A Bad Deal



We are in an odd situation. President Barack Obama is trying to coerce and cajole Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, to compromise on his nuclear quest without using America’s only possible trumps: more sanctions and a serious threat of force. These negotiations are unlikely to end well, unless one deems any deal better than the possibility of American preemptive strikes. 

It’s certainly possible that neither more sanctions nor the threat of preemptive attacks will now work with Khamenei, who has shepherded the nuclear-weapons program since he became supreme leader in 1989. He is a cleric of revolutionary faith. He loathes the United States. His religious identity, let alone the Islamic Republic’s entire defensive strategy since the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, is wound around the nuclear program. Kowtowing to America and Europe on anything, let alone the centerpiece of the revolution’s defense, would surely be in his eyes ...


A New Disorder


Moments of clarity often come when you least expect them. In a speech to contributors last week in Seattle, Barack Obama made the case that his presidency has made America better. In most respects, it was precisely the kind of political pablum you’d expect from a president who ...


No Sword, No Justice


On Tuesday, President Obama visited the Dutch embassy in Washington to pay his respects to the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, shot down over Ukraine by forces armed and backed by Vladimir Putin. Obama wrote in the embassy’s condolence book, “We will not rest until we are ...


Like a Broken Record

Human Rights Watch sings its same old ­discredited tune about Gaza.


Let's go Find Some Rockets

Israel’s Operation Protective Edge was only a week old when Human Rights Watch charged that “Israeli air attacks in Gaza investigated by Human Rights Watch have been targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war.” The report quoted Sarah Leah Whitson, the group’s Middle East director: “Recent documented cases in Gaza sadly fit Israel’s long record of unlawful airstrikes with high civilian casualties.”

In reality, the “long record” compounded here was that of Human Rights Watch, which has waged a relentless campaign against the Jewish state. Its current accusations cannot be assessed amidst the fog of war any more than HRW itself can truly have “documented” or “investigated” Israel’s targeting under these conditions. However, the credibility of HRW’s accusations can be judged from its past record.

In 2006 the group charged Israel with “war crimes” ...


Lamar Alexander in the Crosshairs

Will Tennessee’s longtime incumbent go down?


One name is ubiquitous at a July 22 rally for Republican Senate candidate Joe Carr, and it isn’t Joe Carr’s. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee senator Carr hopes to defeat in the August 7 primary, practically greets you the moment you turn ...

Israeli paratroopers enter a tunnel in the Gaza Strip, July 20, 2014.

The Underground War on Israel

The tunnels of Hamas and Hezbollah.


During the first two weeks of the Gaza conflict, Hamas landed at least two significant punches. In firing missiles at Ben Gurion Airport, Hamas convinced the Federal Aviation Authority and European air carriers to temporarily suspend flights to Israel. The fact that relatively ...

Mike McFadden

Another Minnesota Miracle?

A Republican neophyte takes on Al Franken.


In 1978, Republicans in Minnesota, astonishingly, won all three statewide races: both Senate seats and the governorship. It became known by DFLers (Democrats here run as Democratic-Farmer-Laborites) as the “Minnesota massacre.” Republicans preferred to call it their Minnesota ...


Entitled to What?

Hillary Clinton’s long march through the institutions


I’ll just ride your coattails, dear.

Contrary no doubt to what she expected, Hillary Clinton has hit some serious snags in the rollout of her unannounced campaign for president. She has made Romneyesque comments about the size of her fortune, such as that she was “dead broke” when she bought her two mansions. When queried about events on her watch as secretary of state that proved embarrassing, she took responsibility without being accountable, projecting the impression that anyone who pressed further was crude. Most damning of all, what has emerged in plain sight from the first month of the publicity tour for her memoir Hard Choices is the extent of her sense of entitlement. She feels entitled to make $200,000 for a speech, to own two mega-houses in pricey neighborhoods, to be treated like royalty. She feels entitled to fawning coverage from reporters, especially female ones. Asked by the journalist John Harwood to respond to Jill Abramson’s comment that “she expects you to be ...

All we are saying...

Frozen in the Cold War

The roots of Obama’s weakness abroad


In 1983, Barack Obama was a senior at Columbia University. He was not well known. He lived off-campus, had a few close friends, and spent a lot of time reading. He went to some meetings of the Black Students Association, but no one remembers seeing him there. He majored in ...


The Long War Against Hamas

Israel’s Gaza dilemma


The Gaza war of 2014 will end in a cease-fire, just as the previous rounds between Israel and Hamas and the 2006 battle with Hezbollah ended. But the war will be won or lost less in the streets and tunnels of Gaza this summer than when the fighting is over. Israel must not only ...

Books & Arts

The Anti-Eliot

A centenary appraisal of Dylan Thomas


Dylan Thomas (1946)

The main link between 2014 and literature is, inevitably, the outbreak of the First World War and the war poets such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Rupert Brooke. (Though a virtuoso technician, Brooke is nowadays held in less regard than the other two, as he depicted war as glorious, they as hideous.) But 1914 has another anniversary resonance in literature: It was the year the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was born. 

By one of those ironic quirks of fate, 1914 was also the birth-year of the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, whose often acidic letters were published last year. Trevor-Roper had a Great War association of his own: Though it is likely that he was gay, he married the eldest daughter of Sir Douglas Haig, one of the Great War generals satirized in the phrase “lions led by donkeys.”

It is hard to imagine ...

Families and Faith How Religion Is Passed Down Across Generations

The God Gene

The family that prays together .  .  . well, you know the rest


One of the realities of Christianity is that the church has always been forming and reforming. This evolutionary phenomenon goes back to the church’s earliest days, when believers identified themselves in various ways, such as followers of Paul or ...

'King Perseus before Aemilius Paullus' by Jean-Francois-Pierre Peyron (1802)

Promises to Keep

How the Romans (successfully) supplanted the Greeks


A mighty republic, having fought a considerable war to a victorious end, vindicated its plighted word by removing its arms from the realm where so many of its young men had fallen for the liberty of strangers. But then, compelled to regard fresh wars arising in ...

‘Thanks to dear Stalin for a happy childhood!’ (1936)

Childhood’s End

A story of guilt and innocence in Stalin’s kingdom


Simon Sebag Montefiore is best known for his monumental biography Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (2003), which offered a mesmerizing, richly detailed portrait of the Soviet ...

J. Edgar Hoover (1940)

Hoover at War

How the G-man beat the Germans at their own game


Ever since the death of J. Edgar Hoover in 1972, journalists and disparate authors have pored over his life in order to dissect its mysteries. There have been books about his (alleged) gay activities and darker allegations that he used his ...

Snowpiercer Directed by Bong Joon-ho

All Aboard

Snow, dystopia, trains, inequality. What’s not to like?


I don’t know what it says about the movies these days that the best one I’ve seen so far this summer is a completely insane thriller set on a train in perpetua


Jeremiah Denton, 1924-2014

Fred Barnes on an unforgettable hero.



Jeremiah A. Denton Jr. had three careers in the course of his 89 years. He was a Navy pilot. He was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for seven years and seven months. And he was a U.S. senator from Alabama.

He excelled in all three, but it was as leader of the POWs at the Hanoi Hilton that he should always be remembered. He spent four years in solitary confinement and was brutally beaten many times. Yet he defied his captors year after year and suffered as much as the POWs he led.

When he and the others were released in 1973, he was the first off the plane. He was smiling. He offered no complaints about a policy that led to their imprisonment. His statement was terse. “It was one of the most remarkable scenes in American history,” said Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, who spoke at Denton’s funeral and burial at Arlington National Cemetery last week. 

Here’s what Denton said 41 years and ...


Dodo Bird

Lame Duck

Sen. John Walsh

An Officer and a Plagiarist

The sad thing about plagiarism, aside from the act itself, is that examples are always plentiful. Just a few weeks ago The Scrapbook took note of the serial larceny of antiwar polemicist Chris Hedges (“War Is a Force That Makes Us Plagiarize,” June 23). Now, courtesy of the New ...

Run Liz Run!

The Progressive Racket

On July 16-19, the online progressive community held its annual “Netroots Nation” conference in Detroit. The irony of holding such an event in a desiccated husk of a formerly great metropolis undone by unionism and unfettered liberal governance was mostly lost on the crowd, and the ...

Secret Service

Secret Disservice

Last week, while Israel, Gaza, Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria burned, and the immigration crisis intensified along the Texas-Mexico border, President Obama was hard at work for two days in Los Angeles raising funds for the Democratic party. 

That’s one problem with ...


Sentences We Didn’t Finish

Vladimir Putin “has taken thugs, thieves, rapists, ex-cons and vandals and turned them into a paramilitary force. He has permitted ad hoc commanders of separatist groups to kill or chase off intellectuals, journalists and other moral authorities in the cities of .  .  . ” ...


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