, can barely muster enough energy to shift slightly on her habitual courtyard smoking bench (the hostility takes no effort whatsoever). Kumuda couldn’t care enough to come up with ideas for things she couldn’t care enough about in this editorial. Where is the controversy and excitement in anything?

Tom DeLay may go to prison! Yawn. The Libby indictment may bring down the Bush administration! Woo. Governments the world over flaunt their commitments to human rights conventions! (Blank stare goes here). Scores of thousands perish in natural disasters far and near! Tears over spilled milk. The Hariri report places Syria on the international hot seat! Blah. Harriet Miers exits stage left with tail between legs, Samuel Alito enters from stage far-right! Inconsequential. Ben Bernanke nominated to control world economy for forseeable future! Nihil ad rem. Job offers? Ha! Ha-ha-ha! The world will likely end in twelve minutes! Big yawn. It could get better. It could get worse. The point, dear readers, is that if you have no control over it all, why should you be bothered? We most clearly aren’t. But if you’ve got it all figured out, well then let’s hear it, smartypants.

The SAIS Observer Editors-in-Chief Alex Kliment Kumuda Dorai Fatima Ayub Contributors Nat Bullard Miriam Elder Armine Guledjian Todd Holland Leslie Hough Eric Jaffe Nour Malas Adam Mendelson Patricia Mussi Delana Peregrim Brice Richard Jenifer Rogers Nikos Tsafos Kate Turner James Warner Chris Wendell Nate Young The SAIS Observer is an international affairs news monthly written, edited, and produced by the students of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University. SAIS students, faculty and members of the administration at the Washington, D.C. campus, Bologna campus, and the Hopkins-Nanjing Center are encouraged to submit articles, letters to the editor, photographs, cartoons and other items for consideration. Material for consideration or inquireis may be submitted to : observer@jhu.edu. The SAIS Observer is an approved SAIS student organization. Opinions expressed in the SAIS Observer are not necessarily the views of the editors, SAIS, or the University.

The Observer welcomes accolades, denials, comments, critiques, and hate mail at observer@jhu.edu.

DAPPER DEER DEPT. ASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2005 (AP): A young deer romped through two upscale shops in the city’s Georgetown neighborhood Wednesday before animal control officers tranquilized it. The animal, described by one shop owner as a buck with small antlers, ran into the Diesel clothing store at about 5 p.m., store employees said. “It ran straight to the back of the store and it saw itself in the mirror, so it started ramming itself,” store manager Kira Sternberg said. One of the employees turned off the lights, and the deer left, then ran into the Ralph Lauren store next door, where it went to a fitting room in the back.

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DEPT. OF DIVINE INTERVENTION? ACO, Texas, Oct. 30, 2005 (ABC News): A pastor performing a baptism was electrocuted inside his church Sunday morning after grabbing a microphone while partially submerged, a church employee said. The Rev. Kyle Lake, 33, was standing in water up to his shoulder in a baptismal at University Baptist Church when he was electrocuted, said Jamie Dudley, a church business administrator and wife of another pastor there. “He was grabbing the microphone so everyone could hear,” Dudley said. “It’s the only way you can be loud enough.”

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DEPT. OF COMPELLING INCENTIVES ear citizens, please do not kill doctors — you may need them one day.” - Public Service Announcement on Iraqi National Television

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Observed... Reef Marine Park, in the Sulu Sea, 400 miles south-east of Manila. Park officials said almost 1,076 sq ft of reef had been damaged. Greenpeace agreed to pay the fine, but blamed the accident on outdated maps provided by the Philippines government. “The chart indicated we were a mile and a half” from the coral reef when the ship ran aground, regional Greenpeace official Red Constantino told AFP news agency. “This accident could have been avoided if the chart was accurate,” he said, adding, however, that Greenpeace felt “responsible” for the damage. TRICK OR TREAT DEPT. REDERICA, Delaware, Oct. 27,2005: The apparent suicide of a woman found hanging from a tree went unreported for hours because passers-by thought the body was a Halloween decoration, authorities said.

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DEPT. OF SAIS SEXINESS

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ibi magazine voted SAIS Prof. Sunil Khilnani, director of the South Asian Studies department, one of its “2005 Sexiest South Asian Men of the Year.” Prof. Khilnani’s sexiest qualities are that he is both “Conscious and Informed.” http://www.bibimagazine.com/FE B2005sexymen.asp

DEPT. OF POT CALLING THE KETTLE GREEN nvironmental group Greenpeace has been fined almost $7,000 (£4,000) for damaging a coral reef at a World Heritage site in the Philippines. Their flagship Rainbow Warrior II ran aground at Tubbataha

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The 42-year-old woman used rope to hang herself across the street from some homes on a moderately, state police said. The body, suspended about 15 feet above the ground, could be easily seen from passing vehicles. State police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Oldham and neighbors said people noticed the body at breakfast time but dismissed it as a holiday prank. Authorities were called to the scene more than three hours later. “They thought it was a Halloween decoration,” Fay Glanden, wife of Mayor William Glanden, told The (Wilmington) News Journal. “It looked like something somebody would have rigged up,” she said. DON’T CALL US, WE’LL CALL YOU DEPT. ibya has commemorated the Italian invasion 94 years ago by cutting links with the outside world for the day. Callers from abroad heard a message saying communications were being interrupted to “denounce the odious crimes” by Italy on the Libyan people. Libyans were also asked to wear black to mark the 1911 invasion. Relations between the two countries improved during the 1990s, but Libya wants a gesture of reparation for what it considers to be historic injustices. Tripoli has asked Italy to build a 6bn euros ($7.2bn) motorway. “International communications are interrupted until 6pm to denounce the odious crimes committed by the Italians against the Libyan people,” the telephone message, in Arabic and English, told callers from abroad dialling Libyan numbers. International air and sea links were also interrupted, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported. Libya’s “day of struggle” follows a “day of vengeance” on 7 October, which marks the expulsion of Italian settlers from Libya in 1970. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi pledged to change the “day of vengeance” to a “day of friendship” during a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in October 2004.

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BY THE NUMBERS BY TODD HOLLAND

Years since Rocky V 15

Number of days to the start of the NCAA college basketball season 27

Percent of Americans who consider themselves prochoice 62%3

Price of happiness according to British wealth managers (five bedroom house, 2 servants, 2 cars, apartment and a yacht in the south of France) £2.6m1

Percent of the Supreme Court that is currently pro-choice 50% (4 of 8)

Number of Shiite and Kurdish provinces in Iraq where constitutional approval got 90% of the vote 12 Grand prize in the upcoming World Series of Beer Pong $10,0002 Rocky movie currently being filmed by Sylvester Stallone 6th

Three least corrupt countries in the world Iceland, Finland, New Zealand Five most corrupt countries Chad, Bangladesh, Haiti, Turkmenistan, Myanmar4

noodles5 Price of said noodles in the SAIS cafeteria $7.95 Percent of British men who could define the “offside” rule in soccer 55% Percent of British women would could define the rule 59%6 Number of wolves running free in America’s Yellowstone National Park 130 (up from 0 ten years ago)7

