When Jimmy Carter, after concluding several hours of discussions in Pyongyang with North Korea's Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, declared that "the crisis is over" on the Korean peninsula, a sigh of relief could be heard around the world. It appeared as if the drift toward a diplomatic and economic confrontation, and possibly even a military conflict, had been averted. If Carter was right, and no one could say with certainty that he was wrong, the stage had been set for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear challenge. Pyongyang subsequently agreed to permit inspectors from the Internati
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").
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.
As the new millennium draws near, we in the United States are suffering from a dearth of millennial ideas. Supply-side economics, multiculturalism, cold fusion, caller I.D.--all these Promethean schemes for transforming the human condition have lately come to naught. In their wake, small ideas and incremental thinking hold sway. Yet the popular appetite for visionary conceits remains strong. Has Hillary Clinton not struck a chord with her "politics of meaning," especially when she calls for the "remaking of the American way of politics, government, indeed life"?
Politics is the art of achieving political goals — of achieving what is possible in a given situation, that is, in a situation that has its conditions and its limits. In this respect, the ethical point of view, the consideration of what is good and what is bad, what is fair and what is unfair, what is honest and what is dishonest, is external to politics. An ethical action, like an unethical action, is usually analyzed by politicians purely in pragmatic terms. Does it lead toward the goal or does it lead away from it? Montaigne observed, in his famous polemic against Machiavelli, that if a pol
As we write, the first news of the apparent collapse of the Moscow coup of August 19 has arrived. We still cannot know how this extraordinary and rattling event will play out in the next few days; who its beneficiaries will be; who, among the military, the KGB, and the Party apparatus, will emerge as the central conspirators. What we do know, however, is that, like a bee that stings one last time before it expires, this putsch is the final spasm of a system that is coming steadily (or, rather, unsteadily) closer to extinction.