The crisis of the European Union has two sides. The political crisis is on view in Germany and Greece. But the philosophical crisis is on display in Russia and the eastern borderlands of Ukraine. Since a large number of Ukrainians have been willing to take risks, suffer, and die in the name of Europe—even as the EU itself suffers a grave identity crisis—it makes sense to ask what they think they are working toward.
Chapo Guzmán’s jailbreak is arguably the greatest pie-in-the-face embarrassment any Mexican government has ever had to deal with. But as the country’s highest officials try to recover face, serious questions continue to pile up—including claims that he was captured last year by US agents disguised as Mexican marines.
I can find no one on the side of the nuclear deal with Iran who thinks that it will have majority support in either the Senate or the House of Representatives, which means that the president will veto what Congress sends him. Therefore, beneath all the rhetoric, the realists here are looking for one thing: whether there will be enough votes in either chamber—one-third plus one of the members—to uphold that veto.
I’m heading to the Dulwich Picture Gallery to see an exhibition of the work of Eric Ravilious, who, though little known abroad, is one of the most distinctive British artists of the 1930s and 1940s. The adjective “English” applies to much of Ravilious’s subject matter and his affiliations, but not to his style or atmosphere.
Listening to the American and Iranian presidents, One has the impression they are living in alternate universes. In Obama’s universe, Iran has agreed to stop work on centrifuges and vastly reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium. In Rouhani’s universe, being able to keep 6,000 centrifuges is a major victory, work on new centrifuges will proceed, and uranium will continue to be enriched.
Within a few hours of his relaxed escape from Mexico’s highest security prison, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, better known as “el Chapo,” was back on Twitter. “Never say never,” the world’s most wanted drug trafficker cried. He thanked his collaborators, praised his sons, and made rude references to President Enrique Pena Nieto: “And you, @EPN, don’t call me a delinquent again, because I give people jobs, not like your piddling cheap government.”
My first reading of The Waste Land, in a high-school literature class at age sixteen, was hardly a reading at all. It would take many lessons and cribs and further readings before suddenly Eliot’s approach could begin to awaken recognition and appreciation. The mind had conjured a lock that allowed the poem to function as a key; it fitted into my mind and something turned and swung open.
What is its greater contribution to humanity at large: Greek theater or double-entry bookkeeping? Aeschylus or Keynes? This summer, in the ancient Greek theater of Syracuse in Sicily, Aeschylus’s The Suppliants, one of the world’s most ancient plays, turned out to be one of the world’s most timely, in the hands of an Italian actor-director who was once an immigrant himself, Moni Ovadia.
Is America an Empire? Should it be? I’ve recently found myself thinking about Rudyard Kipling and Teddy Roosevelt, two celebrants of empire who became close friends over a series of visits they made to the Washington Zoo in 1895. We already know that the 2016 presidential campaign will involve a great deal of muscular talk about America restoring its leadership in world events. But what is to be the future of the American empire?
Despite Tunisia’s unusual political and cultural assets, it has now suffered the two worst terrorist attacks in its history—both involving radicalized young Tunisians, both seeming to target the post-revolutionary order the country has worked so hard to construct. How can the Arab world’s most promising and ambitious new democracy also be one of its greatest producers of violent jihadists?