Superpower Once Lived Here



On February 22, popular protests led to the fall of the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev. On February 27, in response to this setback, President Vladimir Putin sent forces into Crimea to seize it from Ukraine. On March 19, President Barack Obama delivered his response. He reassured Putin, “We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine.” Obama added, “What we are going to do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international coalition that sends a clear message.”

The message is clear. The problem is its content. Obama certainly isn’t sending the message that Colin Powell, after the Cold War, wanted America to send: “Superpower lives here.” Obama’s message, by contrast, is: “Superpower once lived here. No forwarding address.”

Putin understands Obama’s message. He knows he’s won Crimea. The question is whether ...


Boots on the Ground? Yes!


The failures of American will exposed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are numerous and mounting. Coming on top of the tepid response to China’s declaration of an air defense identification zone over Japanese waters and the withdrawals from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the “red line” in ...


Time to Win the Vote


Democrats are waiting. They’re waiting to see if Paul Broun is the Republican nominee for the Senate in Georgia. They’re waiting to see if challenger Matt Bevin and the Senate Conservatives Fund lacerate Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell sufficiently in Kentucky’s Republican ...


Crimea and Punishment

Time for another Russia reset.



It's time for a reset for U.S. policy toward Russia. The original Obama reset has now run its course, and President Vladimir Putin has thoroughly dashed all hope of Russia emerging as a partner of the United States and a constructive contributor to a liberal international order. The armed takeover and annexation of Crimea and the threat of further military incursion into eastern Ukraine have established beyond doubt that the United States needs to approach Russia first and foremost as a security challenge.

The Obama reset was, in my view, worth a try, whether one was optimistic about the prospects for Russia as a responsible member of the international community, as were most Obama administration officials, or pessimistic, as were most internationally minded Republicans. The reset really was as clear a test of Russian intentions as one could imagine. If, indeed, it was the case that relations between the United States and Russia had ...


But ICANN Can’t

Don’t lose sleep over international ‘control’ of the Internet.


The Commerce Department issued a low-key bureaucratic announcement on March 14: The government will not renew its contract with the Internet Corporation for Names and Numbers (ICANN), under which ICANN has administered the Internet’s domain name system since the mid-1990s. U.S. ...

Mother, Soldier, and Senator?

Mother, Soldier, and Senator?

Joni Ernst tries to separate herself from the Iowa GOP pack.


In Iowa’s crowded, six-way GOP Senate primary, Joni Ernst is trying to break out of the pack by running as the only candidate who is “a mother, a soldier, and a proven conservative.”

Born and raised on a small farm in southwest Iowa, the mother of ...


The Battle for Paris

The next mayor of the French capital will be a woman. But which one?


If you inhabit the Left Bank of Paris, you live left and vote right. The Left Bank is on the southern shore of the river Seine, and the heart of it is the Latin Quarter and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a small, dense country you can cross on foot in half an hour. Around here they vote ...

A voter refusing to be taken for granted

How Much Worse Can It Get?

Republicans can’t afford to write off African-American voters.


When pundits talk about the Republican party’s troubles with the “nonwhite” vote, they usually mean the Latino vote. There are reasons for this. In 2004 George W. Bush won an estimated 44 percent of the Latino vote; in 2012 Mitt Romney won just 27 percent. What’s more, the Latino ...

Gary Locke

The Hard Sell

No amount of advertising will make Obamacare attractive to the young.


Add LeBron James to the ranks of Obamacare pitchmen: The basketball star is featured in new ads urging his fans to sign up at HealthCare.gov. “You can go there to find an affordable health plan that’s part of the health care law.”

The ads are just ...


Border Skirmishes

The Iran-Israel struggle heats up.


Last week the Israeli Air Force bombed Syrian military and security positions in retaliation for an operation on the Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights. Four Israeli soldiers were wounded when Hezbollah attacked their Jeep. Hezbollah it seems was looking to kidnap them. ...

Visitors looking at the Detroit Institute of Art’s Diego Rivera mural

Big Philanthropy’s New Role

An unhappy partnership with the public sector.


Many cheered last month when President Obama finally used his bully pulpit to talk about the problems facing young men of color. Of course, the president did not have much else to offer: Nearly all of the $200 million pledged for his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative is from private ...


Grant Takes Charge

150 years ago—the appointment that won a war



He arrived without ceremony. No pomp, no pageantry. It was as far in spirit from Caesar’s entry into Rome as it could possibly have been. He had come to Washington to be made only the third lieutenant general in the nation’s history (George Washington and Winfield Scott were the others) and to assume command of all the Union armies and, consequently, the direction of the war from Texas to Virginia. He was being asked—commanded, actually—by civilian leadership to save the Republic. He was not the first. 