Secret to erasing corruption in your country Add the letters “land” to your name

Number of Bulgarian border policemen arrested for stealing the US Ambassador’s phone 28

Oldest noodles in the world 4,000 year old Chinese

Sentence for a Bangladeshi man found guilty of having sex with a

camel in the UAE 3 months in jail Sentence for the camel Death9 1 http://news.independent.co.uk/ uk/this_britain/article320363.ece 2 http://wsobp.bpong.com/ 3 CNN/USA Today/Gallup 4 Transparency International 5 http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/ 20051014/od_nm/noodles_dc;_ylt =AihWPnNGg1z_UhP2WvsrCRc SH9EA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04N W9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl 6 http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/ 20051012/od_nm/football_dc;_ylt =Aki1tTRYwAX.5IlKDqzkujQSH9 EA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9m BHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl 7 NYTimes 8 http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/ 20051017/od_nm/bulgaria_theft_ dc;_ylt=Arbd9rqICGKlGS97D2K6 m8btiBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvM DdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA— 9 http://www.economist.com/cities /briefing.cfm?city_id=DUB

Todd Holland is a 2nd year M.A. student, concentrating in Western Hemisphere/ Latin America Studies.


THE SAIS OBSERVER

November 9, 2005

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SAISLIFE

BRICE RICHARD

Brice Richard is a 1st year M.A. student concentrating in China Studies.

CHRONIC COPIER CRACK-UPS SAIS Library Solicits Sustainable Solutions BY FATIMA AYUB

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n a bold step towards achieving Pareto efficiency among all aspects of student life, the library administration at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) has initiated a school-wide request for proposed solutions to the seemingly endless cycle of photocopier malfunctions. The photocopiers form an integral part of student life at SAIS, as each student must initiate and maintain an intimate two-year relationship with the moody and sometimes intractable machines. In addition, the copiers form a lucrative source of revenue for the library — in recent years student-photocopying profits have reached drug cartel-like proportions, according to sources.

Faced with an increasing number of breakdowns, however, the SAIS library has shunned conventional methods of repair and maintenance, choosing instead to resort to the powers of collaboration and negotiation to find a sustainable, long-term resolution to the ongoing photocopier failures that plague an otherwise idyllic student experience. Highlights from a range of departmental proposals included: STRATEGIC STUDIES iven their consistent unwillingness to comply with student demands, the copiers represent a clear and present danger to S A I S interests. The rogue regime of maniacal photocopiers must

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And then, there’s the Office Space solution.

be dismembered at all costs. We are putting forward a budget appropriation proposal of $87 billion to eliminate the rogue photocopiers of the world.” (Strategic Studies later withdrew their proposal after discreet intelligence sources revealed that photocopier toner was not a convertible energy source. Instead, they suggested putting bowties on all photocopiers to make them seem less machine-like.) I N T E R N AT I O N A L ECONOMICS he library staff needs to cut back on this garbage when trying to fix the copiers (i.e. calling for repairs) and should rather wait to see how consumer surplus can be extracted with semifunctioning copiers. Now the department will take a well-deserved cigarette break.”

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MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES he photocopiers are not broken, they are

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oppressed — we must change the status quo. The photocopiers are no different from you or me, deep within their photoreceptors and light emitting diode bars thrashes an unquenchable yearning for freedom. If we liberate them they will, in addition to copying all of your readings flawlessly, greet you with flowers every time you use them. Let this embrace of freedom stand as a light of hope for copiers everywhere.” RUSSIAN & EURASIAN STUDIES e must dispatch a crack unit of drugaddled Spetznaz forces to destroy hundreds of healthy copiers while eliminating the international wahhabi terrorists and bandits who are undoubtedly responsible for the failure of the broken copiers. Then we must allow them to set up a lucrative black market

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selling parts and narcotics to remaining broken copiers, while kidnapping healthy copiers for ransom. If possible, we must contract a thuggish stooge from the library staff to oversee these operations, giving us a veneer of local legitimacy. Then we will have a brown bag lunch to discuss the results.” I N T E R N AT I O N A L DEVELOPMENT e have applied on the library’s behalf for an unnecessarily large loan from the International Monetary Fund to implement a series of unnecessarily complex projects to add another broken copier to the library. Then, when the library is on the brink of bankruptcy, it can raise copying prices, to extort more money from students in a last-ditch attempt to repay the loan. Such a mechanism usually makes students more prone to rioting, but given the

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excessive heat in the SAIS library, we feel they will be too lethargic to bother. If this fails, of course, the IMF will supply another unnecessarily large and weakly-conditioned loan because it makes them feel good. We have also commissioned a study on ‘ G e n d e r , Photoreproductivity, and Copier Development.’” Selection of the proposal from among these options is expected by month’s end. Fatima Ayub is a 2nd year master’s student concetrating in international law. Alex Kliment contributed additional reporting for this story.


THE SAIS OBSERVER

November 9, 2005

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SPACE & PAST IN MOSCOW I could tell you how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways, and the degree of the arcades’ curves, and what kind of zinc scales cover the roofs, but I already know this would be the same as telling you nothing. The city does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past. Italo Calvino Invisible Cities BY NAT BULLARD

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t 4 AM, I was still at work, laboring in the silence and spotted darkness of a Czarist exhibition hall, head and shoulders inside a small glass cabinet as I squinted into a row of spotlights. Any city would seem strange like this, abstracted beyond the point of apprehension, placeless and timeless, unlettered and silent. I emerged from the cabinet and walked out onto the floor. A Bentley Flying Spur drove past on the carpeted floor, and I knew I was in Moscow. In my other life I work with an art dealer in New York — not a typical profession for a SAIS student. But it affords an interesting life, and it put me there, on the ground, in a city that had lived in my American imagination as the land beyond the pale, beyond reckoning, at the other end of 11,000 nuclear weapons. Now it is an open city, the beating heart of a country whose vastness confounds even the American’s inflated sense of space. It was not what I expected. I had not imagined a city so enormous, so colorful, or so wealthy. Tverskaya Boulevard, running into Red Square, is a steadily thrumming eight lanes of traffic. Buildings are of a scale ranging from comically large to terrifyingly gigantic. I could only imagine what Moscow would be had Stalin completed his unrealized plans — a neo-gothicized city even more vast, superhuman, and anthropomorphized with the living emblems of the Communist world order. And it’s colorful! Those structures not dingily Soviet are brightly neoclassical. The Kremlin is rich red and saffron yellow; our venue, the Manège, a cool white and green. Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the onion-domed icon of Russia, is a wondrous riot of color and pattern, Ivan the Terrible’s fever dream in the darkness of medieval Muscovy. The Soviet-built Duma still looms over the rush of downtown traffic, the only change a new file of nomenklatura limousines out front, now BMW and Mercedes in the place of the old stalwart Zil. The city was rich, too, beyond even the “Wild East” banter of pundits and the addled businessmen at the hotel bar. The avatars of mobile global capital, Prada and Gucci and Armani, are all in abundance–and at higher prices than in Paris or London. The cars, too, indicate a wealth that begins at comfortable and stretches beyond calculation. At night, dashboards and car-roofs blip with the blue rhythm of the migalka, a police light purchased from the government allowing freedom from traffic laws and suggesting a certain fungibility of law and order. I often felt that any notional “Russianness”

Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed in Red Square, Moscow.

had vanished completely. Eating sushi in The Park Hyatt hotel with my Armenian boss and our Turkish designer, the food prepared by Kalmyks and served by Georgians from an English menu, there seemed to be no “there” there at all. Globalization at the sharp edge, except that it was edgeless because it was centerless. A rootless parallel world of pan-fusion cuisine and American cocktails, European cigarettes, and anodyne place names like Vogue Café and Vanil. Neither here, nor there, nor anywhere. Perhaps it was the future — a hopeful, pastless future. But to see only hopeful placelessness was

not to see deeply enough. Late one evening, I strolled through downtown with my friend Aciel, a Kazakh journalist. We had tea and vodka at 5 AM, then walked from Pushkin Square to the Bolshoi Theatre and on to the Kremlin. We talked giddily of our lives in other places, of travels, of the New Russia emerging around us. But when we passed the old telegraph office on Tverskaya, Aciel stopped before a bust of Lenin’s grimacing baldness. “He was a butcher!” she said, her voice cracking, “he systematically ruined this country and he did it all without knowing anything. He lived in fucking Switzerland!”

Underneath this new globalized glossiness, then, rests a long lifetime of Communism; and underneath the Czarist facades lies a vast, enduring, and perhaps eternal Russia. The city consists of the measurements between space and past. Fifteen years of capitalism barely alter that calculus. No amount of new history expunges so much that is very old, when the landscape still carries space and past together. Ultimately it is Russia, as Aciel reminded me often. Russia: ancient, enduring, unto itself — a space and a past that are eternal. Nat Bullard is a 2nd year MA student, concentrating in Energy Policy.


November 9, 2005

THE SAIS OBSERVER

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Above: Belgrade’s main pedestrian drag, Knez Mihailova, is the city’s answer to the Champs Elysée. Below: Bar La Revolucion, one of the many hipster joints in Belgrade, located off Knez Mihailova.

Paris, London, Madrid......Belgrade? BY ARMINE GULEDJIAN

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orget the bleak decade of sanctions, bombings and war — Belgraders are now throwing the best parties in Europe. Almost entirely cut off from the rest of the world for the past ten years, Serbs have decided to bring the world to them with Belgrade’s cafés, bars and a nightlife that rivals that of any cosmopolitan city in the world. In the “New York of the Balkans” beautiful English-speaking people down their rakija and dance until the sun comes up from the banks of the Sava and Danube rivers to the streets of the old city and into the historic Kalemegdan Fortress. The facts are grim: Serbia’s GDP is just one-third of what it was before the Balkan wars of the early 90s, Serbs’ average monthly salary is just €250 a month, and devastated buildings still mar the cityscape from the 1999 NATO bombing campaign. But Serbs, and Belgraders in particular, have decided to leave all this in the past and build their city into the new European hotspot. Destruction is nothing new for Belgraders: the city has been bombed five times in the 20th century and 40 times in its 2000-year history. Only five years after thousands of protesters ousted Slobodan Milosevic from power, the warm summer months bring

scores of Serbian hipsters to “Bassment,” the summer hotspot in the Kalemegdan Fortress overlooking the Danube River: the river that used to separate the Ottoman from the Austrian Empires. Bassment is an open air club, where hip Belgraders swarm at 2am, party for hours and only decide to call it a night after the sun has come up — 7 a.m. is, after all, the most opportune time to chow down on a pljeskavica (a Serbian hamburger). The club moves inside, to the real basement of a nondescript building on Knez

Mihailova, when the weather starts getting a little cooler in September. During the day, Knez Mihailova, a pedestrian street with Art Nouveau architecture that dead ends into the Kalemegdan park, home of Belgrade’s massive fortress, is full of beautiful women and men in designer jeans and hipster tennis shoes, taking their mid-afternoon walk, window shopping and meeting friends for an early evening drink. An evening out in Belgrade could begin with having a drink at one of many hip bars such as Idiot,

Kandahar, or Ana4pistolja — a new hang around for young Belgrade hipsters. After drinks, an authentic Serbian dinner in the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija accompanied with live music, would impress the most cynical of food critics. In July, Novi Sad — just a one hour drive from Belgrade — is the place to be in Serbia. Hipsters from all over the region flock to the city to attend the largest music festival in southeastern Europe. The Exit festival features four nights of amazing music and great parties in the Novi Sad

Fortress, which also overlooks the Danube. Surrounded by youth from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia and Macedonia, one might believe the Yugoslav spirit really does exist. This year Exit hosted the likes of Fatboy Slim, Garbage, the White Stripes, Carl Cox, Underworld, Ian Brown and many more. As the summer months draw to a close, the parties move inside. Clubs on the river banks such as South and Exile usually have world-class DJs spinning every weekend. The party in the fortress does not end when Bassment moves

inside. Andergraund, a club found in the big cave beneath the fortress, keeps the party going throughout the cold winter months. While Serbia seems to be the new Prague of Europe, those not lucky enough to find themselves in this new party capital are often hesitant and put off by the idea of touring Serbia, in part, perhaps, because the Serbian government has not yet mastered the art of PR. While neighboring Croatia also has a few war criminals at large, its beautiful coastline and boastings of being the next French Riviera have overshadowed these would-be turn-offs. The world seems to concentrate on Serbia’s crimes from the Balkan wars… with due cause. And while terrible atrocities were committed by members and supporters of the regime in Belgrade, we must also remember that hundreds of thousands of Serbs took to the streets to force Milosevic from power. Serbs are trying to move on, look towards the future while at the same time reconciling the past and building a successful democracy. Serbia, with Belgrade as its capital, is waiting for the world with open arms. The question is: when will the world arrive? Armine Guledjian is a 2nd year MA student, concentrating in International Development


THE SAIS OBSERVER

November 9, 2005

SEX LETTER FROM BEIRUT

AND THIS CITY applies –the adjustment, that is– to our minds and attitudes on all things Sex.

BY NOUR MALAS

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ex. Oooh, I said it. And this city? Our cherished Switzerland of the Middle East is indeed world renowned for its harmonization of the hijab-clad and the unclad, but certain territory will implicitly, and infinitely, remain inviolable. We smoke shamelessly in front of our parents, drink like fish at all occasions, and curse West Beirut style — but when it comes to sex, we shrivel like a day-old mint leaf and suddenly fall mute. In sparkling Beirut, my friends, the Young and the Restless do not have sex.

Someone, a guy of course, raised his hand to suggest that perhaps snowballing sexual frustration had impeded the Arab troops from performing …on the battlefield. After the Engineering guys in the back hushed their snickering and construction-worker hoots, I suggested that, on the contrary, the lack of sex — as posited by the frustrationaggression hypothesis of Behaviorist psychology — should have made for more brutal battle.

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NOV. 9 2005

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More frustration equals more aggression, and the blood-stained palette of our history yearns — shouts, begs, cries — for us to paint a prettier scene. And for that, we need more honest introspection, guided by socio-cultural and psychological insight, into the things that make us tick.

