The Velvet Surrender
September 17, 2010
Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, is legendary for his lack of manners. When his country assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union in 2009, Klaus—a stocky and vigorous man with close-cropped white hair and a fastidiously trimmed moustache—got into a scrap with a group of European politicians because he had refused to fly the EU flag above his office in Prague Castle. Nicolas Sarkozy pronounced the snub “hurtful,” yet Klaus was anything but contrite. Instead, he used his first address to the European Parliament to compare the EU to the Soviet Union.
September 02, 2010
Super Sad True Love Story By Gary Shteyngart (Random House, 334 pp., $26) There was once a city in the heart of America where all life seemed to be, if not entirely in harmony with its surroundings, then at least functioning in its own kind of equilibrium. Day after day, workers repaired to skyscrapers stacked with single-person cubicles, where they sat for eight, nine, ten hours gazing into glowing screens that were at once portals to the outside world and magical mirrors reflecting their own desires.
August 28, 2010
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan—Smiling in a conference room of her aging Soviet-era office suite, Roza Otunbayeva appeared confident—possibly for the first time in her short presidency. It was only two weeks after June 10, when ethnic violence had begun engulfing the south of her country, but Kyrgyzstan's diminutive leader, a bespectacled former diplomat with a bob cut and the good-natured manner of a high-school principal, announced that the bloodshed had failed to discourage people from participating in a nationwide referendum.
Does China Have Any Friends Left in the Obama Administration?
August 26, 2010
Over the last few months, China has had several fairly nasty public rows with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Robert M.
Terrorism And The Mosque
August 15, 2010
Apparently, Muslims are also not particularly stirred by the president’s policies. They wanted him to be more forthright and more forthcoming on their issues as he had indicated he would be in his much-vaunted “new beginning” speech last year in Cairo. In a New York Times dispatch yesterday, Sheryl Gay Stolberg cites an Arab-American journalist as complaining that Obama has since left many Muslims disappointed. Well, on this count, at least, those disappointed Muslims are at one with most other Americans.
David Cameron Has Been to Washington. He Got The Message...And Now He's Delivering It.
July 28, 2010
On Wednesday, The Independent announced that "Cameron uses Turkish visit to launch ferocious attack on Israel." The Guardian reports that he "likened the experience of Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip to that of a 'prison camp'." Having just been to Washington, was Cameron doing a transmission job for Barack Obama? Probably not. This missive about Israel is surely not the one that Obama really wants to transmit now.
China's Push to Master the Seas
July 27, 2010
This past week saw a marked escalation in the ongoing struggle for geopolitical preponderance in East Asia between the United States and China. Twenty years ago, at the close of the Cold War, U.S. forces in the region had enormous advantages over their Chinese counterparts. Using ships, aircraft and troops forward-deployed at facilities in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore, supported by others dispatched from Hawaii and the West Coast, the United States could defend its friends, deter its enemies and move its forces freely throughout the western Pacific.
Stop Blaming the Afghans
July 26, 2010
In September 1991, the president of Afghanistan, Muhammad Najibullah, a former communist secret police chief turned Islamic nationalist, delivered an emotional speech to the Afghan parliament. Najibullah knew the era of foreign intervention in Afghanistan over which he had presided was ending. The Soviet Union had pulled back from direct combat. Radical Islamist rebels covertly backed by Pakistan controlled much of the countryside. Before parliament, Najibullah begged for national unity.
The Gospel According to Luce
July 23, 2010
The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century By Alan Brinkley (Knopf, 531 pp., $35) I. Sometimes human beings bring sociological theory to life. Consider the career of Henry Luce. A child of Presbyterian missionaries in China, he pursued wealth and power with unremitting zeal, creating the media empire that dominated American journalism for much of the twentieth century: Time, Inc. Yet Luce never lost touch with his didactic origins, never abandoned the conviction that his magazines should teach Americans the right way of thinking about the world.
A Deal With The Devil
July 17, 2010
Emissary of the Doomed: Bargaining For Lives in the Holocaust by Ronald Florence (Viking, 336 pp., $27.95) I. March 18, 1944 was an unusually pleasant spring day in Budapest, with crowds filling the outdoor cafés: it was difficult to tell that Hungary was at war. Rumors were spread about the government’s secret negotiations with the Western Allies, and all surmised that an unspoken agreement existed according to which the Hungarians would not fire on American and British aircraft overflying the country and the enemy aircraft would not drop any bombs.