Scandalmania is distorting our discussion of three different issues, sweeping them into one big narrative -- everything is a "narrative" these days -- about the beleaguered second-term presidency of Barack Obama. Forgive me for feeling cynical and depressed about our nation's political conversation.
Syria’s civil war has been going on for more than two years. Seventy thousand people have been killed, most of them civilians. The situation seems to call for a robust international response. Yet as the United States learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, any large-scale military intervention in the Islamic world is more than likely to fail. But pressure is building for the United States to act, especially in the aftermath of what appears to be the use of chemical weapons by the regime.
Hitler's Philosophers addresses the question: Why did the most evil regime of modern times develop in a country so committed to higher learning and so culturally accomplished?
The presidents with whom Barack Obama is often compared, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, did not face the obstacles he does. Obama has every right to be frustrated: When Republicans obstruct, he takes the blame. But even though his assessment of the situtation is correct, his response to it should be different.
At his 2009 inauguration, President Obama pledged to close Guantánamo within a year. Many of those imprisoned there have been held for more than a decade without facing any charges, and in recent months, an increasing number of desperate detainees have engaged in hunger strikes to call attention to their plight.
Why is it that conservative Republicans who freely cut taxes while backing two wars in the Bush years started preaching fire on deficits only after a Democrat entered the White House? Probably because their central goal is to hack away at government. Then along come academic economists to bless the anti-deficit fever with the authority of spreadsheets.
When the news from Boston first hit, there was an immediate divide between those who saw an Islamic terrorist attack and those who saw the hand of domestic, right-wing extremists. We then moved, without delay, to show how the event proved that our side was right in any number of ongoing debates. The response suggests that we live in an age of shrink-wrapped, prepackaged opinions.
The blood runs cold when one fully appreciates how vulnerable Western policymakers are to slogans and magical thinking. The Reinhart-Rogoff case is the latest, and certainly will not be the last, in which the credulity and carelessness of experts wreak havoc among millions of ordinary people.
Jess Bravin’s The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantánamo Bay traces the vexed history of the military commissions at Guantánamo, established to try terror suspects captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
David Nasaw, professor of history at the City University of New York, makes clear in this extraordinarily fine biography that Joseph P. Kennedy was a man of many parts, few of which make him a prospective candidate for canonization.
The documentary format of The Gatekeepers is tame, the content explosive, splicing interviews with archival footage outlining the history of Shin Bet since the 1967 Six-Day War and the contours of Israeli policy vis-à-vis its Arab nemeses. The House I Live In takes us on a dismal road trip through our nation’s inaptly named corrections industry, issuing a verdict both unanimous and harsh.
Margaret Thatcher and David Kuo represented two sides of the conservative disposition and two forms of the "conviction politics" for which the Iron Lady was known. Because of that, they have much to teach us about the debate we need now.
War is war and murder is murder. The law draws the distinction. The American armed drone is a weapons system of war, not of policemen. And even if it were a police weapon, the United States does not have a commission to police the world of its radicals, jihadists, and religious fanatics, although for too many years it has acted as if it did.
Assessing the legacy of Margaret Thatcher in this piece from the January 11, 1991, issue of Commonweal, E. J. Dionne Jr. wrote that the prime minister was far more popular in the United States (especially among the American right) than she was in Britain, for reasons both good and bad.
The administration has set expectations for President Obama's trip to Israel so low you'd think he was making another visit to Ohio. Yet this is a very consequential journey because it comes at a moment when hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are fading away.
Rand Paul, the libertarian senator from Kentucky, has inadvertently called our attention to a deep contradiction within American conservatism.
With signs of cooperation on gun control and immigration, and Rand Paul's filibuster against President Obama's drone policy shaking philosophical categories in a healthy way, life and substance are returning to our political debates.
Iran will be our next war, if neo-conservatives and certain advisers to the Obama administration have their way -- all acting with the support of the American public, which one might think has had enough of war, after nearly seventy years of it and gaining nothing.
Rape & India's Honor Culture
President Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary signals a repudiation of the aggressive foreign policy that has kept the United States fighting wars for over a decade.
