Balkans

Swan Song
April 15, 2011

From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO’s future was in question. While it had been the most successful multinational alliance in history, partnerships of that sort seldom survive once their enemies are gone. As the Berlin Wall came down and Stalin’s empire shattered, NATO’s clock was ticking. Amazingly, though, the Alliance persisted, largely by transforming itself. It staved off a challenge from a proposed European Union Defense Force, which might have supplanted it; provided an institutional framework for continued U.S.

Berlin Ghosts
March 24, 2011

It may have come as a surprise to many people that Germany—the lynchpin of the NATO alliance on the European continent and a close ally of the United States since 1949—voted to abstain from the U.N. resolution authorizing force against Muammar Qaddafi. The country was a staunch advocate of humanitarian intervention in the Balkans, and it is most definitely not led by a government of leftists who are given to denunciations of American imperialism.

If Only Holbrooke Had Been Given a Free Hand in Afghanistan
December 15, 2010

One can just imagine what the Wikileaks records of Richard Holbrooke’s diplomacy would have looked like. His salty, roustabout’s slinging of abuse when needed; his explosive pugnacity while negotiating in person and his relentlessly unsentimental drive towards a result—none of it would have looked pretty on paper. Yet he pulled off the impossible by imposing stability on the Balkans with the Dayton Accords.

Turkey Is Not Going to Join the E.U.
August 05, 2010

Turkey is not going to join the European Union. Bald or candid statements are usually unwise, or “impolitic,” which is why politicians tend to avoid them, knowing that they may be falsified by events. But some can be made with absolute confidence, and here is one of them. This question has returned to the news with the recent Turkish visit by David Cameron, during which he said that Turkey should join the E.U. as soon as possible. Whatever my new prime minister may say, it has been clear to me ever since I took any interest in the question that Turkey was not going to join the E.U.

Should We Intervene?
July 09, 2010

This is the most recent item in a debate about humanitarian intervention. Click here to read the previous contributions by David Rieff, Leon Wieseltier, and Michael Kazin.  I’m always suspicious of blanket arguments, even—as with David Rieff’s recent post on liberal interventionism—when made by a writer whom I greatly admire. In a nutshell, Rieff has no use for American interventions (either military or non-military) on behalf of idealistic ends.

Hot Shots
April 11, 2010

In the summer of 1996, during my short-lived American legal career, I clerked at a large Washington, D.C., law firm. Within a few days of my arrival, a partner dropped a 5,000-page bomb on my desk—the U.S. Air Force report on the plane crash that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 others in Dubrovnik earlier that year.

The Financial Times and the Satanization of Israel
February 01, 2010

The Financial Times is the six-day-a-week newspaper of the Pearson Publishing Group. It is, then, the sister of The Economist. Both are widely read, although the weekly magazine--that is, the latter journal--no longer has much competition in the English-speaking world. (And certainly not from Time or Newsweek.) Ten years ago, in a TNR piece about The Economist, Andrew Sullivan pointed out a particularly noxious passage in the magazine’s pages. Here’s what he wrote back then: Other vestigial Brittery abounds, including the usual condescension to Israel.

Quick Thoughts On Obama's Speech
December 10, 2009

I’m not a big fan of political speeches in general, but I thought President Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech today was unusually good. (If I were a speech-y kind of writer, like Rick Hertzberg, I’d have used a better adjective in the last sentence than “good.”) After again acknowledging that he doesn’t really deserve the award--“I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage.

Karzai 1, Holbrooke 0
November 20, 2009

Is someone from the Pentagon taking a shot at Holbrooke in that WashPost story on Obama's "reset" with Karzai that Jason linked? Note this: "We've been treating Karzai like [Slobodan] Milosevic," a senior Pentagon official said, referring to the former Bosnian Serb* leader whom Holbrooke pressured into accepting a peace treaty in the 1990s. "That's not a model that will work in Afghanistan." Who played the critical role in dragging Milosevic to a peace agreement? Holbrooke.

Hawk Down
September 24, 2009

With the 2008 presidential campaign in full swing two summers ago, Joe Biden, then making his own bid for the White House, ridiculed Barack Obama on a momentous issue: Afghanistan. The occasion was an August 2007 speech by Obama outlining his plans to fight Al Qaeda, which included sending an influx of American troops and aid to the country. Later that day, Biden issued a snarky press release gloating about his own extensive record of pushing similar policies, and which cast Obama as a naïve newcomer.

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