Munich

After the recovery of missing Holocaust art from Munich, the papers have been full of breathless stories about the art's value. Is somebody missing the point?

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On the Use and Abuse of Munich

Please, American blowhards: No more analogies to 1938

The 1938 conference between Chamberlain and Hitler is misunderstood. And the blowhards who constantly evoke its memory are dangerous.

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Rare is the occasion when you can invoke Munich without embarrassment. Indeed, it is probably fair to say that although the Munich Agreement was signed only 75 years ago this month, it has nevertheless been the most overused analogy in human history. The problems with deploying it to make an argument about current events are numerous. A few of them:1. Very few political movements are as bad as Nazism.2. Just because you are dealing with bad people doesn't mean military force is the answer.

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The real lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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Whether or not Mitt Romney’s multiple gaffes in London end up hurting his presidential campaign, they’re a good opportunity to remember that political skirmishes have always been part of the world’s premier international sporting event. Which should come as no surprise: Given that the athletics are themselves considered displays of national prowess, it’s only natural that they become proxies for grander geopolitical struggles. But which events would compete for the gold (so to speak) for most outlandish Olympics political conflict ever?

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On Compromise and Rotten Compromises By Avishai Margalit (Princeton University Press, 221 pp., $26.95) The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It By Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson (Princeton University Press, 279 pp., $24.95)  “Ideals may tell us something important about what we would like to be,” the political philosopher Avishai Margalit writes.

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This week, the editors of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a liberal Munich newspaper, published a diatribe—in the form of a poem—by the well-known German author Gunter Grass. Entitled “Was gesagt werden muss” (“What must be said”), the poem denounced a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

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What Hope Remains?

An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-Secular Age By Jürgen Habermas (Polity Press, 87 pp., $14.95) The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere By Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West Edited by Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (Columbia University Press, 137 pp., $19.50) On October 14, 2001, the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas stepped up to the lectern at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt to deliver a short address called “Faith and Knowledge.” The occasion was his acceptance speech of the Peace Prize, a yearly honor that the German Book

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Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live  By Jeff Jarvis  (Simon & Schuster, 263 pp., $26.99) In 1975, Malcolm Bradbury published The History Man, a piercing satire of the narcissistic pseudo-intellectualism of modern academia. The novel recounts a year in the life of the young radical sociologist Howard Kirk—“a theoretician of sociability”—who is working on a book called The Defeat of Privacy.

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I wish it would be historically possible—that is, historically honest—for Israel to be omitted from the long list of target countries that have been the victims of terrorism. Alas, it is not. But President Obama has a habit of making such lists, and he always fails to include Israel (or anyplace within its borders) as a target of this distinctive and most vicious form of warfare.  Still, the fact is that, as early as the 1970s, Palestinian liberationists had begun to perfect the careful tactics of random battle against Israelis. If not precisely Israelis, then some other Jews. Why not?

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