Tag Archives: nature of politics

What matters most

A recent opinion article by Roger Cohen about a book and polling data demonstrating a gulf in transatlantic public opinion struck me as a windy but representative example of the unnecessary polarization in our political debate.  We find more visceral examples of this bifurcated outrage … Continue reading

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Some Dreamers of the Impossible Dream

With nods to George Kennan, Joan Didion, and Cervantes, enjoy this excerpt from my book, The United States and the Challenge of Public Diplomacy about an extraordinary visit I made to Macedonia in 2006 published in The Foreign Service Journal. Although I wrote … Continue reading

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Plenums and Power (Power v. Force III)

The past two weeks have been astounding to witness in Ukraine and Bosnia- Herzegovina. While I haven’t been able to follow quite as intimately what has happened in Ukraine, media reporting from that country has been very good. In Bosnia … Continue reading

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Lessons from Robben Island

I visited Robben Island, South Africa’s prison colony off the Western Cape, more than a decade ago when I was in South Africa with the woman who would become my wife. Then as today it is a national heritage site … Continue reading

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Lou Reed and the Power of Art

Lou Reed died today at 71. The standard obituaries have noted his profound influence on popular music since the 1960s and 1970s. Dig a little deeper and you might find, as The New Republic did, that he affected political leaders like Vaclav … Continue reading

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American Republic, Now Available from Amazon

I’m pleased to announce that my book, American Republic: Essays on the Nature of Politics, is now available in Kindle and paperback from Amazon.com. American Republic includes the original book, plus three essays that first appeared on this site: “The Plastics and … Continue reading

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In Egypt, Force v. Power (II)

It’s been sickening listening to usually sensible and decent people try to justify the ugly ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected head of state. Watch David Brooks, for example, speaking on PBS’ Newshour, contort himself into a principle for the outcome of … Continue reading

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Clearing the Air in Turkey (latest update July 14)

For anyone caught unawares by the political protests now roiling Turkey, you’re not alone. But for those looking for simple analogies between the demonstrations sparked by plans to bulldoze an Istanbul park and the regime-splitting Arab uprisings, you’re probably seeking a … Continue reading

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Egypt’s Attack on Civil Society — and Politics

Today’s prison sentences by an Egyptian court in the case of several democratic activists in the country has rightly drawn attention to the 43 defendants – including 16 Americans, two Germans, and more than dozen Egyptians – who face jail … Continue reading

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An Assault on Joseph Nye, Part Two: “Power and Violence are Opposites”

In a previous discussion, I attacked Joseph Nye’s “soft power/hard power” theory at the level of language, effectively calling his terms unclear and mealy-mouthed substitutes for clearer, more precise terms we can use like force and coercion, sanctions or diplomacy. Nye … Continue reading

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