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Jewish World Review Nov. 15, 2002 / 10 Kislev, 5763

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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Brushing up on the affairs of a wild world | Vacation's over, folks.

Put down those Peoples and those Oprahs. Let those subscriptions to Woodworking Weekly lapse. Remove those headphones, and put down that remote.

Open up your copies of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy. Yes, they're really magazines. Yes, dozens of people not in the State Department actually read them without being forced to.

Start skimming. Learning about the roots of Arab anti-Americanism and the looming economic disaster in Myanmar will make you a better citizen. It's time to start paying serious attention to our foreign entanglements again.

First, some background to bring you no-good isolationists up to speed.

Since Kurt Cobain and the Soviet Union died, America has become the only superpower. And as some of you might have heard, there was some trouble with Middle Eastern terrorists on our East Coast last Sept. 11, and since then America's military has been really busy overseas. Plus, we've got another war with Iraq coming up in a month or two.

In short, we've got a big messed-up world we Americans have to keep track of and worry about and try to fix.

As a good citizen, you know you are expected to be able to competently advise your congressman when he makes his next vote on whom to support in Rwanda's off-year elections or how high to set tariffs on mittens from Nepal.

So instead of whining about how dull Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy are, you should thank them for keeping their eyes on every little troubled corner of the globe.

Actually, you might want to stay away from Foreign Affairs. It costs $22 for six copies a year and, although it's put out by those zany guys at the Council of Foreign Relations, it's pretty academic.

In fact, its gray-on-gray-on-gray November/December issue is 212 pages deep and packed with so much insight, analysis and intelligence about geopolitical, geo-economic and geo-cultural events and trends and crises it'd put a U.S. president to sleep.

Tips on how to keep wayward NATO members in line. Critiques of how America's tariff policy hurts the world's poorest economies. Essays about the state of Russia, U.S. trade policy and the real roots of Arab anti-Americanism.

Good stuff to learn by November 2004, if you want a job as one of Hillary Clinton's security advisers. But if you merely want to learn to use hegemony in a sentence or keep tabs on what's up with the economy in the country formerly known as Burma, Foreign Policy is the ticket - especially if you enjoy great color photos, illustrations and lively page designs.

FP's rich and rewarding current issue contains a piece that nicely debunks the myth that Earth's media are being taken over by the same three mega-corporations.

And while it six-part cover story, "What Ever Happened to ," doesn't tell us where Arsenio Hall went, it includes fine essays on the demise of once-starry ideas such as Marxism, Limits to Growth, the Military Industrial Complex and everyone's Cold War favorite, Mutual Assured Destruction.

FP is accessible to anyone still reading this column, but beware. Unless you've already picked up your M.A. in Security Studies at Georgetown, it will read more like an SAT test than Entertainment Weekly.

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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

11/12/02: Make Dems filibuster 10 minutes with Robert L. Bartley
11/08/02: National Geographic: Urban overpopulation is good
11/05/02: The bloody consequences of a broken INS: Ten minutes with Michelle Malkin
11/01/02: Going to pot; thank heaven for media overkill
10/29/02: It's all about federalism: Ten minutes with Jonah Goldberg
10/25/02: Frank Sinatra, Kurt Cobain, Mad Magazine will never die
10/22/02: Here's why Orwell matters: Ten minutes with Christopher Hitchens
10/18/02: The sniper knocks Iraq off the covers
10/15/02: Iraq, oil and war: 10 minutes with ... economist/historian Daniel Yergin
10/11/02: England's gun-control experiment has backfired
10/04/02: Buchanan the media baron?
09/27/02: Analyzing Esquire, GQ is not for the squeamish
09/20/02: CEOs: The rise and fall of American heroes
09/13/02: Skeptics remind U.S. to calm down
09/10/02: 'A failure to recognize a failure': 15 minutes with ... Bill Gertz
09/06/02: Rating the 9-11 mags
08/30/02: Bad trains, bad planes, and bad automobiles
08/28/02: Baseball, broken, can be fixed: 15 minutes with George Will
08/16/02: 9-11 overload has already begun
08/13/02: Tell us what you really think, Ann Coulter
08/09/02: A funny take on a new kind of suburb
08/02/02: It's not the humidity, it's the (media) heat wave; the death of American cities
07/12/02: Colombia's drug lords are all business
07/09/02: If capitalism is 'soulless' then show me something better: 10 minutes with Alan Reynolds
06/25/02: Origins of a scandal: 10 minutes with Michael Rose
06/21/02: 9/11 report unearths good, bad and ugly
06/18/02: The FBI is rebounding 10 Minutes with Ronald Kessler
06/14/02: U.S. News opens closet of Secret Service
06/11/02: 10 minutes with William Lind: Can America survive in this 'fourth-generation' world?
06/07/02: America, warts and all
05/30/02: FBI saga gets more depressing
05/13/02: The magazine industry's annual exercise in self-puffery
04/30/02: 10 Minutes with ... The New York Sun's Seth Lipsky
04/26/02: Will the American Taliban go free?
04/23/02: 10 minutes with ... Dinesh D'Souza
04/19/02: Saddam starting to show his age
04/12/02: Newsweek puts suicide bombing in perspective
04/09/02: How polls distort the news, change the outcome of elections and encourage legislation that undermines the foundations of the republic
04/05/02: Looking into the state of American greatness
03/25/02: The American President and the Peruvian Shoeshine Boys
03/22/02: Troublemaking intellectual puts Churchill in spotlight
03/20/02: 10 minutes with ... Bill Bennett
03/18/02: Suddenly, it's cool again to be a man
03/12/02: 10 minutes with Ken Adelman
03/08/02: TIME asks the nation a scary question
03/05/02: 10 minutes with ... Rich Lowry
02/26/02: 10 minutes with ... Tony Snow
02/12/02: Has Soldier of Fortune gone soft?

© 2002, Bill Steigerwald