Christopher Dickey

Stories by Christopher Dickey

  • Parlez-Vous Espionage?

    Settled into their comfy seats on an Air France flight to Paris, two American business executives begin talking about their company's marketing and technical plans. A private chat? Maybe not. According to NBC's "Expose" program last week, there may be microphones hidden in the seats. Alongside you may be a French government spy posing as a passenger or even--quelle horreur!--a flight attendant. All are allegedly working to ferret information that could benefit French companies. ...
  • A Little Quiet Diplomacy

    How do you negotiate without negotiating.? That question has plagued Washington ever since the hostage nightmare began in Lebanon nine years ago. Opposed on principle to dealing with terrorists, the United States is nonetheless obligated by politics and humanity to try to liberate its citizens. What's the best way to resolve the contradiction? It's not enough to lie. The Reagan administration's arms-for-hostages debacle proved that. ...
  • Mr. Peacemaker?

    Hafez Assad the Peacemaker? The role hardly squares with the Syrian leader's history of intrigue and terror, repression and war. Often he has been portrayed as a tyrant in the mold of Saddam Hussein, only more cunning. Yet last week Yitzhak Shamir was comparing Israel's most implacable enemy to Anwar Sadat. In fact, Assad is neither Saddam nor Sadat: the first was impulsive in war, the other in peace. Assad's every move is calculated. His game has a persistent logic, but its twists amaze even his own people. The latest gambit-accepting the U.S. plan for a Mideast conference-is the most striking yet. Assad even finds kind words for George Bush. In an interview last week with NEWSWEEK and The Washington Post, Assad praised the administration's "experience and enlightenment," adding: "It's good for the region and for the world." ...
  • Keeping Up Appearances Of Movement

    We cannot and should not let form dominate substance," Secretary of State James Baker cautioned last week as he wound up his second postwar tour of the Middle East. The words held a hint of frustration. Baker is looking for the elusive breakthrough in Arab-Israeli relations. All he has found so far is quibbling about procedures. Would there be a "regional" conference acceptable to Israel, or an "international" conference as the Arabs demand? "The adjective you put before the word conference is not anywhere near as important as whether the parties really want to sit down and hold negotiations for peace," Baker felt compelled to explain. ...
  • Could The Rebels Really Rule?

    The rebels who have risen up against Saddam Hussein have two powerful enemies. Saddam is one. The other is history. Theirs is a fractious past, full of vendettas and divisions threatening the very existence of the Iraqi nation - carved out of the old Ottoman Empire by Britain after World War I. King Faisal, installed by London in 1921, found his subjects "unimaginable masses of human beings, devoid of any patriotic idea, imbued with religious traditions and absurdities, connected by no common tie, giving ear to evil, prone to anarchy, and perpetually ready to rise against any government whatever." ...
  • Can Arafat Survive His Latest Blunder?

    One evening in 1985 the late PLO military commander Khalil al-Wazir was asked what the Palestine Liberation Organization had ever really done for its people. Normally mild-mannered, he responded with a tirade. "You don't know what it was like to live with the Egyptian boot on the back of your neck," he said. He talked about prisons in Syria, slaughter in Jordan, arid exile in the gulf. Not once did he mention Israel. What the PLO had done, said al-Wazir, was take the Palestinian movement away from Arab leaders who had exploited it for their own ends. The PLO had established its independence, nothing less. ...
  • No More 'Moral Victories'

    Two days into the rout of Saddam Hussein's Army, a man with a Texas accent called a restaurant in Jordan to order 200 pizzas for American soldiers in Iraq. The manager hung up. The caller phoned back, claiming to represent a radio station looking for reaction to the American victory. Didn't the proprietor support U.S. troops? No, in Jordan most people supported Saddam. Well, the Americans were in Iraq, said the voice from Texas, and they might just go to Jordan and put the people there back on their camels. Fadi Ghandour, one of the restaurant's owners, slammed down the phone. It was humiliating to confront such gloating. A sense of despair nagged at Ghandour. "What scares me," he said afterward, "is it's just starting." ...
  • The Blunderer From Baghdad

    Saddam Hussein had it all: the most powerful Army in the Arab world and 100 billion barrels of oil. His own population was under tight control. His ability to intimidate his neighbors was growing. Enemies abounded, but they found him impossible to eliminate. Israel chafed at the spectacle of his growing strength, especially his arsenal of chemical weapons and his nuclear program. But for the first time since 1948 it faced an Arab enemy it had to think twice about attacking. He was billions in debt, to be sure. But Saddam and his country had a bright future. It was Aug. 1. ...
  • Unquiet On The Western Front

