Iraq War

Masters of War

September 11, 2013

 “Masters of War,” compellingly titled, fortuitously timed in its creation, ranks among Bob Dylan’s most jejune songs. The apparent good fortune of its historic timing emerged out of a natural uprising from circumstance. Given that circumstance, and the song’s generalized complaint, how, it almost seems, could the United States not have become fully drawn into [...]

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Reflections on the Spirit of Resistance

November 22, 2012

. Paul Newman’s 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, the apex of journeyman Stuart Rosenberg’s directorial career, imbued popular culture with many iconic scenes and memorable lines. (“What we have here – is failure to communicate.” “Sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.”) Among the famous scenes is that of the prison camp boxing match [...]

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The Unsound Judgment of Peter Beinart

March 22, 2012

. Just over two years ago, I wrote a post titled “The Unsound Judgment of Andrew Sullivan.” Sullivan, for all his true virtues, is a man of strikingly unsound judgment. He swings, he swings frequently, he swings with emotion from one impassioned response to another, a kind of journalistic Thaïs transforming regularly from the life of [...]

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The Wisdom of G.H.W. Bush – and Barack Obama

February 28, 2012

. Whatever one’s judgment about the goal of the Gulf War of 1991, it is difficult to argue (which hardly means that no one will) that it was not superbly managed and prosecuted. The deeply and broadly experienced George Herbert Walker Bush, in contrast to his shallow but zealously missionary son G.W., famously chose, after [...]

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Bile as Argument

January 23, 2012

. Several days ago, a late reader of my post “Christopher Hitchens, Glenn Greenwald, and the War of Ideas” sent me an insulting private email. Since this is a blog with a public commenting apparatus, I am always struck when people choose to insult me privately rather than offer counter-arguments and insult in the public [...]

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Christopher Hitchens, Glenn Greenwald, and the War of Ideas

December 21, 2011

John Cook of Gawker writes of Christopher Hitchens that he “loathed sentiment, welcomed combat, and delighted in inflicting hard truths.” Cook undoubtedly means “sentimentality,” which masquerades everywhere as sentiment, in which case he is indisputably right about Hitchens, who would have begrudged those now attacking him only the regrettable spectacle (he surely would have believed) [...]

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9/11/11: Home

September 18, 2011

. (The last in a thirteen-part series.) What was the response to 9/11 on the political left, the direction from which was quickly drawn the historical cover of the “squandered sympathies” meme? There is no single answer. The “left” is not a unitary political tendency. It is stalwart, mainstream Democrats in the U.S. and the [...]

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David Brooks on Joe Lieberman: Muddled Moderation

January 21, 2011

Image via Wikipedia There is more than a superficial appeal to the calming voice. While it sounds reasonable, and it appears to spy a path from lost to found – “if you can keep your head when all around you” and all that – it also reassures.  Often it is the still center that saves [...]

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Quote of the Day

October 27, 2010

[Keith] Richards is a working class lad from Dartford – amongst other things, he was probably rebelling against being patronised by men called Dorian. via Mick Hartley: Keef on Iraq. Related articles Life, by Keef ( With No Ax to Grind (

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The Afghanistan Rorschach

August 3, 2010

People read the Afghan War through thick ideological spectacles that magnify what they focus on and that draw the unintegrated elements in the picture to the blurred periphery. They read Afghanistan as they read the political life of the planet. They understand its history and current state of affairs, and make predictions for its future, [...]

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Tony Judt, the Kurds, and Captive Minds

July 16, 2010

The attempt to stand outside history and see ourselves in it is like trying to look at the back of one’s head: it is a trick done with mirrors, over the shoulder. The effort is unsteady, and the first thing you are likely to see is your own face. Yesterday The New York Times reported [...]

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Greenwald-Goldberg II: This Time It’s Personal

July 1, 2010

There have been some more posts by both Glen Greenwald and Jeffrey Goldberg, with Joe Klein rousing himself from supine beach slumber (or whatever, on vacation) to throw a few punches in what has turned into a web free for all. And I should stay out of it? One can only imagine what Dave Weigel, [...]

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Greenwald-Goldberg I: The Thrilla in Vanilla

June 29, 2010

Somewhere something irritated Dave Weigel. Those were the butterfly wings flapping. (Whatever provoked the irritating behavior – caused the wings to flap – has long dissipated into the stratosphere.) Weigel breezed into a little venting on a not-so-private-as-he-thought listserve, and someone fed those growing winds into a full public downdraft: the blogosphere was scattered to [...]

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