Cambridge Diarist: Regrets
April 22, 2002
The 1929 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg. And why not? The year before, he had persuaded the great powers to outlaw war. Among those that ratified the historic Kellogg-Briand pact were the democratic countries, plus Germany, Japan, and Italy. High-minded people, deluded that signed agreements shaped history, were delirious with joy. Barely a decade later, of course, most of the world was plunged into war. Did the committee that chose the prize's recipients have any second thoughts?
Hit the Ground
November 19, 2001
The case for using ground troops against the Taliban.
July 23, 2001
In 1967, at the height of the Six Day War, Israeli jets strafed and firebombed a seemingly hostile ship near the Sinai coast. Israeli torpedo boats quickly converged to finish the job, then abruptly ceased fire and offered assistance to the battered crew. Israel had attacked the USS Liberty. In all, 34 Americans died, and 171 were injured. Israeli leaders apologized promptly and profusely, explaining that they had mistaken the Liberty for an enemy vessel--an explanation that subsequent investigations in both the United States and Israel upheld.
October 18, 1999
There's something more than a little disingenuous about the demands for Patrick Buchanan's political excommunication coming from several Republican presidential candidates, not to mention the former "Crossfire" host's media chums. Buchanan's sympathy for Nazi Germany's strategic predicament is hardly new and is certainly not a secret. For more than 20 years, he has been publicly ventilating his peculiar penchant for a revisionist assessment of both Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Exile and the Kingdom
March 15, 1998
Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism By Aviezer Ravitzky. Translated by Michael Swirsky and Jonathan Chipman (University of Chicago Press, 303 pp., $17.95) When it emerged as a political program for the Jews at the end of the nineteenth century, Zionism was a phenomenon for which traditional Jewish life was completely unequipped. It was new and it was perplexing, a movement that eluded categorization in the religious terms and the religious images of the past. It promised a political solution that was neither redemption nor exile.
November 11, 1996
New Hampshire warms to Democrats.
March 21, 1994
Clean Hands. In the course of many centuries, there were many crimes that Jews did not commit, but this was not least because they lacked the power to commit them. I remember the day that I discovered the obscure figure of Yusuf Asar. He appeared in a remarkable volume of Syriac Christian hagiographies, called Holy Women of the Syrian Orient. Yusuf Asar lived in the South Arabian kingdom of Himyar in the early sixth century. He was a Jew (or, according to the editors of the volume, "a Jewish upstart").
Two Way Street
December 27, 1993
It has been three months since "the handshake" on the White House lawn, and the euphoria that followed it has by now all but dissipated. The Israel-PLO talks have become one impasse after another. What keeps the process going is one Israeli concession after another. Yasir Arafat says he won't come to Jericho unless and until his officials control the bridges to and from Jordan and the cross-points between Egypt and Gaza. In return, the Israelis agree to a larger, more heavily armed Palestinian police force than they ever contemplated.
The Father of Spin Control
February 01, 1993
For King and Country: The Maturing of George Washington, 1748-1760 by Thomas A. Lewis (HarperCollins, 203 pp., $27.50) Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation by Richard Norton Smith (Houghton Mifflin, 424 pp., $24.95) George Washington is a hard man to get to know. Despite repeated attempts to humanize hint, beginning with Parson Weems's efforts in 1800 to demonstrate that the young Washington could cut down cherry trees but never tell a lie, he remains to this day, as historians like to say, more a monument than a man.