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Ronald Tiersky
Ronald Tiersky is the Eastman Professor of Political Science at
Amherst College. He has written several books on French politics and
on European affairs and is the general editor of the Europe Today
series with Rowman & Littlefield Pubs. He has contributed op-eds to
the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, Liberation, Reuters
and many other media outlets.

Entries by Ronald Tiersky

Book Review: Oliver Sacks' "On the Move" and the Obligation of the Teacher

(1) Comments | Posted June 12, 2015 | 5:07 PM

I knew vaguely of Oliver Sacks' books beginning 20-30 years ago but didn't get seriously interested in reading him until recently. A few months ago I wrote about the eminent, much-admired clinical neurologist regarding his much-noticed New York Times op-ed announcing a diagnosis of terminal cancer, a rare form beginning...

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The Brooklyn Nets Play Ball: A Night at the Barclays Center With the Hawks

(3) Comments | Posted May 5, 2015 | 11:00 AM

On Monday, April 27, the Brooklyn Nets played the Atlanta Hawks in an NBA basketball first-round playoff game at the Barclays Center, which is located at the monstrous Atlantic Avenue intersection of subway lines in Brooklyn and the former Atlantic Yards train depot. The arena and surrounding business and housing...

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Ex Machina: Movie or Film?

(4) Comments | Posted April 26, 2015 | 9:42 AM

Film critique: "Ex machine," or Real Boy meets Singularity Girl

In my continuing effort to be up-to-date with the culture I went to see the new movie, "Ex machina." Loyal readers will remember the distinction between a movie and a film: a movie is basically entertainment ("the movies" and "movie...

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GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem or, The Craziness of Israeli Society

(0) Comments | Posted March 25, 2015 | 5:37 PM

GETT: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem is a small-bore, low-budget film about marriage and divorce in Israel. The action takes place almost entirely in two rooms, a Jerusalem Bet Din (Rabbinical Court) and its waiting room, accommodations that look like a second floor seminar room at the 92nd St. Y....

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Fifty Shades of Grey: Cinderella With Whips and Chains

(1) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 5:25 PM

Fifty Shades of Grey is a hilarious movie. I was going to write profoundly hilarious but nothing about Shades is profound. It's an erotic sado-masochist fantasy in which the audience, according to reports and my own quick look around the cinema, is mainly young people including a lot of couples,...

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Hollande, Valls, Macron and Article 49-3: France Tries Harder to Reform

(0) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 3:35 PM

French country-wide local elections will occur next week in which president François Hollande risks another disavowal by the people. Marine Le Pen's nationalist National Front party will probably win the most votes as it did in European Parliament elections last year. France has deserved better presidential leadership than the complacent...

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'American Sniper': A Cowboys and Indians Tale

(2) Comments | Posted March 12, 2015 | 7:07 PM

In 2006, Clint Eastwood's film Letters from Iwo Jima received many awards, some for Eastwood as the director, others as best picture of the year. Letters is told as a flashback to the battle of Iwo Jima in 1944, provoked when Japanese archaeologists exploring old battle tunnels find a cache...

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Retaking Mosul and the worst that could happen

(0) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 3:00 PM

Everyone wonders why the U.S. military command announced outlines of the plan to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State control. There is surface clarity but there must be more underneath. The battle plan itself is simple: overwhelming force, with 30-40,000 coalition troops, Iraqi Arab/Kurdish with some Iranian participation...

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Dealing with ISIS/Islamic State: three scenarios

(0) Comments | Posted November 17, 2014 | 5:12 PM

Media accounts of gruesome executions and beheadings carried out by ISIS fighters over the past week have put in the background another aspect of their strategy besides barbarism: the process of constructing a state.

Islamic State's leadership announced that it intends to issue its own currency, coins denominated in...

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How Important Is the Caliphate and Abu Bakr to ISIS?

