The Firebrand
December 07, 2009

Trotsky Robert Service Harvard University Press, $35 When Leon Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico City by an agent of Stalin, in 1940, the American novelist James T. Farrell took to the pages of Partisan Review to memorialize him. “The life of Leon Trotsky is one of the great tragic dramas of modern history,” Farrell’s obituary began, and it only gets more idolatrous from there. “Pitting his brain and will against the despotic rulers of a great empire, fully conscious of the power, the resources, the cunning and cruelty of his enemy, Trotsky had one weapon at his command--his ideas.

Missile Man
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.

Score One for Lady Ashton
December 04, 2009

She is newly elected foreign minister of the European Union, made up of 27 sovereign states with half a billion people. OK, she has no substantial foreign policy experience. Except that she was a young militant in Bertrand Russell's not very sane Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, what was called CND, the symbol of which looked a bit like the Mercedes Benz logo. Yes, CND probably received some of its cash from the Russians. But which “peace movement” did not?

Three Ways The Copenhagen Talks Could Succeed (Or Go Bust)
December 03, 2009

Given that there's virtually no chance a finished climate treaty will come out of the upcoming talks in Copenhagen, one might be forgiven for asking what, exactly, the world's diplomats are actually going to do these next two weeks in Denmark. Already, further talks are scheduled for next year—including yet another big climate summit in Mexico City in 2010.

What Israel Can Teach Us About Rebuilding an Economy
November 30, 2009

The wall between The Wall Street Journal’s news division and its editorial page makes for a lot of good reporting and a fair amount of cognitive dissonance as well. For example, the November 24 edition featured an article, tucked away on A14, about Israel’s response to the economic crisis. In it we learn that the Netanyahu government raised taxes, avoided traditional stimulus measures, and ruled out government bailouts for banks and bondholders.

Palin and McCarthy
November 30, 2009

A new Washington Post poll of Republicans records the remarkable extent to which today's rank-and-file GOPers can't identify much in the way of any clear-cut Republican leaders.

Does Dubai Matter? Ask Ireland.
November 30, 2009

Presumably the rulers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are currently locked in negotiations regarding the exact terms that will be attached to a “bailout” for Dubai World. We’ll never know the details but if, as seems likely, the final deal involves creditors taking some sort of hit (perhaps getting 75 cents in the dollar, at the end of the day), does that matter? Dubai probably has around $100bn in total liabilities, if we include off-balance sheet transactions, so total credit losses of $30-50bn need to be assigned. The direct effects so far seem small. HSBC leads the pack, in terms of exposure, but

Cheney for Fisherman
November 29, 2009

Jon Meacham is clearly an intelligent person and skilled writer, but his judgment about America and what America needs is somewhat inferior to that of my cat Lexie. Last November, he was telling us that the election affirmed the nation’s conservatism. Now he is urging Dick Cheney to run for president in 2012.

The Incredible Lightness of the U.S. Media
November 27, 2009

If you just read American newspapers, you might not know that financial markets around the world plunged over news that the government-owned Dubai World – upon which that emirate’s claim to economic (non-oil) leadership in the Middle East rests -- may be on the verge of collapse.  I followed the Dubai story in The Financial Times, which headlined it on its web page from the early morning yesterday. Today, they have a three page spread.

Today at TNR (November 24, 2009)
November 24, 2009

How Wall Street Was Defeated on Capitol Hill--For Now, by Noam Scheiber Can Reform Actually Improve Medical Care? Not-So-Promising Signs From the Senate Bill. by Jonathan Cohn The Problem with Putting a Price Tag on Nature, by Bradford Plumer How Geithner Can Fix His Image Problem, by Noam Scheiber Peretz: The Accelerating Decline of Europe, by Marty Peretz Don’t Waste Any More Stimulus Money on Infrastructure, by Robert Puentes Watch Out, Obamacare Has Your Guns in its Sights! by Michelle Cottle Is It Too Late For the Fed to Help Ease Unemployment Rates?