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GIVE WAR A CHANCE? The Utility of War

with Victor Davis Hanson, Jonathan Schellvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, November 24, 2003

The Prussian military historian Carl von Clausewitz famously observed that "war is merely a continuation of politics by other means." These "other" (violent) means have been used on countless occasions throughout human history to settle conflicts over land, resources, and political rule. But what is the utility of war in the modern world? In a world with weapons of mass destruction, have the means of war delegitimized its use? In a world of expanding democracy, and cultural and economic interdependence, has the use of force become outdated?

PUTIN THE TERRIBLE? Vladimir Putin and Russian Democracy

with Michael McFaul, Steven Fishvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, November 24, 2003

On March 14, 2004, Russians head to the polls to choose a president. Current president Vladimir Putin is expected to win a second term by an overwhelming margin. Will this be a genuine democratic show of support for a popular leader or the result of a corrupt political system headed towards dictatorship? When President Bush first met President Putin in June 2001, he declared, "I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.... I was able to get a sense of his soul." Is Putin the trustworthy leader that Bush saw or something much more dangerous?

PROPHETS AND LOSSES: The Rise and Decline of Islamic Civilization

with John Esposito, Azim Nanji, Vali Nasrvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, November 17, 2003

For nearly a thousand years after the death of the prophet Muhammad, the Islamic world was powerful, creative, and self-confident. In science, in trade, and in the arts, Muslim civilization rivaled and often surpassed the best achievements of the European world. But beginning sometime around the seventeenth century, Islamic power and dynamism began to wane, to be eclipsed by the West. Today, by nearly every measure of social and economic development, Islamic nations fall far short of Western nations. Why? Did the historical rise and decline of Islam result from processes internal to the Muslim world or from its interaction with the West? What can and should be done to revive Islamic civilization?

OF BURKHAS AND BALLOTS: The Future of Democracy in the Arab World

with John Esposito, Azim Nanji, Vali Nasrvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, November 17, 2003

The spread of democracy around the world was one of the most significant developments of the twentieth century. At the beginning of the last century, democracy was limited to a handful of Western nations, while today perhaps 120 nations have some form of democratic government. Yet among Muslim countries, democracy is rare, and among Arab states, essentially nonexistent. Why? Is the Islamic faith compatible with the essential features of a democratic society—separation of church and state, freedom of expression, and women's rights, to name a few—or not? Just what is the future of democracy in the Arab world?

THE HIGH (AND MIGHTY) COURT: Judicial Supremacy

with Lawrence Alexander, Robert P. Georgevia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, October 27, 2003

Did the framers of the United States Constitution intend that the Supreme Court be the sole and final interpreter of the Constitution, with the power to place binding decisions on the executive and legislative branches? Or did they intend that the Supreme Court have the final say only on the legal cases that came before it, thus permitting the executive and legislative branches to have wide latitude in interpreting the Constitution for themselves? The former view, that of judicial supremacy, is the dominant view of the Supreme Court today, accepted, for the most part, both within government and in society more generally. Is this view supported by the Constitution? If not, why and when did it arise? Should we support judicial supremacy, or is it time to rein in the Supreme Court?

PATRIOT GAMES: The Patriot Act in Review

with Edwin Meese III, Dorothy Ehrlichvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, October 27, 2003

In October 2001, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, Congress passed, and President Bush signed, the USA Patriot Act. The law is intended to prevent future terrorist acts by enhancing various law enforcement tools. Critics argue that the Patriot Act is a dangerous infringement on American civil liberties. Now, more than two years after the passage of the Patriot Act, do we have any evidence that the critics are right? For that matter, do we even know whether the Patriot Act is working to deter terrorism? Should the Patriot Act be allowed to expire, or should its provisions become a permanent part of the war on terrorism?

BUSH ALMIGHTY: Two Views of George W. Bush

with John Podhoretz, Ron Reaganvia Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, October 27, 2003

Admirers and critics have two diametrically opposed views of President George W. Bush. The admirers see a compassionate conservative at home and defender of the nation against terrorism and rogue states abroad. Critics see a radical conservative at home who led the nation into a destructive and unnecessary war abroad. Why do conservatives and liberals so often seem to be describing two different men when discussing President George W. Bush? Is it possible to find any common ground on which view of President Bush is closer to the truth?

KOREAN BEEF: North Korea's Nuclear Weapons

with Peter Hayes, James Woolseyvia Uncommon Knowledge
Thursday, October 16, 2003

In April 2003, North Korean officials admitted for the first time that their nation possessed the ability to build nuclear weapons. Many experts suggest that the possible possession of nuclear weapons by a so-called rogue state such as North Korea sets the stage for a far more serious conflict than the war with Iraq. Just how should the United States try to diffuse the Korean crisis? Can diplomatic efforts succeed where they have previously failed? Will the United States have to consider military options? And just what is North Korea hoping to accomplish by fomenting this crisis?

THE RELUCTANT EMPIRE: Is America an Imperial Power?

with Niall Ferguson, David M. Kennedyvia Uncommon Knowledge
Thursday, October 16, 2003

George W. Bush, during the 2000 presidential campaign said that "America has never been an empire... We may be the only great power in history that had the chance, and refused." Was then-candidate Bush right when he made those remarks? Or has America become an imperial power in all but name? How do America's unique historical circumstances predispose it to handle the unrivaled power it holds in the world today? And what lessons can we draw from our nearest historical antecedent, the British Empire of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries?

A FAMILY TRADITION: Gay Marriage

with Maggie Gallagher, Kate Kendell, Esq.via Uncommon Knowledge
Monday, September 8, 2003

Given recent trends at both local and federal levels, most notably the Supreme Court decision striking down the Texas antihomosexual sodomy law, it would appear that legal recognition of gay marriage may be just a matter of time. Should gay marriage be granted legal recognition? Are same-sex couples who are not allowed to marry under current law being denied equal protection of the law? How would recognition of gay marriage alter the traditional purpose of marriage? And would gay marriage erode support for families or strengthen it?

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