France

The Case Against Our Attack on Libya
March 20, 2011

There are so many things wrong with the Libyan intervention that it is hard to know where to begin. So, a few big things, in no particular order: First, it is radically unclear what the purpose of the intervention is—there is no endgame, as a U.S. official told reporters. Is the goal to rescue a failed rebellion, turn things around, use Western armies to do what the rebels couldn’t do themselves: overthrow Qaddafi? Or is it just to keep the fighting going for as long as possible, in the hope that the rebellion will catch fire, and Libyans will get rid of the Qaddafi regime by themselves?

The Trouble With Anger
February 17, 2011

In the brief national soul-searching that followed the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, many observers, including President Obama, reflected on the troubling excess of anger and moral indignation in our political discourse—the kind of indignation that turns opponents into enemies, and campaigns into crusades. Yet, even as responsible figures on the right and the left in America are urging their fellow-citizens (in Roger Ailes’s surprising words) to “tone it down,” the best-selling book in France is a pamphlet titled Indignez-vous!—roughly, Get Angry!

The New Normal
February 10, 2011

And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris By Alan Riding (Alfred A. Knopf, 399 pp., $28.95) By the ghastly standards of World War II, the history of France from 1939 to 1944 was a sideshow. Poland, with a smaller pre-war population, suffered at least ten times as many wartime deaths. The Soviet Union, four times larger in 1939, had fully forty times more losses. French cities, in comparison with Polish or Soviet or German cities, survived the war relatively unscathed.

Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Spirit and Flesh
February 10, 2011

Of Gods and Men Sony Pictures Classics Carancho Strand Releasing A French film called Of Gods and Men has had an unusual effect in France. The subject is basically factual—the abduction and murder of seven monks from the Tibhirine monastery in Algeria in 1996, apparently by Algerian dissidents. Most of the picture takes place during the time when the monks decide whether to stay or leave after the dissidents have ordered them to go. The press reports that the picture has been a success in France, and the general reaction in editorials has been sobering.

Connectivity Conundrum
January 26, 2011

The night I lost my digital virginity, I was sixteen, visiting family in Paris. One evening, my cousin and I decided to go to a movie. Before I could reach for the newspaper listings, he switched on a box the size of a small television that sat on a living room shelf, unnoticed by me until that moment. The screen glowed blue as he typed in a sequence of numbers. Voilà! The desired information appeared in a flash of light that seemed nothing less than magical.

January 1 Is Not Yet Over. But The First Terror Killings Have Already Brought Death to Dozens of Men And Women
January 01, 2011

Yes, of course. The majority of Muslims are against terror killings of Christians. Maybe even a big majority. But the fact is there is little evidence and, in fact, almost no evidence of revulsion at what has become the distinctive imprint of Islam in the modern world. Alright, I'll note the most important caveat: it is not Islam but Islamists and Islamism that are at fault in this ongoing outrage. But still! Wouldn't you think there'd be a protest or two somewhere in the arc of Muslim faith that stretches from Indonesia to Morocco and southwards to the deepest reaches of Africa?

France Shuts Down And Also Pushes Out
October 20, 2010

The average Frenchman will live to 81.5 years of age...and growing. And since France is nearly broke one of the steps -but just one of them- it has to take is to raise both the ages for minimum retirement and for full state pensions. The fact is that the Wall Street Journal editorial page is the site where the argument is made the most honestly and persuasively. Still and without alternative, the French are looking "for another Bastille to storm." Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal is to raise the age in both categories by two years.

Abused by Hope
October 19, 2010

Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid By Peter Gill (Oxford University Press, 280 pp., $27.95) In the fall of 1994, James P. Grant, the executive director of UNICEF, sent a message in the name of his agency to the upcoming Cairo conference on population and development, in which he declared that the world had within its grasp the means to solve “the problems of poverty, population, and environmental degradation that feed off of one another in a downward spiral [bringing] instability and strife in its wake.” Grant was a great man, a giant of the development world.

Edith Wharton’s War
September 06, 2010

Edith Wharton is not a writer most of us probably associate with war. With the frosty, treacherous, yet bloodless drawing-room battles of Gilded Age New York, yes. With the stink and smoking gore of a trench on the Western Front, no. And yet there Wharton was in France, for the duration of World War I: working vigorously on behalf of numerous charities and relief organizations, sending dispatches from the front back to American readers, publicly and privately making the case for the United States to join the fight.

Edith Wharton’s War
September 06, 2010

Edith Wharton is not a writer most of us probably associate with war. With the frosty, treacherous, yet bloodless drawing-room battles of Gilded Age New York, yes. With the stink and smoking gore of a trench on the Western Front, no. And yet there Wharton was in France, for the duration of World War I: working vigorously on behalf of numerous charities and relief organizations, sending dispatches from the front back to American readers, publicly and privately making the case for the United States to join the fight.

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