Roundup: Media's Take
This is where we excerpt articles from the media that take a historical approach to events in the news.
SOURCE: New Republic (12-5-12)
Jonathan Cohn is Senior Editor of The New Republic and author of Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis—and the People Who Pay the Price.
SOURCE: Forbes (12-5-12)
Thomas Del Beccaro is the Chairman of the California Republican Party.
SOURCE: National Interest (12-5-12)
Irena L. Sargsyan is a research analyst at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution.
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (12-5-12)
Charles R. Morris is author of The Tycoons, The Trillion Dollar Meltdown, winner of the Loeb award as the "Best Business Book of 2008." This article is drawn from his recent book The Dawn of Innovation: The First American Industrial Revolution.
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (12-5-12)
Tanya Lokshina is senior researcher and deputy Moscow office director at Human Rights Watch.
SOURCE: Financial Times (UK) (12-5-12)
The writer is chairman of GrupoFinancieroBanorte, and formerly governor of Banco de México and Mexican minister of finance.
SOURCE: The Nation (12-1-12)
John Nichols is the author of The “S” Word:A Short History of an American Tradition… Socialism (Verso).
...A new Gallup Poll finds that socialism is now viewed positively by 39 percent of Americans, up from 36 percent in 2010. Among self-described liberals, socialism enjoyed a 62 percent positive rating, while 53 percent of Democrats and independent voters who lean Democratic gave socialism a thumb’s up....
Socialism has deep America roots—going back to when Tom Paine used his final pamphlet, Agrarian Justice, to outline a social-democratic model for establishing a just and equitable society. Socialist communes and political movements flourished in the United States during the first decades of the republic’s history, and the advocates for those movements found a home in the radical experiment that came to be known as the “Republican” Party....
SOURCE: National Interest (12-4-12)
Gordon N. Bardos is a Balkan politics and security specialist based in New York.
SOURCE: New Republic (12-4-12)
Robert Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
SOURCE: LA Times (11-28-12)
Doyle McManus is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
It seems as if every pundit in the capital has gone to see the masterful biopic about our 16th president, and — surprise — they all found something to support their views about contemporary politics.
The analogies are hard to resist. The movie is set in the first months after Lincoln won a second term, facing an unruly lame-duck Congress. Over the objections of risk-averse aides, the president decides to seek passage of a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, and proves willing to cut almost any corner to gain his objective.
What does that tell us about the choices before a newly reelected President Obama and a lame-duck Congress wrestling with a year-end deadline over taxes and spending cuts?..
SOURCE: National Review (11-28-12)
Larry Kudlow, NRO’s economics editor, is host of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report and author of the daily web log, Kudlow’s Money Politic$.
Once again, President Obama dodged the key fiscal-cliff issues at a campaign rally/press conference Wednesday morning. Campaign-style, he argued that the middle-class tax cuts (below $250,000) must be renewed in order to prevent a $2,200 average tax hike from hitting middle-class folks. He added that a middle-class tax hike would cost consumers $200 billion in spending power.
Okay, fine. But no one wants to raise middle-class taxes. That’s not the issue. And even if those numbers are right, they dodge one of the key points in the dialogue between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner. Namely, what to do about top income-tax rates, which include capital gains, dividends, and inheritance taxes?
The president once again avoided the term “tax rate” in his latest round of fiscal-cliff comments. He basically said, Let’s get this done before Christmas in a fair and balanced way. But what is balance?..
SOURCE: The Diplomat (11-27-12)
James R. Holmes is a defence analyst for The Diplomat and an associate professor of strategy at the US Naval War College where he specializes in US, Chinese and Indian maritime strategy and US diplomatic and military history.
University of Georgia undergraduates used to look at me quizzically when I told them you can learn ninety percent of what you need to know about diplomacy and war by studying a war fought two millennia ago, in a postage-stamp-size theater, between alliances armed with—as my colleagues in Newport like to joke—spears and rowboats. Yet it’s true. War and politics are human endeavors. The dynamics of human interaction endure from age to age. The remainderis mere technological change.
That’s why Thucydides’ chronicle of the Peloponnesian War still captivates readers. Including policymakers, I hope. As Japanese and American emissaries revise the U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines for the first time since 1998, they could do worse than crack open Thucydides’ history. Tokyo and Washington intend to open discussions early next month, presumably in hopes of adapting the guidelines to China’s military rise. A zero-based review of alliance relations ought to incorporate some historical perspective. Who better to consult than the father of history?
