Like Cuba, North Korea has hung on grimly, a communist outpost when the faith is no longer upheld by the center, Russia and China, where capitalism, in one form or another, has eroded the old rituals, replacing them with a new fealty to wealth and prosperity, which Marxism-Leninism never could quite deliver, despite the protestations of the former leadership that it would "bury" the corrupt West, sunk in indolence and apathy. But Pyongyang is always adaptable. Its latest move is to reinstate tepid market-style economics.
The massive flooding in Pakistan, which has killed more than 1,500 and displaced millions, is more than a humanitarian tragedy. It is a crucial test of competence and legitimacy for the government of Asif Ali Zardari.
The United States is the world's only military superpower, but the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated the difficulty in using that power. The U.S. military has an unmatched capability to destroy, but it does not want to cause unintended casualties.
But there is no such thing as immaculate war. The United States faces a dilemma: if it uses its firepower, it will unavoidably inflict unwanted casualties. But if it doesn't use its firepower, it undercuts a principal advantage and arguably exposes U.S. troops to greater risk.