No Fears About Our Allies In Afghanistan. The Fear is About Ourselves
October 25, 2009

The defense ministers of our NATO allies met last week in Slovakia--a place where NATO power has much recent neighborly resonance--and among the gathering was also Robert Gates. His position on Afghanistan is not quite clear, poised as he is between his president and his men. Of course, Obama has more power.

The Restless Medium
October 21, 2009

Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before By Michael Fried (Yale University Press, 409 pp., $55) I. Michael Fried,who shot to intellectual stardom in 1967 with an essay in Artforum called "Art and Objecthood," is an intimidating writer. He looks very closely. He has passionate feelings about what he sees. And he shapes his impressions into a theory that fits snugly with all the other theories he has ever had. Whatever his chosen subject--Diderot, Courbet, Manet, Kenneth Noland--he comes up with an interpretation that is as smoothly and tightly constructed as a stainless-steel box.

James Bond, Cultural Icon
October 18, 2009

A.O. Scott has an interesting piece in Sunday's Times about the films of 1962. Scott thinks 1962 matters for two reasons: The sheer number of good movies, and the collision of two eras in filmmaking.

Worth Reading
October 15, 2009

Shariah compliant Islamic banks fared relatively well during the crisis. Despite Felix Salmon's protests, Thomson Reuters still buys Breakingviews. Nate Silver defends Rush Limbaugh. Covered bonds grow in popularity in Europe. Is the ECB embracing core inflation as the key inflation metric? And is the sequel to Freakonomics "error-riddled" on climate change?

Bombs Away
October 13, 2009

At the Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting beginning today in New York, Iran will try to shift the discussion to Israel’s nuclear weapons by proposing that the Middle East become nuclear-free. As historian Jeffrey Herf wrote at TNR Online last October, this is similar to a ploy the Soviets used in the 1980s: Our negotiations with Iran are not off to a good start. After the initial meeting in Geneva on October 1--with Iran on one side and Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States on the other--Iranian representatives said they had agreed to send processed uranium to Russia.

Obama's Nobel: Mixed Blessing at Best
October 09, 2009

It’s not often that the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize wonders whether he actually wants it. But that thought must have crossed Barack Obama’s mind when he was awoken at 6 a.m. this morning and told the stunning news. For Obama, winning the award after just nine months in office—for having created “a new international climate” of peace—is, at best, a mixed blessing.

Today At TNR (October 8, 2009)
October 08, 2009

My Term at Afghanistan’s Graduate School of War, by Ganesh Sitaraman Washington Diarist: The Trend in Dying, by Leon Wieseltier The Biggest Loser in the EU’s Report on the Russia-Georgia War Is … Europe. by Ronald D. Asmus Why Are Companies Fleeing the Chamber Of Commerce?, by Bradford Plumer How to Stimulate the Economy Without Passing Another Stimulus, by E.J. Dionne Jr. One Issue Where Obama Really Is Winning, by Barron YoungSmith Peretz: Neither Patraeus nor McChrystal Can Be Compared to MacArthur, by Marty Peretz What Are Dems Willing to Compromise to Pass a Climate Bill?

Ironed Curtain
October 08, 2009

After the Russo-Georgian War in August 2008, the European Union found itself in a difficult position. Moscow had not only invaded a neighbor for the first time since the Soviet assault on Afghanistan in 1979. In recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, it had also broken the cardinal rule of post-cold war European security: that borders in Europe would never again be changed by force of arms. Yet Georgia, too, had clearly made mistakes, not the least in embroiling itself in a military conflict with Russia that Georgia's own allies had repeatedly warned against.

The Colbert Report
October 07, 2009

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.

Quote of the Day: Obama on al Qaeda
October 06, 2009

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?