Thucydides proffers numerous insights into the workings—and dysfunctions—of alliances and coalitions. How lesser allies relate to greater ones—and vice versa—is of acute interest to him, as it should be for Washington and Tokyo. Alliance relations is about more than power. The strong cannot simply dictate to weaker partners, lest they provoke rebellion or passive-aggressive cooperation. Mutual accommodation is the rule among successful alignments...
SOURCE: American Spectator (11-29-12)
Matthew Omolesky specialized in European affairs at the Whitehead School of Diplomacy's graduate program, and received his juris doctor from The Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law.
Drawn in pale brown pink on two skins of soft vellum, the Gough Map, kept in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, presents a haunting image of a Britain half-formed in the consciousness of a mid-14th-century cartographer. While a russet-robed William Langland sat nestled in the Malvern Hills, gazing eastwards and dreaming of a tower, a dungeon, and the “fair feld ful of folk” between, the Gough Map’s anonymous scribe set about delineating the bustlingsettlements, blessed plots, ancient highways, and riverine byways of the Scepter’d Isle. The scattered icons of the fading map still recall the social panorama included in Langland’s Piers Plowman, that great “assemblee” of Britain, with “alle manere of men, the meene and the riche, werchynge and wandrynge as the world asketh.” In the Gough Map, one can still make out the various facets of Langland’s country, from the fecund pastures to the teeming emporia, indeed all the hallmarks of a self-sufficient but outward-looking nation.
One can also make out, suspended overhead like a canopy, or perhaps like Damocles’ sword, a thin strip of land vaguely representative of the coasts of Flanders and Normandy. Studded with inviting ports populated by obliging burghers, and with forbidding castles garrisoned by mortal dynastic enemies, Europe appears as both bane and boon to those across the narrow channel. Already being advanced in this, the first accurate map of the British Isles, was a semi-detached view of Albion’s relationship with Europe. It was a view that would hold sway in the centuries to come, necessitating an uneasy accommodation between insular exceptionalism and the lucrative, yet dangerous, call of the continent.
From time immemorial, the English have flattered themselves with the Shakespearean formulation that theirs is a “little world,” a “precious stone set in the silver sea,” separated from “less happier lands” by a fortuitous moat, one wider in practice than the seven leagues from Dover to Calais. “This realm of England is an empire,” declared the Henrician Act in Restraint of Appeals to Rome (1533), with a “body politic” admittedly comprised of “all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of spiritualty and temporalty,” but one absolutely independent of “any foreign princes or potentates of the world.” That Britannia was comprised of “all sorts” was certainly no exaggeration. Daniel Defoe, in The True-Born Englishman (1700), archly described his countrymen as an “amphibious ill-born mob,” a palimpsest of invaders and settlers whose “relics are so lasting and so strong” as to leave a “shibboleth upon our tongue / By which with easy search you may distinguish / Your Roman-Saxon-Danish-Norman English.” By factoring in the “Dutch, Walloons, Flemings, Irishmen, and Scots / Vaudois, and Valtolins, and Huguenots” who likewise made their often desperate way to Britain’s shores, Defoe could conclude that his homeland was “Europe’s sink,” rather than the doughty “fortress built by Nature for herself” of Shakespeare’s John of Gaunt.
Even if the “true-born Englishman” was in fact a curiously “het’rogeneous thing,” as Defoe demonstrated and the passage of time has further confirmed, one exceptional aspect of his island empire’s character could at least be considered sui generis: its free constitution. From the slow accretion of the common law to the dramatic recognition of the Magna Carta, and from the development of the writ of habeas corpus to the passage of the 1689 Bill of Rights, the British state would come to feature an array of what William Blackstone termed “the absolute rights of every Englishman.” The English writer John Brown, in his 1757 Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times, spoke for his countrymen as he boasted that whereas Liberty “hath been ingrafted by the Arts of Policy in other Countries, it shoots up here as from its natural Climate, Stock, and Soil,” with the result that “this great Spirit hath produced more full and compleat Effects in our own Country, than in any known Nation that ever was upon Earth.” Liberal philosophes across the Channel were in full agreement, with Montesquieu positing that it was in England that “liberty will appear in its highest perfection,” and with Voltaire praising the English for being “jealous not only of their own liberty, but even of that of other nations.” The government of England, the sage of Ferney continued, had for its laudable object “not the brilliant folly of making conquests, but to prevent its neighbors from making them.”
