TNR Boring Headline Contest Unfair
February 18, 2011
I would like to belatedly protest to outcome of TNR's "Boring Headline Contest" on Twitter. the Winning entry, "Chemist Doubts Hair-Straightener With Formaldehyde-Free Formula," is surely quite boring. But the best entry was surely this: Belgian King Extends Term Of Coalition Mediator Now, I will disclose that this entry was submitted by my brother. But I believe it hews perfectly to the original spirit of the contest.
February 16, 2011
After the peaceful mass uprising that toppled one of the world’s oldest autocracies, it is now possible to imagine the emergence of a genuine democracy in Egypt—the most important country in the Arab world. The very possibility of it marks an historic turning point for the entire region.
Egypt and Indonesia
February 02, 2011
As mass protests sweep through Cairo and Hosni Mubarak teeters, some U.S. observers have turned almost reflexively to the analogy of Iran and the Shah in 1979. “Just look at Iran,” Leslie Gelb wrote earlier this week: If the Muslim Brotherhood takes control in Egypt, which Gelb believes may be at hand, “it’s going to be almost impossible for the people to take it back.” At times of unexpected but momentous political change in distant countries, we grasp onto political analogies to help get our bearings. Even if we know they are imperfect, we can’t resist their tempting suggestiveness.
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?
Fleeing The Democratic Disaster, Obama Makes Nice In Indonesia
November 11, 2010
There is no mystery as to why President Obama went half away around the globe shortly after the election. Actually, I suspect that he and his folks scheduled the trip precisely to free him from the inevitable (and certainly annoying) queries about his responsibility for the Democratic disaster. There is another reason, however, why he leapt into the arms of foreign leaders (even those who don’t especially like him).
Hillary Clinton's Naïve, Muddled Approach to Development
August 23, 2010
Does the Obama administration have any idea at all what it wants out of its development efforts? In a recent speech at SAIS at Johns Hopkins, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Washington’s new six-year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative. She was at pains to differentiate the administration from its predecessor—yet one more recapitulation of a by now familiar trope, but one that is particularly disingenuous in the case of global health, where the Bush administration’s record actually was very good.
It’s Funny How Barack Obama Can’t Bear To Utter The Word “Jew” Or, For That Matter, “Muslim Extremist.”
May 23, 2010
Maybe you missed it. But, earlier this week, President Obama signed into law the Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act, a piece of legislation that will do nothing for anyone. And certainly not for freedom of the press. In his tiny talk, Obama said almost nothing. “Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is.” Pabulum. Actually, the murder of Pearl did not remind me at all of the value of a free press. It reminded me of the precarious places in which Jews find themselves around the world.
Samantha And Fern
May 01, 2010
My old friend Samantha Power, a member of the president’s National Security Council staff, came to dinner last Sunday night after a showing of the movie Sergio, drawn from her book of the same title and directed by Greg Barton. The film is an HBO production which will air on May 6. Sergio was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Brazilian head of the United Nations mission to Iraq who was killed in a terrorist explosion at the U.N.’s headquarters in August 2003, months after the American invasion and months before Saddam Hussein was snared in his cave of hiding.
April 28, 2010
For most of the 2.5 million years that humans and their predecessors have been around, the Earth has been a volatile place. Subtle shifts in the planet’s orbit have triggered large temperature swings; glaciers have marched across North America and Europe and then retreated. But, about 10,000 years ago, something unusual happened: The Earth’s climate settled into a relatively stable state, global temperatures started hovering within a narrow band, and sea levels stopped rising and falling so drastically.
Chop, Chop, Chop
April 27, 2010
Here's a surprising factoid: Between 2000 and 2005, deforestation rates in the United States and Canada were actually higher than those in Brazil and Indonesia, the two countries everyone thinks of when they think of deforestation. (Granted, Brazil lost more total trees because it had more forest to start with, but in raw percentage terms, we're tops.) The big drivers in the United States were "large-scale logging in the southeast, along the western coast, and in the Midwest."