Like Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama hopes to usher in a long-term electoral realignment. The Reagan metaphor helps explain the tone of Obama's inaugural address, built not on a call to an impossible bipartisanship but on a philosophical argument for a progressive vision of the country rooted in our history.
'Argo' & 'Zero Dark Thirty'
That President Obama has shed any illusions about his unique gifts as a national healer will increase his capacity to help us leave behind many of the debates that have torn our political world asunder. Tempered by the struggles of his first term, he now seems more at ease declaring exactly what he is for and what he is seeking to achieve.
Little America is the best single book now available on a crucial phase of the American war in Afghanistan.
We are about to have a major foreign policy debate in the guise of a confirmation battle over Chuck Hagel's nomination as secretary of defense. President Obama should use this opportunity to stand up for his broader vision of how American power can be sustained and used.
Bal Thackeray, the most strident and unapologetic champion of the Hindu “cause,” passed away last month. His intolerance, unchecked by any public authority, has worked its way into the Indian psyche and has become epidemic.
The threat posed by weapons of mass destruction was infamously used to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq. That's why clear evidence and a convincing argument must be presented before any action on Syria's chemical weapons.
When Israel wins its campaign to create a single, unchallenged Jewish state on all of the land given by the U.N. in 1948 to make parallel Jewish and Arab homelands, what happens to the Palestinian people left in the country?
President Obama's aggressive campaign of targeted killings against Al Qaeda and the Taliban is the source of bitter resentment toward the United States. Many legal questions about the deployment of drones outside a recognized war zone also remain in dispute. Is the United States establishing a dangerous precedent?
Diminishing Influence, Fewer Options
As Republicans dig out from a defeat that their poll-deniers said was impossible, they need to acknowledge many large failures. But President Obama and his party need to understand the difficulties they may face.
Barack Obama took on a militant conservatism intent on reducing the responsibilities of government and cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans. In the process, he built an alliance of moderates and progressives who still believe in government's essential role in regulating the marketplace and widening the circle of opportunity.
The Catholic Right’s False Nostalgia
As the 2012 campaign closes, "working together" is in vogue because the few voters still up for grabs tend to be more moderate and less ideological. But beneath the embrace of comity lurks a central fact about American politics now: Democrats believe in compromise far more than Republicans do.
As a method of war, unmanned drones are illegal and unconstitutional. But the two presidential candidates have each indicated a commitment to the continued use of drones for programmed unilateral killing of selected individuals in Muslim society.
Lebanon is one of the few Middle Eastern countries where large Christian and Muslim populations coexist in a secular state. But how long can this remain so?
It turns out there was no profound ideological conversion of the country two years ago. If Mitt Romney thought the nation was ready to endorse the full-throated conservatism he embraced to win the Republican nomination, he wouldn't be throwing his past positions overboard.
The third debate added to the evidence that the United States is intellectually adrift when it comes to policies concerning the Middle East, and perhaps blundering into serious trouble with Russia and China.
For Barack Obama's supporters, the fact that the president played offense and had a strategy was reason enough for elation. But the most electorally significant performance was Mitt Romney's: Under pressure this time, the former Massachusetts governor displayed his least attractive sides.
New Mitt Romneys appear on a monthly, weekly and sometimes daily basis. His campaign has been an exercise in identifying which piece of the electorate he needs at any given moment and adjusting his views, sometimes radically, to suit this requirement.
Kennedy's keen awareness of the power of appearances helped him (and the rest of us) get through the Cuban Missile Crisis without a nuclear war—and without seeming to yield to nuclear blackmail.
Two books sketch the fragmentation that pose obstacles to the efforts of President Obama, or any national political leader, to promote a more common vision.
What a difference a week makes. Vice President Joe Biden stayed in Rep. Paul Ryan's face for the entirety of Thursday's vice presidential debate. In the process, he forced Ryan, and by extension the Romney campaign, onto the defensive for a large part of the evening.
Does Mitt Romney possess a serious understanding of American foreign relations, their past, their present, and the problems they will pose for a new administration?
In this week's debate, Mitt Romney has too much to do. President Obama has a great deal to lose. Romney's is the most difficult position. Obama's is the most dangerous.
As the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, President Mohamed Morsi has been looked upon by Washing with apprehension. But he has same well-founded words for the United States in how it should approach relations with Egypt and the Middle East.
In Tampa, Republicans reveled in the glories of private enterprise. In Charlotte, Democrats celebrated togetherness. But in the weeks after Obama’s acceptance speech, interest in the election as horse race has nearly blotted out the substance of the president’s address and its relation to the broader themes of the campaigns.
Diplomacy Still the Least Bad Option
New Violence Threatens Christianity's Ancient Roots
Polls showing an Obama upturn since the conventions suggest the Obama-Clinton politics of balance is far more popular than ideological conservatism, and it seems part of` a trend toward moderation in many countries.
A specter is haunting the affluent societies of the West. Across the rich countries, and across the political spectrum, there is an unstated but palpable longing for a return to the 1950s.
President Obama heads into the fall with some major advantages, starting, as Ronald Reagan did, with a rock solid base. But Mitt Romney has the money edge, along with a chance to win over swing voters in the debates.
That Bill Clinton played such a central role at the convention reflected the extent to which it should be seen as a three-day tutorial designed not only to defend President Obama's economic stewardship, but also to advance a view of government for which Democrats have often apologized.
Republicans and Democrats wrap some portion of their party’s identity and self-image in the conflict over national-security policy. But at this point the script is nonsense, masking a remarkable common ground between the parties on the legal and policy issues surrounding terrorism.
Like his recent predecessors, President Obama has moved on policy and personnel in ways designed to avoid the time-consuming gridlock that sometimes results from procedures mandated and constraints imposed by the Constitution. But in this election season, candidates on both the left and right need to show humility, restraint, and patience.
The Obama Democrats who gather in Charlotte this week have a big advantage over Tampa's Romney Republicans: Last week's GOP convention gave President Obama a peek at Mitt Romney's playbook.
Having given conservatives everything they had asked for -- from switching his positions on abortion and immigration to picking their favorite as his running mate -- Mitt Romney used his acceptance speech to try to convert some of President Obama's 2008 supporters into Republican voters.
A new suit challenges President Obama's 2012 National Defense Authorization Act on the definition of "support" for terrorism, and the possible expansion of presidential power beyond constitutional limits.
Afghanistan and Iraq remain awkward and troubling topics for both political parties.
Neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan seem close to the hawkish ideology that gave the United States its military deployments in Asia and Central Asia. But they seem to have no clear intellectual position at all, which is to say that they might easily become the instruments of others with aggressive ideologies of their own.
A closer look at what happened during the pope's visit to Cuba this year, and how this trip differed from John Paul II's in 1998.
Progressives should put aside their disappointment with Barack Obama. The alternative is a presidency that would shred safety nets and regulations while running the country according to the cruel and primitive forms of individualism not seen since pre-New Deal America.
Overwrought warnings from both campaigns suggest there will be no end to the current stalemate.
With the Siena conference on euro reform ending in an even divide, the survival of the European Union seems at ever greater risk.
The real lesson from Europe is not that we should all tighten our belts and endure more pain, but that we need to get the global economy moving.
Ongoing Analysis & Opinion
Climate change is not just another big national problem—like long-term unemployment, health-care costs, or the national debt—that can be kicked down the road and solved later. It is a planetary emergency. When will our policy acknowledge that fact?
I’m a 65-year-old African American. I was excited enough by the election of the nation’s first black president that I would have cut him a thousand miles of slack. But the last thing I expected was that I would watch him meekly accept humiliation by his political opponents. And the second last thing I expected was that I would go into 2012 looking at the upcoming presidential election as a lesser-of-two-evils affair.
An Exchange about UN Sanctions
How Sargent Shriver Built the Peace Corps
Habeas corpus, secret courts & Gitmo
Will emerging democracies produce new tyrannies?
Should Obama have signed the National Defense Authorization Act?
War crimes in Libya
The great economic crisis has given birth to a smaller and tighter monetary union in Europe, under the influence of a Germany that is undergoing a certain estrangement from its European partners. This amounts to a possibly dangerous wager on what the European Union will ultimately become, which not everyone may like.
Should the president of the United States be able to authorize the assassination of a U.S. citizen anywhere in the world without telling the public why—or even acknowledging that he has done so? The question is not theoretical. On September 30 a missile fired from an unmanned drone aircraft operated by the CIA killed two American citizens in Yemen.
Will the United States ever leave Afghanistan?
As I watched the rioting in London last month snowball from the suburbs to the center of the city and then beyond the capital, it was easy to be reminded of Margaret Thatcher’s famous dictum that there is no such thing as society—only families and individuals. When I ran for Parliament in Enfield North in 2005, much of the tenor of that campaign reflected the voters’ implicit attitude toward the Iron Lady’s succinct philosophy.
When former President George W. Bush joins President Barack Obama at “Ground Zero” in lower Manhattan on September 11 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States, the nation will be reminded, if only for a few hours, that the preservation of democracy requires real sacrifices and the willing embrace of duties, not just the pursuit of private interests and freedoms.
Europe in Crisis
If unemployment were now at 6 percent, would President Obama be getting pummeled for not having us back to full employment already? The question comes to mind in the wake of the Libyan rebels' successes against Qaddafi. It's remarkable how reluctant Obama's opponents are to acknowledge that despite all the predictions that his policy of limited engagement could never work, it actually did.
The MP at the epicenter of the UK riots
What's become known as the “Spanish youth revolution” began on May 15, when thousands took to the streets in cities throughout Spain, demanding “real democracy now.” Organizers issued a manifesto: “We are ordinary people. People who work hard to provide a better future for those around us.” The rallies turned out to be only the beginning of a movement still taking shape.
The plight of Afghan women
Thinking clearly about a slogan & a slur
Befitting its subject, The Longest War is a very long book, a comprehensive examination of the struggle that began slowly and surreptitiously in the early 1990s and continued—at least until Osama bin Laden’s killing.
President Barack Obama finds himself almost alone in his effort to define a broad new middle ground in international affairs. It's not that the center isn't holding. It's that most politicians don't seem to want to go near it.
Could Turkey lead Europe out of a tumultuous century?
Coming of age in East Germany
Undoubtedly, in the killing of Osama bin Laden, a certain kind of justice was done, and the relief and satisfaction felt by many of the families of those murdered at bin Laden’s direction cannot be denied. Yet questions about the circumstances of bin Laden’s death remain.
There was much in Obama’s speech announcing the killing of Osama bin Laden—and in the scenes of chanting and jubilant flag-waving across the country that followed—that ought to give Christians, and not only pacifists such as myself, great pause.
Who is Obama? Now we know
The series of Arab uprisings during the past two months have yet to complete their destruction of what, since shortly after World War II, had seemed a fixed oppressive political order in the Muslim states of the Middle East and Central Asia, overseen by the United States.
In the weeks since Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has spewed contamination and displaced thousands. It has also rekindled fears across the globe about the risks of nuclear power and at least temporarily slowed the industry’s revival in the United States.
President Obama offered a robust defense of U.S. actions in Libya on March 28, but his words and ideas should not be taken for policy. What happens when Libya reaches the next of many forks in the road?
Yes & no
Why I'm betting on Japan
The growing irrelevance of American power
Has America given up on land wars?
Never before have people in the Middle East mobilized in such vast numbers to shake off the chains of autocracy. Whether Egypt and Tunisia succeed in creating genuinely democratic societies remains to be seen—but already we can identify important lessons.
There are many in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere who believe that the democratic awakening of the Arab nations will consolidate a predominantly democratic order for nearly all the major states, with the United States enjoying a respected leadership role. Nothing is less likely.
Bloodlands offers meticulous description of mass murder in restrained, almost clinical prose whose power comes from the gradual, relentless accumulation of horrific detail.
It is too late for Hosni Mubarak’s regime to make token concessions. President Barack Obama should urge Mubarak to step aside sooner rather than later, and call for an internationally supervised election to take place.
Washington's confused response misses the mark on Egypt
On a unanimous voice vote last Thursday, the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution urging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to hand power over to a caretaker government. That slipped through the news cycle with barely a nod.
Whatever one’s political commitments, facing the question of Iraqi civilian deaths as honestly and objectively as possible is both an intellectual and a moral imperative.
America should butt out
The democratic uprising in Egypt has brought into relief a gradual and little-noticed transformation in American politics. Over the past decade, ideological divisions over the role of democracy and human rights in American foreign policy have been scrambled.
What's our end game in Afghanistan?
Dictatorships rarely end happily—for rulers or their people
Are we committing economic suicide?
Does the president have the legal authority to order the killing of a U.S. citizen?
The ethics & economics of slum tours
Where is Obama's conciliatory impulse leading the Democratic Party?
Did Obama Learn the Wrong Lessons from Carter?
Germans bankrolled the European Union's bailout of Greece. Now they want the EU's governing treaty to be changed to shield them and other better-off countries from shouldering such responsibilities alone. Could their buyer's remorse eventually undo the EU?
The Indian media had a ball in the months leading up to the Commonwealth Games, hosted by India for the first time. Every major outlet weighed in, with stories about the mammoth waste involved, the staggering levels of corruption, and, most important, the organizing committee’s shocking ineptness.
What was Pius XII's opinion of the Jews?
Why, when & how
Andrew Bacevich is a prolific writer whose many books constitute one of the best accounts we have of the distortions brought to American life by our childlike dependence on the security war-making seems to offer but never quite delivers.
Letter from Sierra Leone
The challenges facing Europe make America's Afghan problem look simple
Liu Xiaobo's goodwill, courage, and humbling example were recognized by the Nobel Committee earlier this month when, to near universal if muted acclaim, it awarded the imprisoned activist the Nobel Peace Prize for his steadfast nonviolent resistance to the tyrannical rule of China's Communist Party.
Why the French lost faith in Nicolas Sarkozy
Europe's Role in Obama's Mideast Negotiations
Not all Muslims think alike
By insisting that "it's time to turn the page," the president was talking about more than Iraq. He was also trying to turn the page on a particularly rough period for the Democrats and for his presidency.
Yesterday's anti-Catholicism & today's Islamophobia
During his recent tour of TV news programs, Petraeus suggested that sending troops home a year from now might be premature. Defense Secretary Gates then intervened to say that the promise given the president in 2009 by the military would be kept. Who's right?
German intransigence could threaten Europe
The prospect of giving Afghanistan a functioning and competent democratic government and a new and functional army is slight. That was what the counterinsurgency doctrine drafted by Gen. Petraeus was supposed to do. It has rarely succeeded.
It's not yet time to withdraw from Afghanistan.
A review of Ill Fares the Land, the late Tony Judt's final book
From the archives: our editorial decrying the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki
The notion that when we are fighting two wars, we're not supposed to consider raising taxes on wealthy Americans is one sign of a country that's no longer serious.
It's rare to see a dry run for an election campaign. But over the next month, Australia will provide a testing ground for some of the core themes in this November's American elections.
General McChrystal gets out just in time
American arms spending is supposed to make Americans safe from its problems, but that is not working. Congressional attempts to reduce military spending over the years have consistently failed because military spending is a politically irresistible cause, even when the results are irrational.
A general's tasks involve executing policies made by the commander-in-chief, plotting strategy and winning wars—not playing politics in the media to get at civilian rivals inside the government.
A review of the book On Evil
For the British, a peacetime coalition is an unfamiliar animal, though they are common in other European countries. Anguished cries of “betrayal” have come from the left, and there is distress among idealistic Lib Dem voters, who have not understood that being in politics involves, on occasion, behaving politically.
The European Union doesn’t know where it stands at the moment. NATO thinks it knows and is gambling.
Lies have led the west into war again and again in the last century. Theories about the nuclear threat posed by Iran, and the need for a preemptive military response, could be the latest propaganda to have deadly consequences.
The “Western world has never been richer, more secure, or more heavily armed in its history,” writes Overy. So relax.
Hint: It's not Islam
Where do Catholics look for hope?
Does religion promote violence?
A review of the book 'Oscar Romero and the Communion of Saints'
Close encounter with a martyr
Michael Haneke's new film is set in Eichwald, a fictional German village, in 1913. The village’s children will be in their thirties when Hitler comes to power. This timeline makes the violent events in Eichwald much more ominous, and raises the inevitable question: What kind of childhood created Nazis?
From the archives: the life & death of Oscar Romero
'Mental reservation,' lying & the Irish sexual-abuse crisis
The United States & the mess in Honduras
If the few men who hold the strings of power can escalate one of the nation’s recurring political brawls into the overthrow of an elected president, how can future democratic leaders dare to challenge the culture of wealth and impunity that has made Honduras one of the most corrupt nations in the world?
The fall of the Berlin Wall happened on live TV. East German Politbüro member Günter Schabowski announced a new law permitting the country’s citizens to travel to the West. “When does it go into effect?” asked a West German reporter. A confused Schabowski extemporized: “Sofort,” he said—“immediately.”
Here we turn our attention, as we often do, to the uncertainties and dangers facing the nation as a whole.
How should “enemy combatants” captured and imprisoned by the United States in the so-called war on terror be brought to justice? Should they be prosecuted before military commissions or in the federal courts? The answer from the Obama administration is that both venues are necessary and legitimate, and that the Justice Department will decide who should be tried where.
If we wanted to be successful in Afghanistan, we wouldn't choose to start from where we are now. We wouldn't have put this war on the back burner for so long, and we would have dealt much earlier with the debilitating deficiencies of President Hamid Karzai's government.
That’s the number of people who will starve this year—more than ever before.
President Obama must do a better job of explaining our mission in Afghanistan.
Letters from the September 11, 2009 issue.
What is it about Afghanistan, possessing next to nothing that the United States requires, that justifies such lavish attention?
In just a few months’ time, the Obama administration has replaced a grandiose, counterproductive fantasy with realistic attention to a set of grievous but real problems. There is a new awareness in American diplomacy that international relations are now complicated by intercultural relations, including strange new culture-to-religion-to-government hybrids; and that the U.S. government ignores these realities at its own peril.
A mother reflects on her son’s years as a Marine in Iraq.
Obama meets the neighbors, and tries to rekindle Latin America’s faith in Washington.
Why a full and fair torture investigation is necessary, no matter where it leads.
A review of two new books on the prospects for peace in the Middle East
The risks involved in withdrawing U.S. troops must not be underestimated.
Israel’s determination to "punish" the Gazan people, hoping they will repudiate their leaders, seems destined to fail.
For some Muslims, it is the worst kind of torture.
Moderate Islamic groups & the maturation of Danish Muslim democracy
Why the international community must not let Mugabe off the hook
Fighting about religion in politics is very un-Canadian.
A review of The Forever War by Dexter Filkins.
How to cope with the aftermath
The Bush administration, torture & obfuscation in the ’war on terror’
How to rebuild it
How the next president of the United States can get sanctions right.
The senator’s Philadelphia speech on race was brilliant—but also troubling.
What can be done about the global food crisis?
There will be no solution to Iraq’s political problems as long as it is occupied by the U.S. military.
Time to ditch the Bush Doctrine
President George W. Bush’s troubling theological arguments for the "war on terror"
In a report from Kenya, Nagele tells the harrowing story of her corner of the chaos.
A review of the controversial new book ’The Israel Lobby & U.S. Foreign Policy.’
A welcome reminder that piety and the longing for freedom can work together.
What does the United States owe Iraqis?
Avoiding the bigger war with Iran is as morally imperative as containing violence in Iraq.
How can an unjust war be brought to a just conclusion?
Gender in the French election.
Zimbabwe’s dictator has gotten away with too much for too long. That has to end now.
What does the ’surge’ really mean? Hint: it’s about the administration’s reduced strategic appetite.
The Bush administration showed its capacity for self-deception in the Iraq war. Why should we trust it on Iran?
Using the word ’genocide’ is not enough. The term requires action—now.
It’s well past time for the president to realize that the U.S. alone can’t fix what it has broken in Iraq.
What is habeas corpus and why shouldn’t it be eviscerated—not even in wartime?
A detainees’ attorney explains the problems with Gitmo.
What two words best describe our recent military adventures in Iraq?
Military might alone won’t solve the Middle East crisis. It’s time for multilateral diplomacy.
The "war on terror" comes to Canada.
It’s time to put an end to the terror-detainee system in Guantanamo.
What is the price of "progress"?
Can a Mandela- like figure emerge in South Africa’s presidential race?
What will become of England in the post-Tony Blair era?
Executing this man would be a calculated distraction, a delusion, and a crime.
Why is the Bush administration attempting to undercut the nuclear nonproliferation treaty?
In Iraq, President Bush has made a bad situation worse. Can he accept responsibility for his failures?
How did a single mother become the first woman president in Latin America to be elected in her own right?
Despite President George W. Bush’s recent attacks on his Democratic critics, it is the loss of confidence among Republicans and the public at large in the president’s credibility and conduct of the war in Iraq that is now driving the debate about how long U.S. troops should remain there. The president claims that those calling for withdrawal want to “cut and run,” but he has yet to put forward a plausible strategy for winning. Without a strategy, “staying the course” will not change the outcome.
“Twenty-five years ago, on December 2, 1980, security forces in El Salvador tortured and murdered Sisters Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, and Miss Jane Donovan,” writes Robert E. White, who was U.S. ambassador to El Salvador at the time. He was fired for his failure to release a statement declaring that the Salvadoran government was doing its best to get to the bottom of the case. On the anniversary of the slayings, White reflects on recent troubling U.S. foreign policy failures and political interventions, from Latin America to Iraq—“arguably the most reckless war in our history.”
Though continuity with his predecessor has been the norm so far, Pope Benedict XVI has already diverged from several positions held by John Paul II. One concerns the proposed accession of Turkey to the European Union, a question the EU will take up on October 3.
Another area where Catholics and evangelicals have shown joint concern is over ending the long-running civil war in southern Sudan, and, more recently, the genocide in Darfur, the western portion of that huge African nation. In the past two years, perhaps two hundred thousand people have died in Darfur, and 2 million more have been displaced by government-sponsored militias. (For a compelling fictional account of the Sudanese civil war that reflects today’s headlines, see Philip Caputo’s Acts of Faith [Random House], an explosive mix of arms running, tribalism, American exceptionalism, and misguided religious idealism.)
The all-volunteer army, arguably the most successful federal program of the past thirty years, is failing, argues Andrew Bacevich, a West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran. The war in Iraq, coupled with U.S. interventionalist foreign policy, has placed a great strain on the volunteer force, exposing as false the assumption that the U.S. can enjoy the prerogatives of being the world’s sole superpower on the cheap.
The nuclear threat is anything but over, argues Douglas Roche.
"Much of the world’s attention has rightly been focused on the catastrophic loss of life caused by the tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean last month, reminding us in the most horrific way that nature’s capriciousness can be as deadly as man’s own enmity or folly. It is perhaps just as sobering, then, to be reminded that estimates of the Iraqi loss of life following the U.S. invasion and occupation of that country are of a similar magnitude."
Were influential Catholic conservatives right to support the war in Iraq? No, argues theologian and aid worker Peter Dula.
"No single incident in the ’war’ on terror has done more to damage America’s credibility and moral stature, or to fuel the indignation and ambitions of Islamic terrorists in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, than the torture of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison." Why then, is someone implicated in making policy to relax U.S. adherence to the Geneva Conventions going to be the new attorney general?
“When my seventeen-year-old daughter first saw the photos of tortured and abused Iraqi prisoners, she said, ‘I’m ashamed to be an American.’ So was I.” Jo McGowan writes from India.
The U.S. must act to end ethnic cleansing in Darfur.
Who is responsible for the egregious failures at Abu Ghraib?
From the archives: four responses to the terrorist attacks of 9/11