Tag: United States

It is a sad fact of our current situation that great literature no longer carries the weight that it used to. This is no simply a matter of postmodernism knocking the wind out of linear novelistic narratives. In some cases, it is a matter of what was barely thinkable becoming commonplace. (More…)

We have reached such a pass in the modern world that political truths can only be spoken by comedians. The attacks by the political right on fact-oriented journalism, and on the reality-based community more generally, have created a situation in which political truths can only be spoken with kidding (not kidding) appended to them. (More…)

In Moby Dick, Herman Melville famously wrote of the “fast-fish and loose-fish” doctrine. A dead whale connected to an occupied boat or marked with a distinctive symbol – “waifed” – was a recognized possession, a fast-fish. Any other whale found floating was a loose-fish. His narrator Ishmael uses these two principles of the whaling community as the basis for an inquiry into the relationship between freedom and power. (More…)

BEIRUT – Syrian government forces and their allies regained control of several strategic opposition-held areas in recent weeks, as its aerial campaigns and ground offensives culminated in a series of so-called evacuation deals. (More…)

As an American with numerous friends in foreign countries, it often falls to one to be the interpreter (not to say justifier) of what goes on in American public life. In part, this is simply the normal interplay of people seeking to understand cultures and mores foreign to their own, and it is the subject of a literature has a long provenance, from Xenophon and Julius Caesar to Tocqueville and Twain, to Alastair Cooke (to name only a few). (More…)

Iran may be the greatest beneficiary from Iraq’s occupation, the fall of the regime, and the disintegration of the Iraqi state. After all, it got rid of the enemy that broke the force of the revolution and came to have political, security, and ideological influence in the Iraqi arena. (More…)

Theresa May backed Donald Trump’s Syrian airstrikes out of weakness, not strength. But this is nothing new. The need to project strength goes to the heart of UK foreign policy since the end of empire. This is one of the symptoms of our post-imperial malaise. (More…)

I knew he was acting. But, as the Roma panhandler precariously balanced himself, with one-foot covering two Stolperstein, I handed him four euros, and spoke to him in Hebrew. “Kol hakavod” (‘All of the respect’) I said, as I put the coins in his open, albeit crippled-looking hand. (More…)

DAMASCUS – I have lived in the Syrian capital of Damascus since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. I haven’t left Syria for more than a week, and even then it was only to Beirut and only recently, which means only after seven years of war. (More…)

Congressional Republicans have a Trump problem. Mr. Trump has made himself so toxic, conventional wisdom has it, that the losses normally suffered by the party that holds the White House in an off-year election will be so catastrophic as to rock the foundations of Republican hegemony. (More…)

Early this morning, US-led forces struck targets in Syria associated with the government’s chemical weapons program. The objective was to degrade its offensive capability in light of the alleged attack carried out by the Syrian Arab Army in Douma last week, in which scores of civilians were killed. The French government claims to have evidence chlorine was used in the assault. (More…)

You can sense them building up, like storm runoff at a dam. It’s possible that the worst won’t happen this time. But one day they will become impossible to contain. The excuses, I mean. Although Donald Trump may wildly overstate his prowess in many areas, there is no doubt that he makes them with the aplomb of a world-class con artist and, more importantly, also makes them stick. (More…)