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In fact, no one has friends who do it, knows anyone who does, or who knows anyone whose aunt’s cousin’s sister does. My ears are already ringing with objections; surely in certain quarters of the city, and among a particular niche of people, this is neither a taboo nor a big deal. But the fact remains that we live in an Arab society, dominated by a history of traditional minds that have stained and restrained even our cool and contemporary habits.

The modern Middle Eastern mind needs more Dr. Samir Khalafs and his “Sexuality in Society” seminar, more sex-ed, and possible more sex–point finale. I remember a discussion in my Arab-Israeli Conflict course on the causes of our massive collective defeat of 1967.

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Rest assured: this column will not be about inappropriate sexcapades. Although I am inspired by countless episodes of HBO’s Sex and the City and own a tank-top that says “I am a Miranda”, I am no Carrie Bradshaw. I am not stickthin, and I don’t have breakfast every morning with my girl-posse to talk about last night’s — every night’s — antics: Zeina is not a nymphomaniac, Lara not a dating disaster, Reem not regretfully-committed, and I am not a sex-columnist. Perhaps most importantly, I don’t miraculously afford life in the Big Apple by writing one-to-two lines of romantic wisdom per week that appeal to a sea of forlorn and passion-diluted women. “Forlorn” and “passion-diluted” do not strike me as adjectives that describe the average Lebanese woman, nor the modern Beirutian.

But in that case, then, are we actually getting together, going out, and hooking up? Clearly, some adjustment and culturally-sensitive tweaking is required. But that also

So let those juices, creative and libidinous, flow, and get ready for some of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”. This is a call to informed rhetoric; to open minds and hearts, and hormones. Let’s talk about sex (…and sexuality, gender politics, power dynamics, cultural taboos…), and do it loud. I want to hear it float with the air on the Corniche and bounce off the miniature walls of Gemmayze …but first and foremost, let it resonate at the Main Gate of our leafy and illustrious American University of Beirut campus. Maybe this is where our screams will finally converge in national unity. As for me, your faithful Sexpert, I promise you I will soon be super-thin, in my Manolos, gazing at the New York skyline from my SAIS Observer-funded penthouse. Nour Malas is in her fourth-year at the American University of Beirut, where she is studying Political Science and Cognitive Science.

Sitting around just talking sex in ritzy downtown Beirut. Yep, just talking.

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November 9, 2005

THE SAIS OBSERVER

Page 7

THE BOLOGNA NAPKIN BY LESLIE HOUGH

S

itting around the Raven the other night, friends and I attempted to recreate what’s become known as the Bologna Napkin. The original napkin, sloppily penned and stained with Sangiovese, mapped out the incestuous web of who’s hooked up with whom at SAIS. As legend has it, before the napkin could be passed around, one of its more prominent figures destroyed it in an open flame. This most recent incarnation of the napkin barely fits on a loose-leaf page as it’s now been updated to include all end-of-the-year indiscretions, summer flings and most recent gossip. In the name of science, I took the napkin home with me to better analyze the cross-cultural patterns of promiscuity at SAIS. Would the stereotypes of the easy American girl or the sleazy Euro-guy hold? Were guys any more likely to hook up than girls? Americans more than Europeans? And what percentage of the class made it onto the napkin anyway? Dear classmates, I have answers for you. The napkin features a total of „

Continued on Page 10

Fill in the blanks: A rendering of the Bologna Napkin.

URGENT APPEAL FOR HELP Israel Diaz Herrera has been a revered and respected member of the SAIS maintenance staff for many years. Last month, eight close members of Israel's family were killed in a mudslide in Guatemala caused by Hurricane Wilma. He and his family are now very much in need of money to arrange for the funerals. We appeal to your compassion for Israel’s situation and your gratitude for his service to SAIS: please contribute anything you can to help Israel and his family. To make a donation, please write out a check to Israel Diaz Herrera, and deliver it to Loly Duran in the SAIS Office of Human Resources, in Nitze 315. Cash contributions are welcome as well.

THE

OBSERVER


November 9, 2005

THE SAIS OBSERVER

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METAPHOR FOR A MILITARY BY KATE TURNER

W

hen I first started dating my now-fiancé, it took me five or six weeks to admit that I did not even understand the difference between soldiers enlisted and officers in the military. His goodnatured response told me he had had practice enlightening such ignorant (in the neutral sense of the term) civilians. He launched into a metaphor that I now employ when my friends ask me the same question. For you already enlightened souls, bear with me. Picture a factory floor. The workers on the floor carry out the assembling, the packaging, etc – the bulk of the real work, or production. They have various specialized skills. These men and women are the enlisted soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors. Overseeing the workers are select foremen, the loci of not only technical skills but also quality control and institutional knowledge. A good foreman, or woman, knows how to maintain efficiency – and motivate the workers. Foremen make up the non-commissioned officer corps (“NCOs” or “noncoms”) of the military. NCOs constitute the junior management, and are often credited as being the “backbone” of their service. In war, a nominal army would hardly be distinguishable from an armed mob without the discipline enforced by NCOs. To push the metaphor, NCOs are the spine that receives orders from the brain (or officer corps), and translates those orders into real action on the ground. On the senior management level is the commissioned officer corps. They studied books about factories (for the Army, at Westpoint, or for the Navy, at Annapolis) to earn their MBA, but a 23 year-old manager cannot possibly do her job without relying on the sage advice of the foreman. That is, a young Lieutenant leans heavily on his Platoon Sergeant, looking to him for pulse-readings on the morale of his men, and much more. Nevertheless, the most senior NCO officially (if only nominally in reality) ranks beneath the greenest, most junior commissioned officer. The key is that a senior NCO teaches an officer what his or her role is in the scheme of things, and often draws informal respect beyond that of a junior officer. So when you read that a Captain lost “his First SGT” to an IED (improvised explosive device), you know that although there may have been ten years between this officer and sergeant, the officer lost his right-hand man, the lifeblood at the core of the unit.

WHAT WE THINK WE KNOW

And the enlisted serving under him lost their mentor. Knowing the enlisted and officer ranks, and the units they form, helps to map out these relationships: In the Army, enlisted personnel begin as Privates, and are promoted successively to Private First Class, Specialist, Corporal. Strictly speaking, these are not ranks, but rather classifications, because these enlisted personnel have no command authority. “Rank” is reserved for NCOs and officers. Army NCO ranks include: Sergeant, Sergeant First Class, Master Sergeant, First Sergeant, Sergeant Major, and so on. Army officer ranks are, in sequence, as follows: Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, General (from one-star to four-star). A First or Second Lieutenant commands a platoon (the smallest unit under the direct command of a commissioned officer) of 30 to 40 men, usually assisted by a Sergeant First Class. Further up the chain, a Lieutenant Colonel commands a battalion of 300 to 1000 soldiers or marines, with Majors serving as the executive and operations officers; three to four battalions form a brigade.

