Browser Newsletter 1168

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Best of the Moment

How Is Hamid Karzai Still Standing?

William Dalrymple | NYT Magazine | 20th November 2013

Conversation with the Afghan president spread out over three evenings. He appears relaxed and well. His charm is intact. He doesn't seem to be on drugs. His wife is in Belgium with the children. He argues that American policy towards Afghanistan has been captured by a "Deep State" that is plotting with Pakistan to corrupt and divide his country. "Maybe even the generals didn’t know what was going on” (Metered paywall)

Machiavelli Was Right

Michael Ignatieff | Atlantic | 20th November 2013

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."

Filling Hillary Clinton’s Shoes

David Rohde | Reuters | 21st November 2013

Big profile. John Kerry's critics call him undisciplined and reckless. But give him his due. In his first year as Secretary of State he has revived the Israeli-Palestinian peace process; brokered a deal with Russia to remove chemical weapons from Syria; embarked on a new round of nuclear talks with Iran, and started hammering out a new post-withdrawal security agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Neil Gaiman, Fantasy Writer

Laurie Penny | New Republic | 21st November 2013

Profile. Lively and perceptive. "Gaiman is a master storyteller and the story he is paid to tell half the time right now is the story of being Neil Gaiman. Quite a lot of writers imagine themselves as a global brand with armies of publicists and fans to appease, but few of them actually expect to get there". Bonus fact: "His parents were important members of the Church of Scientology in Britain, although he himself is no longer a member"

America’s Secular Stagnation

Daniel Davies | Crooked Timber | 21st November 2013

A dense but still relatively accessible treatment of the economic ideas put back into play by Larry Summers's speech ( . Nafta encouraged importing by the US, and China's industrialisation encouraged outsourcing. Americans borrowed (mostly against housing) to pay for increased consumption. This propped up domestic employment for a while. But the hollowing-out of US industry has since been exposed by the banking crisis

Video of the day: Day Of The Doctor

Thought for the day:

"The survival of democracy depends on the ability of large numbers of people to make realistic choices in the light of adequate information" — Aldous Huxley

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