(11) Comments | Posted October 20, 2014 | 1:28 PM

Co-authored by Michael Chioke*

The outside world's war with ISIS seems to be evolving in a more positive direction. In the battle for Kobani on the Syrian-Turkish border, ISIS fighters are retreating even although elsewhere in Syria and Iraq they are holding or advancing, for example in Iraq's Anbar province.

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Milan in August and Other Good Travel Ideas

(1) Comments | Posted August 29, 2014 | 2:37 PM

Milan is not one of Italy's most-visited travel destinations. Guide-books often say it's a two-star city. Rick Steve's excellent Italy 2014 says, "OK, it's a big, intense city, so you probably won't linger." But he's speaking here to the average tourist. He also says, "Many tourists come to Italy for...

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Francois Hollande in Purgatory

(0) Comments | Posted August 29, 2014 | 10:59 AM

French president François Hollande is evermore himself and this is bad news for France.

In his first year it was the old Socialist pattern of campaigning in left-wing poetry (for example the 75 percent tax on incomes over 1 million euros), then backpedaling to mixed-up prose once...

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Machiavelli's Advice to Hamas: Fight for Your People Not for Your Own Glory

(0) Comments | Posted August 15, 2014 | 2:56 PM

If Machiavelli were counseling the Hamas leadership today he would give them hard advice. Be smarter about war, he would say. Know that both victory and defeat are not easy to get right. It's possible, for example, to win a war but lose the peace and it's also possible to...

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Whose God Is the One True God?

(2) Comments | Posted July 24, 2014 | 1:47 PM

As ISIS/Islamic State takes over Mosul and other parts of Syria and Iraq it is imposing an ancient religious persecution of minorities: Christians (or any minority) face a brutal choice of conversion to Islam, paying tribute, or death. Almost all have fled the city or the country. Jews throughout history...

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ISIS: What Does It Mean for Israel?

(14) Comments | Posted June 13, 2014 | 10:36 AM

It's a foreign policy witticism to say that whenever a crisis occurs in the world the question for some people is always, what does it mean for Israel? With Syria and now Iraq in flames, Israel's security is not at the top of any country's agenda other than Israel itself....

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François Hollande and the French Socialists: Failure Goes Deeper Than the European Elections

(0) Comments | Posted June 1, 2014 | 12:05 AM

In last Sunday's European parliament elections there were two earthquake results in France. The first is the breakthrough of the far-right nationalist, anti-EU, anti-immigrant National Front party (FN). The second is the overwhelming defeat of the governing Socialist party (PS) of President François Hollande. The French Socialists' failure, however, goes...

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Israeli Unilateralism and the Palestinian Dilemma

(49) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 2:33 PM

The most important fact in the perpetual Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" is that Israel holds almost all the high cards. Fundamentally, the Palestinians want something life-changing that only Israel can give them -- a state -- whereas Israel can live well-enough with the status quo.

Palestinian negotiators can demand, protest,...

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Memo to Vladimir

(1) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 10:56 AM

An imaginary memo to President Putin from an Old Friend:

From: Pavel
To: Vladimir
Subject: Don't overplay your hand

Your magnificent speech of March 18 announcing Crimea's annexation hit the right notes: legitimate grievance, the greatness of Russia, personal glory. For the moment, everyone is looking at Moscow,...

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China, Russia and the Crimea: A Moment of Truth for Beijing

(1) Comments | Posted March 17, 2014 | 5:05 PM

China is not a central actor in the Ukraine/Crimea crisis. But Russia's invasion and likely annexation of Crimea highlights Beijing's dilemma trying to balance between East and West, authoritarianism and democracy, Great Power politics and liberal internationalism.

How to understand today's China? Is it still a political dictatorship despite...

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Alert: The Nuclear Agreement Is Risky for Iran Too

(0) Comments | Posted December 11, 2013 | 8:39 PM

Is the "Joint Plan of Action" accord to curb Iran's nuclear program a good agreement for the West and Middle East peace, or is the agreement, signed November 24 in Geneva, just the same treacherous Iranian wine in a fancy new bottle?

In other words, have the P5 +...

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