The Twilight of the Iranian Revolution

“Even as Iranians speculate about who will succeed Khamenei, many believe that, whoever becomes Supreme Leader, the revolution is no longer salvageable.”

Source: New Yorker
Published: May 18, 2020
Length: 39 minutes (9,920 words)

The Thin Red Line

Inside the debate over what the U.S. should do about Syria:

“He walked back to his desk and sat down. ‘The Syria I have just drawn for you—I call it the Sinkhole,’ he said. ‘I think there is an appreciation, even at the highest levels, of how this is getting steadily worse. This is the discomfort you see with the President, and it’s not just the President. It’s everybody.’ No matter how well intentioned the advocates of military intervention are, he suggested, getting involved in a situation as complex and dynamic as the Syrian civil war could be a foolish risk. The cost of saving lives may simply be too high. ‘Whereas we had a crisis in Iraq that was contained—it was very awful for us and the Iraqis—this time it will be harder to contain,’ he said. ‘Four million refugees going into Lebanon and Jordan is not the kind of problem we had going into Iraq.'”

Source: The New Yorker
Published: May 6, 2013
Length: 33 minutes (8,361 words)

The Journalist and the Spies

I met Saleem Shahzad nine days before he disappeared, and he seemed to know that his time was running out. It was May 20th, and Islamabad was full of conspiracy theories about the Abbottabad raid: bin Laden was still alive; Kiyani and Pasha had secretly helped the Americans with the raid. Mostly, the public radiated anger and shame. … “Look, I’m in danger,” he said. “I’ve got to get out of Pakistan.” He added that he had a wife and three kids, and they weren’t safe, either. He’d been to London recently, and someone there had promised to help him move to England.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Sep 19, 2011
Length: 37 minutes (9,278 words)

After the Uprising: Yemen’s Protests and the Hope for Reform

Though Ali Abdullah Saleh has proved deft at maintaining power, he has accomplished little else. Forty per cent of Yemeni adults are illiterate, and more than half the country’s children are malnourished. In addition to the bribes—one of Yemen’s largest expenditures—there is corruption. The government in Sanaa makes even the Karzai regime, in Afghanistan, seem like a model of propriety. Mohamed Ali Jubran, an economist at Sanaa University, told me, “Any resources that the government is able to get its hands on are siphoned off by the people around the President. What is left over is not enough to meet the demands of the Yemeni people.”

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Apr 4, 2011
Length: 43 minutes (10,995 words)

The Great Afghan Bank Heist

The troubles at Kabul Bank stand as a parable for the sometimes malign effect that the influx of billions of foreign dollars has had on this impoverished country since 2001. While the Western money spent has done a great deal to create a modern economy, much of it has been captured by a tiny minority of well-connected Afghan businessmen and politicians, and much of it illegitimately. The loss of seven hundred million dollars or more at Kabul Bank represents a significant percentage of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product, which stands at only about twelve billion dollars.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Jan 31, 2011
Length: 25 minutes (6,370 words)

Stanley McChrystal’s Long War

Success takes time, but how much time does Stanley McChrystal have? The war in Afghanistan is now in its ninth year. The Taliban, measured by the number of their attacks, are stronger than at any time since the Americans toppled their government at the end of 2001. American soldiers and Marines are dying at a faster rate than ever before. Polls in the United States show that opposition to the war is growing steadily.

Published: Oct 14, 2009
Length: 40 minutes (10,208 words)

A School Bus for Shamsia

Even before the men with acid came, the Mirwais Mena School for Girls was surrounded by enemies. It stood on the outskirts of Kandahar, barely 20 miles from the hometown of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder.

Published: Aug 17, 2009
Length: 21 minutes (5,329 words)

After America

In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Paul Starobin peers into his crystal ball to examine six scenarios for how the post-America world might be.

Source: Foreign Policy
Published: Jun 1, 2009
Length: 4 minutes (1,191 words)