Pundit Wire

It’s a MAD, MAD, MAD World

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 3.36.22 PMWay back during the Cold War, the U.S. and Soviet Union were locked in a tense face-off for decades.  Both sides had huge arsenals of thermonuclear devices.  But there was a doctrine of military strategy called Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD, that kept the missiles in their silos.  It became a foundation in the national security policies of both great powers that the use of high-yield weapons of mass destruction by either side would bring about immediate and total retaliation by the other side and cause the complete annihilation of both. 

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A People’s Holiday of the United States

WhiteHouse_LogoTHE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

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President Obama’s UN Speech: Negotiating with Terrorists

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 5.25.40 PMThe speech by President Obama at the UN General Assembly this year did not please everyone…

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Please, No More “Latte Salutes”

322388_1280x720I watched the video of President Obama saluting his Marine escort with a coffee cup in his right hand. Then I watched it again. And again.

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Believing is Seeing

IMG-20140909-01939 September 10, President Obama rolled out his new anti-IS intentions.  Meanwhile two high-octane intellects separately discussed their appraisals of Obama’s foreign policy.  I won’t say “tautology,” but each made perfect sense in its own framework, each might have frayed if confronted with the other.  I would say, “It would have been fascinating to have them in the same room,” but I am not into reality TV.

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The news summer from hell and the end of optimism

globe By this point in the summer, a sane person could reasonably conclude that the world is going nuts.  Spiraling out of control, descending into darkness, making optimism a delusional last recourse – that kind of feeling.

“What fresh hell is this?” – the question Dorothy Parker asked when her doorbell rang – now applies to the news.  If you’re staying informed, you’re licking the razor.  Unfortunately, not following what’s happening in the world isn’t really an option.  These horrors seize our lizard brains; we’re hard-wired to pay attention to danger.

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Thought’s Colors

college hill There we go, forty years almost to the day, when I registered in a seminar with John Hawkes in Providence.  The New York Times of August 24 cites these seminars somewhat playfully in its book review section.

Then as now, “creative writing” seemed an indulgence when it tried to be an academic discipline, something for the leisured classes.  The difference in 1974 was that, with a bit of academic aid, it came for free if you were willing to drive a taxi to make ends meet.  I did.  Financial persecution of students today makes this unimaginable.

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Remembering Todman

todman The August 17 Washington Post carries a fine obit on Terence A. Todman, deceased August 13. No quibbles with Emily Langer’s synthesis of this remarkable man, my first boss in 1986 in the Foreign Service.  Just a few footnotes to add:

I was Ambassador Todman’s press officer the day he gave his fateful news conference in Copenhagen, denying that his future posting would be South Africa…

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