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David Bromwich
David Bromwich teaches literature at Yale. He has written on politics and
culture for The New Republic, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and other magazines. He is editor of Edmund Burke's selected writings On Empire, Liberty, and Reform and co-editor of the Yale University Press edition of On Liberty..

Entries by David Bromwich

Hillary Clinton's Libya

(441) Comments | Posted November 18, 2015 | 7:12 AM

Some of the better-informed commentators on the recent terrorist attacks by ISIS have noticed the reassertion of the 2002-2003 understanding of the Middle East: that all-out war is the only sensible policy and Israel is our most faithful ally in the region. It is an opportunist line, and it is...

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Syria, the Times and the Mystery of the "Moderate Rebels"

(47) Comments | Posted October 2, 2015 | 9:32 PM

After a two-year absence from the international stage -- during which the mainstream media dispatched them to the realm of nonexistent entities -- on October 1 the "moderate rebels" of Syria were back. The New York Times said so. Russian attacks were targeting moderates rather than ISIS, a...

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Playing the Long Game on Iran

(0) Comments | Posted August 23, 2015 | 9:28 PM

The Neoconservatives, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Republicans Game the System

Cross-posted with

“We’re going to push and push until some larger force makes us stop.”

David Addington, the legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, made that declaration to Jack Goldsmith of the Office of...

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Netanyahu and His Marionettes

(0) Comments | Posted August 7, 2015 | 6:34 PM

Benjamin Netanyahu is laying siege to the Congress of the United States, not for the first time. He has thrown his voice and channeled his influence into the arena of American legislative politics, to abort the P5+1 nuclear settlement with Iran, which was signed on July 14 by the US,...

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The Times Doctrine on Bernie Sanders

(223) Comments | Posted July 4, 2015 | 7:38 PM

On the fourth of July, the New York Times gave its readers a first extended look at the political history of Bernie Sanders in Vermont. The article, by Sarah Lyall, is titled "Bernie Sanders's Revolutionary Roots Were Nurtured in '60s Vermont." This sketch of the young Sanders is...

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What Makes Abraham Lincoln Such a Radical Politician Even Today?

(12) Comments | Posted April 14, 2015 | 12:27 PM

President Abraham Lincoln in a portrait taken in Washington, February 9, 1864. REUTERS/Library of Congress/Anthony Berger

Why was Abraham Lincoln murdered?

The popular understanding of his character makes the question surprisingly hard to answer. We have been taught to regard Lincoln as a...

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Netanyahu's Takeover Bid

(0) Comments | Posted March 1, 2015 | 9:34 PM

The speech that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, will deliver to Congress on March 3rd aims to scuttle an agreement on nuclear inspections and technology between Iran and the United States. Netanyahu would like to sow a suspicion between these countries so fraught and durable that it will...

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The Importance of Being Exceptional

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 9:21 AM

From Ancient Greece to 21st-Century America

Cross-posted with

The origins of the phrase “American exceptionalism” are not especially obscure. The French sociologist Alexis de Tocqueville, observing this country in the 1830s, said that Americans seemed exceptional in valuing practical attainments almost to the exclusion...

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Actions and Intentions in Gaza

(48) Comments | Posted August 2, 2014 | 8:13 PM

People tell us what they mean by what they do. Actions of a certain consistency are the infallible clue to the motives that drive them. A sincerely meant declaration may sometimes prove false, but that is a rare phenomenon; generally, over time, the "exceptional" lie is found to be no...

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After 9/11: The Stories We Tell and the Stories We Don't

(95) Comments | Posted May 15, 2014 | 6:37 PM

For a little over seven years now, I have contributed columns to the Huffington Post on the subject of civil liberties and America's wars. It sounds strange to say it like that, in the plural, America's wars. But that is the way to see it if we want to be...

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Ukraine and Iraq: A Reminder

(285) Comments | Posted March 27, 2014 | 4:12 PM

Yesterday President Obama gave a speech at the Palais des Beaux Arts center in Brussels. His ostensible audience was the European Union chiefs. His intended audience was all the second-echelon Great Powers (minus Russia and China). Some phrases at Brussels showed the usual signs of his workmanship:

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The Leader Obama Wanted to Become and What Became of Him

(349) Comments | Posted March 9, 2014 | 10:31 PM

Cross-posted with

Like many days, March 3rd saw the delivery of a stern opinion by President Obama. To judge by recent developments in Ukraine, he said, Russia was putting itself "on the wrong side of history." This might seem a surprising thing for an American president...

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"Red Line" Resolutions for the U.S. House of Representatives Before Voting Authorization of War to Overthrow the Government of Syria

(138) Comments | Posted September 5, 2013 | 3:24 PM

Adapted from Abraham Lincoln's "Spot" Resolutions, December 22, 1847.

Whereas the President of the United States, in his remarks to a PBS interviewer on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 has declared that "I have no interest in any kind of open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to...

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The Crossroads on Syria (Updated)

(849) Comments | Posted August 29, 2013 | 9:02 PM

Yesterday, in an interview aired by PBS, President Obama said that the United States must now attack Syria. The reason was the imminent danger that, if we do not, the Assad government will use chemical weapons against Americans on the U.S. mainland. "When you start talking about chemical weapons," the...

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Liberty, Security, and Fear

(577) Comments | Posted August 2, 2013 | 10:59 AM

We read these words in the Declaration of Independence: "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The words are sometimes treated as if life were a particular and extractable...

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The New One Percent Doctrine

(96) Comments | Posted June 13, 2013 | 12:42 PM

Adapted from "The Solution" by Bertolt Brecht

After the revelations of June 5
and the anger of many people who rashly supposed
that liberty of the person can't mean spying on the person;
after the sobriety of the inspectors and architects of behavior

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Il governo della protezione totale

(13) Comments | Posted June 8, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Le politiche per la sicurezza attuate dal governo americano, da Cheney ad Obama, sono passate dalla sorveglianza segreta delle comunicazioni estere alla sorveglianza segreta di tutte le comunicazioni domestiche. Ma quali sono stati i passaggi che hanno portato a tale cambiamento?

Un giorno questa storia verrà scritta; per ora,...

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Total Protection Government

(637) Comments | Posted June 6, 2013 | 5:05 PM

The security policy of the U.S. government from Cheney to Obama has passed from secret surveillance of communications abroad to secret surveillance of all communications at home. In what stages did it happen? Some day the history will be written; for now, it is instructive to rehearse the facts. Five...

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Secrecy, Surveillance, and Public Safety

(711) Comments | Posted May 16, 2013 | 5:51 PM

Three scandals have converged in the past week to preoccupy Congress and the press. Benghazi was the first to come, and it has surprised by its staying power. The larger issue in the background -- the wisdom of the NATO destruction of the government of Libya which left an open...

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America's Words of Peace and Acts of War

(712) Comments | Posted May 5, 2013 | 1:27 AM

Is America at war with Islam? The question began to be asked when the first evidence emerged of the transfer of hundreds of innocent Muslims to Guantanamo and the despotic new order that permitted indefinite detention of suspects. The investigations in Iraq led by David Kay and Charles Duelfer established...

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