Hope and Betrayal in Berlin
November 14, 2009

Twenty years ago, I was there when the Berlin Wall was coming down. What I witnessed about human aspiration in those magic November days in 1989 thrills me even now. But what it showed me about politics may be even more important. “What is freedom?” I began asking people as I waded through the crowd gathered at the Brandenburg Gate.   To a middle-aged nurse it meant the flight of her co-workers to the West. There were 17 nurses left on her floor. There had been 50. “It’s bleeding us to death.” She didn’t blame those who had left for better jobs and a better life in West Germany.

The Freedom Of Europe Commemorated
November 09, 2009

Over the years, my good friend Jacques Rupnik has written commentaries in TNR about the decline of communism in Eastern Europe. Given the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 53rd anniversary of bloody Budapest, Rupnik, a professor at Science-Pol, has written a longish essay for Le Monde, some about the past, some also about the future. Alas, in French. Point de vue L'Europe de l'Est, vingt ans après, par Jacques Rupnik LE MONDE | 09.11.09 | 14h05 Le 20e anniversaire de 1989 semble marqué par la "confusion des sentiments".

TNR on the Fall of the Berlin Wall
November 09, 2009

Twenty years ago today, the Berlin Wall fell, bringing with it euphoria, foreboding, joy, and confusion.

Today At TNR (November 9, 2009)
November 09, 2009

The Reinvention of Robert Gates: How His Ideological Journey Will Shape the War in Afghanistan, by Michael Crowley Twenty Years After Berlin: What Separates a Failing Former Soviet Satellite From a Thriving One? by Joshua A. Tucker The House Health Care Bill Should Be Faster, Stronger, and Bigger, by Jonathan Cohn Why Don't Democrats Talk More About the Perils of Too Little Government? by E.J. Dionne Jr. Will the Recession Ease Inequality? Fat Chance. by Alan Berube Has Obama Learned the Lessons of the Berlin Wall?

Building Blocs
November 09, 2009

Monday marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is worth pausing to recall just how momentous, and unanticipated, this event and those that followed were. My students today have no memory of the cold war; to them, Prague and Budapest, just like Paris and Madrid, are simply places to visit or study in Europe.

The Reinvention of Robert Gates
November 09, 2009

One afternoon in October, a blue and white jumbo jet flew high above the Pacific Ocean, approaching the international dateline. On board was the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, who was on an around-the-world trip that would end with a summit of NATO defense ministers, where the topic of the day would be Afghanistan. Gates was flying on what is often called “the Doomsday Plane,” a specially outfitted 747 that looks like a bulkier Air Force One and was built to wage retaliatory nuclear war from the skies.

All the Secretary's Fans
November 08, 2009

In the few hours between landing after a swing through Pakistan, the Middle East, and North Africa and taking off again for Berlin, Singapore, Japan, and the Philippines, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton found time on Friday to stop over in much friendlier territory: a subterranean banquet hall at Washington’s Reagan International Trade Center.

Budapest, The Berlin Wall, and Iran: What Obama Does Not Grasp
November 08, 2009

It is just about 30 years since the wall around Iran went up. And it is a few days away from fully 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down. The Berliner Mauer had been up for more than a quarter century, and its surface facing east, grim gray, was a metaphor for life in the German Democratic Republic. On its western face graffiti evoked the freer spirit of the half-city whose heart had nonetheless been broken by the Soviet goose step that divided it. And the Cold War was won on the very day the authorities of the D.D.R.

Place of Grace
November 03, 2009

Over a decade ago, I trundled my good-natured family across miles of southern Switzerland to see every building I could by Peter Zumthor, who is this year's winner of the Pritzker Prize. Then as now, most of Zumthor's work was off the beaten track, not only literally but metaphorically, little known to the general public although admired by professionals.

Matters of Fact
October 24, 2009

Chris & Don: A Love Story (Zeitgeist) My Winnipeg (IFC) 19th Annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival   In 1964 Christopher Isherwood published A Single Man, a novel about a homosexual man and his state of spirit after his lover dies. Now comes Chris & Don, a documentary film about Isherwood's lover and his state of spirit since Chris's death. The subtitle of the film is "A Love Story." The picture makes the worn term fresh, moving. The principal place is the couple's home in Santa Monica, where Don Bachardy still lives.