(Reviewed August 29, 2014)
A portrait of modern sanctity which — very oddly, in my view — asks not to be taken too seriously
(Reviewed August 27, 2014)
The movie it took twelve years to make — about a childhood that appears to be taking much, much longer
America: Imagine the World Without Her
(Reviewed July 31, 2014)
Another foray by Dinesh D’Souza into the lists in order to break a lance on President Obama — and Howard Zinn. At least the latter is effectively unhorsed.
(Reviewed June 30, 2014)
An austerely beautiful film by the Anglo-Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski that could hardly be a greater departure from his earlier My Summer of Love
Everybody noticed the conspicuous presence of one word in President Obama’s address to the nation on Sunday — in fact, it was almost the only thing about it that was worth noticing. But besides that word, "terrorism," there was another word that you have rarely heard the President utter, at least in the context of foreign wars: "victory." Even more remarkable was the fact that he used it not to describe the hopeful result of what he was proposing to do against the Islamic State but about what he was doing already: "The strategy that we are using now," he said, " — air strikes, special forces, and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country — that is how we’ll achieve a more sustainable victory, and it won't require us sending a new generation of Americans overseas to fight and die for another decade on foreign soil."
In what sense can you have a victory in a war you’re promising not to fight? The word "victory," in case you hadn’t noticed, has long been in eclipse in the realm of military strategy where it originated. Ever since General Douglas MacArthur, after his dismissal by Harry Truman from the command of U.N. forces in Korea in 1951, appealed to the public with the maxim that "in war, there is no substitute for victory," there has been something faintly scandalous about the idea of victory in war. Now our managerially oriented generals talk instead about "exit strategies" from quasi-imperial wars that would otherwise have no end, let alone a victorious one. That’s why it was so shocking to some on the left when Ronald Reagan said: "Here's my strategy on the Cold War. We win, they lose."
Historically, President Obama doesn’t even bother with exit strategies. He simply declares that a war is over when he feels like it and expects it to stay over, obedient to his command. When, as in Iraq, it stubbornly persists in not being over, he just ignores it, when possible, and makes symbolic gestures of good intentions when not. So often, indeed, had he made a point of boasting about having ended the Iraq war, begun under his predecessor, and having killed Osama bin Laden that it must have struck a jarring note to many when he said last night that "Our nation has been at war with terrorists since Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11."
ENTRY from December 8, 2015
My book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.
Also available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.
Manners Makyth Man.
January 31, 2016.
Why should anyone suppose that the media have standing to censure Donald Trump’s manners when they are so ill-mannered themselves? — From The New Criterion of January, 2016 ...
A Topos of Chaos.
December 31, 2015.
The media’s "narrative" of American politics and its contribution to rampant partisanship and systemic breakdown — From The New Criterion of December, 2015 ...
November 30, 2015.
On the scandal of those who disagree with the progressive agenda — From The New Criterion of November, 2015 ...