    Only a handful of refugees cross the border from western Iraq to the Ruweished checkpoint each morning. Emergency camps set up to receive thousands who were expected to flee the war stand all but empty. A Palestinian economist who drove from Kuwait across Iraq last week offers a simple explanation. The last 200 miles of highway is "very dangerous," he says. "You can't believe how dangerous." Allied bombs have cratered the road's six lanes; tankers, vans and trucks full of furniture smolder along the shoulders. In Iraq, he says, "people would rather die in their homes than die on the road." ...
  • The Legend Of Saddam

    Khalid Khawaldi calls himself "the strategist." Sincere and dignified, he waves a hand to indicate the deployments of air force, infantry, cavalry. Here are the Iraqi divisions, there the Americans. "Inshallah, victory to Saddam," he proclaims. Then the air force giggles--and the battle of the Zahrat al-Madayen school playground begins. Arms raised as wings, the American planes zoom into action. The fighting is tough, its course chaotic, the casualties high, but the outcome is clear from the start. Khalid, 11, determines the winner, and in this Jordanian schoolyard the Iraqis never lose. "If it was for real," says Loai Muhammad, a 12-year-old picked for the American side, "we'd all have been with Iraq." ...
  • Rope-A-Dope In Baghdad

    Saddam Hussein has been preparing a long time for a long war. If there were no other clues to his strategy, his hideout might well tell the story. Built a decade ago by the Germans, this "fuhrerbunker' lies more than 50 feet beneath his Baghdad palace. It boasts such luxuries as a sauna and fourposter bed with a red silk canopy; such precautions as walls built to withstand atomic blasts--there are even toilets tested for radiation. According to one German report, 25 people "could live for a year without care" in its fortified recesses. ...
  • Caught In A Cross-Fire

    Fate put Yasir Arafat at a funeral when the war started. As Desert Storm thundered over Baghdad, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization was far away in Tunis, laying to rest a murdered comrade. Before a PLO bodyguard killed him, Salah Khalaf had warned that all Palestinians "are really in the cross-fire." He appreciated Saddam Hussein's efforts to dedicate the war to the Palestinian cause, Khalaf told a French newspaper. "But at the same time, I don't want my own cause to be associated with the destruction of the Arab region." The PLO could only watch Khalaf's worst fears take shape. As in the past, chaos and conflict threatened to leave the Palestinians helpless and alone. ...
  • Not Just A Case Of Trying To Save Face

    War. The word may not sound so bad to Saddam Hussein these days. He may in fact see it as his last chance to come out ahead in the current crisis. By taking on a superpower and holding out for weeks or even months, he would have gone into the ring with the champ. No one expects him to win. Fighting well is enough. Survival would be a triumph. ...
  • Still Searching For A Way To Avoid War

    Is Saddam Hussein looking for a peaceful way out of his standoff with tine: west? One man who thinks so is King Hussein of Jordan, who may: understand the Iraqi leader better than most. Alone among leaders leaders, the king took Saddam's: talk of a stike on Kuwait seriously before the: invasion. He knew Saddam wasn't the king to bluff. Now, the king says, Saddam is searching for a way to avoid war. "There's a very, very clear wish for a peaceful solution to the problem," the king told NEWSWEEK. ...
  • The 'Near War' And 'The Bedouin Way'

    No war, but near war," is the way one senior Jordanian official summarizes the strategy of the West and its allies in the gulf: brinkmanship meant to intimidate Saddam Hussein into unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait. Last week's talk of deploying perhaps 100,000 additional U.S. troops was one more way of turning up the heat on the Iraqi strongman. So, too, were CIA director William Webster's off-the-record but widely repeated remarks that the West is unlikely to get out of the impasse without a fight. Friends of Francois Mitterrand weighed in, telling reporters the French president thinks war is "imminent." ...
  • 'Taking Out The Cancer'

    Lookouts whistle in warning when the unmarked police car enters an apartment block in the fetid Panama City slum of Curundu. Two Panamanian cops emerge, sweating and anxious. The apartments above them bristle with grenades and machine guns. On an earlier patrol, someone threw a body from an upper-story window--perhaps as a warning. "This is the most dangerous area we have," says Sgt. Javier Batista, scanning the rooftops while holding a pump-action 12-gauge. "If someone starts firing from up here, a shotgun won't reach them." As the Panama Defense Forces under Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, they always entered the area well armed. Now demoted to civilian police by their American occupiers, they carry only shotguns and sidearms. The U.S. servicemen who accompany them appear unsympathetic. American military adviser Joseph Guilmette says he draws his gun "on a daily basis" in the barrios. "We get shot at. It's no big deal. It's part of the job." ...
  • Panama's High-Profile Proconsul

    Ambassador Deane R. Hinton is eating waffles on his veranda overlooking Panama City. At 7:30 on a tropical morning, a hint of coolness seeps from the house through half-open glass doors. In the middle distance, birds wheel above the high-rise skyline. In other cities they might be sea gulls. Here they are vultures. Decaying, corrupt and vital to U.S. interests: this is Deane Hinton's kind of country. ...