But when he appeared, with his 12-year-old son, in the lobby of Willard’s Hotel, the clerk did not recognize him. The oversight could be forgiven. He was dressed in a worn uniform that was anything but gaudy—no braided epaulets and polished brass, but merely the insignia of a major general, and, God knows, they saw enough of them at Willard’s. In the recollection of someone who had been in the lobby at the time, he seemed a man of ...

Books & Arts

Getting There

A debut novel about the American road trip, family-style.


Old Route 66, Adrian, Texas

This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper.

It’s an oft-quoted line of T. S. Eliot, but it’s worth trotting out again to summon the mood of The Last Days of California. This intriguing first novel is a self-consciously strange hybrid of National Lampoon’s Vacation, The Myth of the American Sleepover (or insert your favorite teenage-y/loss-of-innocence-y tale here), and the Book of Revelation—though not really, since the biblical apocalypse that inspires the family road trip to California at the heart of this novel never shows up.

Much has been made lately about the disappearance of faith from serious literary fiction. Paul Elie, writing in the New York Times Book Review, offered this rather grim ...

Sea of Troubles

Sea of Troubles

The Pacific as naval battleground.


In 2005, Thomas L. Friedman published a book that had far too much influence on how Americans think about world affairs. The World Is Flat was a paean to the wonders of economic ...

Bill Robinson, Shirley Temple in  ‘The Little Colonel’ (1935)

America’s Sweetheart

In the 1930s, there really was one.


In a time of widespread suffering and frequent despair, this little girl touched the hearts of millions of people in our own land and others. Shirley Temple was a cultural force to be reckoned with in the 1930s, and John F. Kasson shows how her films ...

Honor Thy Fathers

Honor Thy Fathers

The biblical rules in cultural perspective.


This is a somewhat eccentric book. It is written to oppose the display of the Ten Commandments in American public spaces, but it makes little reference to American law, precedent, principle, or polity. Rather, it is an erudite and ...

An Academic Barred

An Academic Barred

A New Formalist manifesto—in verse.


When Paul Lake published his controversial novel Cry Wolf: A Political Fable (2008), critics immediately recognized it as an adaptation of

The Peacock Room

Whistler’s Mother’s Son

A portrait of the artist as a self-invented man.


James Whistler’s flamboyance assured his fame in decades when mass culture was setting new standards for recognition. He

Ralph Fiennes

Just Checking In

There’s a lot going on at the Grand Budapest, but to what end?


The Grand Budapest Hotel, the latest offering from the writer and director Wes Anderson, is a laborious confection, rather like one of the ...


The Saint of the Family

David Skinner in the eye of the beholder


Aunt Eileen with Ugandan Friends, Circa 2005

In our dining room, there was a small glass-top table that looked like an old-fashioned pushcart. On it my mother kept several small plants that made a mess of the glass top as they shed their leaves and, when watered, dripped soil from the holes at the bottom of their pots. To clean the table you had to remove all the plants, wipe down the glass, clean off the bottoms of the pots, and return them to the glass. It was a chore we always put off, except when Aunt Eileen was coming to visit.

Aunt Eileen is my mother’s older sister. She is also a nun and a missionary, now retired, who spent most of her life in Africa—in Ghana, Nigeria, and later Uganda. She did not usually wear a habit, but she was so thin and dressed so simply in starchy-looking fabrics and decades-old eyeglass frames that you would never mistake her for a layperson. 

During her missionary years, Eileen would occasionally ...


Bo Callaway, 1927-2014

Bo Callaway

Howard “Bo” Callaway, who in 1965 became the first Republican congressman from Georgia since Reconstruction, died last week at the age of 86. A West Point graduate and Korean War veteran, Callaway was the scion of a wealthy Georgia family—his parents were founders of the Callaway Gardens resort near Columbus—and as secretary of the Army (1973-75) he presided over the transition to an all-volunteer force. In later years he moved to Colorado, where he served as chairman of the state Republican party and ran unsuccessfully for the Senate.

The memory of Callaway as a New South GOP businessman-politician, respectable but obscure, seems fixed: The Washington Post ran a 200-word wire service obituary, beside the former Sierra Leone president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, under the heading of “Deaths Elsewhere.”

You would never know that, nearly a half-century ago, Bo Callaway had dominated the ...

Bin Laden

Protecting bin Laden

Did Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, help Osama bin Laden hide in the years before he was killed in Abbottabad in May 2011? According to an extraordinary piece of reporting in the New York Times Magazine, we finally know the answer: yes. 


Double Standards

The Scrapbook continues to scratch its head over the barrels of ink spilled over the Chris Christie bridge scandal. It’s well worth reporting, but none of the Christie revelations to date justify the flood-the-zone coverage. So you’ll forgive us for suspecting that Christie’s ...

Care that touches everyone... One at a time.

Busybodies Get Busy

CVS, the nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain, recently decided to stop selling tobacco products. That was all well and good: There’s nothing objectionable about a corporation making the decision to stop selling a product that is well-known to be harmful. (Though we could have ...



The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers