‘Action Is Elusive’



It was something of a puzzle, according to the headline in the August 7 New York Times: “Islamic Militants in Iraq Are Widely Loathed, Yet Action to Curb Them Is Elusive.” On the one hand, the article pointed out, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, “is on nearly every nation’s public enemy list, as well as the United Nations’ list of terrorist organizations facing sanctions.” What’s more, ISIS’s barbarism has been publicized and its threat to others is clear. And yet, on the other hand, “international cooperation to check the organization’s rise has so far proved elusive.”

What explains this elusiveness? Why no international action against ISIS?

To help its readers solve the riddle, the Times quoted a couple of experts. The first explained, “You say you don’t like ISIS. What do you do about it?” He went on to elaborate that doing something about ISIS isn’t easy: ...

Eisenhower Memorial

Sins of Commission


You don’t have to be an Eisenhower Memorial groupie—yes, there are such people—to enjoy a new 56-page congressional report called “A Five-Star Folly.” But it helps. The mound of detail will bury all but the sturdiest student of what is shaping up to be one of the most memorable ...


Immigration Malpractice

Young Latin Americans pay the price for America’s policy blunders.


AP / Ross D. Franklin

For over a generation now, America’s elites have willfully ignored a substantial segment of the public that has misgivings about ever-increasing levels of immigration. Whenever possible these elites—in the academy, religious institutions, the media, politics, and business—have responded to such misgivings with platitudes about our status as “a nation of immigrants,” conveniently overlooking the four decades of the 20th century when the gates were substantially closed. When such evasive tactics have proved ineffective, immigration advocates have routinely denounced those who resist their agenda as racist xenophobes—and continued to pry open the flood-gates to unskilled as well as skilled migrants.

In recent months, of course, popular anxieties have broken through the thick haze of immigration happy talk and moralistic complacency, most recently in the unresolved controversy over thousands of “unaccompanied alien children” from ...

Gary Locke

The Infallible ‘New York Times’

Don’t waste time writing a Letter to the Editor unless it’s adulatory.


On June 23, something very rare appeared in the pages of the New York Times: an admission by a Times columnist that he had made a reporting mistake. The columnist was David Carr, who acknowledged that he had erred in an earlier piece which implied that the ...

The would-be and her consort

How to Discredit Your Critics

The Clintons haven’t changed their playbook.


This is partly a story about reporting my new book on Bill and Hillary Clinton​—​Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine​—​but it’s mostly ...

Central Frankfurt, June 1945

War Crimes in Gaza?

By any historical standard, Israel’s air attacks were a model of restraint.


Condemnation of Israel for its conduct of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza continues unabated. The chief accusation, heard time and again, is that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have either been cavalier about civilian casualties or are intentionally inflicting them. Israel and ...

What Difference, at this point, does it make?

Hillary Clinton’s Reputation

Don’t laugh—it’s better than you think.


The rollout of Hillary Clinton’s new memoirs, Hard Choices, was not a resounding success for the former secretary of state. She stuck her foot in her mouth regarding her family’s vast fortune. She had trouble answering questions about her evolution on gay marriage. ...

To his left—and rightly so

The Democrats’ Goldwater

Elizabeth Warren leads the party’s leftward march.


Republicans had Barry Goldwater. Democrats now have Elizabeth Warren. What do they have in common? Years back, he pointed the way for his party, and now she’s doing the same thing for hers.

Goldwater was already a force in Republican politics when his ...


Summer of Stalemate

The fight for Georgia



In the summer of 1864, the Union cause rested with Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. They commanded the most formidable armies ever seen on the continent, yet neither had been in uniform four years earlier, when the war began. Both were West Point trained and had served, without distinction, in the regular army. One had left the army in disgrace; the other in frustration. The detractors of one said that he drank, and the other’s enemies said he was “unbalanced.” When the two were working in harness, during the long and difficult campaign against the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, one newspaper had editorialized that the “army was being ruined in mud-turtle expeditions, under the leadership of a drunkard [Grant], whose confidential adviser [Sherman] was a lunatic.”

The Vicksburg campaign had eventually succeeded. Grant was called east by President Lincoln to take command of all Union armies. He put Sherman in charge of the ...

Books & Arts

People of the Word

The Jewish encounter with history


The Jewish encounter with history

Simon Schama’s choice of “Story” in place of “History” in the title of this impressive new work is fitting, for the history he recounts is not history conceived of as a chronicle of important events, but rather as a compendium of thematically linked stories told throughout the ages by, and about, the lived experience of real people—and of a people. Schama tells these stories in terms of a number of characteristically Jewish oscillations: between exclusivity and inclusivity, differentiation and syncretism, assimilation and rejection, fidelity to law and tradition and the Jewish proclivity for scrutinizing and interrogating both. The myriad ways in which Jews mediated and resolved (or didn’t resolve) these oppositions over the better part of two millennia constitute the warp and weft, the theme and variation, of Schama’s narrative. 


The Son Also Rises

Titles, tangled webs, titillating journalism


In his preface to this well-researched and witty retelling of the famous Ampthill Succession case, Bevis Hillier recalls how he chose his subject after researching a proposed Oxford Book of Fleet Street. ...

Sea lion on bench, San Cristóbal

Darwin’s Islands

A paradise created by survival of the fittest


The lizard—a dirty, yellowish-orange creature several feet long—had been doggedly working on that shallow hole for quite a while. Alternating its short, lateral legs, it finally managed to get half of its body covered. Charles Darwin couldn’t stand it ...