Why have I outlined these simple structures? Because if you wanted to follow the debate on Capitol Hill last week, you needed to be able to speak “militarese.” It’s like learning SAIS’s most beloved language – economics. Learning the hierarchy, force structure, and acronyms of the military arms you with a toolkit to decipher much of national security policy. When Generals Abizaid and Casey testified before Congress, they did not talk about lump numbers; they talked about battalions. Unless you want to watch congressional hearings while chained to your Google-tooled laptop (as some people do in class, no offense), it’s crucial to learn the basics. Put another way, if we, as future policy and decision makers, do not understand the simple terminology that governs the terms of reference, how can we contribute in an intelligent way? At the same time, let’s not forget that behind the metaphors and numbers exist real people. Like our classmates. And my fiancé. Kate Turner is a first-year South Asia Studies concentrator, and can be reached at turnerkate@gmail.com.


THE SAIS OBSERVER

November 9, 2005

SAIS Career Fair 2005 „

Continued from Page 1

into his car where it will sit in the back seat, perhaps for days. Did he steal a few brains for his wife and kids? Does he even have any? He’ll probably just slog back to his office at Acronym Corporation with the box of brains in his arms. Will the company order new batches of balls next year or reuse the 2005 models? I thought about the poor intern tasked with lugging the heavy boxes of brains into the storage room. I thought about how the wet sheets of latex, extracted from places like Kerala, will be processed in giant chemical factories spewing carcinogenic effluents into seas and skies, and where the elastic hydrocarbon polymers will be fused and molded into the shape of a squeezable brain by robots designed by MIT engineers, later stamped with the latest Acronym Corp. logo created by some loser graphic

designer from Williamsburg, and then delivered in a giant cardboard box full of Styrofoam popcorn to the lonely recruiters. Behold, after millions of years of human evolution, the Enlightenment, the splitting of the atom, the rise and fall of Great Powers—the blood, sweat and toil of millions has collectively, but unconsciously, brought us to the apex of human achievement: a squeezable brain stress-ball for a bunch of SAIS monkeys. My fellow students, now that we have disembarked from the sick and demented carousel ride that was the career fair, do you really think the whole charade was about you? Do you ever consider the number of jobs people suffer through so you can have even the luxury of looking for one? You’ll get your degree, a job, and even your cake. And in moments

of anxiety, you can always squeeze away at stressballs or whoever’s balls are closest at hand. And the unclaimed squishy brains? They’ll be shipped away from the storage room to some landfill in New Jersey, where for hundreds of thousands of years they will slowly but quite contently decompose. You’ll rot much faster, of course. You might get the job of your dreams, but the brains will outlive you. So, for all you job-or-treaters, you IDevers taking corporate finance in order to “develop” your own bank account, all you Strat folks learning how to drop bombs on babies efficiently, here’s a good piece of advice: take a free pen and shove it in your eye-socket! I can’t wait until next year’s fair. Nate Young is a 2nd year M.A. student, concentrating in International Development.

A Good Magician Almost Never Tells „

Continued from Page 1

College in Pennsylvania, while considering attending law school, he learned about SAIS from a fellow student. “I happened to have a colleague whose father taught in the Latin America program at SAIS. I visited the school and I said, ‘Wow, wouldn’t I love to come here.’” After being admitted, McLaughlin concentrated in European Studies and spent his second year in Bologna. The policy experience of the faculty there impressed him, and motivated him to work in government. “There was a commitment to being a contemporary person. [The faculty felt] the need to be grounded in some substantive field but to remain involved, concerned about, and desirous of affecting what’s happening now – because ultimately it turns into history.” Even then, McLaughlin said, SAIS professors were focused on current events and policy as much as academia. “One of my professors would always begin his class with a review of what happened in the Middle East that week. It always impressed me that we would then go to the nineteenth century.”

Director of Central Intelligence. In that role he represented the intelligence community in briefings with the President, at meetings of the National Security Council Deputies Committee, and at hearings on Capitol Hill. John McLaughlin

After graduating from SAIS, McLaughlin joined the U.S. Army, attended Officer Training School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He spent a year working in Army intelligence in Vietnam, where he said his background at SAIS served him well. “I don’t think a day has gone by in my intelligence career where something that happened to me during my SAIS experience has not resonated.” After returning to the United States, McLaughlin joined the CIA as an analyst in 1972, working on European, Russian, and Eurasian affairs. Later, he founded the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis, an institution “dedicated to teaching the history, mission, and essential skills of the analytic profession to new CIA employees.” In 2000, McLaughlin was promoted to Deputy

McLaughlin is animated when he talks about current SAIS students’ career prospects. “This feels a lot like 1947 or 1918, one of those moments in time when what the US does in the world can be pivotal. Which means that as an individual you’re going to have a great opportunity to affect things and challenges that will leave you very satisfied.” The key skill to develop in graduate school, McLaughlin said, is an ability to learn rather than mastering any particular subject. “There was a time in international relations when you could master a few major texts and have your conceptual framework for some years to come, but we’re past that now. The future belongs to those that are continuously learning, are flexible, engaged, and willing to roll with the punches.” Eric Jaffe is a 1st year M.A. student, concentrating in Strategic Studies.

BOOK

Page 9

REVIEW

THE OPPORTUNITY: AMERICA’S MOMENT TO ALTER HISTORY’S COURSE by RICHARD N. HAASS Public Affairs, 241 pages, $25

THE NEW OLD

REALISM BY NIKOS TSAFOS

T

he realist faces a perennial

dilemma. How is it possible to accept certain unpleasant realities as inevitable, while exuding confidence and enthusiasm about the policies meant to remedy them? It is this circle that Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, sets out to square in his latest book, The Opportunity: America’s moment to alter history’s course. The result is a sort of politically-correct version of modern realpolitik, free of the “offensiveness” and pessimism of John Mearsheimer, one of the preeminent realists of our time, yet carefully attuned to realism’s truest tenets. Dr Haass’s primary attachment is to the idea of “integration.” “At its core,” he writes, “it is the ambition to give other powers a substantial stake in the maintenance of order — in effect, to co-opt them and make them pillars of international society — so that they will come to see it in their self-interest to continue working with the United States and damaging to their interests to have a falling-out with the United States.” While Dr. Haass’s ideas here are refreshing, they are not original. The historical precedent for his vision of “integration” is to be found in the “Concert of Europe,” which emerged following the Napoleonic Wars as the first international council for managing the interaction of nation-states. Dr. Haass believes we can replicate that today. But the nineteenth century great powers clustered around a narrow geographic space, shared many interests, and power was more or less evenly distributed between them. Today’s power structure is different. Concert or no concert, peace and stability will hinge on the balance of power and each state’s differing views on the world. Integration is a sensible vision, but it cannot fundamentally change either the power or the interests of the great powers—it can only facilitate cooperation on the margins. Beyond the idea of integration, what is striking about the book is that an internally consistent argument for realism is both at home and at odds with President Bush’s foreign policy. In dealing with the great powers, Bush has generally followed realist instincts: avoiding a high-pitched rhetoric that criticizes China on human rights, not letting domestic politics affect the broader relationship with Russia, recognizing India as the nuclear power that it is—these are examples where American policy and Dr. Haass’ ideas converge. Where they diverge is on the Global War on Terror and on democracy promotion. On the prospect of defeating terrorism, a goal that Bush has publicly declared, Haass writes that “success … cannot be

defined in terms of eliminating or ending terrorism, any more than health can be defined as eliminating or ending all disease.” This is indeed a sensible realist tune against the those who treat the utter elimination of terrorism as a pressing and existential need. All the same, this perspective is unlikely to be welcomed while the American public mood is still so charged against terrorism. On democracy, too, Dr. Haass is categorical: “it is … neither desirable nor practical to make democracy promotion a foreign policy doctrine.” It is clear that Iraq is very much on Dr. Haass’ mind. “Many have posed the question as to whether Iraq and the world are better off without Saddam Hussein,” he writes. “It is and we are, but this is not a terribly useful question … What matters is … the balance or the relationship between costs and benefits. It is this assessment that leads to the judgment that the war against Iraq was unwarranted.” Yet this sharp indictment treats the Iraq war as a closed chapter in the history books. In ten years, Dr. Haass could perhaps pass such a judgment, but the Iraq war cannot today be dismissed in a few pages. Although the realist caution against an overly ambitious foreign policy is a useful counterpart to America’s instincts for changing the world, his argument against putting democracy at the center of American strategy will stand or fall largely based on future developments in Iraq. It is ironic that what Dr. Haass wants rests so much on what he deplores: “integration” and the war in Iraq may be two sides of the same coin. The gamble on Iraq builds on a long foundation of American ambivalence towards the status quo: accepting it whilst also trying to change it. It is this American attitude which offers the best hope for “integration.” It shows that America welcomes changes to the status quo without being certain of what will follow it. Only a hegemon with such mixed feelings can be counted upon to accept and integrate others rather than trying to stifle their ascent. In the end, Haass’s argument comes down to a realist case for binding together Great Powers so that they may share the burdens and benefits of running the world. In today’s unipolar structure, this idea may sound absurd; and in a more multipolar world it may be irrelevant, as an increasing number of powers set out to defend their different worldviews. But this is the realist predicament: to react to the world while remaining conscious that there is only so much that can be done to tamper with the future. This is a useful lesson today, and always. Nikos Tsafos is a 1st year M.A. student, concentrating in Middle East Studies and Energy Policy.


November 9, 2005

THE SAIS OBSERVER

Dear James, An acquaintance of mine recently set me up on a really weird blind date with a girl who is exceptionally beautiful, but it turns out she’s married. But it was bizarre because even though her husband was out at the club with us, she was being really flirty with me and like touchy-feely and stuff when he wasn’t around — which was most of the time, actually. When they left, she was like, “We DEF-initely have to hang out again,” in this really suggestive way. I can’t tell if she’s just a big flirt, or if something else is afoot. What should I do? - Disquieted Dionysian, Bethesda, MA Dear DD, Just as humans hold up language and knowledge of our mortality to separate ourselves from other animals, so do Americans often point to our sexual mores — particularly regarding adultery — in order to distinguish ourselves from other societies. Not that we are less adulterous than other countries, but our popular representations of infidelity portray it as an unpardonable, shattering sin. Only the cartoonish polygamists — multi-spouse Mormons, or swinging couples — escape a sense of the tragic because mutual consent is involved and they can be safely categorized as either fanatics or fetishistic libidinous freaks, and I’m not saying which is which. Indeed, DD, I suspect you were a patsy in the sort of immature fantasy that seems to be a recurring motif in swinger culture — instead of straight-up seduction, attending a convention, or a long-term conversion of another couple, the married woman you were dancing with probably asked your acquaintance to find a likely mark for an evening of “aren’t I a naughty girl?” I’m betting your acquaintance was in on it from the start, as, of course, was the husband. If you go out with them again, you are certainly signaling your consent to move to the next stage of their game…and I would find a way to talk to hubby before you leave any public place with the two of them. Find out what they have in mind, find out where they want to take you, and discreetly call a good friend just in case their idea of a good time includes rohypnol and observing how prolonged restraint affects the human tolerance for dehydration. Now, if the extramarital loving turns you on, and you want to avoid organized debauchery, why not give your new friends a chance to really liberate themselves while doing some good besides? The western hemisphere is much more licentious south of Texas, and they could really use some help down there after Hurricane Stan. There is no randier lot than humanitarian aid workers, and I hear that the Habitat for Humanity crowd is particularly wild—the rumors about their ‘housewarming parties’ cannot be reprinted in this column, but I can say for sure that it involves copious amounts of peanut butter. Anyway, I think you and your new friends should volunteer for a few weeks’ relief effort in Central America, and if I were you I’d pick Guatemala. Not only is there a savoury assortment of adventurous Europeans and free-spirited Americans for you all to experiment, but the ladino (non-indigenous) culture there is notoriously tolerant of infidelity. Married men are just assumed to have a girlfriend or two around town, and perhaps another family. So the hubby in your threesome will likely find a willing young lady if he has a mind to—just make sure „ Continued from Page 7 104 people, 76% of the Bologna campus, active in the “dating” pool. I opted to include in this total three visiting friends who earned honorary SAIS status by hooking up with two or more Bolognesi as well as one little brother and a guy wearing lederhosen who did well for himself at the Austrian ball. There are also three new players, two officially and the other de facto liberated from relationships by the move to Washington, as well as four known DC operatives now in the mix. Other high achievers include two Americans and a German with five partners apiece. Overall, the extent to which forces of supply and demand have acted

A S K JA M E S Questions abound in our lives. We face moral questions, ethical questions, fashion questions, etiquette questions, rhetorical questions, the Big question, the Mars Question, the Easter n Question, and myriad others to which life, of course, provides few easy answers. Yet there are those among us with sufficient breadth of experience, de pth of feeling, and clarity of mind to guide us along the path of the well-examined life. In fact, there is one such sag e right here at SAIS: JAMES WARNER, second-year M.A. student concentrating in Strategic Studies. James’s ecumenical understanding and wide-ranging intellectual interest and experience make him a valuable resource for us all, and he has kindly offered to dispense his counsel to any and all restless minds. Oh, he also has a light interest in Guatemala.

Page 10 Dear James, In 1982, the international Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Party of Islamic Liberation) undertook a contentious theological and juridical debate on the question of whether a Muslim astronaut in outer space would be required to pray. To this we might also add the question of orbital fasting requirements, but the key problem, it seems, is: how do you go about sighting the moon for prayer and fasting times if you’re standing on it? - Ahmad bin al-Qamar, Mare Vaporum, Moon Dear Ahmad, Good to see that you all are working out the kinks up there – I hope this column finds you well and not sucked out unexpectedly into the freezing void of space.Your piety is an inspiration to devout astronauts everywhere, I’m sure. At root is a conundrum faced by some other Muslims—when to pray in places where there is no day or night? Your Muslim brothers and sisters who live at the South pole or in Sweden have all had to compensate for life in lands whose sidereal profiles are much different from that in the Holy Lands. Cursory research informs me that Muslims in such a position — speaking of which, how do you prostrate yourself in zero gravity? — use the moonrise time from the nearest location that has a reasonable amount of daylight. Presumably you could use the prayer and fasting schedule from your hometown. But your query goes to a more fundamental matter—the religious implications of astronomy. Surely you know that some of the most important early astronomers were Muslim: Omar Khayyám, al-Farghani, al-Khujandi, and Nasir al-Din al-Tusi—the latter three have craters named after them on the moon, some of them not far from your base on Mare Vaporum. Their rigorous study of heavenly bodies was impelled by a mixture of religious and scientific imperative, and in this they were joined by civilizations around the world and across time. But in unlike the great achievements of Persia, other civilizations’ astronomical sophistication was in sharp contrast to, or even impeded, their technological development. The Mayans, for example, had exalted astronomers who were responsible for keeping an extraordinarily complicated calendar that combined divinatory cycles with those of the Moon, Mars, Venus, and the Earth’s orbit of the sun (though they were not heliocentric). This sacred system of wheels within wheels resulted in religious prohibitions from using wheels for daily activities, and apparently the Mayans constructed their enormous temple cities, like Copán in Honduras and Tikal in Guatemala, without the use of wheeled vehicles.

Comparing the inheritance of these two civilizations, their relationship to the stars was telling. The Mayans lived in an intense symbolic world filled with a proliferation of gods and demons. A time traveler to the court of Aw Cacao in Tikal who endeavoured to explain the moon landing would likely have been met with disbelief, if not violence for blasphemy. But Nasir al-Din al-Tusi Please send questions for James to observer@jhu.edu, in his 13th century Maragheh observatory would have with ASK JAMES in the subject line. immediately set down to work out the orbital mathematshe isn’t married, because that can be dangerous. But if ics of the journey. Eight hundred years later, Iranian sciyou stay within those generous boundaries, you can look entists frighten the world with their atomic acumen. And forward to a few weeks full of temperate nights, muscles Guatemalans write frightened letters to their national tired from building houses, head buzzing from the canti- observatory when Mars comes near, asking if its proximna, and moonlight bathing ringed and unringed hands ity will set off earthquakes, wars, or volcanic eruptions. intertwined, with nary a look askance. One could not have built the Alhambra without wheels.

THE BOLOGNA NAPKIN to balance women and men, Europeans and Americans in the SAIS dating market is almost eerie. From a total population of 168, 53 girls balanced the 51 guys active on the scene, 15 girls with pre-existing significant others matched the 17 guys also attached and 15 girls busy studying balanced the 15 boys who couldn’t muster the courage or depravity to seal the deal at Harry’s Bar. Across all three of these categories, there was a perfect 50/50 split between Europeans and Americans as well as a notable tendency for people from other

parts of the world to abstain from the antics altogether. Most importantly, the trends in who hooked up with whom follow no national patterns. Almost everyone with two or more partners has sampled at least one American and one European. The only exceptions to this rule are the American military men who strictly hook up with American girls — maybe with future security clearance in mind — and one European male who hooked up only with European girls and unsurprisingly remained in Europe this year. This even split of cross-cultural

and mono-ethnic hook-ups may mean that the high incidence of cross-cultural relationships at SAIS is more than just a matter of fetishizing “the other” after all. It seems that after testing the waters on both sides of the Atlantic, people are only taking the plunge into the murky depths of monogamy with significant others from different backgrounds. Could this be a sign of the enlightened, maybe even evolutionary, liberalism of Bolognesi ready to leap cultural barriers in a single bound? That, or maybe the long-term benefits of a cross-cultural partnership

in our field are what it takes to create the incentives to commit in a competitive market for grades, jobs and sex. A British friend was prepared to get a doctor’s note declaring him unfit for a second language until a stylish Italian girlfriend came into his life and put him on track to pass proficiency. Meanwhile, an American friend in search of a European happily-ever-after rationally cites the access to jobs an EU passport would bring. Some opportunist pragmatism, some romantic idealists—as we are forever told at SAIS, the beauty is the diversity. Leslie Hough is a 2nd year M.A. student, concentrating in Conflict Resolution.


THE SAIS OBSERVER

November 9, 2005

Page 11

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS I

’ll be honest, my job as a food critic is probably the most coveted position at SAIS — I get free meals, I get fame, I get girls asking me to take them out… But recently, I’ve learned that being a food critic is not all glitz, glamour, and easy prey. With each dining experience, the likelihood of gastronomic, monetary, or psychological misfortune increases, especially if you happen to have your computer along for the ride. Most importantly, I’ve learned that new restaurants are like babies: they spit up and ruin your shit.

ZENGO

I

n Japanese, “zengo” means give and take. In Washington, zengo just means take. Designed by the reasonably hip, District-based firm Adamstein & Demetriou , the two-story, 195-seat Zengo includes a ceviche bar and lounge. The décor evokes a certain 70’s style with warm orange tones throughout the restaurant, yet incorporates Modernist

and austere elements such as sharp corners and perfect asymmetry that somehow come together to create a cozy atmosphere. The downstairs is a great place to experiment in the world of fusion cocktails. Various flavored mojitos (cucumber, pineapple and mango) range from $9-$11 and are definitely worth a try. As for the food, Zengo’s menu is diverse. The calamari ($9) and Zengo’s creative, signature sushi rolls ($11) were appealing, but the ceviche was overpriced and uninspiring. Zengo is one of those restaurants that prides itself on fusion (Latin-Asian) the way Bolivia calls itself an integrated society—it ain’t foolin’ nobody. Frankly, I was put off by the scattershot concoction of flavors, the overly saucy moments, and the generally coarse gastronomic approach of the main dishes. Also, the entrée prices (around $24 each) are an outrage. I spent over $100 for two people, and left feeling unsatisfied, broke, and apprehensive about the

FRUGAL GLUTTON

limits of the Observer’s reimbursement policy. The bottom line is that if you’re in the Chinatown neighborhood and want to go to this brand new, stylish, trendy restaurant, think twice. There are plenty of cooler, cheaper, less contrived versions of fusion in the area, such as Matchbox, which I’ll write up next month

By ADAM MENDELSON

RESTAURANTS REVIEWED

BUSBOYS AND POETS CAFE

ZENGO 781 7th St. NW, at H Street Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown (Red Line) Phone: 202-393-2929

This new restaurant-cumbar-cum-wifi zone-cumbookstore is much cooler than I just made it sound. If you’re familiar with Tryst in Adams Morgan, this place is cleaner (no smoking), with good food and a better night scene. I was there a few weeks ago for a birthday soiree and was pleasantly surprised by the vibe. A few days later I returned for brunch, and couldn’t have been more content: nice people, good food. I decided to come back for dinner that night, to do a formal review. Here’s my conclusion: good food at gentle prices.

BUSBOYS AND POETS CAFE 2021 14th St, At V Street Metro: U Street (Green Line) Phone: 202-387-7638

Perfectly respectable pizzas go for $5.95-$8.95. The hamburger—so big it needs to be cut in half to eat—sets you back just $6.95, and a plate of crisp-moist catfish, at $10.95, challenges the soul food competition with its tangy collard greens and spoonfuls of lemony caper sauce. All-in-all, two thumbs up on the place. There is one caveat, however. My laptop was destroyed when a waiter spilled an entire glass of orange juice on it. Busboys and Poets encourages wifi users to surf at their establishment by providing a wireless station, but after my misfortune they have now implemented a “surf at your own risk” policy. So if a careless waiter happens to find you and your digital date to be suitable targets for an apple juice dousing, you’ll be on your own when it comes to replacing your computer. Adam Mendelson is a 2nd year M.A. student concentrating in Latin American Studies and Emerging Markets.

