- The Opiate of Exceptionalism– An op-ed in the New York times about how presidential candidates and other politicians are all but incapable of talking about the ways in which the United States has been slipping in world rankings–education, child poverty, etc. Instead, the article describes this notion of exceptionalism as an opiate that politicians push on the American public.
- Lebanon and Syria: The Strife Spreads– I noted last time the trouble brewing between Syria and Turkey. Now there was a car bomb that targetted an anti-Syria leader in Lebanon that could serve to escalate tensions between Syria and Lebanon–or, perhaps more likely, simply reignite the Lebanese Civil War. See also the foreign editor of the economist arguing that the time has come (a year and a half in) for intervention in Syria.
- Syria strife tests Turkish Alawites– An article in Al Jazeera about the Alawites in Turkey and their tested loyalties (and potential threats to the Shia-offshoot from the Sunni opposition in Syria). The article is favorable to the Alawites, who, it says, support the secular ideology that is the legacy of Ataturk, but feel betrayed by the Turkish government supplying to anti-Alawite fighters.
- Geographic History Enjoys a Renaissance– An article in the New Yorker that examines the intersection of geography and history (something promoted by the Annales School) and some of the recent incarnations of the intersection. The author concludes by claiming that the discontinuities of geography are more striking than the continuities and that conversation (“good ideas”) shapes human history more so than geography. He is right that people often assume a fatalistic approach to the geography, but he cherry picks his examples of discontinuity and focuses on large issues (tyranny, e.g.). There is a subtler way examine the contours of geography intersecting with those ideas that the author is so keen on promoting.
- German Landscape Architect Helps Green the Saudi Landscape– A profile of a German landscape architect who has helped transform Saudi estates and cities into gardens.
- A Foreign Policy Debate Which Won’t Mean That Much– An analysis of the debate tonight that suggests that the debate tonight will be on a narrow range of topics and might matter for campaign, but not at all for foreign policy.
As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?