Imagine this new TV series coming to HBO in 2016. The planet faces an unprecedented peril. The international community brings together a team of experts, each one with a different specialty: the scientist, the general, the computer geek, the engineer, the spook. It’s their job to avert catastrophe. In the pilot episode, we see each… Continue reading Syria: Mission Possible?
Charlie was a pretty good musician. He played guitar, composed songs. Dennis Wilson, the drummer and co-founder of the Beach Boys, befriended Charlie and tried to help him make it in the music industry. He arranged for the young man to make a studio album, which eventually came out in 1974. But before that, the… Continue reading Je Suis Encore Charlie?
Nixon lied. Surely this is not a shocker. But what’s interesting about the latest revelation about the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War is that the most duplicitous president in U.S. history actually knew that the U.S. air war in Southeast Asia was a dismal failure. Even as Nixon was telling the media that the… Continue reading Is Putin Really as Foolish as We Are?
After midnight on August 15, 1947, India and Pakistan became separate countries. What should have been a joyous occasion — a celebration of independence from three centuries of British colonial rule — quickly turned into one of the greatest tragedies in modern history. By the end of 1948, after an exodus of Muslims from India… Continue reading The Middle East’s New Nakba
Last week, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton gave a major foreign policy speechthat provided a glimpse of one possible post-Obama future. In many ways, it was not a pretty picture. But let’s first look at the good points. Clinton endorsed the Iran deal that just squeaked through Congress despite unanimous Republican opposition. “Either we move… Continue reading After Obama: Clinton vs. Sanders
It was 1972. The flamboyant rock star Alice Cooper, not quite a household name at that point in England, was booked to play London’s Wembley Stadium. Shortly before the concert date, only a couple hundred of the 7,000 available tickets had been sold. Facing an epic failure, the redoubtable rock music promoter Shep Gordon emblazoned… Continue reading Trump Takes on the World
One of the greatest moments of U.S. diplomacy in the 20th century was Nixon’s opening to China. It was a surprise, a breathtaking opportunity, and a true game-changer. It was also one of the strangest political matches of all time. A president who had established his political bona fides as an anti-Communist crusader shocked everyone… Continue reading Iran Deal: Is Obama Channeling Nixon?
The Islamic State celebrated its one-year anniversary in customary fashion. Other organizations might sponsor parades and make speeches. ISIS spilled blood. A beheading in France, the murder of 38 tourists at a resort in Tunisia, and a bomb blast at a mosque in Kuwait all reminded the world, if it had somehow forgotten, that ISIS… Continue reading The Islamic State and the Terrible Twos
The classic image of the dictator clinging to power, resisting the world’s entreaties to resign, and fending off internal attempts at ouster is that of an old man, stubborn and long past caring what others think. He’s been on the throne for so long that his name has become synonymous with the state — l’état… Continue reading The Young Dictator Problem
The description of the death of Robert-Francois Damiens, the man who attempted to kill Louis XV, is not for the faint-hearted. On March 2, 1757, in front of a crowd of spectators, Damiens was drawn and quartered, which means that his limbs were tied to four horses that were then urged to gallop toward the… Continue reading The Comparative Politics of Atrocity