army

A Deal With The Devil
July 17, 2010

Emissary of the Doomed: Bargaining For Lives in the Holocaust by Ronald Florence (Viking, 336 pp., $27.95)  I. March 18, 1944 was an unusually pleasant spring day in Budapest, with crowds filling the outdoor cafés: it was difficult to tell that Hungary was at war. Rumors were spread about the government’s secret negotiations with the Western Allies, and all surmised that an unspoken agreement existed according to which the Hungarians would not fire on American and British aircraft overflying the country and the enemy aircraft would not drop any bombs.

Least-Bad Options
July 16, 2010

Commentators of many political stripes agree that the U. S.-NATO expedition, in Afghanistan since 2001, long ago foundered and continues to founder, especially in the embattled south. “America and its allies are losing in Afghanistan," writes The Economist. “A survey in 120 districts racked by insurgency, a third of Afghanistan’s total, found little popular support for Mr Karzai.

Elliott Kastner (1930-2010)
July 09, 2010

I had known Elliott Kastner a little over the years, by way of phone calls. He had tracked me down once and called, and I had wondered why, and it was just to say he had enjoyed some things I had written. Without any strain, I told him I was very fond of some of his pictures. So we agreed we should meet some time, but nothing ever developed until a couple of years ago. He was coming to San Francisco, where I live—let’s have dinner. He had a plan. That’s where he broke it to me, at Post Trio. He was a character, he said, but he was not in the best of health.

Confessions of an Epistemological Skeptic
July 01, 2010

I’m struck by how quickly some of my fellow Entanglers have brought up the mother of all epistemological quandaries: How can we, the not very well informed, know what is the case in a far-off land of which we know, well, not very much? The difficulty in knowing what is true on the ground in Afghanistan, for example, is massive. And the reason is not that “the liberal media” blight the national climate with pessimism because they’re of a wimpish or Qaeda-loving disposition.

The Logistical Sublime
June 25, 2010

 The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay By Umberto Eco Translated by Alastair McEwen (Rizzoli, 408 pp., $45) The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right By Atul Gawande (Metropolitan Books, 209 pp., $24.50) “Please direct your attention to the front of the cabin where the flight attendants are demonstrating safety procedures ... in the event of a water landing ...

The Logistical Sublime
June 25, 2010

The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay By Umberto Eco Translated by Alastair McEwen (Rizzoli, 408 pp., $45) The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right By Atul Gawande (Metropolitan Books, 209 pp., $24.50) “Please direct your attention to the front of the cabin where the flight attendants are demonstrating safety procedures ... in the event of a water landing ...

Why General Petraeus Is Better Suited for Our Afghanistan Mission Than General McChrystal Ever Was
June 24, 2010

“Command climate” is what shapes a military organization. The preferences, priorities, and peccadilloes of the commander echo across its staff and subordinate units. Command climate functions as an organization's persona and it plays just as powerful a role in its behavior—and effectiveness—as an individual's personality.

Petraeus Was The Obvious Choice. But Will Obama Allow Him To Fight A Winning War?
June 23, 2010

Had the president chosen some one else, a cry would have risen up from the demos: why not Petraeus? In an age when generals are seldom heroes, David Petraeus was a true hero. Not because he catered to the press or to Congress or, for that matter, to the military intellectuals.

Fatherhood And Apple Pie
June 21, 2010

Most everything associated with President Obama—his policy platform, his public style, his personal story—have become grist for intense partisan conflict. I had thought that the one remaining uncontroversial scrap was his endorsement of fatherhood, which he has been doing periodically since he appeared on the public scene.

Pyramid Schemes
May 30, 2010

On the surface, it seems as if tomorrow's Egyptian elections will be a dreary formality. Although the official campaigning period for the Shura Council, Egypt’s upper house of parliament, has been going for two weeks, the streets of Cairo are noticeably silent. The only overt evidence of political gamesmanship is the paraphernalia of the ruling party’s candidates plastered in the city’s central squares. Campaigns here tend to be lackluster because they don't usually matter.

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