It is time for Ban Ki-moon to speak up and speak out: After six months in the job, the UN secretary general should be taking the lead, but his record so far is underwhelming. The UN chief doesn't have to shout to get results: Be it on Darfur or climate change, Ban Ki-moon has already made diplomatic gains. In I Wouldn't Start from Here: A Misguided Tour of the Early 21st Century, Andrew Mueller catalogues his travels in some of the world's most benighted places - including Kosovo, Palestine, Libya, Sarajevo, Afghanistan and Iraq - as he grapples with "possibly the most maddening mystery of our time" (and more).  A Tale of Three Tribes: The dilemma of ethnic minorities lies in the choice between preserving cultures and integrating individuals into a broader society. 

From Roots, we should put a wit virus into the established system of ethnic, religious, language, and any other kind of exclusivism: Macedonian author Pajo Avirovic on how a joke goes along way in a society riven by ethnic tension; and how can it be that the primary concern of Macedonian politics is not, as in most other European countries, economic and democratic development, but fear of annihilation? A review of Understanding Evil: Lessons from Bosnia by Keith Doubt. Jean Tirole on four principles for an effective state: Meeting the expectations of its citizens will require the French state to become more effective. Under Nicolas Sarkozy, France represses its controversial history. Bernard-Henri Levy reviews Sarkozy's Testimony: France in the Twenty-First Century. Theodore Dalrymple on Tony Blair's domestic legacy: corruption and the erosion of liberty. A. A. Gill loves the English language but detests the English people: A review of The Angry Island: Hunting the English.  

Who knew Bill Kristol had such a flair for satire? David Corn on why Bush is a loser. You don’t have to dust for long before finding Dick Cheney’s grimy fingerprints all over the Bush crime scene. It’s becoming clearer by the day that behind every one of Bush’s illegal actions lurks the shadow of the Vice President. Sean Wilentz on debating Dick Cheney's view of executive power. Attention, small-government conservatives: Ever helpful, this column has found yet another reason to be unhappy with President Bush. He appears to be the biggest regulator since the Nixon-Ford years. King George W, Madison's worst nightmare: This is the war-making imperial President that Madison, Jefferson and Washington warned us about. J'accuse George W Bush: Why are we relying on a sports commentator to attack the US president? Where's our modern-day Emile Zola

The Power of the Campaign Narrative: All successful presidential candidates have had a coherent, appealing story, while the losers tell bad stories — or more often, no story at all. Cheating pols: Americans can live with adultery, but we still love a love story.  The Transformer: Barack Obama is transmogrifying one-man American amalgam: First, he floors black church, then Mr. Slick for lawyers; "We’re worried about building enthusiasm for grass roots". Is Obama the next JFK? At first glance, says Theodore Sorensen, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama seem notably different. But the parallels in their candidacies are striking. From The Progressive, an interview with Elizabeth Edwards. The Real Bill Richardson: Is the presidential contender a libertarian Democrat?