Roger Kaplan Articles

'What You Give Makes a Life'

Tennis and civic striving in the nation's capital.
11:14 AM, Aug 10, 2015

Washington, D.C.,'s Rock Creek Park Tennis Center—site of the week-long Citi Open tournament that wrapped up Sunday—is more formally known as the William H.G. Fitzgerald Center after its major benefactor, a living monument to success and generosity. Fitzgerald, who died nine years ago at 96, was a Bostonian who made a great deal of money in Washington and gave most of it away for education, and civic improvements, at home and in Africa. A graduate of the Naval Academy, he served in World War II and, past 80, as ambassador to Ireland.

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A General and a Democrat

An old soldier is chosen to clean up Nigeria— and defend it.
Apr 20, 2015

In winning Nigeria’s presidency on his fourth try, Muhammadu Buhari, former military dictator and proponent of sharia, may have answered the Nigerian question: Is the big West African country more than a geographical entity—does it have a sense of nationhood transcending sectional and religious differences? 

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The Battle for Paris

The next mayor of the French capital will be a woman. But which one?
Mar 31, 2014

If you inhabit the Left Bank of Paris, you live left and vote right. The Left Bank is on the southern shore of the river Seine, and the heart of it is the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a small, dense country you can cross on foot in half an hour. Around here they vote right, though you may have some difficulty finding anyone who owns up to it. 

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Algerian Dilemma

Reflections from Camus in his centennial year.
Dec 09, 2013

World War II posed no moral or existential problems for Albert Camus. As it began, he was 26 years old and had already made his mark as a crusading journalist; within a couple of years he would be famous for a shocking novel, The Stranger. With his family and his wife’s family in relative security in Algeria, he left the Paris paper where he was working when it fired its Jewish staff and entered, as the idiom had it, into resistance.

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Mali Votes for Stability

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita takes the helm in a beleaguered country under attack from Islamic extremists.
12:32 PM, Aug 14, 2013

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, a central figure in Mali’s political life for over 20 years, was the winner in Sunday’s runoff vote in the landlocked West African nation’s presidential election, as his rival, Soumaila Cisse, conceded and congratulated his compatriots on a civic duty well done.

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Hope for Mali

Go ahead and vote, but be sure to have the protection of Western airpower.
Aug 05, 2013

The town of Kidal, about 200 miles north of Gao, the big hub on the Niger River in eastern Mali, is hot and dry, and its police and electricity function erratically. The town, whose population is about 25,000, fell under the control of forces hostile to Mali’s central government in Bamako, which is 950 miles to the south and east, in April 2012.

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France’s de Gaulle

Or de Gaulle’s France. Are the two interchangeable?
Mar 25, 2013

In downtown Algiers, on June 4, 1958, Charles de Gaulle expressed himself clearly, as usual. The conventional wisdom has it that he was “ambiguous,” even “duplicitous.” But what he said was that the page had to be turned in Algeria: Political and civil institutions had to be reformed; there could not be two classes of citizens. He said it clearly. He said there must be educational and career opportunities for all.  

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Money for Mali

Some confusion at State – and fast cash from the White House.
8:05 AM, Feb 14, 2013

With the quiet announcement that the United States is earmarking $50 million from the defense budget immediately for France and Niger, two countries in the forefront of the battle for Mali against Islamist hordes and Tuareg secessionists, the Obama administration appears to be indicating that it views with a jaundiced eye the potential of our enemies to burst out of the Sahara, cross the Niger river, and wreak havoc throughout the Sahel and beyond.

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The Moor Strategy

Mauritania’s President Mohamed Abdel Aziz on Islamists and underdevelopment in the Sahel
Jan 21, 2013

Nouakchott, Mauritania

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Mali at War, Again

Leading from the front, and with no legal hassles.
4:01 PM, Jan 16, 2013

Determined not to lose Mali to Islamist forces, France’s president Francois Hollande ordered a rapid deployment of air and ground forces in Mali to block well-armed and motivated fighters of the Ansar Dine movement led by the veteran Tuareg leader Iyad Ag Ghali from crossing the Niger river and marching on Bamako.

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A Conversation in Paris

As the Socialists take over.
Jul 02, 2012


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Mali: Regional Support for Transition, Uncertainties on War

6:10 AM, Apr 16, 2012

Following almost daily coups de théâtre after the Malian junior officers’ coup d’etat of March 22 led by Capt. Amadou Sanogo, indications of the political evolution of the shaken West African country and of the possible military repercussions of the past weeks’ events are being voiced in Bamako.

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Tuareg Nation Upsets U.S. Policy in Africa

Azawad proclaims independence in North Mali.
8:25 AM, Apr 07, 2012

In the latest turn of events in the decade-long war on terror, U.S. counter-terrorism policy in Africa was dealt a blow – or an opportunity – with the declaration of independence of the Azawad, the territory claimed by the Tuareg tribes of northern Mali.

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Another African Democracy Goes Under

1:50 PM, Mar 23, 2012

Alain Juppe, France’s foreign minister, forcefully condemned the coup d’état that overthrew Mali’s president, Amadou Toumani Toure, a few days ago, and called for elections as soon as possible in the context of the restoration of constitutional order.  Elections, the first round of the presidential election, were scheduled for April 29. Toure was not a candidate, having served his constitutional two-term limit and being eager, by all accounts, to retire.

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Tuareg Forces Take Tessalit

Uncertainty in Mali a blow to U.S. counter-terror policy in Africa.
5:04 PM, Mar 13, 2012

With the fall last weekend of the northern Mali garrison town of Tessalit, and its airstrip, to Tuareg secessionist forces, U.S. counter-terror policy in Africa is dealt a stunning setback.

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Mischief in Mali

A model African country confronts subversion—with U.S. help.
Mar 12, 2012

Mopti, Bamako

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African Intrigues

The longer the small desert war lasts, the more America’s African strategy is undercut.
2:30 PM, Mar 08, 2012

In embattled Mali, the battle for Tessalit continues. This has become a miniature African Stalingrad (neither condescension nor excessive alarm intended).

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War Comes to Mali

Al Qaeda advances under cover of tribal conflict.
Feb 20, 2012

With U.S. forces in Mali 

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Israel's Survival

An enduring question.
9:00 AM, Jul 14, 2011