Nightmare before a wedding MOVIE REVIEWS

BY MIRIAM ELDER THE CORPSE BRIDE

T

im Burton’s latest dark puppet masterpiece has one very important message: marriage is hell. Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp) is an inept romantic who takes a long walk through a haunted forest after a disastrous wedding rehearsal for his upcoming marriage to a homely maiden. As he recites his vows to the trees and crows, he awakens a sleeping vixen of a bride who has lain rotting under the snow since she was murdered on her wedding night. Antics ensue, as Victor travels between the 19th century village his plain fiancée inhabits and the drunken musical underworld frequented by his curvy corpse of a bride (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter). Though nowhere near as groundbreaking or entertaining as The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride – adapted from a Russian folktale – has its funny moments. It’s not the story that makes the film this time – but the macabre atmosphere that Burton is so adept at creating. And to think that the tiniest move of each puppet — a wink, a sigh, even one short step — is made by hand, without computers, only adds to the wonder of the film.

Out in time for the Halloween season, and running just over one hour long, the movie provides a pleasant enough break from the classroom. I could have done, however, without the talking Mexican maggot. CAPOTE

E

verything you’ve heard about this long awaited film is true. Philip Seymour Hoffman,

taking on the lead role of the flamboyant Truman Capote, is amazing. The story is gripping. The cinematography is beautiful. Hoffman, who has already proven himself as one of the greatest actors of our generation in films like Boogie Nights and Magnolia, truly makes the film. Adopting Capote’s trademark voice and mannerisms, he manages to elicit giggles by playing up the Capote’s self-obsession

and humor, while at the same time giving insight into the writer’s deeper demons through the slightest shift of the eyes or move of the hand. The film follows Capote to Kansas, where he becomes obsessed with the murder of the Clutter family. After interrogating and charming everyone in the town associated with the murder victims, Capote moves on to the killers. The movie becomes an exploration of Capote’s search for the perfect story – which he eventually turns into his finest novel, In Cold Blood. Capote goes to great lengths in helping the killers, seeking appeals and stays of execution, until four years lapses and the end to his nonfiction novel has yet to have an ending. We see Capote spiral from enthusiastic writer to obsessed genius to a self-absorbed man who casts off moral considerations of others in his search to be the best. A story of murder and moral decline in small-town America, the film never fails to hold your attention. Capote is one of those rare Hollywood creations – creating a lot of buzz and likely to rack up tons of awards while actually deserving it. Miriam Elder is a 2nd year M.A. student, concentrating in Strategic Studies.


November 9, 2005

THE SAIS OBSERVER

Page 12

SYMPATHETIC NOISE BY PATRICIA MUSSI

B

lack Rebel Motorcycle Club, the leather-clad rockers from San Francisco, have changed their tune: instead of intensely dark rock’n’roll, they now offer soulful folk and pained blues full of spine-tingling desperation. Patricia Mussi is enraptured. I was a bit skeptical about going to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club again. They had rather underwhelmed me when I’d first seen them play. In February 2002, my expectations were high. The band’s first single, “Whatever Happened to My Rock’n’Roll (Punk Song)” had been cleaning out auditory canals throughout the western hemisphere. their debut album was dark, moody, and full of sexy riffs – and they looked good, too. Three angry young men wearing tight black leather and s u l l e n frowns, tall and skinny to a fault.

So on a cold dark German night, my friend Verena and I travelled to Cologne from her home in Aachen and groped our way through dark and foggy streets into an equally dark and foggy club. The perfect setting, one would think, for a rock’n’roll band to crank up the amps and show the kids a good time. Sadly, the impression that came across was that BRMC (as they’re known to fans and syllable-economisers) were in bitter need of someone to show them a good time. Whether cool, self-important or inexperienced, it’s surely not right for a band to stare at the ground for the duration of an entire concert. They didn’t engage the audience or get the crowd going. Afterwards, the tour bus was sitting on the street just outside the club, but I was so disap-

CONCERT REVIEW BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB at the 9.30 Club, September 26

pointed that I didn’t even bother to get autographs. Fast-forward to September 2005. A very good sophomore album and more than three years later, I give BRMC another go. (Also, I feel grateful to now be living in a city that, unlike certain northern Italian university towns, actually has a gig-scene that doesn’t make you jwant to go home for more spaghetti.) Off to the 9:30 Club. The lights go down; out of the wings comes Peter Hayes, one half of the band’s mastermind duo, strangely trans-

formed. All it took was for him to slap some Brylcreme in his hair and suddenly, he isn’t a straggly indie-kid anymore, but a wise story-teller from the past, in a black shirt and jeans, cowboy boots, and harmonica frame. He performs the first three songs solo in the spotlight, just him, the harmonica, and the western guitar, and establishes an incredible stage presence. My friends and I all agree that the way the guy moves is certainly not PG-13, and his constant stare directed at the audience conveys a sense of uncanny seriousness. “I’ve got a sympathetic noose,” he croons at one point - and this guy really has the air of someone who has stood up on the gallows with the rope around his neck: tragic, tough, and sentimental. “A Complicated Situation”, “Fault Line”, and “Devil’s

Waiting” are all from the brand-new third album “Howl”, and they have nothing in common with the roaring rock and heavy melancholy-laden ballads that have hitherto been the band’s trademark. Instead, “A Complicated Situation” elicits memories of Bob Dylan when he still had a voice, “Fault Line” is a beautiful folk number reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s singsong-y moments, and “Devil’s Waitin” would have made a perfect soundtrack for “Cold Mountain” if the White Stripes hadn’t beaten them to it: “I’ve seen the battle/and I’ve seen the war/the life out here/is the life I’ve been sold”, Hayes sings to a simple, but utterly gripping melody, his clear voice soaring into the starry night-sky which we are by now imagining above us. Then Robert Turner, Hayes’s co-delinquentrocker-gone-Civil-Warsoldier, and drummer Nick Jago enter the stage and pick up the pace, launching into “Ain’t No Easy Way”, a swaggering slide-guitar stomp: “It’s easy to fall in love, but there

ain’t no easy way out!” It’s not rock’n’roll technically, but it feels earthier than anything these guys have ever done In the course of the gig, the band play practically all of “Howl”, interspersed with just a few of their older hits such as “Love Burns” or “Spread Your Love”. No “Six-Barrel Shotgun”, no “We’re All in Love”. But funnily enough, nothing is missing. On the contrary: here is a band that seems to finally have come into its own. While Hayes and Turner are still no Jagger/Richards or Tyler/Perry as far as stage presence is concerned, they have certainly written an album now that they feel comfortable enough with to open up to the audience. You can simply tell that they’re having fun with “Howl”, and so will you, even if the songs are sad. Patricia Mussi is a 2nd year M.A. Student concentrating in European Studies.

Nov 2005  

resident George W. Bush was an officer in his college frater- nity. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was a wrestler for his high school...

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