Articles

Wednesday April 10, 2019, The Globe and Mail

In her final work, The March of Folly, the late historian Barbara Tuchman defined her subject as “the pursuit of policy contrary to public interest.” Her criteria for folly were threefold: An alternative course of action was available; the actions were endorsed by a group, not just by a particular leader; and the actions were perceived as counterproductive in their own time.

Among Ms. Tuchman’s far-ranging examples were the Trojan Horse and the American war in Vietnam. Were she alive today, she might have included the increasingly dangerous trajectory of Israeli politics. [more]

Friday February 22, 2019, The Globe and Mail

In the history-soaked Spanish-colonial city of Guanajuato in central Mexico where my husband and I winter, life is ordinarily calm. Mariachis serenade diners in the central plaza of the town, and in the evening, couples parade about the garden in a last vestige of the Spanish paseo. The cobblestones and the blue and ochre houses speak their own magic. Four decades ago, my late parents built a home here and I have been returning ever since. [more]

Wednesday, November 14, The Globe and Mail

Last week, Germany memorialized the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht – “the night of broken glass” – during which 1,400 synagogues and innumerable Jewish businesses throughout the country were vandalized. There were dozens of killings on that day, Nov. 9, 1938. At least 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

It was the visible unravelling of the old as a violent new social order was born, yet the savagery had not emerged from a void, as many have since argued. For almost a century, anti-Semitic speech had been increasingly normalized in public discourse. The brutality of Kristallnacht was an unsurprising outcome once a leader able to channel hatred arrived on the scene. [more]

Friday September 14, 2018, The Globe and Mail

It was only a matter of time. This week, in his first major public address as Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton attacked the International Criminal Court. He could have used his pulpit to opine about Russia, North Korea, or Iran. Instead, he chose to fulminate against international justice, his decades-long obsession. For Mr. Bolton, the ICC is the epitome of what he hates, which is anything that challenges American exceptionalism. What he conjured up was an epic battle between so-called global governance and the nation state. [more]

Friday August 31, 2018 The Globe and Mail

A United Nations fact-finding mission on the anguish of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar has put the world on notice. By naming six alleged perpetrators, including the army commander-in chief, and by using the term “intent to commit genocide,” three independent commissioners have effectively challenged the international community to uphold criminal accountability and the rule of global law at a time when respect for the postwar legal order is weakening.

Genocide — the most odious crime ever codified — is a legal, not a descriptive, term. Leaders and institutions are normally wary of the accusation because it incurs serious international obligations. According to the 1948 Genocide Convention, member states must not only attempt to prevent this crime, but also punish perpetrators of it. [more]