The Fourth Wave
March 14, 2011
Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote that all the great events of the past 700 years—from the Crusades and English wars that decimated the nobles, to the discovery of firearms and the art of printing, to the rise of Protestantism and the discovery of America—had the ineluctable effect of advancing the principle of equality. Political scientist Samuel Huntington went further and identified several historical waves of democratization. The First Wave began with our own revolution in 1776, which was quickly followed by the French Revolution.
January 27, 2011
Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography By John A. Hall (Verso, 400 pp., $49.95) John A. Hall concludes his account of Ernest Gellner by observing that his outlook on the world was austere. “But therein lies its attraction,” he goes on. “Not much real comfort for our woes is on offer; the consolations peddled in the market are indeed worthless.
The Charnel Continent
December 02, 2010
Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin By Timothy Snyder (Basic Books, 524 pp., $29.95) ‘Now we will live!’... the hungry little boy liked to say ... but the food that he saw was only in his imagination.” So the little boy died, together with three million fellow Ukrainians, in the mass starvation that Stalin created in 1933. “I will meet her ... under the ground,” a young Soviet man said about his wife. Both were shot in the course of Stalin’s Great Terror of 1937 and 1938, which claimed 700,000 victims.
The Velvet Surrender
September 17, 2010
Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, is legendary for his lack of manners. When his country assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union in 2009, Klaus—a stocky and vigorous man with close-cropped white hair and a fastidiously trimmed moustache—got into a scrap with a group of European politicians because he had refused to fly the EU flag above his office in Prague Castle. Nicolas Sarkozy pronounced the snub “hurtful,” yet Klaus was anything but contrite. Instead, he used his first address to the European Parliament to compare the EU to the Soviet Union.
Fresh Air in Central Europe
August 25, 2010
A certain kind of liberalism familiar to readers of The New Republic has been stirring in, of all places, Germany and Austria. To be sure, it operates on the margins. And, yes, the impulse to appease, run for cover and all the rest lingers there as well. So, too, does the mixture of irritation, indifference, and even outright hostility to Israel.
Iran And The Politics Of Pipelines
July 10, 2009
Why care about what happens in Iran? There's the prospect of a nuclear arms race in the region--and of Israel initiating a war with Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. There's also Iran's major role in Iraq and somewhat less important but still significant role in Afghanistan. Iran could be a force for stability or instability in the most volatile region in the world stretching from Israel and Lebanon on the west to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east.
The Slightest Glimmer
March 08, 2009
In light of the week's terrible economic news we asked Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and co-founder of Baseline Scenario, if there were any reasons, any at all, to feel hopeful. Here's what he wrote. The most dangerous thing in any economic crisis is denial. West European countries are still refusing to come to grips with the new (downward-looking) realities in East-Central Europe and what that means for their banks and their fiscal solvency.
June 07, 2004
Last August, I participated in a town-hall meeting hosted by the administrative council of Dibis, an ethnically mixed town 22 miles northwest of Kirkuk. Locals complained about everything from sporadic electricity to fertilizer shortages to potholes, and their Iraqi representatives listened attentively. It was an encouraging sight, all the more so because the month before, Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) head L. Paul Bremer had proudly announced, in a televised speech, that "all of Iraq's main cities, and dozens of other towns, now have administrative councils." But there was a problem.
The Telltale Scar
August 07, 1989
Budapest—On the banks of the Danube, it is quite natural to ask whether the idea of Central Europe has been just a whim of a few intellectuals, or acquires now a new significance thanks to the aspirations for democracy that have been reawakened in many countries. The simple fact is that our perspective, whether we are Poles or Hungarians or Yugoslavs, is different from the perspective of Western Europeans, Russians, or Americans.
When the Big Four Met
January 01, 1970
This article was originally published on December 24th, 1919 This article is a chapter in a book soon to be published by Harcourt, Brace & Howe. The writer was the principal representative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace Conference and sat as deputy for the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Supreme Economic Council up to June 7, 1919.