President Obama's open castigation of Donald Trump, at a White House press conference with a foreign leader present, is an extraordinary departure from American custom.
David Landau | All Articles
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David Landau, a San Francisco editor, used to be a foreign-policy expert but gladly gave that up to be a novelist and playwright.
In the incredible presidential race of 2016, a recent tendency has been for journalists and commentators to wonder aloud about whether Donald Trump really wants to be president.
When one country sends an ambassador to another, it is first and last a recognition of sovereignty.
How would it be if John F. Kennedy, or his advisors, had decided that the interests of global order were better served by dismissing photographic evidence of Soviet missile emplacements on the island of Cuba — and had made that dismissal the starting-point of a U.S. policy?
GUATEMALA CITY -- More than a year after resigning as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton telephoned the president of Guatemala and urged him to reappoint a cabinet official who the country’s legally established nominating commission had voted down.
While presidential candidates insult each other like kids in a schoolyard, the media’s coverage has brushed by a story that might actually shed some light on our politics.
The more they say, the less you know. That seems to be the maxim behind President Obama’s latest foreign-policy move: his proposal to overturn the Cuba embargo and pursue full diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961.
You don’t often hear a U.S. ambassador say something that sticks in the memory. But in 1994 Ambassador Marilyn McAfee memorably stated that Guatemala had become the southern frontier of the United States.
In all the excitement over the Obama administration’s moves with Syria and Russia, the usual commentators have been forgetting an important anniversary. Seventy-five years ago, in September 1938, the leader of Europe’s most powerful nation went hat-in-hand to an upstart dictator who was ready to start a global conflict because he felt personally slighted.
In public life, how do you tell the difference between substance and fluff? Edward Snowden is someone the public didn't know before he ran off to foreign territory. Is he a man from the world of civil disobedience, as some say? Let’s go back to that world and see.
Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln opens with a screen of uniformed men brawling in a formless mass on a rainy field. Two black soldiers in Union uniform emerge from the scene and speak to a man who hunches toward them. We see this is President Lincoln, with whom the soldiers are soon discussing emancipation, equality, suffrage and civil rights in the century to come.
From this interesting political year of 2012, a topic that’s unlikely to get revisited is the pair of scandals involving U.S. officials who hired prostitutes while on visits to Latin America. Ordinarily a good sex scandal is subject to extensive reprising. But these ones aren’t, because they contain an element that’s genuinely distasteful throughout our media and society: women who are deemed “of ill repute.”
It looks as if a youthful ebullience is in the capital’s air. That seems to be the message of Obama’s re-election and of the scandal at the CIA, which bespeaks a similar enthusiasm.
In this election year, the nonstop use of electronic media plunges us back to an age in which rumor and word-of-mouth were the agents of destiny. As a character sings in The Barber of Seville, “Calumny starts like a breeze.”