The Browser
Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

Are The Authoritarians Winning?

Authoritarian regimes, led by China and Russia, are “aglow with arrogant confidence”. Democracies are wracked by “envy and despondency”. But the authoritarian vision of prosperity without freedom is unsustainable. “The saving grace of democracy is its adaptability. It depends for its vitality on discontent. Discontent leads to peaceful regime change, and as regimes change, free societies can discard failed alternatives” (3,730 words)

The Temptation Of Despair

Review of “The Temptation of Despair” by Werner Sollors, a “melancholy, disjointed, awkward, but deeply powerful book” about the aftermath of World War II in Germany. Sollors tells of “a society in ruins and a people at the edge of psychic collapse”. He attempts no apologia for Nazism, quite the reverse; but his point is that deserved suffering hurts just as much as undeserved suffering (2,880 words)

Denmark In The Holocaust

Most Jews living in occupied Denmark escaped the Nazi Holocaust, because Danish officials refused to implement anti-Semitic laws. When Eichmann demanded mass deportations from Copenhagen in 1943, local Nazis gave Danish Jews advance warning. Was this something specific to Denmark? Or could other European countries — France, Holland — have protected Jews similarly, if they had wanted to? (2,600 words)

Machiavelli Was Right

Obama’s weakness is that he is not Machiavellian enough. The secret weapon of power is indifference. “In politics, the polestar must be the health of the republic alone. We should not choose leaders who agonise, worrying about the moral hazards of the power they exercise in the people’s name. We should choose leaders who sleep soundly after taking ultimate risks with their own virtue. They are doing what must be done.” (1,600 words)

How To Save The Syrians

“From stalemate comes a ray of hope, the hope that all the external sponsors of the conflict will begin to reduce weapons supplies to all sides. A strategy of asphyxiation could be followed by concerted pressure at the UN for a negotiated cease-fire. If no side can win it all, it is just conceivable that each may settle for what it already has. The result would be a divided Syria, with effective authority in the north and east in rebel and Kurdish hands.” (1,880 words)

Bosnia And Syria: Intervention Then And Now

America intervened to stop civil war in Bosnia in 1995. Why will it not do the same in Syria now? Partly because there are no clear “good guys” in Syria, pulling America into the conflict, wielding the moral weight that the Bosniaks did in Sarajevo. Partly because the world has changed: America can no longer afford to defy China and Russia, and America is tired. Syria does matter. It just doesn’t matter enough (2,400 words)

How Should Liberal Democracies Deal With China And Russia?

“Nothing is gained by pretending that Russia and China are not the chief strategic threat to the moral and political commitments of liberal democracies.” If not enemies, they are opponents. Let’s not get too cosy with them

Drones Give Democracies No Cause For War

But they do encourage it, by lowering the cost. They “eliminate the risk of blood sacrifice that once forced democratic peoples to be prudent”. And there’s worse. Very soon enemies of democracy will have drones too (Free reg/$)

We’re So Exceptional

America. “From Nuremberg on, no country has invested more in the development of international jurisdiction for atrocity crimes. And no country has worked harder to make sure that the law it seeks for others does not apply to itself”

The Language Of Evil

Terrorism, genocide, ethnic cleansing and so on are evil, but they are political evil. They have purpose. They are not simply part of “an insane world of apocalyptic violence”. To combat them, you must understand their logic

The Age Of Sovereign Failure

“Our idea of the sovereign state included a child’s expectation that it would keep us safe. We have had to grow up.” The state failed America on 9/11, and has been blundering since. Citizens who were once sceptical are now cynical

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