United States

Ukraine and Legitimacy

March 17, 2014

It is fascinating to witness with events in Ukraine an enduring controversy of history in the making. Controversies arise all the time, of course, but some are drawn in more dramatic relief than others, and one of those is Ukraine, 2013-14. Most Western exponents of liberal democracy, of both right and left – by no [...]


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The Revolution with No Name

March 11, 2014

When it seemed to some at the end of the Cold War that we had also reached the end of history, more than ever, every act of rebellion and revolution seemed cause to celebrate an elevated human spirit. After a long winter of merely staving off an enemy’s further success, now freedom was rising with [...]


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A Second Look: the End (of History, War, the Enlightenment, and Western Civilization) Or Not

November 18, 2013

My recent posts on Syria were argued against a more global backdrop: considerations of war and how it is entered into, with what achievable (or other) ends in mind, and, more specifically again, how the United States engages in it. In focus were questions of American empire and the nature of victory and whether it [...]


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Syria, the Limits of Interventionism, and the International Order

November 11, 2013

Noted in the comments to the previous post, “A Plague: Contesting Syria, in Context,” is the posting of a reply to it at his blog from my ever wry blogging compadre, Snoopy the Goon. Please do  read it here. Below is my response to, ahem, the Goon. Dear Snoopy, How do we go on after [...]


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Edward Snowden and the Question of Authority (a Surveillance of Terms)

October 14, 2013

Edward Snowden received the Integrity Award from the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence this week, and WikiLeaks has posted several videos of the rarely-seen whistleblower during the event. The Huffington Post As opinions about Edward Snowden have flown wildly back and forth, the vocabulary of public debate has suffered woefully. The sorry truth is that [...]


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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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The Obama Doctrine

May 24, 2013

. There is one. It is not simple and direct like the Monroe, Truman, or Carter doctrines. For this reason, those who are Obama’s foes and those who have always underestimated him, or who fail to see the world as he does, can easily caricature the manifestations of it. The Obama doctrine is more complex, [...]


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Drones and the Human Agency of War

May 20, 2013

. This commentary previously appeared in the Algemeiner on May 17, 2013. Joshua Foust has written at Foreign Policy a misleadingly essay titled  ”A Liberal Case for Drones.” I think there is such a case, but this it not it and a case for drones is not even truly the subject of the piece. The [...]


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Inaugurations and Occasional Poetry

January 23, 2013

. How shall we receive Richard Blanco’s poem for the occasion of President Obama’s second inauguration? Occasional poems – poems written in honor of an occasion – may be as old as poetry itself. They have a great tradition, but quite arguably that tradition has significantly diminished. Why? One easily distinguished difference in the origination [...]


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Forty-Five Thousand, Nine Hundred and Fifty Six Days (or Thereabouts)

November 28, 2012

. Many top stories are receiving their usual high levels of attention, from the structural taxation reforms bandied about in the face of the “fiscal cliff” that is really a graded driveway to Israel and Gaza. What receives no attention? The usual, including from among the far left advocates of “peace and justice” who pretend to be [...]


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Glenn Greenwald criticizes Bibi AND Obama’s “policies” of intentionally killing innocent Muslims

November 16, 2012

. Cross posted from Cif Watch by its managing editor, Adam Levick. “Every person has their own definition of terrorism.” -Glenn Greenwald. Glenn Greenwald makes characteristically hysterical claims about Israel and the US in his latest ‘Comment is Free’ piece titled Obama’s kill list policy compels US support for Israeli attacks on Gaza‘: Here are the most [...]


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Writing Paradise

October 25, 2012

. I learned at an early adult age, with only minor but memorable pain, not to hero-worship. When we lionize people, we tend to forget the natural inclination of the lion to consume the person. I prefer admiration. Admiration works from the muck up. While hero worship sets up the faithful for a fall, admiration [...]


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Amnesty’s Arrogance

October 1, 2012

. For those whose vision is not obscured by their own committed advocacy, the map of how Amnesty International lost its way over the past decade and more is there to be read. From irreproachable defender of human rights to clearly ideological activist on behalf of one vision of political development, an organization now easily [...]


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The Other God That Failed

August 31, 2012

. Of course, nothing so far can match, or is likely to, the epic-historical failure of twentieth century Marxism. The cost of that failure, if not actually beyond measure, surely transcends any measure the mind can really grasp. Other failures, however, cannot be denied just because they do not reach a comparable magnitude. Dionysus was [...]


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Thomas Jefferson, Architect of Deception

June 13, 2012

. I head in a few days to Columbus, Nebraska for an NEH workshop on the Legacies and Landmarks of the Plains Native Americans. One of the books I’m reading in preparation is “I Am a Man”: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice, by Joe Starita. Standing Bear was a Ponca Indian chief whose efforts to return his [...]


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United We Fall

May 10, 2012

. The question is who we are to each other. It’s at the beginning and end of every political argument, regardless of whether anyone raises it. Are we lone figures passing on a cold tundra, or do we pause to stand, and even stay, in fellowship? And what will break it? Every other consideration is [...]


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From the People Who Brought You Richard Nixon & George W. Bush

January 30, 2012

Who has a shorter memory than the perpetual loser? Over and over the perpetual loser performs the same self-defeating act. Again and again, the loser fails, and failing, finds cause for failure in the inadequacy of others. Charlie Brown runs, as he has run countless times before, for the football Lucy holds to the ground, [...]


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Existential Threats and Slanted Arguments

January 28, 2012

. UPDATED BELOW There are breeds of argument that always startle me for their smug, tendentious presumption. Here is one, frequently made, this time by Robert Wright, that rests the continued –  literally – existence of a nation on the parsing of translations and the assurances of theocratic tyrannies. (I assure you, said Mr. Hitler, [...]


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The Libertarian Delusion

January 5, 2012

. One of the signatures of the fallen human state is how precipitously and flat seemingly reasonable people can land on their cogitative rears. Accordingly, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on ourselves. You watch me, friend. I’ll be checking you. For now, we have Ron Paul. In addition to certain strains of [...]


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Perspective (Oh, Yeah) on Israel and the U.S.

December 15, 2011

. Two days ago, in a column causing some commotion – “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby” – Tom Friedman wrote this: It confuses [many Jewish American students] to read a Financial Times article from Israel on Monday, that said: “In recent weeks, the country has been consumed by an anguished debate over [...]


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Independence Day #235

July 4, 2011

The American Civil War, known commonly by that name, but by many others, too, all depending on one’s point of view, has, in fact, no official name. The Fourth of July, known commonly by that name, does have an official name, and it isn’t that. It is Independence Day. All depending on one’s point of view, we [...]


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