There is no sign Tehran is willing to end its cold war with the West.
November 24, 2013
Analogies between Secretary of State John F. Kerry's negotiations with Iran and the negotiations the Reagan administration undertook with the Soviet Union have become commonplace. But is Hassan Rouhani really another Mikhail Gorbachev — another leader of a dictatorship with whom the U.S. can (and should) "do business," in Margaret Thatcher's phrase?
The current state of Iraq shouldn't take away from what American troops accomplished during the Surge.
November 1, 2013
Surge by Peter R. Mansoor, Yale, 341 pages, $28.
There have been many turning points in American military history. The Battles of Saratoga, Gettysburg and Midway and the landing at Inchon are some of the most famous. To that list should be added the 2007 "Surge" in Iraq, even if its consequences not as lasting.
‘Catastrophe 1914,’ by Max Hastings
October 25, 2013
Review of Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War. By Max Hastings. Illustrated. 628 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $35.
World War I continues to exert a powerful pull on the popular imagination, especially in Britain, France and Australia, which, although victorious, suffered much more heavily in the trenches than did the late-arriving Americans. (There is less appetite for remembrance in the states that lost — Germany, Austria, Russia, Turkey.) Its ravages formed a backdrop to the television series “Downton Abbey” and to the movie and play “War Horse,” and they are being recounted anew in a profusion of books tied to the war’s centenary next year.
Tom Clancy, 1947-2013.
October 14, 2013 • Vol. 19, No. 06
Tom Clancy’s premature death is rich in unfortunate symbolism, because the U.S. armed forces, whose renaissance he celebrated in the 1980s and beyond, may be heading back to the “hollow,” pre-Clancy days of the 1970s. Although he kept writing up until the end, and continued to sell scads of books and video games, Clancy is mostly associated with the Reagan years, and for good reason. He was part of a pop culture outpouring, which also included the Tom Cruise movie Top Gun and Clint Eastwood’s Heartbreak Ridge, that marked an inflection point in American attitudes towards the military.
September 30, 2013
Review of Small Wars, Faraway Places: Global Insurrection and the Making of the Modern World, 1945–1965, by Michael Burleigh (Viking, 608 pp., $36).
Civilization in Asia and Africa is ancient, but the current political map of those continents is strikingly modern: it was largely drawn in the decade or two after World War II. Those were the years when new nations were forged. Burma, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaya, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Ghana, Mali, Uganda, Nigeria, Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and on and on—the list is a long one. Meanwhile, existing nations from Egypt to China saw changes of regime whose consequences continue to reverberate.
A suspension of U.S. military assistance isn't likely to alter the Egyptian generals' behavior, but it might prevent terrorist blowback.
August 22, 2013
Prominent commentators, including Leslie Gelb, John Bolton and Bret Stephens, are counseling the Obama administration to swallow its qualms about the military coup in Cairo and embrace the generals as the best alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood. This is what might be called the "son of a bitch" theory of international relations, after the apocryphal comment supposedly made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza: "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."