The group blog of The New Republic
January 8, 2013
In 2006, the Israeli Defense Forces made a relatively simple policy change that required soldiers to leave their weapons at their bases when they headed home for the weekend. The result: a staggering 40 percent drop in the suicide rate among soldiers aged 18-21, according to a November 2010 study.
As a writer of fiction, and a fellow veteran of the Vietnam War, I can't help but appreciate the deep symbolic meaning of President Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary. Hagel will undoubtedly have an impact on the policies of the Pentagon if his nomination is confirmed by the Senate. But as the first former enlisted soldier to be nominated to run the military, Hagel could also signal less tangible, though equally profound, potential changes to the way the United States understands the requirements of national security.
January 7, 2013
Here we go again. Because the fiscal cliff deal left the debt ceiling issue untouched, Americans can count on a rerun of the mid-2011 “debt ceiling” debate over whether the United States government should be allowed to pay its bills. The deadline for lifting the debt ceiling will come in a couple of months, right around the time when $120 billion in 2013 sequestered spending cuts ($1.2 trillion over ten years) from the last debt ceiling fight will start to take effect absent Congressional action.
Just a few weeks ago, Beltway tongues were gossiping about Vice President Joe Biden being a second-term neuter. See, for instance, the Politico article, "Joe Biden waits on sidelines," which opened like this: "Vice President Joe Biden walked the halls of Congress and hosted top-level talks at Blair House during the last fiscal showdown. This time, he’s roaming the aisles of Costco."