Prague

Foreign policy is always difficult in a democracy. Democracy requires openness. Yet foreign policy requires a level of secrecy that frees it from oversight and exposes it to abuse. As a result, Republicans and Democrats have long held that the intelligence agencies--the most clandestine of foreign policy institutions--should be insulated from political interference in much the same way as the higher reaches of the judiciary. As the Tower Commission, established to investigate the Iran-Contra scandal, warned in November 1987, "The democratic processes ...

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From the Inside

In 1970 costa-gavras made The Confession, a film about the so-called Slansky trial in Prague in 1952. The screenplay was based on the book of the same name by one of the defendants in that trial, Artur London; Yves Montand played London. Principally because of Costa-Gavras's stern direction and Montand's grimly interiorized performance, the film was a chilling plunge into political cruelty and mystery. Now a Czech-born American director, Zuzana Justman, has made a documentary on the same subject, called A Trial in Prague (Cinema Guild), that is more obliquely yet at least equally chilling. Jus

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The Light of the Eyes By Azariah de’Rossi Translated and annotated by Joanna Weinberg (Yale University Press, 802 pp., $125)  For at least a few years toward the end of his life, Azariah de' Rossi believed that February 26, 747 B.C.E.

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Memory Goes to War

I. Madeleine Albright: A Twentieth-Century Odyssey by Michael Dobbs (Henry Holt, 466 pp., $27.50) Down from the heavens he came a decade ago this month, descending by helicopter onto the Field of Blackbirds in Kosovo to deliver a speech that still reads as a paradigm of nationalist madness. About a million Serbs gathered that day to hear Slobodan Milosevic.

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After the Tsunami

Until the East Asian miracle went up in a cloud of smoke, most East Asian specialists and comparative political scientists were optimistic about the prospects for democracy in the region. That's because nearly everyone subscribed to the “modernization thesis” first proposed by Stanford University Professor Seymour Martin Lipset in 1959. According to this thesis, economic development produces a new urban middle class--professionals, entrepreneurs, managers, and so on--motivated to challenge authoritarian rule.

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The Speculator

My strange road trip with George Soros.

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Marxed Men

East Germany struggles with the future.

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Ten-Day Wonder

PRAGUE The enormous mass movement that has essentially overthrown Czechoslovak communism rose up with amazing speed. By the last week in November millions of people had participated in demonstrations across the country. Yet as recently as October 28--Czechoslovakia’s independence day--dissidents could bring only 10,000 people into the streets. These brave souls had scarcely unfurled their pro-democracy banners before truncheon-wielding police were chasing them through Prague's winding Gothic lanes. Three weeks later throngs of hundreds of thousands of people were routine in Wenceslas Square.

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This week in Prague, Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new version of the START treaty, renewing their commitment to nuclear arms reduction. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also unveiled newly built nuclear centrifuges. And, in a well-timed TNR cover story, Peter Scoblic posed the incisive, probing question: What good is the time-tested doctrine of deterrence in an era where rogue states and terrorists have ready access to nuclear material?

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Hipness at Noon

Communism’s crusade against jazz and rock in Czechoslovakia.

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