June 13, 2012
My first intense soccer experience was watching the 1974 World Cup, when I fell in love with the Dutch team and then rooted for them after Yugoslavia was eliminated. Rensenbrink, the left wing, was my hero. My mother sewed two parallel lines on the back of an orange shirt, so that I could pretend to be Rob Rensenbrink. (Rensenbrink missed only two penalties in his entire career.) The other side of that process of loyalty acquisition was hating the West German team.
Move Over, Muammar
March 22, 2011
How Reagan should deal with Qaddafi.
Fresh Air in Central Europe
August 25, 2010
A certain kind of liberalism familiar to readers of The New Republic has been stirring in, of all places, Germany and Austria. To be sure, it operates on the margins. And, yes, the impulse to appease, run for cover and all the rest lingers there as well. So, too, does the mixture of irritation, indifference, and even outright hostility to Israel.
Alex Massie's Best and Worst
July 12, 2010
Best Goal: Fabio Quagliarella's superb chip against Slovakia. Such coolness! Such precision! Such class! Under such pressure! Runner-up: Sebastian Abreu's penalty in the shoot-out against Ghana. Audacious and nerveless in equal measure. Reminiscent of Panenka vs. West Germany in the 1976 European Championships. Tournament Hero: Luis Suarez. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Cunning and lithe in attack, Suarez also excelled in defense. His handball in the last minute of extra-time against Ghana gave his country a glimmer of a chance. What more could any player do in such circumstances?
So Who’s Going To Win This Thing?
July 09, 2010
This should be a game for the ages, if for no other reason than because neither Spain nor the Netherlands has ever won the World Cup. We are going to have a new Champion and the constellation of world soccer is going to change. While the Netherlands narrowly missed it twice in the seventies, losing to the hosts (West Germany 1974, Argentina 1978), Spain has never reached the heights of the WC finals before. If Spain wins, a talented generation will be crowned as the best one in a long while.
Look Who’s Afraid of the Three Lions
June 26, 2010
Some of my earliest memories are of international football matches, between England and Germany among others, like the game this Sunday afternoon. I can’t honestly claim to have seen the famous England 6-3 defeat at the hands of Hungary in 1953, or even to have been more than vaguely aware of it. Much later, my friend A.J. Ayer told me that he had been taken to the game by Arthur Koestler, still enough of a Hungarian to gloat over his native country’s victory. In the following year came the “Miracle of Berne” when those same magical Magyars lost the World Cup final to West Germany.
The Austere Beauty of Italy
June 08, 2010
A word about the defending champions. Not since Germany's victory in the desperate 1990 edition of the tournament has any victor been so little celebrated. Doubtless this owes something to the fashion in which Italy prevailed and to the sense that those players who remain in the squad aren't the men they once were, while the newcomers aren't the men they're replacing either. So Italy arrive in South Africa overlooked and unfancied and available at 16/1 with some bookmakers.
A Prognostication and a Disclaimer
June 08, 2010
Before prognostication, a disclaimer: I have never been able to pick a winner. Not that it has ever stopped me from trying to. Well, it has stopped me from buying stock, but let’s not talk about that. I picked a winner in 1970. I chose Pele and Brazil but I was 10 and my dad told me to. I came close in 1974. I picked Holland–West Germany in the finals (Ajax and Bayern Munich were by the far the top clubs in the early 70’s) but I thought Cruyff and Neeskens would waltz through Beckenbauer and Netzer. Heartbreaker. Oh well, this was then.
The Chinese Century?
December 10, 2009
As someone who fell under the spell of declinism in the late 1980s – I wrote a book, Grand Illusion: Critics and Champions of the American Century, dedicated partly to the thesis -- I am reluctant to embrace the current version of the theory of American decline, with China playing the role that Japan and West Germany formerly played. On that score, I recommend a column, “Why China Won’t Rule the World,” by Minxin Pei, my former colleague at Carnegie, to whom I defer on these matters. Minxin cites the fragility of China’s economic recovery, based on risky loans many of which will not be repai
October 13, 2009
At the Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting beginning today in New York, Iran will try to shift the discussion to Israel’s nuclear weapons by proposing that the Middle East become nuclear-free. As historian Jeffrey Herf wrote at TNR Online last October, this is similar to a ploy the Soviets used in the 1980s: Our negotiations with Iran are not off to a good start. After the initial meeting in Geneva on October 1--with Iran on one side and Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States on the other--Iranian representatives said they had agreed to send processed uranium to Russia.