Weekly Roundup 5/30/2012

Stephen Metcalf, Slate, May 25, 2012

Synopsis: This appreciation of cultural historian Paul Fussell, whose 1975 book, The Great War and Modern Memory, describes in intricate detail how the irony-soaked culture of the 20th century emerged from the battlefields of World War I.  “The Great War chronicles the loss of the old rhetoric, of high pieties, of sacrifice and roseate dawns, in favor of ‘blood, terror, agony, madness, shit, cruelty, murder, sell-out, pain and hoax,’” Metcalf writes.

Takeaway: Fussell died last week at age 88. The Great War and Modern Memory, his masterpiece, is well worth a read, not only for its compelling thesis but for the wealth of evidence he assembles on the way to his conclusions.

For background see “Stopping Genocide,” Aug. 27, 2004, “The United Nations and Global Security,” Feb. 27, 2004, and “Ethics of War,” Dec. 13, 2002.

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer

Leslie Kaufman, The New York Times, May 28, 2012
Synopsis: Zoos are being urged to focus more on conservation of species facing extinction than merely on entertainment and education, according to Times’ science correspondent Kaufman. In the process, she writes, zoos must sometimes make the hard choice to “winnow species in their care and devote more resources to the chosen few.” The St. Louis zoo, for example, is working on a breeding program for the black-and-white tufted lemur, but giving up on the more perilously threatened lion-tailed macaque.
Takeaway: “Some days,” Kaufman says, “the burden feels less like Noah building an ark and more like Schindler making a list.”
For CQ Researcher coverage, see “Disappearing Species,” Nov. 30, 2007, and “Zoos in the 21st Century,” April 28, 2000.

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor 


Alissa J. Rubin and Matthew Rosenberg, The New York Times, May 27, 2012, p. A1

Synopsis:  Over the past decade, the United States has spent more than $6 billion in efforts to eradicate the opium poppies that help finance the anti-government insurgency and fuel corruption.

Takeaway:  Despite the ongoing anti-opium efforts, which are seen as vital to creating stability in Afghanistan, U.S. officials are doubtful they will have much success before the end of the NATO military mission there ends in 2014.

For background see “Afghanistan Dilemma,” Aug. 7, 2009 (updated May 5, 2011).

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor