Is democracy—that is, free elections—to be desired at all times for all nations? Or are nations more successful when they establish the rule of law, property rights, and other constitutional liberties first? For the United States, this is no longer an academic question. America is deeply involved in nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. Should the establishment of democracy in these countries be the first priority for the United States, or is securing public order and the rule of law more important?
This week on Uncommon Knowledge, a conversation with author and historian Amity Shlaes on her new book, Great Society: A New History.
In his first term, President George W. Bush has had difficulty getting his nominees to the federal courts of appeal confirmed by the Senate. The Democrats have taken the almost unprecedented step of threatening filibusters to prevent floor votes on certain nominees. Has the judicial appointments process become the latest victim of bitter partisan politics? Or has the judiciary brought this state of affairs on itself by advancing a doctrine of judicial supremacy, leaving the executive and legislative branches no choice but to resort to political litmus tests for nominees? What does this situation bode for the next Supreme Court nomination? And what, if anything, should be done to reform the process?
The controversy sparked by the Sept. 15, 2009, publication of the Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, otherwise known as the Goldstone Report, may appear to exclusively concern the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . . .
Be careful when one uses the superlative case—best, most, -est, etc.—or evokes end-of-the-world imagery...
On July 29, 1981, barely six months into his presidency and in the face of an economic crisis of historic proportions, Ronald Reagan succeeded in persuading both houses of Congress to pass dramatic tax cuts that set the stage for nearly three decades of vigorous economic growth...
Don't be misled by how little was said about Iran in the major speeches recently delivered by President Barack Obama at Cairo University and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Bar-Ilan University...
It is fairly certain that a book titled "The Party of Death" is not calculated to bridge differences, find common ground or in any other way still the controversy that has roiled American politics for more than 30 years…
In 'The Heroic Heart', Tod Lindberg traces the quality of heroic greatness from its origin in prehistory to the present day.
Factions, argued James Madison in Federalist No. 10, had ever been the bane of governments grounded in the consent of the governed. However, an improved political science informed the new charter of government that he and his fellow delegates drafted a few months before in Philadelphia over the course of the summer of 1787. Well-designed institutions that minimized freedom’s costs offered a more promising approach to preserving freedom. So effective is Madisonian political science that it provides remedies for such up-to-date threats to freedom as social media and the giant companies that monopolize the provision of information about us and about others.
In an effort to restore the teaching of our nation's founding principles at colleges and universities and produce the next generation of professors prepared to effectively teach America's history and institutions, new academic centers of excellence are now active at the University of Chicago; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Texas, Austin; and Emory University...
Journalist Christopher Hitchens discusses neoconservatives and the left, his break with The Nation magazine over his support of the war in Iraq, and his tour of the three members of the "axis of evil."
In recent years, a movement has been calling for the United States government to pay reparations for slavery in America. What does the federal government owe the descendants of slaves in this country? Should such reparations be viewed as a gesture of recognition for past wrongs or as an attempt to actually correct those past wrongs? Would payment of reparations erase the lingering economic problems in the African American community or would they do more harm than good? And if reparations are a good idea, who should receive them, all African Americans or just those descended from slaves?
Thou Shalt Not Kill—perhaps the most famous moral commandment in the western world. And yet Judeo-Christian religious leaders have also created a doctrine that can justify killing—commonly known as Just War Doctrine. What sort of military action does Just War Doctrine permit and what sort does it proscribe? Is America's campaign against terrorism a just war?
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?
In 1965, Congress voted to change the laws that had restricted immigration into the United States for more than four decades. The Immigration Act of 1965 resulted in a wave of increased immigration that continues today. How do recent immigrant groups compare with those of the last great wave of immigration a century ago? Are they successfully integrating into American culture or threatening America's cultural stability? Should immigration once again be restricted, or should we concern ourselves with helping immigrants assimilate when they arrive?
In June 1967, Israel defeated the combined forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, seizing control of the Sinai from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the West Bank from Jordan. Why did the Six-Day War unfold as it did? What lessons did the Arabs on the one side, and the Israelis on the other, draw from the war? And what lessons do the war and its aftermath have for the United States as it tries to forge a lasting peace in the Middle East?
It's been nearly twenty-five years since the shah of Iran was overthrown in a popular revolution. The ensuing American hostage crisis marked the beginning of an era of mutual hostility between Iran and the United States—Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini often called the United States "the Great Satan"; more recently President Bush placed Iran on the so-called axis of evil. But an increasingly visible democratic reform movement supported by young Iranians born after the revolution suggests that Iran may be entering a new era of change. Just how powerful is the reform movement in Iran? And what should the United States do, if anything, to help bring about a new Iran?
More than eighty years ago, President Woodrow Wilson presided over the U.S. entry into the First World War, promising that it would be "the war to end all war." Wilson promoted "peace without victory" and the creation of a League of Nations with the power to enforce the peace thereafter. At that time, Wilson's vision was dismissed by European and American leaders alike as naive idealism. Today, however, Robert S. McNamara, former U.S. secretary of defense, believes that Wilson's vision is essential to reducing the risk of conflict and war in the twenty-first century.
The decades of the 1980s and 1990s seem to offer two different fiscal models for promoting economic growth. The 1980s under President Reagan suggest that cutting taxes is more important than balancing the budget. The 1990s under President Clinton suggest the importance of balancing the budget with moderate tax increases. Yet the results in each decade were similar: sustained economic growth. President George W. Bush has clearly been following the Reagan model in his first term: enacting large tax cuts even as the federal budget approaches record deficits. But has the Bush team taken the correct lessons from our recent economic past? Do the Bush policies promote long-term growth or jeopardize it?