January 24, 2013

Balancing Human Rights and Geopolitics

Robert Kaplan, Stratfor

AP Photo

In 1755, an earthquake devastated Lisbon, killing tens of thousands of people. The French philosopher Voltaire, 60 at the time, "protested in the name of reason and the intellect against" the "scandalous dereliction of nature" that flattened three-quarters of the Portuguese capital. You may think Voltaire absurd for announcing in the course of several literary works his opposition to an earthquake. But as a character in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain (1924) famously explains, Voltaire's denunciation of a natural event had a serious moral purpose: Voltaire would not accept that humankind must give in to fate. "Nature is force; and it is slavish to suffer force, and to abdicate before it..." For the acceptance of any kind of force -- natural, geographical, cultural, economic -- over...

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TAGGED: Thomas Mann, Berlin, Lisbon, The Magic Mountain, Magic Mountain, Foreign Policy, Syria


January 16, 2013
U.S. Should Butt Out of Britain's Business
Doug Bandow, National Interest
The United States has become a caricature of itself. Like when the assistant secretary of state for Europe, Philip Gordon, traveled to London to lecture the British government on why it should remain in the European... more ››
January 22, 2013
Obama's Foreign Policy of Nothingness
Victor Davis Hanson, NRO
John Brennan, Chuck Hagel, and John Kerry will be confirmed. The three will provide a force-multiplying effect on the Obama foreign policy of disengagement. The chameleon Brennan will be very different from David Petraeus at the... more ››
January 12, 2013
Syria: A Jihadi Paradise
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times
Syria has turned into a remix of 1980s Afghanistan as Sunni hardcore faithful rush to crush President Bashar al-Assad on al-Qaeda's call. This is hardly what the petromonarchs and gilded Western powers backing the Syrian... more ››
January 12, 2013
Syria Becoming a Failed State
David Ignatius, Washington Post
This security vacuum in the Aleppo region appears to have helped Jabhat al-Nusra, which is allied with al-Qaeda. The group is benefiting not just from its prowess on the battlefield but from its refusal to engage in looting and... more ››
January 11, 2013
Jordan's Syria Problem
Nicolas Pelham, New York Review of Books
Jordanian officials like to distinguish between rebel forces in Syria comprised of tribal fighters and army defectors in the south, who they claim have been carefully vetted with western backing, and more radical fighters backed... more ››