Gardening as necessity, not avocation

Till Your Own

Gardening as necessity, not avocation


Gardening, as an idea, has always seemed like a great way to spend time. What could be more fulfilling than to transform a barren plot of ground into a ...

Montpelier, home of James Madison, Orange, Virginia

Quietly Revolutionary

The achievement(s) of James Madison


If you’re in your 20s or 30s and still living with Mom and Dad, remind them, next time they nag you about getting your own place, that James Madison wrote the Constitution while still living off his parents. Note, however, that this retort will only ...

Portrait of the boy Mozart  by Giovanni del Re (ca. 1875)

The Real Amadeus

The Mozart of music, and the Mozart of the movies


Slim biographies of the most famous people tend to have a more philosophical slant than the big life-of-so-and-so books. That 200-page volume on Napoleon, say, ...

An epic reclaimed, courtesy of J. R. R. Tolkien

Monster Mash

An epic reclaimed, courtesy of J. R. R. Tolkien


Before Robert Baratheon or Ned Stark, from the hugely popular Game of Thrones series, there were Beowulf and Hrothgar; and Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons have nothing on their prototype, a fearsome beast ...

Craft breweries, global corporations, and the making of beer

A Convivial Glass

Craft breweries, global corporations, and the making of beer


There aren’t many things that tie together Belgian monks, lederhosen-wearing Germans, and American crowds packing the infield at a stock car race, but the common thread between these disparate groups is ...

The spy who came in from the cold, and prospered

Genteel Treachery

The spy who came in from the cold, and prospered


There is a story, probably apocryphal, that Franklin Roosevelt, when informed that Whittaker Chambers had named Alger and Donald Hiss as Soviet agents, responded by derisively dismissing the possibility that two products of Harvard Law School and ...

The fascinating/infuriating General MacArthur

Big Mac of the Pacific

The fascinating/infuriating General MacArthur


Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) was undeniably one of history’s greatest Army officers. During a remarkable career of 48 years, he graduated first in his class at West Point, fought in three ...

Bill Mauldin, Audie Murphy in ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ (1951)

Seeing ‘Red’

The imaginary lives of an American realist


This will undoubtedly serve as the standard work on Stephen Crane’s life for many years. Paul Sorrentino was one of the first scholars to reveal the many inaccuracies of Thomas Beer’s 1923 biography, which was entertaining enough but thoroughly ...

Reports of the perils of childhood have been greatly exaggerated

Fear Itself

Reports of the perils of childhood have been greatly exaggerated


Julie Gunlock is one mother who’ll welcome the return of pink slime. As the Wall Street Journal reported recently, the beef product processed from scraps left over from butchered cattle all but ...

Luca Zingaretti as Inspector Montalbano (2000)

Sicilian Gumshoe

An unlikely setting for police procedurals


Until recently, Italian mystery writers did not loom large in the criminous hierarchy, and the genre was not viewed respectfully by Italian critics. ...


Guided Torture

Philip Terzian takes a (mandatory) tour


David Clark

One summer morning almost exactly 20 years ago, I drove out to Leesburg, Virginia, to meet a courtly businessman named B. Powell Harrison and discuss the fate of Dodona Manor. Dodona Manor, a plain, early-19th-century Federal-style residence, had been the home of General George C. Marshall: His wife had bought it in 1941 as a retreat from wartime Washington, and the Marshalls had lived there until the general’s death in 1959. 

In 1994, Marshall’s stepdaughter wanted to sell the place, and Harrison, who had served under Marshall during the war, was worried that it might fall into private hands. I shared his concern. When Franklin Roosevelt was deciding whether to name Marshall to lead the Allied invasion of Europe—he concluded that Marshall was indispensable as chief of staff and gave the command to Marshall’s protégé, Dwight D. Eisenhower—he lamented, “I hate to think that 50 years from now practically nobody will know who George ...


Dinner Under the Tent


We accept that a certain degree of pomp and circumstance is part of having a presidency, and, with a tolerance born of Washington’s summer languor, we can even find a certain pleasure in the extravaganza with which President Obama feted the African leaders who were in town for a few days last week to meet high-powered CEOs tempted by the chance to find investment opportunities.

As few of Obama’s guests are known for anything other than misgovernance, kleptocracy, and extravagant self-regard, it is true the only way to make a deal is to go straight to the one individual in a position to decide whether there is anything in it for him, or what it might take to persuade him that there is. The 51 solons and distinguished guests were thus herded into a large tent on the White House lawn to accommodate the unusually large party for a dinner putatively mixing African and American specialties with some herbs from the first lady’s own ...

Tim Evanson

‘How We Grow’

It was a big week in Washington for what blogger Steve Sailer puckishly refers to as World War T: Now that gay rights are utterly in the ascendant, the next Most Important Civil Rights Issue in History is transgender “rights.”

First, Capitol Hill’s ...


Raising Their Game

Readers can well imagine the excitement in these precincts when The Scrapbook learned the news about Fareed Zakaria. If you haven’t heard it, here’s what we’re talking about: It was announced last week that Dr. Zakaria, after stints at Foreign Affairs, Slate, ...


An Epigram!

The Scrapbook is in receipt of a timely piece of verse from Paul Lake, the poetry editor of First Things, and owing to its manifest excellence has received special dispensation from the editorial authorities here to violate, just this once, The Weekly Standard’s no-poetry ...



The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers