June 30, 2004

To the Sahara

Weíre off.

We leave for Rome in a few hours. Tonight will be the third night in five where I spend the night on an airplane. The day after we get to Rome we fly to Tunisia. Thank God thatís a short one. By the time we get there I will have spent almost 50 percent of a week having my every move micromanaged in part by a state and in part by a corporation. But hey, within the space of six days Iím seeing three foreign capitals on three continents for the first time, so itís worth it.

When Libya was on the itinerary I was not planning to blog from there. But Tunisia is run by a relatively enlightened benign dictatorship, a bit like Jordan or Morocco with a president instead of a king. So stay tuned! Iím not afraid to blog from there, so I will when I can.

Hereís a piece in The Atlantic Monthly called Roman Africa by Robert D. Kaplan that triggered my interest in visiting Tunisia in the first place. If you donít know much about Tunisia, you might be surprised by what itís like. Itís the Costa Rica of Arab North Africa, profoundly influenced to this day by the civilizing influence of the Roman Empire. Tunisians are bilingual (speaking both Arabic and French), their culture is fairly liberal, and they get a proper education. Radical Islam is pretty thin on that ground. Should be good times.

Donít be strangers. This blog is still live.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 30, 2004 8:52 AM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn