A Responding Sensibility
March 03, 2010
Meyer Schapiro Abroad: Letters to Lillian and Travel Notebooks Edited by Daniel Esterman (Getty Research Institute, 243 pp., $39.95) I. Meyer Schapiro Abroad is an astonishing book. It consists of seemingly commonplace materials--the love letters that a graduate student wrote while traveling to work on his dissertation, plus a selection of sheets from his research notebooks. Yet taken together these pages present something extraordinary and nearly unique: an intensely evocative account of the process and the experience of historical discovery.
January 07, 2010
Jim Manzi and his friends are trying to reframe the argument about Western European social democracy into something other than the one he originally made. To review: Manzi’s essay – which, again, isn’t all bad – hinges upon the premise that the United States must navigate between economic growth-destroying social democracy and social cohesion-destroying Reaganism.
A Conservative Accidentally Makes The Case For Social Democracy
January 05, 2010
Jim Manzi's conservative reform manifesto in National Affairs has attracted all sorts of praise on the right. And Manzi does have some interesting observations and decent proposals. His main premise is that there's an inherent tension between economic dynamism and social cohesion.
December 16, 2009
In the popular imagination, the United States and Europe are assumed to be radically opposing poles--"Mars" and "Venus"--on issues such as market regulation, public education, social policy, health care, crime, and the environment. But is that really the case? The numbers would suggest otherwise. My book, The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe are Alike, presents quantifiable data on a wide array of social conditions on each side of the Atlantic.
Will Iranian Sanctions Work?
December 08, 2009
With no signs of cooperation from Tehran and Obama's year-end deadline approaching, the administration is pushing for new sanctions against Iran starting in January. For a better understanding of the sanctions situation, check out these recent TNR pieces: In "Over a Barrel," David Makovsky and Ed Morse argue that the current sanctions being considered are unlikely to have much effect: The only effective option for seriously limiting its gasoline imports is to impose a naval blockade on Iranian ports, which should only be undertaken, if needed, after proper and complete preparation.
November 10, 2009
Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West By Christopher Caldwell (Doubleday, 422 pp., $30) As its subtitle makes clear, this is a book about immigration, Islam, and the West. But at the same time this is also a book about a particular moral culture, a set of attitudes, habits, and beliefs that has developed in Western Europe over the past sixty years. There isn’t a good shorthand way to describe this moral culture. Sometimes it is called “political correctness,” though politics as such does not define it.
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.
Did the Welfare State Kill God?
September 11, 2009
Why did church attendance drop in Western Europe during the 20th century? An agnostic/atheist-type like me might speculate that increases in income, education, and urbanization made it easier for people to think and act for themselves and break away from the authority of the church. But then why did religiosity in the U.S. -- which saw similar increases in income, education, and urbanization -- stay flat over the 20th century?
Stunning News Out of London
September 11, 2009
A pretty shocking story from the London Times: Two months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Margaret Thatcher told President Gorbachev that neither Britain nor Western Europe wanted the reunification of Germany and made clear that she wanted the Soviet leader to do what he could to stop it. In an extraordinary frank meeting with Mr Gorbachev in Moscow in 1989 — never before fully reported — Mrs Thatcher said the destabilisation of Eastern Europe and the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact were also not in the West’s interests.
The Case Against The G8
July 08, 2009
The G7 was originally conceived as a form of steering committee for the world economy (antecedents). Existing formal governance mechanisms, around the IMF and the UN, seemed too cumbersome (and too inclusive) during the 1970s, with the breakdown of fixed exchange rates, assorted oil shocks, and the broader shift of economic initiative towards Western Europe and Japan. And the G7 had some significant moments, particularly with regard to moving exchange rates in the 1980s. More broadly, behind the scenes, it served as a communication mechanism between the world's largest economies ("coordinatio