David DeVoss Articles


Meme Wars

An online battle for Muslim hearts and minds.
Jan 18, 2016

After the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants publicized al Qaeda’s beliefs, demands, and atrocities with a succession of crudely produced audio and videotapes sent to Al Jazeera and other networks. But during the Iraq war, the way that news and ideas were communicated started changing. The elite reporters and editors who decided what news was and how it would be presented were being challenged by social media without hierarchy or filters.

Launched in 2004, the social networking site Facebook was followed a year later by YouTube, a seemingly infinite repository of videos living forever in the cloud. Then came Twitter, a real-time messaging service offering a global audience to those with something to say who

 Read more

Back from Bankruptcy

Detroit emerges full of promise, though recovery will take years.
Aug 03, 2015

For close to a century the Forest Arms apartments was one of the most prestigious addresses on Detroit’s Near Westside. But by the start of this decade, the city’s declining population, municipal mismanagement, and foundering economy had left the building reminiscent of postwar Berlin.

 Read more

How Dry I Am

Letter from California.
Jun 22, 2015

Los Angeles
After four years of drought it has come to this: California’s politicians are trying to convince Los Angeles residents to drink treated sewage. “Toilet to tap” is no joke. The idea was floated during past droughts but foundered on the fact that recycled water would mostly go to working-class homes. That it again is being considered is symptomatic of the doomsday frenzy now gripping the state.

 Read more

The Paleo Diet, Japanese Style

Cuisine as statecraft.
Mar 16, 2015

The Japanese, seemingly stuck in political doldrums, sluggish economic growth, and waning international influence, are pushing past those frustrations with a new government-led campaign to sell the world—and their own children—on their country’s distinctive traditional cuisine.

 Read more

James Foley, 1973-2014

A courageous journalist killed by terrorists.
Sep 01, 2014

In the end, Jim Foley died just as he wanted to live, pursuing a story that mattered on the front line of hard news journalism. In Afghanistan, Libya, and finally Syria he recorded the horror, chaos, and occasional compassion that define the war on terror. But it was his gruesome killing on the barren sands of a foreign land that truly conveys the evil that envelops the Islamic Caliphate’s hooded assassins.

 Read more

Between Iraq and a Hard Place

The Kurds love America. It’s time to reciprocate.
Jun 30, 2014

They came from the west through the Syrian Desert, across the Euphrates River, and down off the Nineveh Plain. Mosul, Baiji, Tikrit, Samarra—cities held by the U.S. military just two and a half years before—fell almost without a fight, absorbed into the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a prospective terrorist caliphate based on sharia law and governed by Salafist militants who make even al Qaeda shudder. 

 Read more

Paranoia in Kabul

Hamid Karzai and his enemies.
Feb 24, 2014

With a presidential election less than two months away, all eyes in Afghanistan should be on the coming vote. It could be Afghanistan’s first-ever peaceful transfer of power, and 11 candidates are running. Instead, Kabul is buzzing over the actions of term-limited outgoing president Hamid Karzai, whose strange behavior confounds allies and enemies alike. 

 Read more

New Dawn in Dallas

Fifty years after the Kennedy assassination, Main Street values trump political ideology
Nov 25, 2013

The Sunday after Kennedy was shot my dad and I drove downtown to Dealey Plaza. It was an apology of sorts since my parents had refused to let me skip school to see the presidential motorcade on November 22. We were standing on the grassy knoll between the Old Red Courthouse and the Triple Underpass when our neighbors from across the street—a man and his teenage son my age—walked up with a noose and began exhorting bystanders to go lynch Lee Harvey Oswald.

 Read more

The Other Iraq

Kurdistan prospers, even as pressure from Baghdad grows
Mar 04, 2013

Two years after the self-immolation of a street vendor protesting police corruption in Tunisia, the promise of the Arab Spring remains unrealized. Instead of ushering in an era of stable self-determination, much of the Middle East remains in disarray. Syria is in flames, Egypt almost ungovernable. Libyan terrorists responsible for the Benghazi massacre are still at large, and Tunisia soon could have its second government in as many years. 

 Read more

Death of a Patriot

Nguyen Cao Ky, 1930-2011
Aug 08, 2011

‘When we moved to California, I got a new Cadillac Seville,” Nguyen Cao Ky told me back in 1990. “One day I was driving around, dressed in some old shorts and a T-shirt, when a motorcycle policeman pulled me over because I needed a registration sticker. I looked suspicious and couldn’t even remember the name of the street I was living on. 

“ ‘You working now?’ he asked.

 Read more