Europe’s War Against The Veil And The Burqa: Liberation, Or Assault On Religious Freedom ?

Last month, French President Nicolas Sarkozy became the latest European leader to take the lead in an ongoing fight against Muslim women wearing Islamic garb, specifically the full-face veil, or niqba, and the burqa, in public when he promised to introduce a bill that would ban both items in France. But, it’s not just France […]

Europe’s Nadir?

“It is more than a little ironic that NATO has committed itself to defining a new strategic concept at precisely the moment the transatlantic relationship counts for less than at any time since the 1930s.”  So begins an FT op-ed by CFR president Richard Haass. I assess this argument in “Goodbye to Europe?,” a lengthy […]

Americans Fat . . . But Not THAT Fat

Adam Ozimek, Alex Tabarrok, Andrew Sullivan, Miss Cellania, and others post this picture of “Human Freight Car” Chauncey Morlan (1869-1906), one of the freak show fatties who traveled with the Barnum & Bailey Circus: Alex wonders, “What would the circus goers of 1890 have thought if they were told that in the America of 2010 […]

Palin on Obama’s Nuclear Policy

Sarah Palin, who was governor of Alaska for a few months before launching a career as a talk show host, objects to President Obama’s new nuclear policy thusly: Now, the president, with all the vast nuclear experience that he acquired as a community organizer, as a part-time senator, and as a full-time candidate, all that […]

Caption Contest

Time for the Thursday OTB Caption ContestTM REUTERS/Marco Fredes Winners will be announced Monday PM

Hillary Clinton on NATO’s Future

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech on the future of NATO to the Atlantic Council last night, kicking off the Washington Strategic Concept Seminar. More often than not, when sitting officials give public speeches, they tend to be incredibly bland, containing little fodder for those of us engaged in the subject matter on […]

Fort Hood-Linked Imam Killed in Yemen Strike

An air strike in Yemen may have killed the top leaders of al Qaead’s branch in that country, along with an American-born cleric linked to the Fort Hood massacre. A Yemeni air raid may have killed the top two leaders of al Qaeda’s regional branch on Thursday, and an American Muslim preacher linked to the […]

Euro-Blogging at New Atlanticist

I’ve got two new pieces up at my day blog, both involving the EU. “Obstacles to a European Foreign Policy” riffs off Charlemagne‘s suggestion that “most EU countries do not really have foreign policies. They have neighbourhood policies, which may or may not drag them into some nasty spats that make little sense to outsiders.”  […]

Europe’s New Leadership in Perspective

My latest for Foreign Policy, “The Eurocrats Europe Needs,” is up.   It attempts to bring some perspective to the negative reactions — my own included! — that accompanied the selection of  Herman Van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton as president and high representative for foreign policy, respectively, of the EU. Many had hoped for a kind […]

Obama’s Europe Neglect Could Bring Bush Nostalgia

My first piece for, “Europe’s Obama Fatigue,” is online. Despite George W. Bush’s defiant “you’re with us or you’re against us” public stance, he actively solicited advice and input from his NATO partners. Obama, by contrast, is saying all the right things in public about transatlantic relations and NATO but adopting a high-handed policy and […]

Caption Contest

Time for the Thursday OTB Caption ContestTM REUTERS/Eliana Aponte (MEXICO SOCIETY) Winners will be announced Monday PM

Greece’s Socialists Win

Greece’s Socialist Party has defeated the New Democracy Party in the country’s national elections with enough seats to form a government: ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s Socialists, who campaigned on a promise to inject a 3 billion euro ($4.36 billion) stimulus package into the economy, have won Sunday’s national election with enough seats to form a […]

Old Europe, New Europe

Back in 2003, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld famously noted that while “Old Europe” (particularly France and Germany) was hard to work with, America could count on “New Europe.”   Fast forward to 2009 and we may have reversed polarity. My latest New Atlanticist essay, “Losing New Europe, Too?” explores this evolution, including why Western Europe is […]

You Know You Got it When You’re Going Insane

Norm Geras (who just celebrated his 6th blogging anniversary) points us to this hilariously annoying SPIEGEL interview with Wired editor Chris Anderson: SPIEGEL: Mr. Anderson, let’s talk about the future of journalism. Anderson: This is going to be a very annoying interview. I don’t use the word journalism. SPIEGEL: Okay, how about newspapers? They are […]

EU Elections: Good Night for the Right

I begin my New Atlanticist roundup essay “European Parliament Moves Right” with, “The weekend’s European Parliament produced good news for the center-right parties, bad news for the center-left, and good news for radical parties of all stripes.” I plan other posts today on the implications for the major governments and smaller states in Europe.  This […]

Poland Celebrates 20 Years of Voting

As the 20th anniversary of the Solidarity movement’s triumph approaches, Poland finds itself divided politically and unhappy with its current state of affairs.   As I argue in my New Atlanticist piece “Poland’s Democracy at 20,” this is a good thing. Unhappiness with the quality of one’s politicians, too, is a sure sign of a maturing […]

U.S. Defense Spending and the Free Rider Problem

My New Atlanticist essay “Australia Prepares for U.S. Decline” discusses a recent Aussie white paper that is generating much discussion in the foreign policy wonkosphere.  Basically, they see a rapidly rising China and a United States that’s overstretched with other commitments and could therefore reduce our commitments to the Asia-Pacific region.  Hence, they’re planning for […]

Here and There

Eugene Volokh takes on a pedantic emailer irritated at his use of “the lion’s share” in the way it has been used for the last several centuries rather than the original coinage by Aesop. Kevin Drum independently draws the same conclusions I do re: the reasonableness of networks’ complaints about Obama’s all-too-frequent prime time press […]

Let France Do It

Presumably invigorated by our resounding successes in nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, the editors of the Washington Post have come down in favor of U. S.-led nation-building as the solution for piracy in Somalia: Last week’s crisis offers the Obama administration an opportunity to avoid perpetuating past errors. No, we aren’t advocating another massive U.N. […]

Obama to Run GM, Chrysler

President Obama says he’ll help GM and Chrysler but they’ll have to agree to some “pretty drastic changes.” “We will provide them some help,” Obama said. “I know that it is not popular to provide help to auto workers — or to auto companies. But my job is to measure the costs of allowing these […]

Macedonia’s Bicycle

There was an old Bill Cosby bit about an uncle who promised him that he’d get a bicycle for Christmas if he’d just be good.  Bye and bye, the uncle would find some minor transgression as an excuse and tell him that he’d ruined his changes at the bicycle.  Eventually, it dawned on Bill that […]

Exchange Rates Fluctuate!

In my New Atlanticist piece “Euro Drops Ever So Slightly After Bailout Rejection,” I give a YahooNews headline writer a hard time for turning an insignificant change in the dollar-euro exchange rate into a commentary on Europe’s response to the financial crisis. Hilarity (or, at least, some historical perspective) ensues. Photo by Flickr user Alex […]

US-Europe Relations Still Need Work

A series of discordant columns over the weekend makes it clear that a new American president has not been a magic fix for the transatlantic relationship. Indeed, the global financial crisis has exacerbated differences, not just between America and Europe but within Europe as well. I round up and synthesize these columns in my New […]

From the Archives

Looking for the Colonel Jessup discussion I referenced in my last post, I came across the post “GOOD MOVIE, WRONG LESSON,” written on January 31, 2003 and imported over from the original blogspot site (unfortunately, owing to then-existing vagaries, sans comments).  It was the fourth substantive post and fifth total post ever on the site, […]

USA Adopting Europe’s Welfare System?

Katrin Bennhold contends that, as the world’s economic elite gather in Davos for the annual World Economic Forum, there is decidedly less Europe-bashing than in years past. After the global financial shake-out of the past  year, she wonders, “Could Europe’s much-reviled social welfare system actually end up being the model for the 21st century world?” […]

Europe Guantanamo Help Slow Coming

The title of my essay “EU Agrees to Take Non-Dangerous Gitmo Prisoners. Maybe. Some Day.” is deservedly snarky. The substance, though, is this: These objections illustrate the complexity of the situation. While there is almost universal agreement that locking up accused terrorists indefinitely without due process is unacceptable, it’s also the case that no democratic […]

Europe’s Obama Love Put to Test

There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that Europe is excited about the possibilities of the Obama presidency and that the anti-American tensions of the Bush era are fading. But, I ask at New Atlanticist, “Will Europe’s Obama Love Last?” There’s no doubt the Bush administration rubbed Europe the wrong way. Partly, this was a matter of […]

Euro Proves Currency Not Panacea

In a New Atlanticist piece, “Euro’s Soft Underbelly Exposed by Financial Crisis,” I discuss the down side of a unified European currency — especially one that comes with outsized expectations in undersized economies.

America and the World After Bush: Diplomacy and Security

Barack Obama has been president for more than 24 hours now.  America is once again beloved by one and all.  Hubris and overreach are things of the past, as the inmates of Gitmo have been freed and the troops are all home from Iraq, participating in rebuilding the infrastructure at home.   Or, certainly, change is […]

Tony Blankley: Bring Back the Draft

Tony Blankley, former press secretary to Newt Gingrich and editorial page editor of the Washington Times, has a new book out that, among other things, argues for reinstatement of the military draft.  Unlike liberals like Charlie Rangel or even centrist Phil Carter, he doesn’t do so on the basis of “fairness” or spreading the burden […]

2008 Predictions Scorecard (James Joyner)

As 2008 winds to an end, it’ll soon be time for the OTB staff to post its predictions for the coming year.   First, though, is the painful look back at our predictions for 2008. Predictions that came to pass The Republicans will eventually nominate someone, pundit chatter about a divided base notwithstanding. “Ron Paul won’t […]

Pulling Out: Debating Middle East Disengagement (Neg. Rebuttal)

Since this is my last entry in the debate, I’d like to thank Bernard Finel for what I think has been an excellent, interesting, and informative debate. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do when I was moved to propose this debate: I’ve established that complete disengagement with the Middle East (the resolution of […]

Foreign Policy Blogging

Over at New Atlanticist, I’ve written several foreign policy-related posts. Fighting Poverty with Profit looks at a persuasive editorial calling for a radical new approach to development aid. Poland Slashes Early Retirement Benefits notes the irony that Poland, a country which lived under Communism for decades and freed itself thanks, in large part, to an […]

Pulling Out: Debating Middle East Disengagement (Aff. Cross)

Question 1 (Finel): You write: “I believe the evidence speaks clearly: the increased U. S. engagement in the region has overall been a stabilizing force.” What is the precise benefit to the United States of this increased stability? Are American interests in the region more or less secure today as a result? Or is this […]

Pulling Out: Debating Middle East Disengagement (Neg. Cross)

Question 1: What evidence do you have that reducing our “footprint” and “fingerprint” will result in a reduction of radicalism in the Middle East? BERNARD FINEL: Obviously, it is impossible to prove a hypothetical, so there is no direct evidence to support my contention that reducing our visibility will reduce radicalism. Indeed, I don’t think […]

New at New Atlanticist

After a three month experiment and some discussions with regular readers, we’ve decided to suspend operations on the Atlantic Council’s breaking news blog, Atlantic Update, and to consolidate it into New Atlanticist.  The result, I hope, will be one, livelier blog that becomes a hub of discussion about transatlantic issues. While I’d still prefer that […]

Obama and Europe

Will Barack Obama quickly repair our relations with our European allies? Robert Kaplan and Matt Yglesias are sure he will but Alex Massie isn’t so sure.  Dan Drezner thinks Alex too pessimistic. In, “Will Obama Fix Transatlantic Relations?,” I argue that Obama will be much less of a departure than most seem to think, both […]

Obama’s Foreign Policy Priorities

Over at New Atlanticist, we’ve been running a series all week on the Foreign Policy Priorities for the Next President. In addition to my introductory post, we’ve run installments by Elizabeth Jones, a retired U.S. career ambassador whose posts included Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia, former Saloman Smith Barney managing director Ronald Freeman, Woodrow […]

New Term Nonpermanent Seats on the UNSC

Japan, Austria, Turkey, Uganda, and Mexico will replace Indonesia, Belgium, Italy, South Africa, and Panama in the two year terms for nonpermanent seats on the United Nations Security Council beginning on January 1 of next year: UNITED NATIONS — Japan easily drubbed Iran in the election on Friday for a two-year seat on the Security […]

Petraeus at Atlantic Council

I had the privilege of sitting in on an Atlantic Council meeting with General David Petraeus this afternoon.  He’s making the rounds in Washington in preparation for taking over CENTCOM.  He mostly came to listen to selected members of our Strategic Advisors Group but he also shared his thoughts with us on the important challenges […]

America’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated

Over at New Atlanticist, I have a new post up entitled, “America’s Coming Decline?” Contra Arnaud de Borchgrave, Thomas Friedman, and others, I argue that it is highly unlikely that China, Europe, or anyone else overtakes the United States as the major economic player in the world. The bottom line is that the current financial […]

Expanding the Security Council?

French and EU President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a call from the floor of the UN yesterday to expand the Security Council and G8. Declaring that, “The 21st century world cannot be governed with the institutions of the 20th century,” he argued that inclusion of today’s emerging powers is not just “a matter fairness” but a […]

Where I’ve Been

As regular readers may have noted, I’ve been less prolific than normal as of late.   After several weeks being bogged down with the technical matters of launching the new Atlantic Council website, I’m now swamped with my editorial responsibilities.  Things will hopefully settle down a bit once I’ve got a steady stream of submissions coming […]

‘New’ Europe Outworks ‘Old’

Workers in eastern Europe work more hours and take less vacation than their counterparts to the west. In a study published Wednesday by Dublin-based EU think tank Eurofound, official and reported work hours were compared across the EU. Europe’s hardest workers, at least in terms of hours spent on the job? Full-time workers in Romania […]

Russia Orders Georgia ‘Cease-Fire’

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has ordered what the press is describing as a “cease-fire” in Georgia. Given that he is not withdrawing Russian forces and is going to keep killing Georgian troops in South Ossetia in violation of international law, however, that term doesn’t quite seem to fit. NYT: The president said Russia had achieved […]

Georgian Forces Retreat, Wonder Where Friends Are

Georgian forces have been routed and have retreated from their South Ossetia province after being outmatched by the Russians.  Now, many Georgians are wondering where their Western allies are. Tony Halpin for The Times of London: As a Russian jet bombed fields around his village, Djimali Avago, a Georgian farmer, asked me: “Why won’t America […]

Government can Seize your Laptop at the Border

Via Reuters: U.S. agents can seize travelers’ laptops: report U.S. federal agents have been given new powers to seize travelers’ laptops and other electronic devices at the border and hold them for unspecified periods the Washington Post reported on Friday. Under recently disclosed Department of Homeland Security policies, such seizures may be carried out without […]

In Case You Were Wondering…

Via Reuters: World’s oldest joke traced back to 1900 BC. And let me tell you, they have unearthed some hy-larious stuff! The shocker of the day: the study “suggests that toilet humor was as popular with the ancients as it is today.”

AKP Escapes Ban (Barely)

Via the BBC: Turkey’s ruling party escapes ban Turkey’s Constitutional Court has decided not to ban the ruling AK Party, accused of undermining the country’s secular system. But the judges did cut half the AKP’s treasury funding for this year. That’ll show ’em! (I honestly have no idea which funds or what they are used […]

Yet Another Blow to the FARC

Via the BBC: Farc ‘co-ordinator’ held in Spain Spanish police say they have arrested the representative of the left-wing Colombian rebel group Farc in Spain. Maria Remedios Garcia Albert, a Spanish national, was detained near Madrid, as part of a joint operation by the Spanish and Colombian authorities. […] It is claimed that Ms Garcia […]

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