Geneva

Hope in a Scattering Time: A Life of Christopher Lasch By Eric Miller (Eerdmans, 394 pp., $32) In a moving tribute to Christopher Lasch written shortly after his death in 1994, Dale Vree, a Catholic convert and the editor of the New Oxford Review, wrote that “Calvinism was his true theological inspiration.” Lasch was certainly not one of the faithful.

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Minority Report

On October 19 of last year, the op-ed page of The New York Times contained a bombshell: a piece by Robert Bernstein, the founder and former chairman of Human Rights Watch (HRW), attacking his own organization. HRW, Bernstein wrote, was “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.” The allegation was certainly not new: HRW had been under assault for years by American Jews and other supporters of Israel, who argued that it was biased against the Jewish state. And these attacks had intensified in recent months, with a number of unflattering revelations about the organization.

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I’m not a big fan of political speeches in general, but I thought President Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech today was unusually good. (If I were a speech-y kind of writer, like Rick Hertzberg, I’d have used a better adjective in the last sentence than “good.”) After again acknowledging that he doesn’t really deserve the award--“I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage.

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The Firebrand

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.

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Almost three decades ago, a group of radical Islamist students, dressed in army fatigues or covered in scarves and black chadors, forced their way into the American embassy in Tehran. According to some accounts, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then a student at a second-tier technical college in Tehran, was invited to join the hostage takers. He declined, saying he would join only if they would also occupy the Soviet embassy in Tehran.

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The point is made in a piece by John Bolton in this morning's Wall Street Journal. No, not the point about fobbing it off on Susan Rice. But the point about how the U.S. joining up with the U.N. Human Rights Council opened us up to diplomatic defeat after diplomatic defeat. There were two disasters in and around the Goldstone Report. The first was the irretrievable conclusion of the Report that countries and their proper armies (that is, armies according to the Geneva Convention) are actually and factually prohibited from fighting terror groups that meld into the civilian population.

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Bombs Away

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.

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Iran Plays Ball

Yesterday's meeting in Geneva was certainly productive. But keep in mind how much it aligns with Iran's self-interest. Intransigence would mean the international community's scorn, tough international sanctions, and possibly resentment from a restive public that would blame the regime for further isolating their country. It's definitely good news that Iran has agreed to ship a large quantity of its low-enriched uranium out of the country. Every pound of the stuff that leaves Iran is a pound less that they can use for a bomb. But an agreement isn't a shipment.

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There were more than 100 others wounded in the 2008 Palestinian rocket attack on the doctor's clinic.  She herself has had eight surgeries on her face.  Goldstone doesn't give a damn. There were more that 100. (Pictured: Rocket attack victim, Dr. Mirela Siderer, testifying before UN.) From UN Watch:  "Why Didn't You Tell Me U.N. Council Declared Israel Guilty From the Start? Why Did You Humiliate Me?" Geneva, September 29, 2009 - The U.N.

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Dead Wrong

Sarah Palin, meet Hippocrates.

As if you hadn’t heard, a gaggle of American conservatives is stridently charging that pending health care reform legislation will institute a mechanism for euthanizing selected members of the handicapped and elderly populations--that it would, in Sarah Palin’s formulation, establish “death panels.” It’s true that H.R. 3200, the bill that will eventually come before the House of Representatives, is still a work in progress.

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