The Information Master: Jean-Baptiste Colbert's Secret State Intelligence System By Jacob Soll (University of Michigan Press, 277 pp., $65) That resonant piece of verbal shorthand, TMI--or Too Much Information--would make a fine epigraph for our age. Anyone with an Internet connection today has access to exponentially greater quantities of writing, images, sound, and video than anyone on earth could have imagined just twenty years ago.
Obama spoke at the National Counterterrorism Center today: We know that al Qaeda and its extremist allies threaten us from different corners of the globe -- from Pakistan, but also from East Africa and Southeast Asia; from Europe and the Gulf. And that's why we're applying focused and relentless pressure on al Qaeda -- by sharing more intelligence, strengthening the capacity of our partners, disrupting terrorist financing, cutting off supply chains, and inflicting major losses on al Qaeda's leadership. Notes John Dickerson: What country is missing?
In The New York Times on Saturday, the conservative writer and politician John R. Miller made a more-or-less convincing case that America's standing in the world is more-or-less irrelevant when it comes to conducting a successful foreign policy. Today, on Foreign Policy's website, two scholars summarize an American Political Science Association report on the same topic. The report's conclusion is the opposite of the one reached by Miller, and is broader in its argument.
Maurice Bowra: A Life By Leslie Mitchell (Oxford University Press, 385 pp., $50) As warden of Wadham College in Oxford, president of the British Academy, the author of well-known books on ancient Greek literature, and a conversationalist of legendary brilliance, Maurice Bowra seemed, in the middle of the last century, the very embodiment of Oxford life. Enjoying a huge international reputation as a scholar, a wit, and an administrator, he was duly elected into prestigious academies and awarded honorary degrees in both Europe and America. George VI knighted him in 1951.
Mark Lippert When I was at the White House reporting a story this summer, I ran into Obama's longtime foreign policy advisor Mark Lippert, a Naval reservist who is leaving his post as chief of staff at the National Security Council to return to active duty. (Lippert also did a tour of duty in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.) Lippert looked a little tired. He had just returned from Obama's whirlwind tour of Russia, Africa, and Europe. I asked whether he'd recovered from the trip yet. Not really, Lippert said. He explained that he'd gotten home well after midnight the previous Saturday.
A few years ago The New Republic published an article denying that there were Muslim terrorists in the United States. It explained why the Muslim immigrants were different from those in Europe and also why America was different from Europe. I once heard this piece being quoted in an argument about the perils of Islamic terrorism at a Cambridge restaurant. "Oh my," I said to myself and to the folk with whom I'd been eating. "Magazines can be dangerous, too." There is not too much of this nonsense around these days. And almost everybody has learned the truth.
In The New York Times today, James Kanter checks in on Europe's foray into carbon trading. In particular, he hears Jürgen Thumann, the president of BusinessEurope complain that it's been rather costly for Europe to be the only entity that's put a hard cap on greenhouse gases so far. If the United States, Australia, Japan, and other nations would only join in on the fun, then cutting carbon emissions would be much, much cheaper for everybody. Thumann's actually onto something here.
Our oceans have been the victims of a giant Ponzi scheme, waged with Bernie Madoff–like callousness by the world’s fisheries. Beginning in the 1950s, as their operations became increasingly industrialized--with onboard refrigeration, acoustic fish-finders, and, later, GPS--they first depleted stocks of cod, hake, flounder, sole, and halibut in the Northern Hemisphere.
It looks like the G20 on Friday will emphasize its new “framework” for curing macroeconomic imbalances, rather than any substantive measures to regulate banks, derivatives, or any other primary cause of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. This is appealing to the G20 leaders because their call to “rebalance” global growth will involve no immediate action and no changes in policy--other than in the “medium run” (watch for this phrase in the communiqué). When exactly is the medium run? That’s an easy one: It’s always just around the corner. Not today, of course; that would be short run. And not in 2