Editor’s Page

Editor’s Page

Quarterlies are often late to cover the politics of the moment, but sometimes we anticipate arguments to come. We carried important articles on torture in the Summer 2003 issue, and we have come back to it again and again in the years since—most recently in an online article by Lillian B. Rubin. We haven’t yet discussed the question of how the country as a whole can best acknowledge and repudiate the Bush administration’s policy on torture. That administration’s more general abuse of executive power is the subject of Sanford Levinson’s strong review essay in this issue. Dissent writers have argued about how other countries should reckon with their past; now we have an American reckoning to consider.

But looking forward is even more important, and we mean to carry articles online and in coming issues on Barack Obama’s decision to make the war in Afghanistan his own. This is the part of the “war on terrorism” that has looked most like a legitimate military operation, but it is being fought at a high cost to the civilian population. The United States needs a more wide-ranging and critical debate about what we are doing there and what we should (and shouldn’t) be doing. Michael W. Doyle’s piece on “democracy promotion” is a good beginning for what will be a long argument.

We are happy to feature a group of articles on cities in this issue—dealing with the shape and character of the modern city, with manufacturing and transportation withi...

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