Is This A United Nations Joke? Or An Iran Joke?
April 29, 2010
The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) yesterday elected Iran to a four-year term, beginning in 2011, as a member of the Commission on the Status of Women. Lucky Iran! Or is it lucky women? Other members elected were Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Zimbabwe, joining Belarus, China, Cuba, and Libya. A full report can be read in today’s “EYE on the UN.” So is not the U.N. a horrible joke?
April 28, 2010
I am told that “Guantanamera,” a song derived from a poem by the Cuban turn-of-the century revolutionary Jose Marti and made famous by the American Communist folk singer Pete Seeger, refers to a girl, presumably very beautiful, from Guantanamo. The original Spanish lyrics do not confirm this.
April 27, 2010
On October 19 of last year, the op-ed page of The New York Times contained a bombshell: a piece by Robert Bernstein, the founder and former chairman of Human Rights Watch (HRW), attacking his own organization. HRW, Bernstein wrote, was “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.” The allegation was certainly not new: HRW had been under assault for years by American Jews and other supporters of Israel, who argued that it was biased against the Jewish state. And these attacks had intensified in recent months, with a number of unflattering revelations about the organization.
What Are Nukes Good For?
April 09, 2010
Peter Scoblic comes via Arms Control Today, which is not the usual stepping stone to our magazine, and has been studying the issue deeply for a long time. With the START treaty signing, it happens to be a very good time to have a nuclear weapons expert in house. Peter's cover story is a definitive essay on the future of the bomb. The most compelling question about this subject is whether nuclear deterrence still works against madmen. He says it can: That is, in the face of the most aggressive, most highly armed, most revolutionary power the United States has ever known, deterrence worked.
What Are Nukes Good For?
April 07, 2010
The nuclear order seems to be falling apart. Gone is the uneasy balance between the cold war superpowers. We now face a slew of new nuclear actors. North Korea has reprocessed enough plutonium for perhaps ten bombs, in addition to the two it has already tested. Iran’s centrifuge program seems poised to produce weapons-grade uranium. And Syria was apparently constructing a clandestine nuclear facility, before it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes in 2007. It’s not just enemies that pose a problem.
Something Much Darker
February 08, 2010
I. “Trying to explain the doctrine of the Trinity to readers of The New Republic is not easy.” On June 2, 1944, W.H. Auden penned that sentence in a letter to Ursula Niebuhr. On January 26, 2010, Andrew Sullivan posted it as the “quote for the day” on his blog. Displaced and unglossed quotations are always in some way mordant, and bristle smugly with implications. Let us see what this one implies. Auden was at Swarthmore when he wrote his letter to his friend.
The Accountable Presidency
February 01, 2010
Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush By John Yoo (Kaplan, 544 pp., $29.95) Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State By Garry Wills (Penguin, 288 pp., $27.95) I. In December 2008, Chris Wallace asked Vice President Cheney, “If the president, during war, decides to do something to protect the country, is it legal?” Cheney’s answer included a reference to a military authority that President Bush did not exercise.
Did Obama Really Sidestep The U.N. At Copenhagen?
December 21, 2009
Analysts are still mulling over the Copenhagen accord, trying to figure out what it means for the fate of global climate politics. The humdrum answer is that it all depends—we'll have to see how individual nations tackle their CO2 emissions in the months and years ahead, and then watch how the next round of international talks shake out. But if it's specifics you want, check out Harvard economist Robert Stavin's analysis. First, a recap of the negotiations that led to the deal: From all reports, the talks were completely deadlocked when U.S.
December 05, 2009
A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon By Neil Sheehan (Random House, 534 pp., $35) In late March 1953, a colonel named Bernard Schriever sat in a briefing room at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, listening as John von Neumann, the brilliant mathematician, and Edward Teller, the physicist, discussed the future of the hydrogen bomb, the far more powerful follow-on to the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki eight years earlier.
Bad News for the Axis of Chavez
December 01, 2009
Francisco Toro and Juan Nagel write the Venezuelan news blog Caracas Chronicles. The Honduran crisis surely reached its Rococo stage this week after fresh elections organized by the coupsters' regime saw the election of a conservative rancher as president—while Brazil's nearly sainted left-wing president, Lula da Silva, promptly rejected the poll as undemocratic ... a scant few days after welcoming Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brazil with open arms. The election of President Lobo has split the international community, and in mostly predictable ways.