Why Russia’s Post-Putin Future May Not Be Democratic
December 12, 2011
Vladimir Putin, rather suddenly, is shifting from Good Czar to Bad Czar in the minds of the Russian people. A telltale sign—even more startling than growing street demonstrations against his rule—was the jeers that greeted his appearance at a recent martial-arts fight in Moscow. Putin, as his image makers have incessantly reminded since their man scaled the Kremlin heights eleven years ago, is an ardent sportsman with a black belt in judo.
Defending Israel Against Its Right-Wing Jews
December 06, 2011
In the Jewish struggle around Zionism there were at least three strands in opposition so fierce that it was evident that the very meaning of “the people Israel” was at stake. The first of these was a vast religious cohort, at once immensely learned or purported to have such learning and having, as well, the authority of the sages. Or the ages. While ongoing study and “trust in the Lord” constituted their program, they practiced a politics that was fundamentally anti-political. God was both their instrument and their end.
Why the Romney Doctrine Won't Resemble the Bush Doctrine
November 23, 2011
The Republican presidential primary has provided ample display of the party’s penchant for bellicosity in foreign affairs, and last night’s debate was no exception. It’s a posture that’s understandably gotten many liberals worried about a reprisal of the famously interventionist Bush Doctrine. “God help us if any of these jokers makes it into the White House,” wrote Fred Kaplan of Slate after watching the previous GOP’s national security debate. But maybe liberals shouldn’t fret so much.
Live Free Or Die Seeking A Birth Certificate
November 21, 2011
Mitt Romney has gone to such lengths to lock up New Hampshire that the first in the nation primary is looking to be something of a snooze-fest this year, unless Jon Huntsman gets his father to open up the family vault wider or Newt Gingrich's call for 9-year-olds to become paid school janitors strikes a surprising chord with the good people of Peterborough and Londonderry. But just because Romney is getting the state GOP establishment to line up behind him -- Kelly Ayotte! Charlie Bass!
November 09, 2011
The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution By Francis Fukuyama (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 585 pp., $35) Ideas about what it means to be modern are soon dated. Not so long ago theories were in vogue claiming that a “scientific-technical revolution” was under way that would lead to a single type of government spreading throughout the world. Originally promoted by Daniel Bell in the 1950s, the theory of convergence suggested that the Soviet Union would evolve to become like the advanced industrial societies of the West.
The Internet Intellectual
October 12, 2011
Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live By Jeff Jarvis (Simon & Schuster, 263 pp., $26.99) In 1975, Malcolm Bradbury published The History Man, a piercing satire of the narcissistic pseudo-intellectualism of modern academia. The novel recounts a year in the life of the young radical sociologist Howard Kirk—“a theoretician of sociability”—who is working on a book called The Defeat of Privacy.
Cruelty and Collapse
October 12, 2011
The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-1945 By Ian Kershaw (Penguin, 564 pp., $35) It can be harder to lose a war than to win one. Nazi Germany won quick victories in 1939 and 1940 against its eastern and western neighbors, Poland and France. Many Germans who had doubted the wisdom of war came around with enthusiasm to the sound of German boots on the Champs Elysées. Warsaw and Paris fell more quickly and with fewer complications than anticipated. Their conquest convinced many Germans, including army officers, that further campaigns could be won by strokes of genius.
We’re supposed to be living in an Age of Democracy, but not every world leader, it seems, has gotten the memo. Vladimir Putin announced last week that he plans to return to the Russian presidency next year, and he could stay there for two more six-year terms, until 2024. Putin has been Russia’s dominant ruler since 2000—the last three years, as Prime Minister, nominally junior to his protégé, Dmitri Medvedev, the current president, but only nominally. Medvedev, as suspected, turned out only to be a seat warmer. So the mask is off, and Putin and Putinism stand triumphant.
September 28, 2011
This past March, Natan Sharansky—the onetime Russian dissident and former Israeli politician—appeared at a hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to discuss the Arab Spring. It was around this time that the U.N. Security Council authorized the use of force to help embattled Libyan rebels, the first signs of unrest appeared in the southern Syrian city of Dara’a, and Egyptians were preparing to vote on changes to their constitution.