Michael Ignatieff is the Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author of Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics.

 (May 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

Stalin’s Man in Mayfair

Ivan Maisky (second from left), the Soviet ambassador to London between 1932 and 1943, with Winston Churchill at the Allied ambassadors’ lunch at the Soviet embassy, September 1941. General Władysław Sikorski, prime minister of the Polish government in exile, is second from right.

The Maisky Diaries: Red Ambassador to the Court of St James’s, 1932–1943

edited by Gabriel Gorodetsky and translated from the Russian by Tatiana Sorokina and Oliver Ready
Could World War II have been avoided? Or if not avoided, since Hitler was Hitler, could it have been postponed until the Western democracies were better prepared to defeat him? A credible threat in 1938 from the Soviets, backed by the British and French, to come to the aid of …

The Refugees & the New War

ISIS is trying to provoke an apocalyptic confrontation with the Crusader infidels. We should deny them this opportunity. They want to convince the world of the West’s indifference to the suffering of Muslims; so we should demonstrate the opposite.

Messianic America: Can He Explain it?

Perry Anderson at the Frontiers of Thought conference, Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2013

American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers

by Perry Anderson

Worldmaking: The Art and Science of American Diplomacy

by David Milne
At the age of seventy-seven, Perry Anderson is the most distinguished living member of a generation of British Marxist historians and theorists who dominated intellectual life on the British left from the late 1950s until the 1990s. They included Eric Hobsbawm, E.P. Thompson, Ralph Miliband, Isaac Deutscher, Christopher Hill, Rodney …

The Religious Specter Haunting Revolution

David Ben-Gurion at Kibbutz Sde Boker, in the Negev desert, 1966

The Paradox of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions

by Michael Walzer
Michael Walzer turned eighty this year, as vital, productive, and intellectually alive as ever. After twenty-eight books, hundreds of articles, decades of teaching at Princeton and Harvard, editing Dissent as a nonsectarian voice of the democratic left, his work remains an essential reference point in academic and public discussion of …

The New World Disorder

Rescuers searching for bodies at the crash site of flight MH17, eastern Ukraine, July 18, 2014
When the bodies and belongings of 298 people tumbled out of the sky on July 17, and then lay unhallowed and uncollected in the fields of eastern Ukraine, clarity seemed to follow in the silence. John Ashbery’s lines in “Soonest Mended” came to mind: It was still a shock when, …

NYR DAILY

Fukushima: The Price of Nuclear Power

Police searching for victims' remains at the site of Namie Elementary School, Fukushima, Japan, June 11, 2014

Four years ago, the Japanese fishing town of Namie lived through an experience of malediction biblical in scope. It was struck by an earthquake measuring nine on the Richter scale, a fifteen-meter tsunami, and finally, a blanket of radioactivity from the nearby Fukushima reactor. As Japan resumes nuclear power this week, Namie is a reminder of the price we must be prepared to pay.

How to Save the Syrians

A man helping a boy through the rubble of a damaged house near Hama, Syria, September 13, 2013

We may be at a turning point in the Syrian agony, when diplomatic action combined with the threat of force moves the Syrian regime toward putting its chemical weapons under international control. If this happens it will be a victory for international law, for the authority of the UN Security Council, and for peace. But it is only too obvious that thus far the peoples of the democratic states have failed in our responsibility to protect the people of Syria.

How Syria Divided the World

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012

The Syrian conflict has triggered something more fundamental than a difference of opinion over intervention, something more than an argument about whether the Security Council should authorize the use of force. Syria is the moment in which the West should see that the world has truly broken into two. A loose alliance of struggling capitalist democracies now finds itself face to face with two authoritarian despotisms—Russia and China—something new in the annals of political science: kleptocracies that mix the market economy and the police state. These regimes will support tyrannies like Syria wherever it is in their interest to do so.