LONDON—Glimmers of hope, rumored concessions, and anticipated de-escalations of rhetoric are the almost daily fare of those of us who cover Iran and its tense relations with the West. But in the year since Iran's disputed election—and the brutal crackdown that has followed—those brief shining moments have almost always faded away.
August 05, 2010
The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism By Pascal Bruckner Translated by Steven Rendall (Princeton University Press, 239 pp., $26.95) I. Once upon a time, it seemed an incontestable fact that the life of the mind radiated from the Left Bank outward. Within a small quadrant of the Latin Quarter in Paris, an intellectual elite labored to produce magisterial works that lesser minds all over the world received eagerly, gratefully—and by and large uncritically.
Anti-Immigration Groups Try To Co-Opt The Greens
July 30, 2010
Over the past few years in Europe, anti-immigration groups have been trying to strike an alliance with greens in an attempt to reach a broader audience. So, for instance, in Britain, the ultra-right BNP has started arguing that immigration leads to greater sprawl and congestion and over-consumption. In Austria, the Jörg Haider-founded BZÖ party combines support for stringent border restrictions with an interest in organic farming and heavy pollution taxes. These parties haven't wooed many environmentalists, but that hasn't stopped them from trying. And what about in the United States?
Greeks Accept Their Newfound Austerity
July 30, 2010
The long, hot Greek summer just got hotter. A strike by fuel tanker drivers has paralyzed the country, stranding tourists, causing food shortages, and leaving 70 percent of gas stations without any gas to pump. In the simplest terms, this is about new austerity measures, in this case, higher fees for truck licenses. But more broadly, it is about the government’s assault on a lifestyle Greeks, rich and poor, have come to take for granted. As one Greek businessman put it to me, "the party’s over." Greece is broke. The signs are big and small.
Thoughts From Tehran
July 29, 2010
We were all dreamers then. When we overthrew the Shah, we thought a bright new age had dawned. Tyranny had been defeated and soon we would vanquish all the secularists, Westernizers, imperialists, and Zionists. Our glorious revolution would be the model for millions, not only in the Middle East but among Muslims everywhere. Islam would be restored to its rightful place at the center of people’s lives, and piety would replace politics. Some of us even imagined that all the prophecies of the Koran were about to come true. Such dreams.
The READ: In Defense of Amazon
July 28, 2010
I wrote that headline initially as a joke. In the decade and a half since it first started delivering to our doorsteps everything from bestsellers to diapers, Amazon.com has become so entrenched as an icon of evil business policies that any person who loves books can no longer look upon it with an unskeptical eye.
David Cameron Has Been to Washington. He Got The Message...And Now He's Delivering It.
July 28, 2010
On Wednesday, The Independent announced that "Cameron uses Turkish visit to launch ferocious attack on Israel." The Guardian reports that he "likened the experience of Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip to that of a 'prison camp'." Having just been to Washington, was Cameron doing a transmission job for Barack Obama? Probably not. This missive about Israel is surely not the one that Obama really wants to transmit now.
Will a hotter climate mean more immigration? In some places, yes, that's quite possible. Earlier this week, a team of researchers led by Princeton's Michael Oppenheimer published a study suggesting that as global warming causes agricultural yields in Mexico to decline, an additional 1.4 million to 6.7 million Mexicans could migrate to the United States by 2080. (The team analyzed data on emigration, crop yields, and climate from 1995 to 2005 in order to make their forecasts.) As always, caveats abound. The social consequences of global warming are always the hardest things to predict.
Faces and Faiths
July 27, 2010
Is there any more eloquent or definitive evidence of human individuality, of human dignity, than the face? My face shows that I am unlike you, that I am myself; and in this beautiful incommensurability we establish solidarity with each other, because your face also looks only like itself, only like you.The hiddenness of the face—the Divine face, too—is commonly regarded as a curse or a punishment, and its revelation as an epiphany.
The Obama Presidency Unraveling
July 26, 2010
That's the headline of Bush administration Minister of Propaganda Peter Wehner's latest: The Denver Post endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2008. So it’s yet one more indication of the problems now buffeting the Obama presidency when its editorial features sentences such these: “Welcome to the summer of malaise. Welcome back, Carter.” They are now becoming almost too numerous to list. But let’s try: Surging deficits. A very weak economy. Persistently high unemployment (far beyond what the Obama administration predicted). The unraveling of promises made about ObamaCare.