North Korea

The U.S. “Continues A Strategic Thaw With Syria.” Syria Does Nothing. What Does Washington Expect? But, Yes, There Are Consequences For Iran, Grim Ones.
February 22, 2010

Continuing my last Spine… The A.P. reports in Sunday’s New York Times that the Obama administration has lifted the travel advisory that warns American not to visit Syria. It’s not too much of a sanction on Damascus, and there is no punishment for American tourists and businessmen who want to see the glories of Damascus, such as they are.

Noemie Emery Nails It
January 14, 2010

I can't dispute this: People in newsrooms all over the country decided that someone who talked the way they did was the cure for what ailed the country, and are stunned to find out it is not. [Obama's] cosmopolitan cool hasn't defanged the terrorists, who still want to kill us, disarmed North Korea or derailed Iran's bomb. I had numerous conversations in 2008 with Obama supporters who thought that Obama's cosmopolitanism would, within the first year of his presidency, end terrorism and cause the unilateral disarmament of North Korea and Iran.

The End of Hunger?
January 02, 2010

Famine: A Short History By Cormac Ó Gráda (Princeton University Press, 327 pp., $27.95) The earliest recorded famines, according to Cormac Ó Gráda in his brief but masterful book, are mentioned on Egyptian stelae from the third millennium B.C.E. In that time--and to an extent, even today, above the Aswan dam in Sudan--farmers along the Nile were dependent on the river flooding to irrigate their fields. But one flood out of five, Ó Gráda tells us, was either too high or too low. The result was often starvation.

The Foreign Policy Awards
December 29, 2009

BIGGEST TACTICAL BLUNDER: Pushing the Israeli-Arab peace process too hard. Obama took office looking for bold strokes at a time when peace seemed as far away as ever: Israel had just finished its punishing military campaign in Gaza last winter, and the Arab world was inflamed, and deeply uninterested in making offerings to Israel. Obama's squeeze on Israeli settlements, meanwhile, managed to a) tick off a backlash in Israel that enabled the Netanyahu government to stand its ground, without b) shaking loose meaningful Arab support.

Squaring Idealism and Realism
December 14, 2009

PARIS -- Europeans are coming to terms with the fact that President Obama is not a miracle worker, and with the reality that everything he does is not magic. Oh, yes, most Europeans are still happy Obama is president.

The Jujitsu of Obama’s Nobel Speech
December 12, 2009

It seems to me that one major political benefit of Obama giving a challenging speech about the war in Afghanistan--and discoursing on the nature of war in general--during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony on Wednesday was that it derailed any focus on atomic arms. Had Obama not shaped his speech like he did, the press would likely be carping about the fact that, while the Nobel committee awarded Obama the prize primarily because of his "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons"; he has in fact not delivered on any nuclear-weapons issues.

Dubai for Borat? Bad Idea.
December 10, 2009

Dubai is faltering. With its gleaming towers, indoor ski slopes, man-made islands, and other luxury projects, the city had epitomized the wealth that the global economic boom of the 1990s and early 2000s produced. It was even pronounced "too big to fail." But then, the boom went bust, and Dubai wasn't immune. And yet, despite glaring warning signals emanating from the Persian Gulf, some unusual suspects are moving forward with plans for their own Dubais.

Obama in Oslo
December 10, 2009

I agree with Chait and, to offer him some fancy synonyms, think this may have been the deepest and most elegaic speech of Obama's presidency. But what a strange one it was. Obama is a man trapped amongst the contradictions created by America's awkward place in the post-Bush world. Last week, Obama's address on Afghanistan both escalated and promised an end to the war there. Today, Obama opened his Nobel Peace Price acceptance speech with a long disquisition on the nature of war and its necessity--complete with a brief survey of "just war" theory.

Today at TNR (December 9, 2009)
December 09, 2009

The Detroit Project: A Plan for Solving America’s Greatest Urban Disaster, by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley The U.S. Government Is Getting Played by Burma’s Junta--Again, by Joshua Kurlantzick How Obama Can Convince Americans That Jobs Are His Top Priority, by William Galston Gasp! Are Liberals out to Destroy the Former Host of ‘Love Connection’? by David Roth Should the EPA Create Its Own Cap-and-Trade System? by Michael A.

General Malaise
December 09, 2009

From the hills outside Mandalay, Burma’s second city, the vista resembles a postcard of Asian serenity. Monks climb stone steps to a hillside shrine, where local men and women leave offerings of flowers and fruit. But the placid scene conceals one of the most repressive states in the world--a state that the Obama administration has decided may be more worthy of American friendship than American threats. For more than four decades, Burma’s junta has persecuted its population.