Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic
Few events excite New York's intelligentsia like The New Yorker Festival, "a weekend-long celebration of arts and ideas." (Where else can Seymour Hersh mingle with John C. Reilly?) Last year, when I lived in New York, I bought a ticket to "Islam and the West," a panel discussion at The Town Hall, in Midtown, moderated by George Packer, of The New Yorker magazine. For two hours, he orchestrated a lively, illuminating conversation with Omar Ahmad, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote Infidel; Mahmood Mamdani, a professor at Columbia University; Azar Nafisi, the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran; Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, who teaches at Emory University; and Lawrence Wright, Packer's colleague. I was so impressed with Packer's intelligence and eloquence, and his ability to corral a rowdy crowd of the New York intelligentsia I mentioned earlier, that I bought — and read — his most-recent book, The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq, almost immediately. (In New York, bookstores are open late). In the last year, Packer has written several strong pieces on Iraq, including a stunning article about Iraqi translators. And he has a new blog. His most recent story, "Planning for Defeat," is fascinating. By his estimation, a withdrawal of American troops is inevitable, and we need to give some serious thought to the geopolitical ramifications of our exit from Iraq. He'll join us to talk about the politics of withdrawal, in the first hour. What do you think is the best way to leave Iraq? And what do you think will happen when we do?