Berlin, Germany—When the Merkel government abstained from the U.N. Security Council vote on using military force against Muammar Qaddafi, many international observers were shocked. In the election campaign of 2005, Merkel had lambasted then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder for damaging the transatlantic alliance by opting out of Washington’s plan to topple Saddam Hussein.
The Dominique Strauss-Kahn Shipwreck
May 26, 2011
The Dominique Strauss-Kahn case is headed toward a dismally predictable shipwreck, and I wonder what anyone is planning to do about this. The punctilious fair-mindedness of the trial may well turn out to be obvious to everyone who grants the possibility of such thing.
The notion that House Republicans might risk financial chaos by flirting with a failure to raise the debt ceiling strikes many people, including people who buy Treasury bonds, as too irrational to happen. But leaders can act irrationally, and it's worth thinking about the kinds of circumstances that cause them to do so. When Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, he had a devious scheme for rooting out potential dissidents. Members of his government would be startled by a small team of officials bursting in to announce they were undertaking a coup against Saddam -- were you with them?
To Be Sure…
May 03, 2011
Always listen for the “to be sure” line, the caveat that reveals we may be getting things backward, or at least getting ahead of the curve. In announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, President Obama wisely put the to-be-sure front and center: “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort.” Good. “We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.” Also good. But the point, so obvious as to be redundant the first time around, needs to be made to Americans in particular.
Just Like Bush
April 01, 2011
Well, that was quick! It usually takes some time for the gap between how a White House justifies a military adventure to the public, and the reality of what is really going on to be revealed. It took the fall of Saddam Hussein for the Bush administration’s pretext for war—the threat of weapons of mass destruction—to be shown up as a fabrication. But from President Obama’s televised address on the evening of March 29, in which he claimed that the intervention in Libya was not about regime change, to the Reuters story revealing that he had signed an order allowing covert U.S.
What Will Happen to Libya?
March 16, 2011
The world hoped that Libya would repeat the experience of Tunisia and Egypt: a popular uprising that toppled the dictatorship fairly quickly and at modest cost, followed by an effort to begin consolidating popular governance. That now seems unlikely.
Obama’s Moment of Truth
March 15, 2011
Each president of the United States enters office thinking he will be able to define the agenda and set the course of America’s relations with the rest of the world. And, almost invariably, each confronts crises that are thrust upon him—wars, revolutions, genocides, and deadly confrontations. Neither Woodrow Wilson nor FDR imagined having to plunge America into world war. Truman had to act quickly, and with little preparation, to confront the menace of Soviet expansion at war’s end.
Reasonfight, Day... I've Lost Count
March 08, 2011
If you can't get enough of watching me argue against half a dozen Reason staffers and editors at once, I'll offer a brief update. When last we met, Reason's Radley Balko was accusing me of making ad hominem arguments.
March 03, 2011
Oilmen have feelings, too. Take the industry executive who lobbied the White House last year to lift the ban on U.S. corporations doing business in Libya. When National Security Council officials rejected his plea, he broke down and wept. The Libyans, he sniffled, were a gentle people. They deserved better. White House officials offered him a tissue. That was then. If proponents of warmer relations with Libya are shedding tears today, they are tears of elation.
New York Journal
March 01, 2011
The fact is that almost everyone has dirty hands. Everyone: politicians (even “statesmen”), banks, governments, international organizations, newspapers, universities, scholars—they are now mortified to (have to) admit that they made common cause with Muammar Qaddafi and his favored son Saif. Thursday’s Financial Times carries a half-page article by Michael Peel on some of Qaddafi’s intimates: Tony Blair, the London School of Economics (LSE) and Political Science, the Carlyle Group (America’s most politically wired investment ensemble), the great revolutionary democrat Hugo Chavez, etc.