Where is US foreign policy headed? Virtually all thinkers about foreign policy today are proposing a return to something old. No one likes armed missionaries: A review of The Crisis of American Foreign Policy: Wilsonianism in the Twenty-First Century by G. John Ikenberry, Thomas J. Knock, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Tony Smith; and The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman. Matt Bai on how Afghanistan might be Vietnam — and Obama the real Kennedy. From The National, the commitment to denying terrorists "safe haven" anywhere on Earth, Matthew Yglesias writes, will spell disaster in Afghanistan and beyond; moderate Islamists have remained committed to democracy, Marc Lynch writes, but attempts to frustrate their participation can only end badly; and eight years after the invasion of Afghanistan, Spencer Ackerman writes, America’s "right war" still needs a strategy. From NYRB, if Iraqi national forces fail to impose their control, an absence of political leadership could thus coincide with a collapse in security. From World Affairs, now is surely a moment to take a closer look at the American republic’s Hebrew and Christian origins, and not only because eruptions in the third Abrahamic religion, Islam, have given us a new reason to revisit our own. Back from war, but not really home: A sense of dislocation has been shared by veterans returning from war since Homer conjured Odysseus’ inauspicious return some 2,800 years ago. Until political leaders reject the rhetoric of evil as a justification for war, war itself is unlikely to disappear. A look at how history handed George W. Bush greatness on a platter, but he kicked it aside.
From Edge, an interview with Frank Schirrmacher on the Age of the Informavore (and more). The internet is killing storytelling: Narratives are a staple of every culture the world over — they are disappearing in an online blizzard of tiny bytes of information. From The New Yorker, in an unstable Pakistan, can nuclear warheads be kept safe? Seymour Hersh investigates. In the 1970s, Stuart Hample was a struggling cartoonist — then he hit on the idea of turning the angst-ridden life of his favourite standup comedian, Woody Allen, into a comic strip. For Munch, summer nights were a miasma of heartache, melancholy, and unrequited love — how does drinking the new Edvard Munch Premium Aquavit compare? Claude Levi-Strauss’s two-part harmonies: In trying to understand the work of the French anthropologist, look for pairs of opposites common to all human societies. Why is no one talking about mental health care reform?: A review of Danger to Self: On the Front Line with an ER Psychiatrist by Paul Linde; Doctoring the Mind: Is Our Current Treatment of Mental Illness Really Any Good? by Richard P. Bentall; and Healing the Broken Mind: Transforming America's Failed Mental Health System by Timothy Kelly. Bad music in public spaces: With more and more hotels, restaurants, and retailers adopting music as a branding device, Travel & Leisure sounds off on how their choices speak volumes. From Der Spiegel, here's the story of "Operation Orchard": How Israel destroyed Syria's Al Kibar Nuclear Reactor. An article on Monthly Review at 60: Six decades of campaigning for "social and ecological revolution".
From LRC, the end of the world as we know it? A review of Managing Without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster by Peter A. Victor and Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller by Jeff Rubin. The ancient South American Nasca civilization may have caused its own demise by clear-cutting huge swaths of forest, a new study has found. A look at why we should be terrified of the 2012 Apocalypse. We survived Y2K, six Celine albums: Humans will make it past 2012, and Morgan Freeman will live to narrate our story. NASA scientist to distraught dupes: The world won't end in 2012. Jolly eschatology: An interview with Claus Leggewie and Harald Welzer, authors of The End of the World As We Knew It. From First Things, Rene Girard on war and apocalypse. The Rapture may whisk the Saved up to Heaven, leaving all of their corporeal assets untended; for the business-minded, earth-bound heathen, there’s money to be had in the leavings. If the end comes, don’t count on Scott Feschuk: The toil of rebuilding civilization will expose him for what he is — a completely useless man. An excerpt from Racing Toward Armageddon: The Three Great Religions and the Plot to End the World by Michael Baigent (and more). Here's a list of failed predictions of the end of the world, including a few current theories that probably won't pan out. Research reveals that apocalyptic stories changed dramatically 20 years ago. Post-human Earth: A look at how the planet will recover from us. Universe has more entropy than thought: New calculations suggest that the cosmos may be a bit closer to heat death. Research suggests the universe will end sooner than previously thought.
Diana Hicks (Georgia Tech): The Four Literatures of Social Sciences. From the SSRC's Public Sphere Forum, Craig Calhoun on Social Science for Public Knowledge; and Herbert Gans on A Sociology for Public Sociology. A review of The Bounds of Reason: Game Theory and the Unification of the Behavioral Sciences by Herbert Gintis (and more at Gintis' website). "Scientific fundamentalist" Satoshi Kanazawa on how the social sciences are branches of biology (and part 2). In search of singular insight: Social sciences have advanced little because inquiry and discovery are stifled by "theory" and "the search for order" in the academy. A review of There is No Such Thing as a Social Science by Phil Hutchinson, Rupert Read and Wes Sharrock. A review of The Predictioneer's Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self-Interest to See and Shape the Future by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita. Social science on trial in Tehran: Max Weber, political subversive — or so he's labeled in Iran, along with plenty of other social theorists. From THES, searching for the resting places of two greats of human sciences, Yiannis Gabriel unlocks the door to Freud and keeps left for Marx; Matthew Reisz meets reluctant Facebook darling Andy Field, the Harry Potter of the social sciences. An interview with Eszter Hargittai, editor of Research Confidential: Solutions to Problems Most Social Scientists Pretend They Never Have (and more). From New Statesman, Vernon Bogdanor on the battlefield of ideas: Paradoxically, if the universities wish to become more influential in government, they must first become more independent of it. UIC's Barbara Risman on bringing social science to the White House. Quote of the day: "Thou shalt not commit a Social Science".