Poised in the balance of the swaying scales of European geopolitics, Britain could hold itself out as the safeguard of both continental stability and sovereign rights. It was a dual role perfectly suited to the conflicted identity of an exceptional island drawn inexorably toward the mainland. As such, Britain would find itself in an unending series of continental interventions, many renowned, and many more now but half-remembered in the public’s consciousness. The British historian Brendan Simms has recently made a compelling case that “the Bank of England, the national debt, the stock market, the Royal Navy and the standing army”—all of which make up the modern “apparatus of the ‘fiscal-military state’”—were each “primarily designed to sustain Britain’s international role in Europe.” Imperial holdings would grow in importance, and a “blue water” policy would become increasingly fashionable in strategic circles, but the European commitment was destined to remain a British preoccupation...
SOURCE: National Post (Canada) (11-28-12)
Jonathan Kay is Managing Editor for Comment at the National Post, and a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
SOURCE: Financial Times (UK) (11-27-12)
The writer is a professor at Harvard and author of The Future of Power.
SOURCE: National Interest (11-27-12)
Scott McConnell is a founding editor of The American Conservative.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (11-20-12)
Matt Hill is a British journalist.
Partisans of the Israel-Palestine conflict – and it often seems everyone’s a partisan of one side or the other – know exactly who to blame for the fighting now in its sixth day. The other guy, of course.
But the bombs dropping on Gaza and southern Israel haven’t fallen out of a clear blue sky. So what happens if we trace events backwards and try to answer, as objectively as possible, the obvious question: who started it?
The latest phase of fighting started on 14 November when Israel assassinated the Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari. A day earlier, Hamas was touting a truce offer, but only after two days of fighting which saw over a hundred missiles launched into Israel and Gaza coming under attack by warplanes, drones and artillery.
These exchanges were preceded on 10 November by the injury of two IDF soldiers, hit by an anti-tank missile as they patrolled outside the Strip, and the deaths of at least five Palestinians and the injury of dozens more when Israel responded with shelling and air strikes.
And these incidents, in turn, were sparked by the killing of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who was caught in the crossfire of a gun battle between the IDF and Palestinian militants on 8 November.
We could go back further...
SOURCE: Financial Times (UK) (11-21-12)
The writer is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was the US envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process from 2001-03.
Israeli missiles continued to fall on Gaza; meanwhile, a bus was blown up in Tel Aviv. But by the end of Wednesday, a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, and brokered by Egypt and the US, was signed. However, there is a big difference between a truce that is an interlude between rounds of fighting and one that presages a promising political process. It might take a willingness to learn from Northern Ireland, of all places, to tip the scales towards the latter.
Decades of violence – "the troubles" – set the backdrop to negotiations. Success had it roots in British policy. London’s objective was to end the terrorism and bring about a political settlement. Doing so required persuading the Provisional IRA that it would never be able to shoot or bomb its way into power and that there was a political path open to it that would satisfy some of its goals and many of its supporters, if it would act responsibly.
The government of Israel has internalised the first but not the second part of Britain’s strategy. Israel has carried out massive air strikes that have reportedly destroyed the bulk of Hamas’s Iran-supplied, longer-range missiles and killed dozens of Palestinians, including Hamas’s military chief.
But military force has limits...
SOURCE: Forbes (11-20-12)
Brian Domitrovic is a Forbes contributor.
The president is bent on raising taxes big time, if not on January 1, when all sorts of rates are scheduled to go up, then shortly thereafter as the new, more Democratic Congress convenes to do its damage.
The rationale? The deficit is getting out of control. Indeed it is. Since January 2009, when Obama took office, the United States has run cumulative budget deficits of $5 trillion. Before that time, debt held by the public was $6.3 trillion. Now it’s $11.4 trillion, an increase of 80%.
What did we get for it? Growth of 1.5% per year. As it happens, the over the eight years of President George W. Bush, the economy averaged 1.6% economic growth, and the cumulative deficit was $2.4 trillion. Obama has more than doubled the W. deficits, while coming up short a tenth of a point of growth. What a horrible record...
SOURCE: Ottawa Citizen (11-15-12)
Wenran Jiang is a political science professor at the University of Alberta and director of the Canada-China Energy & Environment Forum.
For those who followed the U.S. presidential elections up to last week, the intense horse race had clear rules to follow on how one candidate can win. When it comes to China’s leadership transition though, the general public had very little clue who China’s new leaders were until the seven men, called the Politburo Standing Committee members, walked onto the stage to meet the press in Beijing Thursday.
But this is already progress in the context of Chinese history: the latest once-in-a-decade leadership transition is only the second time power was peacefully and institutionally transferred in more than 100 years since the Qing dynasty was overthrown in 1911.
Since then, Chinese politics went through civil wars, foreign invasion, the establishment of a new People’s Republic and the Chinese Communist Party’s struggle to transfer itself from a revolutionary party to a governing institution in a series of turbulent events such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution...