Packing for the Fourth of July weekend? Looking for something to read as you bake in the sun? How about a thrilling, tightly written page-turner guaranteed to make you forget to stop to add more sunscreen?
But what sets his books apart from some others in the genre is that he writes with a superb feel for the world of CIA operations, international finance and Washington’s byzantine dance with its main frenemy, the Pakistani intelligence service.
And it’s probably easier to write the opening scene, set in South Waziristan, if you’ve actually been there, which he has. (Even awed folks at the agency ask reporters, “Do you know David Ignatius?” This, of course, reduces you to the level of chopped liver.)
The book seems so nonfiction because we recognize not only events that occurred before it was printed — such as the 2009 killing in Afghanistan of seven CIA operatives by a double agent — but also events after the book was written, such as the Pakistan intelligence service’s roundup two weeks ago of five CIA informants who helped the agency track down Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
That may be why reviewers think the most unbelievable part of the book is in the acknowledgments, where Ignatius insists that “this is a work of fiction” and that the people and events in it “have no connection with actual ones.” He protests too much that “there are no real people or intelligence operations in these pages.”
Well, that’s just what they want us to think, isn’t it?
It’s not even six months since the chaotic tenure of Obama mega-bundler Cynthia Stroum as ambassador to Luxembourg was cut short after less than a year on the job. Something, the State Department inspector general said at the time, about the Seattle venture capitalist’s “abusive management style.”
That “style” was so bad that some staffers decamped to Kabul rather than stay in lovely Luxembourg, an easy commute to Paris. The blistering IG report was so bad you might think it would have stained the venerable tradition of rewarding big donors with plum embassies.
But President Obama is, at heart, a traditionalist. And only three career diplomats have been ambassadors to that small NATO ally in the last 50 years.
So Obama naturally turned to major bundler and wealthy Florida real estate developer Robert Mandell , one of his earliest supporters in the state, to replace her. Since early 2007, Mandell and his family have given about $160,000 to Obama and other Democrats. Mandell, who bundled as much as $500,000 in contributions to Obama plus an additional 50 large for the inauguration, also campaigned for him in Ohio, Indiana and Iowa.
After the 2008 election, the Orlando Sentinel reported speculation that Mandell might be in line for an ambassadorship. Took a while, but Mandell was nominated Thursday.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde’s appointment this week to head the International Monetary Fund clears the way for the expected nomination of David Lipton to be the IMF’s deputy managing director. Lipton, now managing director at Citigroup, served as undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs under Robert Rubin.
Lipton and Lagarde might work out to be a pretty good pairing. The highly regarded Lagarde, a former member of the French national synchronized-swimming team, an antitrust and labor lawyer by trade, and a former French minister of agriculture and fishing, is not an economist.
Lipton, on the other hand, is a veteran in international finance matters and much more of a fixer of troubled financial situations — and the fix so far in Europe is not looking so good. Lipton was Rubin’s go-to guy for the Asian financial crisis, working the South Korea and Indonesia portfolios.
Supporters of the embargo on Cuba are battling back against recent administration moves to loosen restrictions for Cuban Americans’ travel to Cuba and allow for more remittances back to the country.
On June 23, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to sharply reduce U.S.-Cuba travel, back to Bush administration levels.
The administration was “bailing out the regime at the worst possible time,” pro-embargo lobbyist Mauricio Claver-Carone said in an interview with the blog Along the Malecon News, singling out the lifting of travel restrictions.
Some of the Cuban emigres come to this country and start collecting welfare checks, he said. They stay for a year and then begin traveling back to Cuba, where they spend much of their time — and their money. “You can’t be a refugee and then in a year and a day, go back to the source country,” he said. “Going to Cuba 10 times a year isn’t humanitarian.”
Who knew Florida’s welfare payments were so generous? The Miami-Havana round trip costs about $450.
Truth is weirder than fiction, it seems. Take, for example, this news release Tuesday from the United Nations: “The Conference on Disarmament held a plenary meeting this morning in which the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea assumed the presidency of the Conference.”
The serial arms proliferators themselves?
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